Publications by authors named "Viviane Slon"

32 Publications

Unearthing Neanderthal population history using nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from cave sediments.

Science 2021 05 15;372(6542). Epub 2021 Apr 15.

Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.

Bones and teeth are important sources of Pleistocene hominin DNA, but are rarely recovered at archaeological sites. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been retrieved from cave sediments but provides limited value for studying population relationships. We therefore developed methods for the enrichment and analysis of nuclear DNA from sediments and applied them to cave deposits in western Europe and southern Siberia dated to between 200,000 and 50,000 years ago. We detected a population replacement in northern Spain about 100,000 years ago, which was accompanied by a turnover of mtDNA. We also identified two radiation events in Neanderthal history during the early part of the Late Pleistocene. Our work lays the ground for studying the population history of ancient hominins from trace amounts of nuclear DNA in sediments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.abf1667DOI Listing
May 2021

3D virtual reconstruction and quantitative assessment of the human intervertebral disc's annulus fibrosus: a DTI tractography study.

Sci Rep 2021 Mar 25;11(1):6815. Epub 2021 Mar 25.

Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, 69978, Tel Aviv, Israel.

The intervertebral disc's (IVD) annulus fibrosus (AF) retains the hydrostatic pressure of the nucleus pulposus (NP), controls the range of motion, and maintains the integrity of the motion segment. The microstructure of the AF is not yet fully understood and quantitative characterization is lacking, leaving a caveat in modern medicine's ability to prevent and treat disc failure (e.g., disc herniation). In this study, we show a reconstruction of the 3D microstructure of the fibers that constitute the AF via MRI diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) followed by fiber tracking. A quantitative analysis presents an anisotropic structure with significant architectural differences among the annuli along the width of the fibrous belt. These findings indicate that the outer annuli's construction reinforces the IVD while providing a sufficient degree of motion. Our findings also suggest an increased role of the outer annuli in IVD nourishment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-86334-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7994907PMC
March 2021

Denisovan DNA in Late Pleistocene sediments from Baishiya Karst Cave on the Tibetan Plateau.

Science 2020 10;370(6516):584-587

Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, CAS, Beijing 100044, China.

A late Middle Pleistocene mandible from Baishiya Karst Cave (BKC) on the Tibetan Plateau has been inferred to be from a Denisovan, an Asian hominin related to Neanderthals, on the basis of an amino acid substitution in its collagen. Here we describe the stratigraphy, chronology, and mitochondrial DNA extracted from the sediments in BKC. We recover Denisovan mitochondrial DNA from sediments deposited ~100 thousand and ~60 thousand years ago (ka) and possibly as recently as ~45 ka. The long-term occupation of BKC by Denisovans suggests that they may have adapted to life at high altitudes and may have contributed such adaptations to modern humans on the Tibetan Plateau.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.abb6320DOI Listing
October 2020

A late Neanderthal tooth from northeastern Italy.

J Hum Evol 2020 10 2;147:102867. Epub 2020 Sep 2.

Department of Cultural Heritage, University of Bologna, Via Degli Ariani 1, Ravenna, 48121, Italy; Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig, 04103, Germany.

The site of Riparo Broion (Vicenza, northeastern Italy) preserves a stratigraphic sequence documenting the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition, in particular the final Mousterian and the Uluzzian cultures. In 2018, a human tooth was retrieved from a late Mousterian level, representing the first human remain ever found from this rock shelter (Riparo Broion 1). Here, we provide the morphological description and taxonomic assessment of Riparo Broion 1 with the support of classic and virtual morphology, 2D and 3D analysis of the topography of enamel thickness, and DNA analysis. The tooth is an exfoliated right upper deciduous canine, and its general morphology and enamel thickness distribution support attribution to a Neanderthal child. Correspondingly, the mitochondrial DNA sequence from Riparo Broion 1 falls within the known genetic variation of Late Pleistocene Neanderthals, in accordance with newly obtained radiocarbon dates that point to approximately 48 ka cal BP as the most likely minimum age for this specimen. The present work describes novel and direct evidence of the late Neanderthal occupation in northern Italy that preceded the marked cultural and technological shift documented by the Uluzzian layers in the archaeological sequence at Riparo Broion. Here, we provide a new full morphological, morphometric, and taxonomic analysis of Riparo Broion 1, in addition to generating the wider reference sample of Neanderthal and modern human upper deciduous canines. This research contributes to increasing the sample of fossil remains from Italy, as well as the number of currently available upper deciduous canines, which are presently poorly documented in the scientific literature.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2020.102867DOI Listing
October 2020

A high-coverage Neandertal genome from Chagyrskaya Cave.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020 06 16;117(26):15132-15136. Epub 2020 Jun 16.

Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany;

We sequenced the genome of a Neandertal from Chagyrskaya Cave in the Altai Mountains, Russia, to 27-fold genomic coverage. We show that this Neandertal was a female and that she was more related to Neandertals in western Eurasia [Prüfer et al., Science 358, 655-658 (2017); Hajdinjak et al., Nature 555, 652-656 (2018)] than to Neandertals who lived earlier in Denisova Cave [Prüfer et al., Nature 505, 43-49 (2014)], which is located about 100 km away. About 12.9% of the Chagyrskaya genome is spanned by homozygous regions that are between 2.5 and 10 centiMorgans (cM) long. This is consistent with the fact that Siberian Neandertals lived in relatively isolated populations of less than 60 individuals. In contrast, a Neandertal from Europe, a Denisovan from the Altai Mountains, and ancient modern humans seem to have lived in populations of larger sizes. The availability of three Neandertal genomes of high quality allows a view of genetic features that were unique to Neandertals and that are likely to have been at high frequency among them. We find that genes highly expressed in the striatum in the basal ganglia of the brain carry more amino-acid-changing substitutions than genes expressed elsewhere in the brain, suggesting that the striatum may have evolved unique functions in Neandertals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2004944117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7334501PMC
June 2020

Micro Methods for Megafauna: Novel Approaches to Late Quaternary Extinctions and Their Contributions to Faunal Conservation in the Anthropocene.

Bioscience 2019 Nov 2;69(11):877-887. Epub 2019 Oct 2.

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

Drivers of Late Quaternary megafaunal extinctions are relevant to modern conservation policy in a world of growing human population density, climate change, and faunal decline. Traditional debates tend toward global solutions, blaming either dramatic climate change or dispersals of Homo sapiens to new regions. Inherent limitations to archaeological and paleontological data sets often require reliance on scant, poorly resolved lines of evidence. However, recent developments in scientific technologies allow for more local, context-specific approaches. In the present article, we highlight how developments in five such methodologies (radiocarbon approaches, stable isotope analysis, ancient DNA, ancient proteomics, microscopy) have helped drive detailed analysis of specific megafaunal species, their particular ecological settings, and responses to new competitors or predators, climate change, and other external phenomena. The detailed case studies of faunal community composition, extinction chronologies, and demographic trends enabled by these methods examine megafaunal extinctions at scales appropriate for practical understanding of threats against particular species in their habitats today.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz105DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6829010PMC
November 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

Nuclear DNA from two early Neandertals reveals 80,000 years of genetic continuity in Europe.

Sci Adv 2019 06 26;5(6):eaaw5873. Epub 2019 Jun 26.

Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig04103, Germany.

Little is known about the population history of Neandertals over the hundreds of thousands of years of their existence. We retrieved nuclear genomic sequences from two Neandertals, one from Hohlenstein-Stadel Cave in Germany and the other from Scladina Cave in Belgium, who lived around 120,000 years ago. Despite the deeply divergent mitochondrial lineage present in the former individual, both Neandertals are genetically closer to later Neandertals from Europe than to a roughly contemporaneous individual from Siberia. That the Hohlenstein-Stadel and Scladina individuals lived around the time of their most recent common ancestor with later Neandertals suggests that all later Neandertals trace at least part of their ancestry back to these early European Neandertals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aaw5873DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6594762PMC
June 2019

Age estimates for hominin fossils and the onset of the Upper Palaeolithic at Denisova Cave.

Nature 2019 01 30;565(7741):640-644. Epub 2019 Jan 30.

Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Denisova Cave in the Siberian Altai (Russia) is a key site for understanding the complex relationships between hominin groups that inhabited Eurasia in the Middle and Late Pleistocene epoch. DNA sequenced from human remains found at this site has revealed the presence of a hitherto unknown hominin group, the Denisovans, and high-coverage genomes from both Neanderthal and Denisovan fossils provide evidence for admixture between these two populations. Determining the age of these fossils is important if we are to understand the nature of hominin interaction, and aspects of their cultural and subsistence adaptations. Here we present 50 radiocarbon determinations from the late Middle and Upper Palaeolithic layers of the site. We also report three direct dates for hominin fragments and obtain a mitochondrial DNA sequence for one of them. We apply a Bayesian age modelling approach that combines chronometric (radiocarbon, uranium series and optical ages), stratigraphic and genetic data to calculate probabilistically the age of the human fossils at the site. Our modelled estimate for the age of the oldest Denisovan fossil suggests that this group was present at the site as early as 195,000 years ago (at 95.4% probability). All Neanderthal fossils-as well as Denisova 11, the daughter of a Neanderthal and a Denisovan-date to between 80,000 and 140,000 years ago. The youngest Denisovan dates to 52,000-76,000 years ago. Direct radiocarbon dating of Upper Palaeolithic tooth pendants and bone points yielded the earliest evidence for the production of these artefacts in northern Eurasia, between 43,000 and 49,000 calibrated years before present (taken as AD 1950). On the basis of current archaeological evidence, it may be assumed that these artefacts are associated with the Denisovan population. It is not currently possible to determine whether anatomically modern humans were involved in their production, as modern-human fossil and genetic evidence of such antiquity has not yet been identified in the Altai region.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0870-zDOI Listing
January 2019

Osteophytes in the Cervical Vertebral Bodies (C3-C7)-Demographical Perspectives.

Anat Rec (Hoboken) 2019 02 9;302(2):226-231. Epub 2018 Nov 9.

Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Vertebral osteophytes are an age-dependent manifestation of degenerative changes in the spine. We aimed to determine the prevalence and severity of cervical osteophytosis in a large study population. To do so, we developed a grading system for osteophytosis, enabling the assessment of their presence and severity in the cervical spine, and applied it to the analysis of dried cervical vertebral bodies (C3-C7) from 273 individuals. Statistical analyses were carried out per motion segment, while testing for the effect of age, sex, and ethnicity. The highest prevalence of osteophytes was found in motion segment C5/C6 (48.2%), followed by C4/C5 (44.1%), and last C6/C7 and C3/C4 (40.5%). Severe osteophytes are most commonly seen in motion segment C5/C6. In all motion segments, the inferior discal surface of the upper vertebra manifests more osteophytes than the superior discal surface of the lower one. Osteophytes prevalence is sex-dependent only in the upper cervical vertebrae (C3-C4), and age- and ethnicity-dependent for all vertebrae. Anat Rec, 302:226-231, 2019. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ar.23901DOI Listing
February 2019

The torg ratio of C3-C7 in African Americans and European Americans: A skeletal study.

Clin Anat 2019 Jan;32(1):84-89

Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.

The ratio between the sagittal diameter of the spinal canal and the sagittal diameter of the vertebral body, known as the "Torg ratio", is often used to test for spinal canal narrowing. Here, we investigate this ratio in a large population, consisting of two ethnicities, both sexes and three age groups. Measurements were taken on the dry cervical verterbrae (C3-C7) of 277 individuals using a digital apparatus allowing for the recording of 3D coordinates of a set of landmarks on the vertebral body. Vertebral body and vertebral foramen lengths were compared across the different subgroups. Vertebral body and vertebral foramen lengths differ significantly between males and females and between African Americans and European Americans. With age, the vertebral body length increases while the foramen length does not undergo significant changes. These anatomical differences are reflected in differences in the Torg ratio calculated for the different subgroups. In conclusion, our findings suggest that a hard cutoff on the Torg ratio used to define a pathological narrowing of the cervical spine should be adapted to the population the patients come from. Clin. Anat. 32: 84-89, 2019. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ca.23269DOI Listing
January 2019

The genome of the offspring of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.

Nature 2018 09 22;561(7721):113-116. Epub 2018 Aug 22.

Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.

Neanderthals and Denisovans are extinct groups of hominins that separated from each other more than 390,000 years ago. Here we present the genome of 'Denisova 11', a bone fragment from Denisova Cave (Russia) and show that it comes from an individual who had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father. The father, whose genome bears traces of Neanderthal ancestry, came from a population related to a later Denisovan found in the cave. The mother came from a population more closely related to Neanderthals who lived later in Europe than to an earlier Neanderthal found in Denisova Cave, suggesting that migrations of Neanderthals between eastern and western Eurasia occurred sometime after 120,000 years ago. The finding of a first-generation Neanderthal-Denisovan offspring among the small number of archaic specimens sequenced to date suggests that mixing between Late Pleistocene hominin groups was common when they met.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0455-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6130845PMC
September 2018

The earliest modern humans outside Africa.

Science 2018 Jan;359(6374):456-459

Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, Haifa, Mount Carmel 3498838, Israel.

To date, the earliest modern human fossils found outside of Africa are dated to around 90,000 to 120,000 years ago at the Levantine sites of Skhul and Qafzeh. A maxilla and associated dentition recently discovered at Misliya Cave, Israel, was dated to 177,000 to 194,000 years ago, suggesting that members of the clade left Africa earlier than previously thought. This finding changes our view on modern human dispersal and is consistent with recent genetic studies, which have posited the possibility of an earlier dispersal of around 220,000 years ago. The Misliya maxilla is associated with full-fledged Levallois technology in the Levant, suggesting that the emergence of this technology is linked to the appearance of in the region, as has been documented in Africa.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aap8369DOI Listing
January 2018

A fourth Denisovan individual.

Sci Adv 2017 07 7;3(7):e1700186. Epub 2017 Jul 7.

Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.

The presence of Neandertals in Europe and Western Eurasia before the arrival of anatomically modern humans is well supported by archaeological and paleontological data. In contrast, fossil evidence for Denisovans, a sister group of Neandertals recently identified on the basis of DNA sequences, is limited to three specimens, all of which originate from Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains (Siberia, Russia). We report the retrieval of DNA from a deciduous lower second molar (), discovered in a deep stratigraphic layer in Denisova Cave, and show that this tooth comes from a female Denisovan individual. On the basis of the number of "missing substitutions" in the mitochondrial DNA determined from the specimen, we find that is substantially older than two of the other Denisovans, reinforcing the view that Denisovans were likely to have been present in the vicinity of Denisova Cave over an extended time period. We show that the level of nuclear DNA sequence diversity found among Denisovans is within the lower range of that of present-day human populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1700186DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5501502PMC
July 2017

The influence of impact direction and axial loading on the bone fracture pattern.

Forensic Sci Int 2017 Aug 22;277:197-206. Epub 2017 May 22.

Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel. Electronic address:

The effect of the direction of the impact and the presence of axial loading on fracture patterns have not yet been established in experimental 3-point bending studies.

Purpose: To reveal the association between the direction of the force and the fracture pattern, with and without axial loading.

Material And Methods: A Dynatup Model POE 2000 (Instron Co.) low energy pendulum impact machine was utilized to apply impact loading on fresh pig femoral bones (n=50). The bone clamp shaft was adjusted to position the bone for three-point bending with and without additional bone compression. Four different directions of the force were applied: anterior, posterior, lateral, and medial.

Results: The impacted aspect can be distinguished from the non-impacted aspects based on the fracture pattern alone (the most fractured one); the impact point can be identified on bare bones (the area from which all oblique lines radiate and/or the presence of a chip fragment). None of our experiments (with and without compression) yielded a "true" butterfly fracture, but instead, oblique radiating lines emerged from the point of impact (also known as "false" butterfly). Impacts on the lateral and anterior aspects of the bones produce more and longer fracture lines than impacts on the contralateral side; bones subjected to an impact with axial loading are significantly more comminuted and fragmented. Under axial loading, the number of fracture lines is independent of the impact direction. Our study presents an experimental model for fracture analysis and shows that the impact direction and the presence of axial loading during impact significantly affect the fracture pattern obtained.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2017.05.015DOI Listing
August 2017

Direct radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis of the Darra-i-Kur (Afghanistan) human temporal bone.

J Hum Evol 2017 06 4;107:86-93. Epub 2017 May 4.

Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3QY, United Kingdom.

The temporal bone discovered in the 1960s from the Darra-i-Kur cave in Afghanistan is often cited as one of the very few Pleistocene human fossils from Central Asia. Here we report the first direct radiocarbon date for the specimen and the genetic analyses of DNA extracted and sequenced from two areas of the bone. The new radiocarbon determination places the find to ∼4500 cal BP (∼2500 BCE) contradicting an assumed Palaeolithic age of ∼30,000 years, as originally suggested. The DNA retrieved from the specimen originates from a male individual who carried mitochondrial DNA of the modern human type. The petrous part yielded more endogenous ancient DNA molecules than the squamous part of the same bone. Molecular dating of the Darra-i-Kur mitochondrial DNA sequence corroborates the radiocarbon date and suggests that the specimen is younger than previously thought. Taken together, the results consolidate the fact that the human bone is not associated with the Pleistocene-age deposits of Darra-i-Kur; instead it is intrusive, possibly re-deposited from upper levels dating to much later periods (Neolithic). Despite its Holocene age, the Darra-i-Kur specimen is, so far, the first and only ancient human from Afghanistan whose DNA has been sequenced.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.03.003DOI Listing
June 2017

Neandertal and Denisovan DNA from Pleistocene sediments.

Science 2017 May 27;356(6338):605-608. Epub 2017 Apr 27.

Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.

Although a rich record of Pleistocene human-associated archaeological assemblages exists, the scarcity of hominin fossils often impedes the understanding of which hominins occupied a site. Using targeted enrichment of mitochondrial DNA, we show that cave sediments represent a rich source of ancient mammalian DNA that often includes traces of hominin DNA, even at sites and in layers where no hominin remains have been discovered. By automation-assisted screening of numerous sediment samples, we detected Neandertal DNA in eight archaeological layers from four caves in Eurasia. In Denisova Cave, we retrieved Denisovan DNA in a Middle Pleistocene layer near the bottom of the stratigraphy. Our work opens the possibility of detecting the presence of hominin groups at sites and in areas where no skeletal remains are found.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aam9695DOI Listing
May 2017

In the quest for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis etiology: the Schmorl's nodes model.

BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2017 04 20;18(1):164. Epub 2017 Apr 20.

Department of Physical Therapy, Zefat Academic College, Zefat, Israel.

Background: Degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis (DLSS) is a common health problem in the elderly and usually associated with three-joint complex degeneration. Schmorl's nodes (SNs) are described as vertical herniation of the disc into the vertebral body through a weakened part of the end plate that can lead to disc degeneration. Since SNs can harm the spine unit stability, the association between DLSS and SNs is expected. The aim of this study is to shed light on the relationship between degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis and SNs.

Methods: Two groups of individuals were studied: the first included 165 individuals with DLSS (age range: 40-88, sex ratio: 80 M/85 F) and the second 180 individuals without spinal stenosis related symptoms (age range: 40-99, sex ratio: 90 M/90 F). The presence or absence of SNs on the cranial and caudal end plate surfaces at the lumbosacral region (from L1 to S1 vertebra) was recorded, using CT images (Brilliance 64 Philips Medical System, Cleveland Ohio, thickness of the sections was 1-3 mm and MAS, 80-250). Chi-Square test was taken to compare the prevalence of SNs between the study groups (control and stenosis) by lumbar disc level, for each gender separately. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was also used to determine the association between DLSS and SNs.

Results: The prevalence rate of SNs was significantly greater in the stenosis males (L1-2 to L5-S1) and females (L4-5 and L4-S1) compared to their counterparts in the control (P < 0.001). In addition, the presence of SNs in both males and females was found to increase the likelihood for DLSS.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that SNs prevalence is significantly greater in the DLSS group compared to the control. Furthermore, SNs are strongly associated with DLSS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12891-017-1512-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5397788PMC
April 2017

The effect of impact tool geometry and soft material covering on long bone fracture patterns in children.

Int J Legal Med 2017 Jul 2;131(4):1011-1021. Epub 2017 Feb 2.

Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, 69978, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Introduction: The effect of impact tool geometry and soft material covering on bone fracture patterns plays a major role in fracture patterns. However, the literature is nearly void of such studies and only general correlations between the fracture pattern and the mechanism underlying the insult were reported.

Purpose: The aim of this study is to reveal the association between the geometry of the impact tool and the presence of soft material covering on bone fracture patterns. The Dynatup Model POE 2000 (Instron Co.) low energy pendulum impact machine was utilized to apply impact loading on fresh pig femoral bones (n = 50). The bone clamp shaft was adjusted to position the bone for three-point bending with additional bone compression simulating a situation occurring in pedestrian road traffic accidents. Five different tests using varying impact tool sizes with and without soft interface covering were carried out.

Results: A significant positive correlation was found between the fracture features and the impact tool's geometry. Only bones that were damaged by a rounded impact body result in a "false" butterfly fragment; in all other cases where the impact body is flat and wide, double trapezoid fragments are observed in the area of impact. The impacted aspect is the most affected. All fracture line features were significantly greater in bones subjected to an impact by tools without soft covering. With an impact with soft covering, the impacted aspect exhibits numerous unique fracture lines and a fragmented pattern. Our study clearly shows that impact tool geometry and soft material covering markedly affect the fracture pattern.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00414-017-1532-7DOI Listing
July 2017

Paraspinal muscles density: a marker for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis?

BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2016 10 10;17(1):422. Epub 2016 Oct 10.

Department of Physical Therapy, Zefat Academic College, Zefat, Israel.

Background: The condition of paraspinal muscles is known to be associated with some variables such as age, gender, and low back pain. It is generally agreed that these muscles play an important role in the stability and functional movements of the lumbar vertebral column. Although spinal instability has been shown to play an essential role in degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis (DLSS), the role of paraspinal muscles remains elusive. The main purpose of this study was to shed light on the relationship between the condition of paraspinal muscles and symptomatic DLSS.

Methods: Two sample populations were studied. The first included 165 individuals with DLSS (age range: 40-88, sex ratio: 80 M/85 F) and the second 180 individuals without spinal stenosis related symptoms and low back pain (age range: 40-99, sex ratio: 90 M/90 F). Measurements were taken at the middle part of L3 vertebral body, using CT axial images (Philips Brilliance 64). Muscles density was measured in Hounsfield units (HU) using a 50 mm circle of the muscle mass at three different locations and the mean density was then calculated. The cross-sectional area (CSA) was also measured using the quantitative CT angiography method. Analysis of Covariance (adjusted for body mass index and age) was performed in order to determine the relationship between the condition of paraspinal muscles and symptomatic DLSS.

Results: Individuals in the stenosis group had higher muscle density as compared to the control group. The CSA values for the erector spinae (both sexes) and psoas (males) muscles were significantly greater in the stenosis group as compared to their counterparts in the control group. Additionally, density of multifidus (both sexes) and erector spinae (males) muscles was significantly associated with symptomatic DLSS.

Conclusions: Our results show that individuals with symptomatic DLSS manifest greater paraspinal muscles density and CSA (erector spinae), compared to the control group. Density of multifidus increases the likelihood of symptomatic DLSS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12891-016-1282-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5057209PMC
October 2016

Demographic aspects in cervical vertebral bodies' size and shape (C3-C7): a skeletal study.

Spine J 2017 01 17;17(1):135-142. Epub 2016 Aug 17.

Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv 6997801, Israel. Electronic address:

Background Context: This cross-sectional study was conducted on the skeletal remains of individuals of known sex, age, and ethnic origin. The vertebral bodies of levels C3-C7 were measured and analyzed. Whereas many studies were performed on the size and shape of the vertebral bodies in the thoracic and lumbar spines, few have focused on the cervical vertebral bodies. Thus, there is insufficient data in the literature on the anatomy of the cervical spine, especially based on large study populations.

Purpose: To establish a large database on cervical vertebral bodies' size and shape and analyze their association with demographic parameters.

Study Design: The population studied was composed of 277 individuals, adult males and females of African American (AA) and European American (EA) origin. The skeletal remains are housed at the Hamman-Todd Osteological collection (Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, OH).

Methods: A 3-D digitizer was used to measure the size and shape of the C3-C7 vertebral bodies. Descriptive statistics were carried out for all measurements. t Test and one-way analysis of variance were performed to assess differences in vertebral bodies' size and shape between different demographical groups (by age, sex, and ethnicity).

Results: The vertebral bodies and foramina are significantly wider, more elongated, and higher in males compared to females. AA females and males manifest significantly greater vertebral bodies (width and length) in the upper and midcervical region (vertebrae C3-C5) than EA females and males. Nevertheless, the heights of the C3 and C4 vertebral bodies are significantly smaller among the AA population, regardless of sex. The vertebral foramina's width does not differ significantly between the two ethnic groups, independent of sex, whereas they tend to be elongated in the EA group (significant for C3, C5, C7). For most vertebrae, no significant differences were found in the superior facets' length between AA and EA males and females. Cervical vertebral bodies become wider and more elongated with age, although the changes in the latter dimension are much more pronounced than in the former. Notably, the body shape of the cervical vertebrae changes gradually from a more round shape (C3 length/width index=0.84) to a more oval one (C7 length/width index =0.65). This is due to the fact that the width dimensions increase by almost 40% from C3 to C7, whereas the length dimensions increase only by approximately 10%. Furthermore, there is a significant reduction in body height with age in C3-C6. In contrast, no significant changes in vertebral foramen size with age were found.

Conclusions: The cervical vertebral bodies' shape and size are sex-dependent phenomena, that is, in all parameters studied, the dimensions were greater in males than in females. For the midcervical level, there is a difference in body shape between individuals of different ethnic origins. The cervical vertebral bodies also exhibit considerable size and shape changes with age, that is, they become more elongated (oval shaped), wider, and shorter. In contrast, vertebral foramen size is age independent.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2016.08.022DOI Listing
January 2017

The impact velocity and bone fracture pattern: Forensic perspective.

Forensic Sci Int 2016 Sep 7;266:54-62. Epub 2016 May 7.

Laboratory of Fine Measurements, Dental School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Israel. Electronic address:

Studies on bone-energy interaction are meager and revealed only a general correlation between the fracture pattern and the mechanism of the insult. This study has two objectives, to establish a usable fracture analysis method and to reveal the association between the energy of the force and the fracture pattern. Dynatup Model POE 2000 (Instron Co.) low energy pendulum impact machine was utilized to apply impact loading on fresh pig femoral bones (n=30). The bone clamp shaft was adjusted to position the bone for three-point bending with additional bone compression. Three different velocities of the forced applied were carried out. On average, the number, length and the curviness of the fracture lines created under moderate and high-energy impact is significantly higher compared to a low-energy impact. Most fractures lines were located on the impacted aspect in bones subjected to moderate- and high-velocity impact. Four oblique-radial fracture lines running from the point of impact creating a double butterfly pattern were found in bones subjected to moderate and high-velocity impact. Only "false" wedge-shaped (butterfly) fragments were found in the current study. Our results suggest an association between fracture pattern and the velocity of the impact.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2016.04.035DOI Listing
September 2016

The genetic history of Ice Age Europe.

Nature 2016 06 2;534(7606):200-5. Epub 2016 May 2.

Instituto Internacional de Investigaciones Prehistóricas, Universidad de Cantabria, 39005 Santander, Spain.

Modern humans arrived in Europe ~45,000 years ago, but little is known about their genetic composition before the start of farming ~8,500 years ago. Here we analyse genome-wide data from 51 Eurasians from ~45,000-7,000 years ago. Over this time, the proportion of Neanderthal DNA decreased from 3-6% to around 2%, consistent with natural selection against Neanderthal variants in modern humans. Whereas there is no evidence of the earliest modern humans in Europe contributing to the genetic composition of present-day Europeans, all individuals between ~37,000 and ~14,000 years ago descended from a single founder population which forms part of the ancestry of present-day Europeans. An ~35,000-year-old individual from northwest Europe represents an early branch of this founder population which was then displaced across a broad region, before reappearing in southwest Europe at the height of the last Ice Age ~19,000 years ago. During the major warming period after ~14,000 years ago, a genetic component related to present-day Near Easterners became widespread in Europe. These results document how population turnover and migration have been recurring themes of European prehistory.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature17993DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4943878PMC
June 2016

Identification of a new hominin bone from Denisova Cave, Siberia using collagen fingerprinting and mitochondrial DNA analysis.

Sci Rep 2016 Mar 29;6:23559. Epub 2016 Mar 29.

Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, M13 9PL, UK.

DNA sequencing has revolutionised our understanding of archaic humans during the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic. Unfortunately, while many Palaeolithic sites contain large numbers of bones, the majority of these lack the diagnostic features necessary for traditional morphological identification. As a result the recovery of Pleistocene-age human remains is extremely rare. To circumvent this problem we have applied a method of collagen fingerprinting to more than 2000 fragmented bones from the site of Denisova Cave, Russia, in order to facilitate the discovery of human remains. As a result of our analysis a single hominin bone (Denisova 11) was identified, supported through in-depth peptide sequencing analysis, and found to carry mitochondrial DNA of the Neandertal type. Subsequent radiocarbon dating revealed the bone to be >50,000 years old. Here we demonstrate the huge potential collagen fingerprinting has for identifying hominin remains in highly fragmentary archaeological assemblages, improving the resources available for wider studies into human evolution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep23559DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4810434PMC
March 2016

Vertebral Hemangiomas and Their Correlation With Other Pathologies.

Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2016 Apr;41(8):E481-8

*Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, The Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel †Department of Radiology, Carmel Medical Center, Haifa, Israel ‡Department of Physical Therapy, Zefat Academic College, Zefat, Israel.

Study Design: This cross-sectional study was carried out on 196 adults (98 men and 98 women), aged between 18 and 91 years.

Objective: To examine whether vertebral hemangiomas (VHs) are associated with other spinal pathologies, metabolic diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and past trauma, to shed light on their possible pathophysiology.

Summary Of Background Data: VHs are the most common form of benign tumors in the spine. Their association with spinal and systemic pathologies has not yet been systematically studied.

Methods: Clinical data were gathered from full spine CT scans and medical records.

Results: VHs were significantly associated with disc lesions (P = 0.004), past trauma (P = 0.037), diabetes (χ = 5.179, P = 0.023), cardio-vascular diseases (χ = 8.625, P = 0.003), and cancer (χ = 5.820, P = 0.016), but not with obesity. Only medium-large size VHs were significantly associated with osteoporosis (χ = 6.695, P = 0.010).

Conclusion: The pattern of diseases related to VHs suggests a common cause for VH, namely, a disruption of vascular flow in the microvessels (accompanied by endothelium damage) within the vertebral body, eventually resulting in hypervascularization.

Level Of Evidence: 4.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/BRS.0000000000001464DOI Listing
April 2016

Schmutzi: estimation of contamination and endogenous mitochondrial consensus calling for ancient DNA.

Genome Biol 2015 Oct 12;16:224. Epub 2015 Oct 12.

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig, Germany.

Unlabelled: Ancient DNA is typically highly degraded with appreciable cytosine deamination, and contamination with present-day DNA often complicates the identification of endogenous molecules. Together, these factors impede accurate assembly of the endogenous ancient mitochondrial genome. We present schmutzi, an iterative approach to jointly estimate present-day human contamination in ancient human DNA datasets and reconstruct the endogenous mitochondrial genome. By using sequence deamination patterns and fragment length distributions, schmutzi accurately reconstructs the endogenous mitochondrial genome sequence even when contamination exceeds 50 %. Given sufficient coverage, schmutzi also produces reliable estimates of contamination across a range of contamination rates.

Availability: https://bioinf.eva.mpg.de/schmutzi/ license:GPLv3.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13059-015-0776-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4601135PMC
October 2015

Vertebral hemangiomas: their demographical characteristics, location along the spine and position within the vertebral body.

Eur Spine J 2015 Oct 19;24(10):2189-95. Epub 2015 May 19.

Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, The Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, P.O. Box 39040, 6997801, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Purpose: Vertebral hemangiomas (VHs) are the most common form of benign tumors in the spine. The aim of this research was to study the prevalence of VHs in the human population, their distribution along the spine and their location in the vertebral body.

Methods: The presence of VHs was assessed in full spine CT scans of 196 adults. Demographic data were gathered from medical records.

Results: VHs were present in 26.0% of the individuals studied, a rate significantly higher (χ2=43.338, p<0.001) than the prevalence reported in the literature (10.7%). Multiple VHs (≥2) appeared in 7.2% of the population studied. VHs prevalence is sex-independent, appearing in 28.6% of females and 23.5% of males (χ2=0.663, p=0.416); and age-dependent: the mean age of affected individuals (65.8 years) was significantly higher (p<0.001) than unaffected individuals (56.2 years). VH size was also age-dependent (p=0.023). No vertebra was significantly more prone to be affected by a hemangioma. T11 and T12 show the highest prevalence of VHs (3.57% of vertebrae affected). VHs were found in similar percentages in the anterior and posterior parts of the vertebral body (52.8 vs. 47.2%, respectively); and at its center and periphery (50.1 and 49.9%, respectively). VHs usually appeared at mid-height of the vertebral body or slightly higher.

Conclusions: The reported prevalence of VHs is dependent on the demographic structure of the population studied, the size of the VHs and the method used to identify them. Overall, the phenomenon is more frequent than usually reported. VHs may appear at all vertebral levels and in all areas of the vertebral body.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00586-015-4022-yDOI Listing
October 2015

Levantine cranium from Manot Cave (Israel) foreshadows the first European modern humans.

Nature 2015 Apr 28;520(7546):216-9. Epub 2015 Jan 28.

Israel Antiquities Authority, PO Box 586, Jerusalem 91004, Israel.

A key event in human evolution is the expansion of modern humans of African origin across Eurasia between 60 and 40 thousand years (kyr) before present (bp), replacing all other forms of hominins. Owing to the scarcity of human fossils from this period, these ancestors of all present-day non-African modern populations remain largely enigmatic. Here we describe a partial calvaria, recently discovered at Manot Cave (Western Galilee, Israel) and dated to 54.7 ± 5.5 kyr bp (arithmetic mean ± 2 standard deviations) by uranium-thorium dating, that sheds light on this crucial event. The overall shape and discrete morphological features of the Manot 1 calvaria demonstrate that this partial skull is unequivocally modern. It is similar in shape to recent African skulls as well as to European skulls from the Upper Palaeolithic period, but different from most other early anatomically modern humans in the Levant. This suggests that the Manot people could be closely related to the first modern humans who later successfully colonized Europe. Thus, the anatomical features used to support the 'assimilation model' in Europe might not have been inherited from European Neanderthals, but rather from earlier Levantine populations. Moreover, at present, Manot 1 is the only modern human specimen to provide evidence that during the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic interface, both modern humans and Neanderthals contemporaneously inhabited the southern Levant, close in time to the likely interbreeding event with Neanderthals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature14134DOI Listing
April 2015

The plastered skulls from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B site of Yiftahel (Israel)--a computed tomography-based analysis.

PLoS One 2014 19;9(2):e89242. Epub 2014 Feb 19.

Department of Excavations, Surveys and Research, Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem, Israel.

Three plastered skulls, dating to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, were found at the site of Yiftahel, in the Lower Galilee (Israel). The skulls underwent refitting and restoration processes, details of which are described herein. All three belong to adults, of which two appear to be males and one appears to be a female. Virtual cross-sections were studied and a density analysis of the plaster was performed using computed tomography scans. These were utilized to yield information regarding the modeling process. Similarities and differences between the Yiftahel and other plastered skulls from the Levant are examined. The possible role of skull plastering within a society undergoing a shift from a hunting-gathering way of life to a food producing strategy is discussed.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0089242PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3929714PMC
October 2014

Malocclusion in early anatomically modern human: a reflection on the etiology of modern dental misalignment.

PLoS One 2013 20;8(11):e80771. Epub 2013 Nov 20.

Department of Orthodontics, Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel . ; Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel.

Malocclusions are common in modern populations. Yet, as the study of occlusion requires an almost intact dentition in both the maxilla and mandible, searching for the ultimate cause of malocclusion is a challenge: relatively little ancient material is available for research on occlusal states. The Qafzeh 9 skull is unique, as its preserved dentition allowed us to investigate the presence and manifestations of malocclusion. The aim of this study was thus to examine the occlusal condition in the Qafzeh 9 specimen in light of modern knowledge regarding the etiology of malocclusion. We revealed a pathologic occlusion in the Qafzeh 9 skull that probably originated in the early developmental stage of the dentition, and was aggravated by forces applied by mastication. When arch continuity is interrupted due to misalignment of teeth as in this case, force transmission is not equal on both sides, causing intra-arch outcomes such as mesialization of the teeth, midline deviation, rotations and the aggravation of crowding. All are evident in the Qafzeh 9 skull: the midline deviates to the left; the incisors rotate mesio-buccally; the left segment is constricted; the left first molar is buccally positioned and the left premolars palatally tilted. The inter-arch evaluation revealed anterior cross bite with functional shift that might affect force transmission and bite force. In conclusion, the findings of the current study suggest that malocclusion of developmental origin was already present in early anatomically modern humans (AMH) (the present case being the oldest known case, dated to ca. 100,000 years); that there is no basis to the notion that early AMH had a better adjustment between teeth and jaw size; and that jaw-teeth size discrepancy could be found in prehistoric populations and is not a recent phenomenon.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0080771PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3835570PMC
December 2014