Publications by authors named "Mike W Morley"

6 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Archaeological evidence for two separate dispersals of Neanderthals into southern Siberia.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020 02 27;117(6):2879-2885. Epub 2020 Jan 27.

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 630090 Novosibirsk, Russia.

Neanderthals were once widespread across Europe and western Asia. They also penetrated into the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia, but the geographical origin of these populations and the timing of their dispersal have remained elusive. Here we describe an archaeological assemblage from Chagyrskaya Cave, situated in the Altai foothills, where around 90,000 Middle Paleolithic artifacts and 74 Neanderthal remains have been recovered from deposits dating to between 59 and 49 thousand years ago (age range at 95.4% probability). Environmental reconstructions suggest that the Chagyrskaya hominins were adapted to the dry steppe and hunted bison. Their distinctive toolkit closely resembles Micoquian assemblages from central and eastern Europe, including the northern Caucasus, more than 3,000 kilometers to the west of Chagyrskaya Cave. At other Altai sites, evidence of earlier Neanderthal populations lacking associated Micoquian-like artifacts implies two or more Neanderthal incursions into this region. We identify eastern Europe as the most probable ancestral source region for the Chagyrskaya toolmakers, supported by DNA results linking the Neanderthal remains with populations in northern Croatia and the northern Caucasus, and providing a rare example of a long-distance, intercontinental population movement associated with a distinctive Paleolithic toolkit.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1918047117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7022189PMC
February 2020

Hominin and animal activities in the microstratigraphic record from Denisova Cave (Altai Mountains, Russia).

Sci Rep 2019 09 26;9(1):13785. Epub 2019 Sep 26.

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, 2522, Australia.

Denisova Cave in southern Siberia uniquely contains evidence of occupation by a recently discovered group of archaic hominins, the Denisovans, starting from the middle of the Middle Pleistocene. Artefacts, ancient DNA and a range of animal and plant remains have been recovered from the sedimentary deposits, along with a few fragmentary fossils of Denisovans, Neanderthals and a first-generation Neanderthal-Denisovan offspring. The deposits also contain microscopic traces of hominin and animal activities that can provide insights into the use of the cave over the last 300,000 years. Here we report the results of a micromorphological study of intact sediment blocks collected from the Pleistocene deposits in the Main and East Chambers of Denisova Cave. The presence of charcoal attests to the use of fire by hominins, but other evidence of their activities preserved in the microstratigraphic record are few. The ubiquitous occurrence of coprolites, which we attribute primarily to hyenas, indicates that the site was visited for much of its depositional history by cave-dwelling carnivores. Microscopic traces of post-depositional diagenesis, bioturbation and incipient cryoturbation are observed in only a few regions of the deposit examined here. Micromorphology can help identify areas of sedimentary deposit that are most conducive to ancient DNA preservation and could be usefully integrated with DNA analyses of sediments at archaeological sites to illuminate features of their human and environmental history that are invisible to the naked eye.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-49930-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6763451PMC
September 2019

Revised stratigraphy and chronology for Homo floresiensis at Liang Bua in Indonesia.

Nature 2016 Apr 30;532(7599):366-9. Epub 2016 Mar 30.

Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia.

Homo floresiensis, a primitive hominin species discovered in Late Pleistocene sediments at Liang Bua (Flores, Indonesia), has generated wide interest and scientific debate. A major reason this taxon is controversial is because the H. floresiensis-bearing deposits, which include associated stone artefacts and remains of other extinct endemic fauna, were dated to between about 95 and 12 thousand calendar years (kyr) ago. These ages suggested that H. floresiensis survived until long after modern humans reached Australia by ~50 kyr ago. Here we report new stratigraphic and chronological evidence from Liang Bua that does not support the ages inferred previously for the H. floresiensis holotype (LB1), ~18 thousand calibrated radiocarbon years before present (kyr cal. BP), or the time of last appearance of this species (about 17 or 13-11 kyr cal. BP). Instead, the skeletal remains of H. floresiensis and the deposits containing them are dated to between about 100 and 60 kyr ago, whereas stone artefacts attributable to this species range from about 190 to 50 kyr in age. Whether H. floresiensis survived after 50 kyr ago--potentially encountering modern humans on Flores or other hominins dispersing through southeast Asia, such as Denisovans--is an open question.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature17179DOI Listing
April 2016

New radiometric ages for the BH-1 hominin from Balanica (Serbia): implications for understanding the role of the Balkans in Middle Pleistocene human evolution.

PLoS One 2013 6;8(2):e54608. Epub 2013 Feb 6.

School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Newly obtained ages, based on electron spin resonance combined with uranium series isotopic analysis, and infrared/post-infrared luminescence dating, provide a minimum age that lies between 397 and 525 ka for the hominin mandible BH-1 from Mala Balanica cave, Serbia. This confirms it as the easternmost hominin specimen in Europe dated to the Middle Pleistocene. Inferences drawn from the morphology of the mandible BH-1 place it outside currently observed variation of European Homo heidelbergensis. The lack of derived Neandertal traits in BH-1 and its contemporary specimens in Southeast Europe, such as Kocabaş, Vasogliano and Ceprano, coupled with Middle Pleistocene synapomorphies, suggests different evolutionary forces acting in the east of the continent where isolation did not play such an important role during glaciations.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0054608PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3566111PMC
December 2013

The Nubian Complex of Dhofar, Oman: an African middle stone age industry in Southern Arabia.

PLoS One 2011 30;6(11):e28239. Epub 2011 Nov 30.

Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Despite the numerous studies proposing early human population expansions from Africa into Arabia during the Late Pleistocene, no archaeological sites have yet been discovered in Arabia that resemble a specific African industry, which would indicate demographic exchange across the Red Sea. Here we report the discovery of a buried site and more than 100 new surface scatters in the Dhofar region of Oman belonging to a regionally-specific African lithic industry--the late Nubian Complex--known previously only from the northeast and Horn of Africa during Marine Isotope Stage 5, ∼128,000 to 74,000 years ago. Two optically stimulated luminescence age estimates from the open-air site of Aybut Al Auwal in Oman place the Arabian Nubian Complex at ∼106,000 years ago, providing archaeological evidence for the presence of a distinct northeast African Middle Stone Age technocomplex in southern Arabia sometime in the first half of Marine Isotope Stage 5.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0028239PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3227647PMC
April 2012

A human mandible (BH-1) from the Pleistocene deposits of Mala Balanica cave (Sićevo Gorge, Niš, Serbia).

J Hum Evol 2011 Aug 19;61(2):186-96. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg, MB, Canada.

Neandertals and their immediate predecessors are commonly considered to be the only humans inhabiting Europe in the Middle and early Late Pleistocene. Most Middle Pleistocene western European specimens show evidence of a developing Neandertal morphology, supporting the notion that these traits evolved at the extreme West of the continent due, at least partially, to the isolation produced by glacial events. The recent discovery of a mandible, BH-1, from Mala Balanica (Serbia), with primitive character states comparable with Early Pleistocene mandibular specimens, is associated with a minimum radiometric date of 113 + 72 - 43 ka. Given the fragmented nature of the hemi-mandible and the fact that primitive character states preclude assignment to a species, the taxonomic status of the specimen is best described as an archaic Homo sp. The combination of primitive traits and a possible Late Pleistocene date suggests that a more primitive morphology, one that does not show Neandertal traits, could have persisted in the region. Different hominin morphologies could have survived and coexisted in the Balkans, the "hotspot of biodiversity." This first hominin specimen to come from a secure stratigraphic context in the Central Balkans indicates a potentially important role for the region in understanding human evolution in Europe that will only be resolved with more concentrated research efforts in the area.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2011.03.003DOI Listing
August 2011