Publications by authors named "Mirjana Roksandic"

14 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Genomic insights into the early peopling of the Caribbean.

Science 2020 07 4;369(6502):456-460. Epub 2020 Jun 4.

The Globe Institute, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Caribbean was one of the last regions of the Americas to be settled by humans, but where they came from and how and when they reached the islands remain unclear. We generated genome-wide data for 93 ancient Caribbean islanders dating between 3200 and 400 calibrated years before the present and found evidence of at least three separate dispersals into the region, including two early dispersals into the Western Caribbean, one of which seems connected to radiation events in North America. This was followed by a later expansion from South America. We also detected genetic differences between the early settlers and the newcomers from South America, with almost no evidence of admixture. Our results add to our understanding of the initial peopling of the Caribbean and the movements of Archaic Age peoples in the Americas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aba8697DOI Listing
July 2020

First record of a fossil monkey (Primates, Cercopithecidae) from the Late Pliocene of Serbia.

J Hum Evol 2019 12 16;137:102681. Epub 2019 Oct 16.

Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 2E9, Canada.

The cercopithecid fossil record of the Balkan Peninsula extends from the Late Miocene to the Early Pleistocene, but to date no fossils of non-human primates have been identified in Serbia. Here we report the identification of two primate teeth from Ridjake, a rich paleontological site in western Serbia. NHMBEO 042501 is an upper third molar with heavy occlusal wear and taphonomic weathering. NHMBEO 042502 is a well-preserved lower third molar with only minor damage to the cusps and root apices. We performed an analysis of non-metric traits and made bivariate comparisons of crown linear measurements in order to assess the taxonomic affinity of the molars. Both show typical papionin occlusal patterns and relatively large overall sizes. In combination with the early Villafranchian (MN16) age of the site, we attribute both Ridjake primate fossils to cf. Paradolichopithecus sp. This represents the first identification of a non-human primate in Serbia, and the first identification of any primate in the Neogene period of Serbia. Along with recent hominin discoveries, the Ridjake fossils contribute to the growing primate fossil record in Serbia, and indicate the need for increased research into fossil primates in the country.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2019.102681DOI Listing
December 2019

The first Neanderthal specimen from Serbia: Maxillary first molar from the Late Pleistocene of Pešturina Cave.

J Hum Evol 2019 06 16;131:139-151. Epub 2019 Apr 16.

Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 2E9, Canada. Electronic address:

Neanderthals were the only human group in Europe throughout the Late Pleistocene until the arrival of modern humans, and while their presence has been confirmed in the surrounding regions, no Neanderthal fossils are known to date from the Central Balkans. Systematic excavations of Pešturina Cave (Serbia) resulted in the discovery of a permanent right M (Pes-3). The specimen was recovered from stratigraphic Layer 4b with an estimated age of 102.4 ± 3.2 ka, associated with Mousterian artifacts. The exceptional state of preservation and minimal wear of the molar enabled a detailed description and comparative analysis of the inner and outer dental structure, including non-metric dental traits and morphometric features of the crown, roots, and dental tissues. The results of this study strongly support the identification of Pes-3 as Neanderthal. Non-metric traits of the occlusal surface of the crown, enamel-dentine junction, and roots are consistent with Neanderthal morphology. The crown shows morphometric features typical for Neanderthal M, such as a buccolingually skewed crown shape, internally compressed cusps, and a relatively large hypocone. The specimen also shows Neanderthal-like dental tissue proportions, characterized by relatively thin enamel and large coronal dentine and coronal pulp volumes. The discovery of the Pes-3 molar therefore confirms the presence of Neanderthals in the territory of Serbia and the Central Balkans at the end of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5c.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2019.03.018DOI Listing
June 2019

Isotopic reconstruction of the weaning process in the archaeological population of Canímar Abajo, Cuba: A Bayesian probability mixing model approach.

PLoS One 2017 1;12(5):e0176065. Epub 2017 May 1.

Department of Geography, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

The general lack of well-preserved juvenile skeletal remains from Caribbean archaeological sites has, in the past, prevented evaluations of juvenile dietary changes. Canímar Abajo (Cuba), with a large number of well-preserved juvenile and adult skeletal remains, provided a unique opportunity to fully assess juvenile paleodiets from an ancient Caribbean population. Ages for the start and the end of weaning and possible food sources used for weaning were inferred by combining the results of two Bayesian probability models that help to reduce some of the uncertainties inherent to bone collagen isotope based paleodiet reconstructions. Bone collagen (31 juveniles, 18 adult females) was used for carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses. The isotope results were assessed using two Bayesian probability models: Weaning Ages Reconstruction with Nitrogen isotopes and Stable Isotope Analyses in R. Breast milk seems to have been the most important protein source until two years of age with some supplementary food such as tropical fruits and root cultigens likely introduced earlier. After two, juvenile diets were likely continuously supplemented by starch rich foods such as root cultigens and legumes. By the age of three, the model results suggest that the weaning process was completed. Additional indications suggest that animal marine/riverine protein and maize, while part of the Canímar Abajo female diets, were likely not used to supplement juvenile diets. The combined use of both models here provided a more complete assessment of the weaning process for an ancient Caribbean population, indicating not only the start and end ages of weaning but also the relative importance of different food sources for different age juveniles.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0176065PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5411105PMC
September 2017

A dental perspective on the taxonomic affinity of the Balanica mandible (BH-1).

J Hum Evol 2016 Apr 3;93:63-81. Epub 2016 Mar 3.

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

The Middle Pleistocene represents a period of critical importance in human evolution, marked by encephalisation and dental reduction, and increasing diversification of temporally and spatially distributed hominin lineages in Africa, Asia and Europe. New specimens, especially from areas less well represented in the fossil record, can inform the debate on morphological changes to the skeleton and teeth and the phylogenetic course of human evolution during this period. The mandible from the cave of Mala Balanica, Serbia has recently been re-dated to at least 400 ka, and its well-preserved dentition presents an excellent opportunity to characterize molar crown morphology at this time period, and re-examine claims for a lack of Neandertal affinities in the specimen. In this study we employ microtomography to image the internal structure of the mandibular molars (focusing on the morphology of the enamel-dentine junction, or EDJ) of the BH-1 specimen and a comparative sample (n = 141) of Homo erectus sensu lato, Homo neanderthalensis, Pleistocene Homo sapiens, and recent H. sapiens. We quantitatively assess EDJ morphology using 3D geometric morphometrics and examine the expression of discrete dental traits at the dentine surface. We also compare third molar enamel thickness in BH-1 to those of H. neanderthalensis and both Pleistocene and recent H. sapiens, and document previously unreported morphology of the BH-1 premolar and molar roots. Our results highlight the reliability of the EDJ surface for classifying hominin taxa, indicate a primitive dental morphology for BH-1 molars, and confirm a general lack of derived Neandertal features for the Balanica individual. The plesiomorphic character of BH-1 is consistent with several competing models of Middle Pleistocene hominin evolution and provides an important regional and temporal example for reconstructing morphological changes in the mandible and teeth during this time period.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2016.01.010DOI Listing
April 2016

Not of African Descent: Dental Modification among Indigenous Caribbean People from Canímar Abajo, Cuba.

PLoS One 2016 12;11(4):e0153536. Epub 2016 Apr 12.

Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 2E9, Canada.

Dental modifications in the Caribbean are considered to be an African practice introduced to the Caribbean archipelago by the influx of enslaved Africans during colonial times. Skeletal remains which exhibited dental modifications are by default considered to be Africans, African descendants, or post-contact indigenous people influenced by an African practice. Individual E-105 from the site of Canímar Abajo (Cuba), with a direct 14C AMS date of 990-800 cal BC, provides the first unequivocal evidence of dental modifications in the Antilles prior to contact with Europeans in AD 1492. Central incisors showing evidence of significant crown reduction (loss of crown volume regardless of its etiology) were examined macroscopically and with a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to determine if the observed alterations were due to deliberate modification or other (unintentional) factors considered: postmortem breakage, violent accidental breakage, non-dietary use of teeth, and wear caused by habitual or repeated actions. The pattern of crown reduction is consistent with deliberate dental modification of the type commonly encountered among African and African descendent communities in post-contact Caribbean archaeological assemblages. Six additional individuals show similar pattern of crown reduction of maxillary incisors with no analogous wear in corresponding mandibular dentition.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0153536PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4829177PMC
August 2016

A re-examination of the human fossil specimen from Bački Petrovac (Serbia).

Homo 2014 Aug 23;65(4):281-95. Epub 2014 May 23.

Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, R3B 2E9 Canada.

A fragmented human calotte was discovered during the early 1950s near Bački Petrovac (Serbia), in association with Palaeolithic stone tools. After its initial publication, the fossil specimen remained largely unknown outside of the Serbian academe and no detailed comparative study has ever been carried out. Since the whereabouts of the fossil itself are currently unknown, and given its potential significance for the Pleistocene human evolution, we re-examine the data published by Živanović (1966, 1975). Using the original measurements, mostly taken on the frontal bone, and a wide comparative sample of 68 fossil specimens, the fossil was compared and analyzed by statistical multivariate methods. We also conducted a visual examination of the morphology based on the available photographic material. Our analysis reveals phenetic similarity with Middle Pleistocene archaic Homo from Africa and anatomically modern Homo sapiens. However, the absence of primitive cranial traits in Bački Petrovac indicates a clear modern Homo sapiens designation. Although lost at the moment, there is a chance for the re-discovery of the fossil in the years to come. This would give us an opportunity to acquire absolute dates and to study the specimen in a more detailed manner.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jchb.2014.01.004DOI Listing
August 2014

Spina bifida in a pre-Columbian Cuban population: A paleoepidemiological study of genetic and dietary risk factors.

Int J Paleopathol 2013 Mar 9;3(1):19-29. Epub 2013 Mar 9.

Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, ON, Canada, P7B 5E1.

A holistic approach is necessary to investigate health in archeological populations. Molecular techniques, particularly multiplex PCR and SNaPshot minisequencing, can be combined with paleopathology and dietary analysis (stable isotope, starch, zooarchaeological analyses) to understand aspects of population health. This article demonstrates how spina bifida, a multi-factorial disease characterized by the midline failure to complete vertebral neural arch formation, can be investigated holistically. Based on skeletal evidence, this disease was prevalent in a pre-Columbian Cuban population from the archeological site of Canimar Abajo (3000-1250 BP). Molecular paleopathological techniques were employed to examine disease potential in this preliminary study, examining 18 individuals (including two individuals with evidence of mild spina bifida, and 16 without such evidence) for four single nucleotide polymorphisms and one insertion sequence associated with spina bifida. The combined effect of these polymorphisms, as well as dietary factors, determines the risk of the population for spina bifida, and these factors united to create the observed high disease prevalence. We demonstrate how molecular paleopathology, corroborated by dietary analyses, can be used within a paleoepidemiological framework to understand population health and disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpp.2013.01.004DOI Listing
March 2013

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

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

Using the life history model to set the stage(s) of growth and senescence in bioarchaeology and paleodemography.

Am J Phys Anthropol 2011 Jul 5;145(3):337-47. Epub 2011 Apr 5.

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

Paleodemography, the study of demographic parameters of past human populations, relies on assumptions including biological uniformitarianism, stationary populations, and the ability to determine point age estimates from skeletal material. These assumptions have been widely criticized in the literature and various solutions have been proposed. The majority of these solutions rely on statistical modeling, and have not seen widespread application. Most bioarchaeologists recognize that our ability to assess chronological age is inherently limited, and have instead resorted to large, qualitative, age categories. However, there has been little attempt in the literature to systematize and define the stages of development and ageing used in bioarchaeology. We propose that stages should be based in the human life history pattern, and their skeletal markers should have easily defined and clear endpoints. In addition to a standard five-stage developmental model based on the human life history pattern, current among human biologists, we suggest divisions within the adult stage that recognize the specific nature of skeletal samples. We therefore propose the following eight stages recognizable in human skeletal development and senescence: infancy, early childhood, late childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, full adulthood, mature adulthood, and senile adulthood. Striving toward a better prediction of chronological ages will remain important and could eventually help us understand to what extent past societies differed in the timing of these life stages. Furthermore, paleodemographers should try to develop methods that rely on the type of age information accessible from the skeletal material, which uses life stages, rather than point age estimates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.21508DOI Listing
July 2011

Technical note: Applicability of tooth cementum annulation to an archaeological population.

Am J Phys Anthropol 2009 Nov;140(3):583-8

Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Canada R3B 2E9.

The use of tooth cementum annulations for age determination has been deemed promising, exhibiting high correlations with chronological age. Despite its apparent potential, to date, the tooth cementum annulations method has been used rarely for estimating ages in archaeological populations. Here we examine the readability of cementum annulations and the consistency of age estimates using a sample of 116 adults from the Iron Gates Gorge Mesolithic/Neolithic series. Our examination of the method pointed to several sources of error that call into question the use of this method for estimating the chronological ages of archaeologically derived dental samples. The poor performance of the method in our analysis might be explained by taphonomic influences, including the effect of chemical and biological agents on dental microstructures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.21136DOI Listing
November 2009

Greater sciatic notch as a sex indicator in juveniles.

Am J Phys Anthropol 2008 Nov;137(3):309-15

Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.

Using Schutkowski's method for juvenile sex determination (Schutkowski H. 1993. Am J Phys Anthropol 90:199-205), we evaluated the morphology of the greater sciatic notch of 56 ilia (23 females and 33 males) from a documented skeletal collection housed at the Bocage Museum in Lisbon (Portugal). After applying Schutkowski's original methodology and comparing the results with previous studies, we used age-adjusted metrical variables to describe greater sciatic notch depth, breadth, and angle. Although results of both morphological and metrical analyses did not reveal a statistically significant level of sexual analyses dimorphism, we found a strong correlation between pelvic morphology and age at death. On the basis of the obtained results, we argue that Schutkowski's morphological method does not predict sex accurately in all populations and that recorded correlation of iliac features with age needs to be further explored in the context of the ontogeny of sexual dimorphism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.20875DOI Listing
November 2008

Interpersonal violence at Lepenski Vir Mesolithic/Neolithic complex of the Iron Gates Gorge (Serbia-Romania).

Am J Phys Anthropol 2006 Mar;129(3):339-48

Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G3, Canada.

The Mesolithic populations of the Danube River's Iron Gates Gorge (Serbia/Romania) spanned over 1,500 years (from before 7000 bc to around 5500 bc) in one of the most favorable foraging environments of Europe. Over most of these 1,500 years, the dominant economy was foraging, but farming was practiced by communities in the region from around 6500 bc. This research examines individuals from four sites on the Danube (Lepenski Vir, Vlasac, Padina, and Hajducka Vodenica) whose traumatic lesions can be most plausibly interpreted as resulting from violent interactions. Given over four hundred individuals buried at these sites (MNI = 418), the episodes of violent interactions were few and without evidence of a specific temporal pattern. They probably represent sporadic episodes of interpersonal conflict that do not support the notion of endemic warfare deemed typical of the Mesolithic, or elevated levels of interpersonal/intertribal conflict at the time of contact with farming communities. The difference in patterns of violence between the Mesolithic sites on the right bank of the Danube and a coeval site of Schela Cladovei on the left bank is explained in terms of differences in archaeological context, geographic location, and possibly specific local histories.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.20286DOI Listing
March 2006