Publications by authors named "Michelle E Cameron"

3 Publications

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Small body size phenotypes among Middle and Later Stone Age Southern Africans.

J Hum Evol 2021 Mar 8;152:102943. Epub 2021 Feb 8.

Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2 3QG, UK; Department of Anthropology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, N6A 5C2, UK; Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Kahlaische Str. 10, Jena, 07745, Germany.

Modern humans originated between 300 and 200 ka in structured populations throughout Africa, characterized by regional interaction and diversity. Acknowledgment of this complex Pleistocene population structure raises new questions about the emergence of phenotypic diversity. Holocene Southern African Later Stone Age (LSA) skeletons and descendant Khoe-San peoples have small adult body sizes that may reflect long-term adaptation to the Cape environment. Pleistocene Southern African adult body sizes are not well characterized, but some postcranial elements are available. The most numerous Pleistocene postcranial skeletal remains come from Klasies River Mouth on the Southern Cape coast of South Africa. We compare the morphology of these skeletal elements with globally sampled Holocene groups encompassing diverse adult body sizes and shapes (n = 287) to investigate whether there is evidence for phenotypic patterning. The adult Klasies River Mouth bones include most of a lumbar vertebra, and portions of a left clavicle, left proximal radius, right proximal ulna, and left first metatarsal. Linear dimensions, shape characteristics, and cross-sectional geometric properties of the Klasies River Mouth elements were compared using univariate and multivariate methods. Between-group principal component analyses group Klasies River Mouth elements, except the proximal ulna, with LSA Southern Africans. The similarity is driven by size. Klasies River Mouth metatarsal cross-sectional geometric properties indicate similar torsional and compressive strength to those from LSA Southern Africans. Phenotypic expressions of small-bodied adult morphology in Marine Isotope Stages 5 and 1 suggest this phenotype may represent local convergent adaptation to life in the Cape.
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March 2021

The bioarchaeology of mid-Holocene pastoralist cemeteries west of Lake Turkana, Kenya.

Archaeol Anthropol Sci 2019 1;11(11):6221-6241. Epub 2019 Nov 1.

1Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-4364 USA.

Early herders in eastern Africa built elaborate megalithic cemeteries ~ 5000 BP overlooking what is now Lake Turkana in northwestern Kenya. At least six 'pillar sites' were constructed during a time of rapid change: cattle, sheep, and goats were introduced to the basin as the lake was shrinking at the end of the African Humid Period. Cultural changes at this time include new lithic and ceramic technologies and the earliest monumentality in eastern Africa. Isolated human remains previously excavated from pillar sites east of Lake Turkana seemed to indicate that pillar site platforms were ossuaries for secondary burials. Recent bioarchaeological excavations at four pillar sites west of the lake have now yielded ≥49 individuals, most from primary and some from secondary interments, challenging earlier interpretations. Here we describe the mortuary cavities, and burial contexts, and included items such as adornments from Lothagam North, Lothagam West, Manemanya, and Kalokol pillar sites. In doing so, we reassess previous hypotheses regarding pillar site construction, use, and inter-site variability. We also present the first osteological analyses of skeletons buried at these sites. Although the human remains are fragmentary, they are nevertheless informative about the sex, age, and body size of the deceased and give evidence for health and disease processes. Periosteal moulds of long bone midshafts ( = 34 elements) suggest patterns of terrestrial mobility. Pillar site deposits provide important new insights into early herder lifeways in eastern Africa and the impact of the transition to pastoralism on past human populations.
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November 2019

Diet and adult age-at-death among mobile foragers: A synthesis of bioarcheological methods.

Am J Phys Anthropol 2019 09 2;170(1):131-147. Epub 2019 Jul 2.

Anthropology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Objectives: The research explores whether the combined study of cortical bone histology, bone morphology, and dietary stable isotopes can expand insights into past human health and adaptations, particularly dietary sufficiency and life span.

Materials And Methods: Midthoracic rib cortices from 54 South African Late Holocene adult skeletons (28 M, 24 F, two sex undetermined) are assessed by transmitted-light microscopy for cross-sectional area measurements, osteon area (On.Ar), osteon population density, and presence/absence of secondary osteon variants. Values for δ C , δ N , C dates, Southwestern and Southern Cape geographic regions, body size measures, estimated ages-at-death from both morphological and histological methods are integrated into analyses, which include Spearman correlations, χ tests and Kruskal-Wallis ANOVAs.

Results: There is reduced On.Ar variability with higher δ N (r = -.41, p = .005); rib %cortical area and δ N are negatively correlated in the Southern Cape group (r = -.60, p = .03). Osteon variants are more common in older adults; histological ages at death are significantly older than those determined from gross morphology.

Discussion: We found bone tissue relationships with measures of diet composition, but indicators of dietary adequacy remain elusive. Relationships of tissue quality and isotopes suggest that some Southern Cape adults lived long lives. Osteon variants are associated with age-at-death; some association with diet remains possible. Gross morphological methods appear to underestimate adult ages-at-death, at least among small-bodied adults.
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September 2019