Publications by authors named "Douglas J Kennett"

58 Publications

Late Holocene spread of pastoralism coincides with endemic megafaunal extinction on Madagascar.

Proc Biol Sci 2021 07 21;288(1955):20211204. Epub 2021 Jul 21.

Department of Anthropology, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, USA.

Recently expanded estimates for when humans arrived on Madagascar (up to approximately 10 000 years ago) highlight questions about the causes of the island's relatively late megafaunal extinctions (approximately 2000-500 years ago). Introduced domesticated animals could have contributed to extinctions, but the arrival times and past diets of exotic animals are poorly known. To conduct the first explicit test of the potential for competition between introduced livestock and extinct endemic megafauna in southern and western Madagascar, we generated new radiocarbon and stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data from the bone collagen of introduced ungulates (zebu cattle, ovicaprids and bushpigs, = 66) and endemic megafauna (pygmy hippopotamuses, giant tortoises and elephant birds, = 68), and combined these data with existing data from endemic megafauna ( = 282, including giant lemurs). Radiocarbon dates confirm that introduced and endemic herbivores briefly overlapped chronologically in this region between 1000 and 800 calibrated years before present (cal BP). Moreover, stable isotope data suggest that goats, tortoises and hippos had broadly similar diets or exploited similar habitats. These data support the potential for both direct and indirect forms of competition between introduced and endemic herbivores. We argue that competition with introduced herbivores, mediated by opportunistic hunting by humans and exacerbated by environmental change, contributed to the late extinction of endemic megafauna on Madagascar.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.1204DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8292765PMC
July 2021

Using a multimethod life history approach to navigate the osteological paradox: A case study from Prehispanic Nasca, Peru.

Am J Phys Anthropol 2021 Aug 30;175(4):816-833. Epub 2021 Mar 30.

Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA.

Objectives: We leverage recent bioarchaeological approaches and life history theory to address the implications of the osteological paradox in a study population. The goal of this article is to evaluate morbidity and mortality patterns as well as variability in the risk of disease and death during the Late Intermediate period (LIP; 950-1450 C.E.) in the Nasca highlands of Peru. We demonstrate how the concurrent use of multiple analytical techniques and life history theory can engage the osteological paradox and provide salient insights into the study of stress, frailty, and resilience in past populations.

Materials And Methods: Crania from LIP burial contexts in the Nasca highlands were examined for cribra orbitalia (n = 325) and porotic hyperostosis (n = 270). All age groups and both sexes are represented in the sample. Survivor/nonsurvivor analysis assessed demographic differences in lesion frequency and severity. Hazard models were generated to assess differences in survivorship. The relationship between dietary diversity and heterogeneity in morbidity was assessed using stable δ N and δ C isotope values for bone collagen and carbonate. One hundred and twenty-four crania were directly AMS radiocarbon dated, allowing for a diachronic analysis of morbidity and mortality.

Results: The frequency and expression of both orbital and vault lesions increases significantly during the LIP. Survivor/nonsurvivor analysis indicates cranial lesions co-vary with frailty rather than robusticity or longevity. Hazard models show (1) decreasing survivorship with the transition into the LIP, (2) significantly lower adult life expectancy for females compared to males, and (3) individuals with cranial lesions have lower survivorship across the life course. Stable isotope results show very little dietary diversity. Mortality risk and frequency of pathological skeletal lesions were highest during Phase III (1300-1450 C.E.) of the LIP.

Conclusion: Results provide compelling evidence of increasing physiological stress and mortality in the Nasca highlands during the LIP, but also reveal substantial heterogeneity in frailty and the risk of death. Certain members of society experienced a heavier disease burden and higher mortality compared to their contemporaries. Elevated levels of disease and lethal trauma among females account for some of the sex differences in survivorship but cannot explain the large degree of female-biased mortality. We hypothesize that parental investment in males or increased female fertility rates may explain these differences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.24279DOI Listing
August 2021

Pre-Columbian transregional captive rearing of Amazonian parrots in the Atacama Desert.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 Apr;118(15)

Instituto de Alta Investigación, Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica, Chile.

The feathers of tropical birds were one of the most significant symbols of economic, social, and sacred status in the pre-Columbian Americas. In the Andes, finely produced clothing and textiles containing multicolored feathers of tropical parrots materialized power, prestige, and distinction and were particularly prized by political and religious elites. Here we report 27 complete or partial remains of macaws and amazon parrots from five archaeological sites in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile to improve our understanding of their taxonomic identity, chronology, cultural context, and mechanisms of acquisition. We conducted a multiproxy archaeometric study that included zooarchaeological analysis, isotopic dietary reconstruction, accelerated mass spectrometry radiocarbon dating, and paleogenomic analysis. The results reveal that during the Late Intermediate Period (1100 to 1450 CE), Atacama oasis communities acquired scarlet macaws () and at least five additional translocated parrot species through vast exchange networks that extended more than 500 km toward the eastern Amazonian tropics. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes indicate that Atacama aviculturalists sustained these birds on diets rich in marine bird guano-fertilized maize-based foods. The captive rearing of these colorful, exotic, and charismatic birds served to unambiguously signal relational wealth in a context of emergent intercommunity competition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2020020118DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8053920PMC
April 2021

Genomic insights into the formation of human populations in East Asia.

Nature 2021 03 22;591(7850):413-419. Epub 2021 Feb 22.

Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

The deep population history of East Asia remains poorly understood owing to a lack of ancient DNA data and sparse sampling of present-day people. Here we report genome-wide data from 166 East Asian individuals dating to between 6000 BC and AD 1000 and 46 present-day groups. Hunter-gatherers from Japan, the Amur River Basin, and people of Neolithic and Iron Age Taiwan and the Tibetan Plateau are linked by a deeply splitting lineage that probably reflects a coastal migration during the Late Pleistocene epoch. We also follow expansions during the subsequent Holocene epoch from four regions. First, hunter-gatherers from Mongolia and the Amur River Basin have ancestry shared by individuals who speak Mongolic and Tungusic languages, but do not carry ancestry characteristic of farmers from the West Liao River region (around 3000 BC), which contradicts theories that the expansion of these farmers spread the Mongolic and Tungusic proto-languages. Second, farmers from the Yellow River Basin (around 3000 BC) probably spread Sino-Tibetan languages, as their ancestry dispersed both to Tibet-where it forms approximately 84% of the gene pool in some groups-and to the Central Plain, where it has contributed around 59-84% to modern Han Chinese groups. Third, people from Taiwan from around 1300 BC to AD 800 derived approximately 75% of their ancestry from a lineage that is widespread in modern individuals who speak Austronesian, Tai-Kadai and Austroasiatic languages, and that we hypothesize derives from farmers of the Yangtze River Valley. Ancient people from Taiwan also derived about 25% of their ancestry from a northern lineage that is related to, but different from, farmers of the Yellow River Basin, which suggests an additional north-to-south expansion. Fourth, ancestry from Yamnaya Steppe pastoralists arrived in western Mongolia after around 3000 BC but was displaced by previously established lineages even while it persisted in western China, as would be expected if this ancestry was associated with the spread of proto-Tocharian Indo-European languages. Two later gene flows affected western Mongolia: migrants after around 2000 BC with Yamnaya and European farmer ancestry, and episodic influences of later groups with ancestry from Turan.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03336-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7993749PMC
March 2021

The character of conflict: A bioarchaeological study of violence in the Nasca highlands of Peru during the Late Intermediate Period (950-1450 C.E.).

Am J Phys Anthropol 2021 04 31;174(4):614-630. Epub 2020 Dec 31.

Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA.

Objectives: This study uses osteological and radiocarbon datasets combined with formal quantitative analyses to test hypotheses concerning the character of conflict in the Nasca highlands during the Late Intermediate Period (LIP, 950-1450 C.E.). We develop and test osteological expectations regarding what patterns should be observed if violence was characterized by intragroup violence, ritual conflict, intermittent raiding, or internecine warfare.

Materials And Methods: Crania (n = 267) were examined for antemortem and perimortem, overkill, and critical trauma. All age groups and both sexes are represented in the sample. One hundred twenty-four crania were AMS dated, allowing a detailed analysis of diachronic patterns in violence among various demographic groups.

Results: Thirty-eight percent (102/267) of crania exhibit some form of cranial trauma, a significant increase from the preceding Middle Horizon era. There are distinct trauma frequencies within the three subphases of the LIP, but Phase III (1300-1450 C.E.) exhibits the highest frequencies of all trauma types. Males exhibit significantly more antemortem trauma than females, but both exhibit similar perimortem trauma rates.

Discussion: There was chronic, internecine warfare throughout the Late Intermediate Period with important variations in violence throughout the three temporal phases. Evidence for heterogeneity in violent mortality shows a pattern consistent with social substitutability, whereby any and all members of the Nasca highland population were appropriate targets for lethal and sublethal violence. We argue that by testing hypotheses regarding the targets and types of conflict we are better able to explain the causes and consequences of human conflict.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.24205DOI Listing
April 2021

A genetic history of the pre-contact Caribbean.

Nature 2021 02 23;590(7844):103-110. Epub 2020 Dec 23.

Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

Humans settled the Caribbean about 6,000 years ago, and ceramic use and intensified agriculture mark a shift from the Archaic to the Ceramic Age at around 2,500 years ago. Here we report genome-wide data from 174 ancient individuals from The Bahamas, Haiti and the Dominican Republic (collectively, Hispaniola), Puerto Rico, Curaçao and Venezuela, which we co-analysed with 89 previously published ancient individuals. Stone-tool-using Caribbean people, who first entered the Caribbean during the Archaic Age, derive from a deeply divergent population that is closest to Central and northern South American individuals; contrary to previous work, we find no support for ancestry contributed by a population related to North American individuals. Archaic-related lineages were >98% replaced by a genetically homogeneous ceramic-using population related to speakers of languages in the Arawak family from northeast South America; these people moved through the Lesser Antilles and into the Greater Antilles at least 1,700 years ago, introducing ancestry that is still present. Ancient Caribbean people avoided close kin unions despite limited mate pools that reflect small effective population sizes, which we estimate to be a minimum of 500-1,500 and a maximum of 1,530-8,150 individuals on the combined islands of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola in the dozens of generations before the individuals who we analysed lived. Census sizes are unlikely to be more than tenfold larger than effective population sizes, so previous pan-Caribbean estimates of hundreds of thousands of people are too large. Confirming a small and interconnected Ceramic Age population, we detect 19 pairs of cross-island cousins, close relatives buried around 75 km apart in Hispaniola and low genetic differentiation across islands. Genetic continuity across transitions in pottery styles reveals that cultural changes during the Ceramic Age were not driven by migration of genetically differentiated groups from the mainland, but instead reflected interactions within an interconnected Caribbean world.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-03053-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7864882PMC
February 2021

Archaeological Central American maize genomes suggest ancient gene flow from South America.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020 12 14;117(52):33124-33129. Epub 2020 Dec 14.

Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106;

Maize ( ssp. ) domestication began in southwestern Mexico ∼9,000 calendar years before present (cal. BP) and humans dispersed this important grain to South America by at least 7,000 cal. BP as a partial domesticate. South America served as a secondary improvement center where the domestication syndrome became fixed and new lineages emerged in parallel with similar processes in Mesoamerica. Later, Indigenous cultivators carried a second major wave of maize southward from Mesoamerica, but it has been unclear until now whether the deeply divergent maize lineages underwent any subsequent gene flow between these regions. Here we report ancient maize genomes (2,300-1,900 cal. BP) from El Gigante rock shelter, Honduras, that are closely related to ancient and modern maize from South America. Our findings suggest that the second wave of maize brought into South America hybridized with long-established landraces from the first wave, and that some of the resulting newly admixed lineages were then reintroduced to Central America. Direct radiocarbon dates and cob morphological data from the rock shelter suggest that more productive maize varieties developed between 4,300 and 2,500 cal. BP. We hypothesize that the influx of maize from South America into Central America may have been an important source of genetic diversity as maize was becoming a staple grain in Central and Mesoamerica.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2015560117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7777085PMC
December 2020

Ancient DNA reveals monozygotic newborn twins from the Upper Palaeolithic.

Commun Biol 2020 11 6;3(1):650. Epub 2020 Nov 6.

Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Vienna, A-1090, Vienna, Austria.

The Upper Palaeolithic double burial of newborns and the single burial of a ca. 3-month-old infant uncovered at the Gravettian site of Krems-Wachtberg, Austria, are of paramount importance given the rarity of immature human remains from this time. Genome-wide ancient DNA shows that the male infants of the double grave are the earliest reported case of monozygotic twins, while the single grave´s individual was their 3rd-degree male relative. We assessed the individuals´ age at death by applying histological and µCT inspection of the maxillary second incisors (i2) in conjunction with C- and N-isotope ratios and Barium (Ba) intake as biomarker for breastfeeding. The results show that the twins were full-term newborns, and that while individual 2 died at birth, individual 1 survived for about 50 days. The findings show that Gravettian mortuary behaviour also included re-opening of a grave and manipulation of its layout and content.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-01372-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7648643PMC
November 2020

Maritime Paleoindian technology, subsistence, and ecology at an ~11,700 year old Paleocoastal site on California's Northern Channel Islands, USA.

PLoS One 2020 17;15(9):e0238866. Epub 2020 Sep 17.

Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, United States of America.

During the last 10 years, we have learned a great deal about the potential for a coastal peopling of the Americas and the importance of marine resources in early economies. Despite research at a growing number of terminal Pleistocene archaeological sites on the Pacific Coast of the Americas, however, important questions remain about the lifeways of early Paleocoastal peoples. Research at CA-SRI-26, a roughly 11,700 year old site on California's Santa Rosa Island, provides new data on Paleoindian technologies, subsistence strategies, and seasonality in an insular maritime setting. Buried beneath approximately two meters of alluvium, much of the site has been lost to erosion, but its remnants have produced chipped stone artifacts (crescents and Channel Island Amol and Channel Island Barbed points) diagnostic of early island Paleocoastal components. The bones of waterfowl and seabirds, fish, and marine mammals, along with small amounts of shellfish document a diverse subsistence strategy. These data support a relatively brief occupation during the wetter "winter" season (late fall to early spring), in an upland location several km from the open coast. When placed in the context of other Paleocoastal sites on the Channel Islands, CA-SRI-26 demonstrates diverse maritime subsistence strategies and a mix of seasonal and more sustained year-round island occupations. Our results add to knowledge about a distinctive island Paleocoastal culture that appears to be related to Western Stemmed Tradition sites widely scattered across western North America.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0238866PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7498104PMC
November 2020

Biogeographic problem-solving reveals the Late Pleistocene translocation of a short-faced bear to the California Channel Islands.

Sci Rep 2020 09 16;10(1):15172. Epub 2020 Sep 16.

Department of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA.

An accurate understanding of biodiversity of the past is critical for contextualizing biodiversity patterns and trends in the present. Emerging techniques are refining our ability to decipher otherwise cryptic human-mediated species translocations across the Quaternary, yet these techniques are often used in isolation, rather than part of an interdisciplinary hypothesis-testing toolkit, limiting their scope and application. Here we illustrate the use of such an integrative approach and report the occurrence of North America's largest terrestrial mammalian carnivore, the short-faced bear, Arctodus simus, from Daisy Cave (CA-SMI-261), an important early human occupation site on the California Channel Islands. We identified the specimen by corroborating morphological, protein, and mitogenomic lines of evidence, and evaluated the potential natural and anthropogenic mechanisms of its transport and deposition. While representing just a single specimen, our combination of techniques opened a window into the behavior of an enigmatic species, suggesting that A. simus was a wide-ranging scavenger utilizing terrestrial and marine carcasses. This discovery highlights the utility of bridging archaeological and paleontological datasets to disentangle complex biogeographic scenarios and reveal unexpected biodiversity for island systems worldwide.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-71572-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7494929PMC
September 2020

Ancient genomes in South Patagonia reveal population movements associated with technological shifts and geography.

Nat Commun 2020 08 3;11(1):3868. Epub 2020 Aug 3.

Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.

Archaeological research documents major technological shifts among people who have lived in the southern tip of South America (South Patagonia) during the last thirteen millennia, including the development of marine-based economies and changes in tools and raw materials. It has been proposed that movements of people spreading culture and technology propelled some of these shifts, but these hypotheses have not been tested with ancient DNA. Here we report genome-wide data from 20 ancient individuals, and co-analyze it with previously reported data. We reveal that immigration does not explain the appearance of marine adaptations in South Patagonia. We describe partial genetic continuity since ~6600 BP and two later gene flows correlated with technological changes: one between 4700-2000 BP that affected primarily marine-based groups, and a later one impacting all <2000 BP groups. From ~2200-1200 BP, mixture among neighbors resulted in a cline correlated to geographic ordering along the coast.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17656-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7400565PMC
August 2020

Early isotopic evidence for maize as a staple grain in the Americas.

Sci Adv 2020 Jun 3;6(23):eaba3245. Epub 2020 Jun 3.

Ya'axché Conservation Trust, Punta Gorda Town, Belize.

Maize is a cultigen of global economic importance, but when it first became a staple grain in the Americas, was unknown and contested. Here, we report direct isotopic dietary evidence from 52 radiocarbon-dated human skeletons from two remarkably well-preserved rock-shelter contexts in the Maya Mountains of Belize spanning the past 10,000 years. Individuals dating before ~4700 calendar years before present (cal B.P.) show no clear evidence for the consumption of maize. Evidence for substantial maize consumption (~30% of total diet) appears in some individuals between 4700 and 4000 cal B.P. Isotopic evidence after 4000 cal B.P. indicates that maize became a persistently used staple grain comparable in dietary significance to later maize agriculturalists in the region (>70% of total diet). These data provide the earliest definitive evidence for maize as a staple grain in the Americas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aba3245DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7269666PMC
June 2020

The Genomic History of the Bronze Age Southern Levant.

Cell 2020 05;181(5):1146-1157.e11

Department of Statistics, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 9190501, Israel.

We report genome-wide DNA data for 73 individuals from five archaeological sites across the Bronze and Iron Ages Southern Levant. These individuals, who share the "Canaanite" material culture, can be modeled as descending from two sources: (1) earlier local Neolithic populations and (2) populations related to the Chalcolithic Zagros or the Bronze Age Caucasus. The non-local contribution increased over time, as evinced by three outliers who can be modeled as descendants of recent migrants. We show evidence that different "Canaanite" groups genetically resemble each other more than other populations. We find that Levant-related modern populations typically have substantial ancestry coming from populations related to the Chalcolithic Zagros and the Bronze Age Southern Levant. These groups also harbor ancestry from sources we cannot fully model with the available data, highlighting the critical role of post-Bronze-Age migrations into the region over the past 3,000 years.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.024DOI Listing
May 2020

A Paleogenomic Reconstruction of the Deep Population History of the Andes.

Cell 2020 05 7;181(5):1131-1145.e21. Epub 2020 May 7.

Harvard Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.

There are many unanswered questions about the population history of the Central and South Central Andes, particularly regarding the impact of large-scale societies, such as the Moche, Wari, Tiwanaku, and Inca. We assembled genome-wide data on 89 individuals dating from ∼9,000-500 years ago (BP), with a particular focus on the period of the rise and fall of state societies. Today's genetic structure began to develop by 5,800 BP, followed by bi-directional gene flow between the North and South Highlands, and between the Highlands and Coast. We detect minimal admixture among neighboring groups between ∼2,000-500 BP, although we do detect cosmopolitanism (people of diverse ancestries living side-by-side) in the heartlands of the Tiwanaku and Inca polities. We also highlight cases of long-range mobility connecting the Andes to Argentina and the Northwest Andes to the Amazon Basin. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7304944PMC
May 2020

Reductions in the dietary niche of southern sea otters () from the Holocene to the Anthropocene.

Ecol Evol 2020 Apr 10;10(7):3318-3329. Epub 2020 Mar 10.

Department of Biology University of New Mexico Albuquerque NM USA.

The sea otter () is a marine mammal hunted to near extinction during the 1800s. Despite their well-known modern importance as a keystone species, we know little about historical sea otter ecology. Here, we characterize the ecological niche of ancient southern sea otters () using δC analysis and δN analysis of bones recovered from archaeological sites spanning ~7,000 to 350 years before present ( = 112 individuals) at five regions along the coast of California. These data are compared with previously published data on modern animals ( = 165) and potential modern prey items. In addition, we analyze the δN of individual amino acids for 23 individuals to test for differences in sea otter trophic ecology through time. After correcting for tissue-specific and temporal isotopic effects, we employ nonparametric statistics and Bayesian niche models to quantify differences among ancient and modern animals. We find ancient otters occupied a larger isotopic niche than nearly all modern localities; likely reflecting broader habitat and prey use in prefur trade populations. In addition, ancient sea otters at the most southerly sites occupied an isotopic niche that was more than twice as large as ancient otters from northerly regions. This likely reflects greater invertebrate prey diversity in southern California relative to northern California. Thus, we suggest the potential dietary niche of sea otters in southern California could be larger than in central and northern California. At two sites, Año Nuevo and Monterey Bay, ancient otters had significantly higher δN values than modern populations. Amino acid δN data indicated this resulted from shifting baseline isotope values, rather than a change in sea otter trophic ecology. Our results help in better understanding the contemporary ecological role of sea otters and exemplify the strength of combing zooarchaeological and biological information to provide baseline data for conservation efforts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.6114DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7141068PMC
April 2020

Intertropical convergence zone variability in the Neotropics during the Common Era.

Sci Adv 2020 02 14;6(7):eaax3644. Epub 2020 Feb 14.

Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.

Large changes in hydroclimate in the Neotropics implied by proxy evidence, such as during the Little Ice Age, have been attributed to meridional shifts of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), although alternative modes of ITCZ variability have also been suggested. Here, we use seasonally resolved stalagmite rainfall proxy data from the modern northern limit of the ITCZ in southern Belize, combined with records from across the Neotropics and subtropics, to fingerprint ITCZ variability during the Common Era. Our data are consistent with models that suggest ITCZ expansion and weakening during globally cold climate intervals and contraction and intensification during global warmth. As a result, regions currently in the margins of the ITCZ in both hemispheres are likely transitioning to more arid and highly variable conditions, aggravating current trends of increased social unrest and mass migration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aax3644DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7021505PMC
February 2020

The spread of steppe and Iranian-related ancestry in the islands of the western Mediterranean.

Nat Ecol Evol 2020 03 24;4(3):334-345. Epub 2020 Feb 24.

Instituto Internacional de Investigaciones Prehistóricas de Cantabria, Universidad de Cantabria-Gobierno de Cantabria-Banco Santander, Santander, Spain.

Steppe-pastoralist-related ancestry reached Central Europe by at least 2500 BC, whereas Iranian farmer-related ancestry was present in Aegean Europe by at least 1900 BC. However, the spread of these ancestries into the western Mediterranean, where they have contributed to many populations that live today, remains poorly understood. Here, we generated genome-wide ancient-DNA data from the Balearic Islands, Sicily and Sardinia, increasing the number of individuals with reported data from 5 to 66. The oldest individual from the Balearic Islands (~2400 BC) carried ancestry from steppe pastoralists that probably derived from west-to-east migration from Iberia, although two later Balearic individuals had less ancestry from steppe pastoralists. In Sicily, steppe pastoralist ancestry arrived by ~2200 BC, in part from Iberia; Iranian-related ancestry arrived by the mid-second millennium BC, contemporary to its previously documented spread to the Aegean; and there was large-scale population replacement after the Bronze Age. In Sardinia, nearly all ancestry derived from the island's early farmers until the first millennium BC, with the exception of an outlier from the third millennium BC, who had primarily North African ancestry and who-along with an approximately contemporary Iberian-documents widespread Africa-to-Europe gene flow in the Chalcolithic. Major immigration into Sardinia began in the first millennium BC and, at present, no more than 56-62% of Sardinian ancestry is from its first farmers. This value is lower than previous estimates, highlighting that Sardinia, similar to every other region in Europe, has been a stage for major movement and mixtures of people.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-1102-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7080320PMC
March 2020

Ancient West African foragers in the context of African population history.

Nature 2020 01 22;577(7792):665-670. Epub 2020 Jan 22.

UCL Genetics Institute, University College London, London, UK.

Our knowledge of ancient human population structure in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly prior to the advent of food production, remains limited. Here we report genome-wide DNA data from four children-two of whom were buried approximately 8,000 years ago and two 3,000 years ago-from Shum Laka (Cameroon), one of the earliest known archaeological sites within the probable homeland of the Bantu language group. One individual carried the deeply divergent Y chromosome haplogroup A00, which today is found almost exclusively in the same region. However, the genome-wide ancestry profiles of all four individuals are most similar to those of present-day hunter-gatherers from western Central Africa, which implies that populations in western Cameroon today-as well as speakers of Bantu languages from across the continent-are not descended substantially from the population represented by these four people. We infer an Africa-wide phylogeny that features widespread admixture and three prominent radiations, including one that gave rise to at least four major lineages deep in the history of modern humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-1929-1DOI Listing
January 2020

Interactions between earliest Linearbandkeramik farmers and central European hunter gatherers at the dawn of European Neolithization.

Sci Rep 2019 12 20;9(1):19544. Epub 2019 Dec 20.

Harvard Medical School, Department of Genetics, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.

Archaeogenetic research over the last decade has demonstrated that European Neolithic farmers (ENFs) were descended primarily from Anatolian Neolithic farmers (ANFs). ENFs, including early Neolithic central European Linearbandkeramik (LBK) farming communities, also harbored ancestry from European Mesolithic hunter gatherers (WHGs) to varying extents, reflecting admixture between ENFs and WHGs. However, the timing and other details of this process are still imperfectly understood. In this report, we provide a bioarchaeological analysis of three individuals interred at the Brunn 2 site of the Brunn am Gebirge-Wolfholz archeological complex, one of the oldest LBK sites in central Europe. Two of the individuals had a mixture of WHG-related and ANF-related ancestry, one of them with approximately 50% of each, while the third individual had approximately all ANF-related ancestry. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios for all three individuals were within the range of variation reflecting diets of other Neolithic agrarian populations. Strontium isotope analysis revealed that the ~50% WHG-ANF individual was non-local to the Brunn 2 area. Overall, our data indicate interbreeding between incoming farmers, whose ancestors ultimately came from western Anatolia, and local HGs, starting within the first few generations of the arrival of the former in central Europe, as well as highlighting the integrative nature and composition of the early LBK communities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-56029-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6925266PMC
December 2019

The formation of human populations in South and Central Asia.

Science 2019 09;365(6457)

Earth Institute, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland.

By sequencing 523 ancient humans, we show that the primary source of ancestry in modern South Asians is a prehistoric genetic gradient between people related to early hunter-gatherers of Iran and Southeast Asia. After the Indus Valley Civilization's decline, its people mixed with individuals in the southeast to form one of the two main ancestral populations of South Asia, whose direct descendants live in southern India. Simultaneously, they mixed with descendants of Steppe pastoralists who, starting around 4000 years ago, spread via Central Asia to form the other main ancestral population. The Steppe ancestry in South Asia has the same profile as that in Bronze Age Eastern Europe, tracking a movement of people that affected both regions and that likely spread the distinctive features shared between Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic languages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aat7487DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6822619PMC
September 2019

Ancient DNA from the skeletons of Roopkund Lake reveals Mediterranean migrants in India.

Nat Commun 2019 08 20;10(1):3670. Epub 2019 Aug 20.

CSIR Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, Telangana, 500007, India.

Situated at over 5,000 meters above sea level in the Himalayan Mountains, Roopkund Lake is home to the scattered skeletal remains of several hundred individuals of unknown origin. We report genome-wide ancient DNA for 38 skeletons from Roopkund Lake, and find that they cluster into three distinct groups. A group of 23 individuals have ancestry that falls within the range of variation of present-day South Asians. A further 14 have ancestry typical of the eastern Mediterranean. We also identify one individual with Southeast Asian-related ancestry. Radiocarbon dating indicates that these remains were not deposited simultaneously. Instead, all of the individuals with South Asian-related ancestry date to ~800 CE (but with evidence of being deposited in more than one event), while all other individuals date to ~1800 CE. These differences are also reflected in stable isotope measurements, which reveal a distinct dietary profile for the two main groups.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11357-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6702210PMC
August 2019

Linking late Paleoindian stone tool technologies and populations in North, Central and South America.

PLoS One 2019 18;14(7):e0219812. Epub 2019 Jul 18.

Department of Anthropology, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California, United States of America.

From the perspective of Central and South America, the peopling of the New World was a complex process lasting thousands of years and involving multiple waves of Pleistocene and early Holocene period immigrants entering into the neotropics. These Paleoindian colonists initially brought with them technologies developed for adaptation to environments and resources found in North America. As the ice age ended across the New World people adapted more generalized stone tools to exploit changing environments and resources. In the neotropics these changes would have been pronounced as patchy forests and grasslands gave way to broadleaf tropical forests. We document a late Pleistocene/early Holocene stone tool tradition from Belize, located in southern Mesoamerica. This represents the first endogenous Paleoindian stone tool technocomplex recovered from well dated stratigraphic contexts for Mesoamerica. Previously designated Lowe, these artifacts share multiple features with contemporary North and South American Paleoindian tool types. Once hafted, these bifaces appear to have served multiple functions for cutting, hooking, thrusting, or throwing. The tools were developed at a time of technological regionalization reflecting the diverse demands of a period of pronounced environmental change and population movement. Combined stratigraphic, technological, and population paleogenetic data suggests that there were strong ties between lowland neotropic regions at the onset of the Holocene.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0219812PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6638942PMC
March 2020

Palaeo-Eskimo genetic ancestry and the peopling of Chukotka and North America.

Nature 2019 06 5;570(7760):236-240. Epub 2019 Jun 5.

Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.

Much of the American Arctic was first settled 5,000 years ago, by groups of people known as Palaeo-Eskimos. They were subsequently joined and largely displaced around 1,000 years ago by ancestors of the present-day Inuit and Yup'ik. The genetic relationship between Palaeo-Eskimos and Native American, Inuit, Yup'ik and Aleut populations remains uncertain. Here we present genomic data for 48 ancient individuals from Chukotka, East Siberia, the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, and the Canadian Arctic. We co-analyse these data with data from present-day Alaskan Iñupiat and West Siberian populations and published genomes. Using methods based on rare-allele and haplotype sharing, as well as established techniques, we show that Palaeo-Eskimo-related ancestry is ubiquitous among people who speak Na-Dene and Eskimo-Aleut languages. We develop a comprehensive model for the Holocene peopling events of Chukotka and North America, and show that Na-Dene-speaking peoples, people of the Aleutian Islands, and Yup'ik and Inuit across the Arctic region all share ancestry from a single Palaeo-Eskimo-related Siberian source.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1251-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6942545PMC
June 2019

Ancient DNA reveals a multistep spread of the first herders into sub-Saharan Africa.

Science 2019 07 30;365(6448). Epub 2019 May 30.

Department of Anthropology, California State University, San Bernardino, CA 92407, USA.

How food production first entered eastern Africa ~5000 years ago and the extent to which people moved with livestock is unclear. We present genome-wide data from 41 individuals associated with Later Stone Age, Pastoral Neolithic (PN), and Iron Age contexts in what are now Kenya and Tanzania to examine the genetic impacts of the spreads of herding and farming. Our results support a multiphase model in which admixture between northeastern African-related peoples and eastern African foragers formed multiple pastoralist groups, including a genetically homogeneous PN cluster. Additional admixture with northeastern and western African-related groups occurred by the Iron Age. These findings support several movements of food producers while rejecting models of minimal admixture with foragers and of genetic differentiation between makers of distinct PN artifacts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aaw6275DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6827346PMC
July 2019

Persistent Early to Middle Holocene tropical foraging in southwestern Amazonia.

Sci Adv 2019 04 24;5(4):eaav5449. Epub 2019 Apr 24.

Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.

The Amazon witnessed the emergence of complex societies after 2500 years ago that altered tropical landscapes through intensive agriculture and managed aquatic systems. However, very little is known about the context and conditions that preceded these social and environmental transformations. Here, we demonstrate that forest islands in the Llanos de Moxos of southwestern Amazonia contain human burials and represent the earliest settlements in the region between 10,600 and 4000 years ago. These archaeological sites and their contents represent the earliest evidence of communities that experienced conditions conducive to engaging with food production such as environmental stability, resource disturbance, and increased territoriality in the Amazonian tropical lowlands.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aav5449DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6482008PMC
April 2019

The genomic history of the Iberian Peninsula over the past 8000 years.

Science 2019 03;363(6432):1230-1234

Departamento de Prehistoria e Historia Antigua, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Valencia, Spain.

We assembled genome-wide data from 271 ancient Iberians, of whom 176 are from the largely unsampled period after 2000 BCE, thereby providing a high-resolution time transect of the Iberian Peninsula. We document high genetic substructure between northwestern and southeastern hunter-gatherers before the spread of farming. We reveal sporadic contacts between Iberia and North Africa by ~2500 BCE and, by ~2000 BCE, the replacement of 40% of Iberia's ancestry and nearly 100% of its Y-chromosomes by people with Steppe ancestry. We show that, in the Iron Age, Steppe ancestry had spread not only into Indo-European-speaking regions but also into non-Indo-European-speaking ones, and we reveal that present-day Basques are best described as a typical Iron Age population without the admixture events that later affected the rest of Iberia. Additionally, we document how, beginning at least in the Roman period, the ancestry of the peninsula was transformed by gene flow from North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aav4040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6436108PMC
March 2019

Reconstructing the Deep Population History of Central and South America.

Cell 2018 11 8;175(5):1185-1197.e22. Epub 2018 Nov 8.

Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig 04103, Germany.

We report genome-wide ancient DNA from 49 individuals forming four parallel time transects in Belize, Brazil, the Central Andes, and the Southern Cone, each dating to at least ∼9,000 years ago. The common ancestral population radiated rapidly from just one of the two early branches that contributed to Native Americans today. We document two previously unappreciated streams of gene flow between North and South America. One affected the Central Andes by ∼4,200 years ago, while the other explains an affinity between the oldest North American genome associated with the Clovis culture and the oldest Central and South Americans from Chile, Brazil, and Belize. However, this was not the primary source for later South Americans, as the other ancient individuals derive from lineages without specific affinity to the Clovis-associated genome, suggesting a population replacement that began at least 9,000 years ago and was followed by substantial population continuity in multiple regions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.10.027DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6327247PMC
November 2018

Fatty acid specific δ13C values reveal earliest Mediterranean cheese production 7,200 years ago.

PLoS One 2018 5;13(9):e0202807. Epub 2018 Sep 5.

Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, United States of America.

The earliest evidence for cheese production in the Mediterranean is revealed by stable carbon isotope analyses of individual fatty acids in pottery residues from the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. Lipid residue data indicate the presence of milk in the earliest pottery, Impressed Ware, by 5700 cal. BCE (7700 BP). In contrast, by 5200 cal BCE (7200 BP), milk was common in refined Figulina pottery, meat was mostly associated with Danilo ware, cheese occurred in Rhyta, and sieves contained fermented dairy, representing strong links between specific function and stylistically distinctive pottery vessels. Genetic data indicate the prevalence of lactose intolerance among early farming populations. However, young children are lactase persistent until after weaning and could consume milk as a relatively pathogen-free and nutrient rich food source, enhancing their chances of survival into adulthood. Fermentation of milk into yogurt and cheese decreases lactose content. The evidence for fermented dairy products by 5200 cal BCE indicates a larger proportion of the population was able to consume dairy products and benefit from their significant nutritional advantages. We suggest that milk and cheese production among Europe's early farmers reduced infant mortality and helped stimulate demographic shifts that propelled farming communities to expand to northern latitudes.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202807PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6124750PMC
February 2019

Archaeogenomic evidence from the southwestern US points to a pre-Hispanic scarlet macaw breeding colony.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2018 08 13;115(35):8740-8745. Epub 2018 Aug 13.

Department of Anthropology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802;

Hundreds of scarlet macaw () skeletons have been recovered from archaeological contexts in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico (SW/NW). The location of these skeletons, >1,000 km outside their Neotropical endemic range, has suggested a far-reaching pre-Hispanic acquisition network. Clear evidence for scarlet macaw breeding within this network is only known from the settlement of Paquimé in NW dating between 1250 and 1450 CE. Although some scholars have speculated on the probable existence of earlier breeding centers in the SW/NW region, there has been no supporting evidence. In this study, we performed an ancient DNA analysis of scarlet macaws recovered from archaeological sites in Chaco Canyon and the contemporaneous Mimbres area of New Mexico. All samples were directly radiocarbon dated between 900 and 1200 CE. We reconstructed complete or near-complete mitochondrial genome sequences of 14 scarlet macaws from five different sites. We observed remarkably low genetic diversity in this sample, consistent with breeding of a small founder population translocated outside their natural range. Phylogeographic comparisons of our ancient DNA mitogenomes with mitochondrial sequences from macaws collected during the last 200 years from their endemic Neotropical range identified genetic affinity between the ancient macaws and a single rare haplogroup (Haplo6) observed only among wild macaws in Mexico and northern Guatemala. Our results suggest that people at an undiscovered pre-Hispanic settlement dating between 900 and 1200 CE managed a macaw breeding colony outside their endemic range and distributed these symbolically important birds through the SW.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1805856115DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6126748PMC
August 2018
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