Publications by authors named "Jean-Luc Schwenninger"

10 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Evidence of human occupation in Mexico around the Last Glacial Maximum.

Nature 2020 08 22;584(7819):87-92. Epub 2020 Jul 22.

Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

The initial colonization of the Americas remains a highly debated topic, and the exact timing of the first arrivals is unknown. The earliest archaeological record of Mexico-which holds a key geographical position in the Americas-is poorly known and understudied. Historically, the region has remained on the periphery of research focused on the first American populations. However, recent investigations provide reliable evidence of a human presence in the northwest region of Mexico, the Chiapas Highlands, Central Mexico and the Caribbean coast during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene epochs. Here we present results of recent excavations at Chiquihuite Cave-a high-altitude site in central-northern Mexico-that corroborate previous findings in the Americasof cultural evidence that dates to the Last Glacial Maximum (26,500-19,000 years ago), and which push back dates for human dispersal to the region possibly as early as 33,000-31,000 years ago. The site yielded about 1,900 stone artefacts within a 3-m-deep stratified sequence, revealing a previously unknown lithic industry that underwent only minor changes over millennia. More than 50 radiocarbon and luminescence dates provide chronological control, and genetic, palaeoenvironmental and chemical data document the changing environments in which the occupants lived. Our results provide new evidence for the antiquity of humans in the Americas, illustrate the cultural diversity of the earliest dispersal groups (which predate those of the Clovis culture) and open new directions of research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2509-0DOI Listing
August 2020

The expansion of later Acheulean hominins into the Arabian Peninsula.

Sci Rep 2018 11 29;8(1):17165. Epub 2018 Nov 29.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

The Acheulean is the longest lasting cultural-technological tradition in human evolutionary history. However, considerable gaps remain in understanding the chronology and geographical distribution of Acheulean hominins. We present the first chronometrically dated Acheulean site from the Arabian Peninsula, a vast and poorly known region that forms more than half of Southwest Asia. Results show that Acheulean hominin occupation expanded along hydrological networks into the heart of Arabia from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 7 until at least ~190 ka ̶ the youngest documented Acheulean in Southwest Asia. The site of Saffaqah features Acheulean technology, characterized by large flakes, handaxes and cleavers, similar to Acheulean assemblages in Africa. These findings reveal a climatically-mediated later Acheulean expansion into a poorly known region, amplifying the documented diversity of Middle Pleistocene hominin behaviour across the Old World and elaborating the terminal archaic landscape encountered by our species as they dispersed out of Africa.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-35242-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6265249PMC
November 2018

New evidence of megafaunal bone damage indicates late colonization of Madagascar.

PLoS One 2018 10;13(10):e0204368. Epub 2018 Oct 10.

Ecology and Evolution Group, College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University, Adelaide SA, Australia.

The estimated period in which human colonization of Madagascar began has expanded recently to 5000-1000 y B.P., six times its range in 1990, prompting revised thinking about early migration sources, routes, maritime capability and environmental changes. Cited evidence of colonization age includes anthropogenic palaeoecological data 2500-2000 y B.P., megafaunal butchery marks 4200-1900 y B.P. and OSL dating to 4400 y B.P. of the Lakaton'i Anja occupation site. Using large samples of newly-excavated bone from sites in which megafaunal butchery was earlier dated >2000 y B.P. we find no butchery marks until ~1200 y B.P., with associated sedimentary and palynological data of initial human impact about the same time. Close analysis of the Lakaton'i Anja chronology suggests the site dates <1500 y B.P. Diverse evidence from bone damage, palaeoecology, genomic and linguistic history, archaeology, introduced biota and seafaring capability indicate initial human colonization of Madagascar 1350-1100 y B.P.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0204368PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6179221PMC
March 2019

90,000 year-old specialised bone technology in the Aterian Middle Stone Age of North Africa.

PLoS One 2018 3;13(10):e0202021. Epub 2018 Oct 3.

Department of Earth Sciences, The Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom.

The question of cognitive complexity in early Homo sapiens in North Africa is intimately tied to the emergence of the Aterian culture (~145 ka). One of the diagnostic indicators of cognitive complexity is the presence of specialised bone tools, however significant uncertainty remains over the manufacture and use of these artefacts within the Aterian techno-complex. In this paper we report on a bone artefact from Aterian Middle Stone Age (MSA) deposits in Dar es-Soltan 1 cave on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. It comes from a layer that can be securely dated to ~90 ka. The typological characteristics of this tool, which suggest its manufacture and use as a bone knife, are comparatively similar to other bone artefacts from dated Aterian levels at the nearby site of El Mnasra and significantly different from any other African MSA bone technology. The new find from Dar es-Soltan 1 cave combined with those from El Mnasra suggest the development of a bone technology unique to the Aterian.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202021PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6169849PMC
March 2019

Fossil avian eggshell preserves ancient DNA.

Proc Biol Sci 2010 Jul 10;277(1690):1991-2000. Epub 2010 Mar 10.

Ancient DNA Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

Owing to exceptional biomolecule preservation, fossil avian eggshell has been used extensively in geochronology and palaeodietary studies. Here, we show, to our knowledge, for the first time that fossil eggshell is a previously unrecognized source of ancient DNA (aDNA). We describe the successful isolation and amplification of DNA from fossil eggshell up to 19 ka old. aDNA was successfully characterized from eggshell obtained from New Zealand (extinct moa and ducks), Madagascar (extinct elephant birds) and Australia (emu and owl). Our data demonstrate excellent preservation of the nucleic acids, evidenced by retrieval of both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA from many of the samples. Using confocal microscopy and quantitative PCR, this study critically evaluates approaches to maximize DNA recovery from powdered eggshell. Our quantitative PCR experiments also demonstrate that moa eggshell has approximately 125 times lower bacterial load than bone, making it a highly suitable substrate for high-throughput sequencing approaches. Importantly, the preservation of DNA in Pleistocene eggshell from Australia and Holocene deposits from Madagascar indicates that eggshell is an excellent substrate for the long-term preservation of DNA in warmer climates. The successful recovery of DNA from this substrate has implications in a number of scientific disciplines; most notably archaeology and palaeontology, where genotypes and/or DNA-based species identifications can add significantly to our understanding of diets, environments, past biodiversity and evolutionary processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2009.2019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2880088PMC
July 2010

Late neandertals in southeastern Iberia: Sima de las Palomas del Cabezo Gordo, Murcia, Spain.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2008 Dec 12;105(52):20631-6. Epub 2008 Dec 12.

Area de Antropología Física, Departamento de Zoología y Antropología Física, Facultad de Biología, Campus Universitario de Espinardo, Universidad de Murcia, 30100 Murcia, Spain.

Middle Paleolithic fossil human remains from the Sima de las Palomas in southeastern Iberia (dated to
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0811213106DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2634956PMC
December 2008

Paleo-Eskimo mtDNA genome reveals matrilineal discontinuity in Greenland.

Science 2008 Jun 29;320(5884):1787-9. Epub 2008 May 29.

Center for Ancient Genetics, Department of Biology, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Paleo-Eskimo Saqqaq and Independence I cultures, documented from archaeological remains in Northern Canada and Greenland, represent the earliest human expansion into the New World's northern extremes. However, their origin and genetic relationship to later cultures are unknown. We sequenced a mitochondrial genome from a Paleo-Eskimo human by using 3400-to 4500-year-old frozen hair excavated from an early Greenlandic Saqqaq settlement. The sample is distinct from modern Native Americans and Neo-Eskimos, falling within haplogroup D2a1, a group previously observed among modern Aleuts and Siberian Sireniki Yuit. This result suggests that the earliest migrants into the New World's northern extremes derived from populations in the Bering Sea area and were not directly related to Native Americans or the later Neo-Eskimos that replaced them.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1159750DOI Listing
June 2008

Middle Paleolithic assemblages from the Indian subcontinent before and after the Toba super-eruption.

Science 2007 Jul;317(5834):114-6

Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QH, UK.

The Youngest Toba Tuff (YTT) eruption, which occurred in Indonesia 74,000 years ago, is one of Earth's largest known volcanic events. The effect of the YTT eruption on existing populations of humans, and accordingly on the course of human evolution, is debated. Here we associate the YTT with archaeological assemblages at Jwalapuram, in the Jurreru River valley of southern India. Broad continuity of Middle Paleolithic technology across the YTT event suggests that hominins persisted regionally across this major eruptive event.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1141564DOI Listing
July 2007

Ancient biomolecules from deep ice cores reveal a forested southern Greenland.

Science 2007 Jul;317(5834):111-4

Centre for Ancient Genetics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

It is difficult to obtain fossil data from the 10% of Earth's terrestrial surface that is covered by thick glaciers and ice sheets, and hence, knowledge of the paleoenvironments of these regions has remained limited. We show that DNA and amino acids from buried organisms can be recovered from the basal sections of deep ice cores, enabling reconstructions of past flora and fauna. We show that high-altitude southern Greenland, currently lying below more than 2 kilometers of ice, was inhabited by a diverse array of conifer trees and insects within the past million years. The results provide direct evidence in support of a forested southern Greenland and suggest that many deep ice cores may contain genetic records of paleoenvironments in their basal sections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1141758DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2694912PMC
July 2007

82,000-year-old shell beads from North Africa and implications for the origins of modern human behavior.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2007 Jun 4;104(24):9964-9. Epub 2007 Jun 4.

Institut National des Sciences de l'Archéologie et du Patrimoine, 10001 Rabat, Morocco.

The first appearance of explicitly symbolic objects in the archaeological record marks a fundamental stage in the emergence of modern social behavior in Homo. Ornaments such as shell beads represent some of the earliest objects of this kind. We report on examples of perforated Nassarius gibbosulus shell beads from Grotte des Pigeons (Taforalt, Morocco), North Africa. These marine shells come from archaeological levels dated by luminescence and uranium-series techniques to approximately 82,000 years ago. They confirm evidence of similar ornaments from other less well dated sites in North Africa and adjacent areas of southwest Asia. The shells are of the same genus as shell beads from slightly younger levels at Blombos Cave in South Africa. Wear patterns on the shells imply that some of them were suspended, and, as at Blombos, they were covered in red ochre. These findings imply an early distribution of bead-making in Africa and southwest Asia at least 40 millennia before the appearance of similar cultural manifestations in Europe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0703877104DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1891266PMC
June 2007