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      Early dispersal of modern humans in Europe and implications for Neanderthal behaviour.

      Nature

      Animals, Dental Enamel, anatomy & histology, Emigration and Immigration, history, Fossils, History, Ancient, Humans, Italy, Molar, Neanderthals, physiology

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          Abstract

          The appearance of anatomically modern humans in Europe and the nature of the transition from the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic are matters of intense debate. Most researchers accept that before the arrival of anatomically modern humans, Neanderthals had adopted several 'transitional' technocomplexes. Two of these, the Uluzzian of southern Europe and the Châtelperronian of western Europe, are key to current interpretations regarding the timing of arrival of anatomically modern humans in the region and their potential interaction with Neanderthal populations. They are also central to current debates regarding the cognitive abilities of Neanderthals and the reasons behind their extinction. However, the actual fossil evidence associated with these assemblages is scant and fragmentary, and recent work has questioned the attribution of the Châtelperronian to Neanderthals on the basis of taphonomic mixing and lithic analysis. Here we reanalyse the deciduous molars from the Grotta del Cavallo (southern Italy), associated with the Uluzzian and originally classified as Neanderthal. Using two independent morphometric methods based on microtomographic data, we show that the Cavallo specimens can be attributed to anatomically modern humans. The secure context of the teeth provides crucial evidence that the makers of the Uluzzian technocomplex were therefore not Neanderthals. In addition, new chronometric data for the Uluzzian layers of Grotta del Cavallo obtained from associated shell beads and included within a Bayesian age model show that the teeth must date to ~45,000-43,000 calendar years before present. The Cavallo human remains are therefore the oldest known European anatomically modern humans, confirming a rapid dispersal of modern humans across the continent before the Aurignacian and the disappearance of Neanderthals. ©2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved

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          Most cited references 16

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          IntCal09 and Marine09 Radiocarbon Age Calibration Curves, 0–50,000 Years cal BP

          The IntCal04 and Marine04 radiocarbon calibration curves have been updated from 12 cal kBP (cal kBP is here defined as thousands of calibrated years before AD 1950), and extended to 50 cal kBP, utilizing newly available data sets that meet the IntCal Working Group criteria for pristine corals and other carbonates and for quantification of uncertainty in both the14C and calendar timescales as established in 2002. No change was made to the curves from 0–12 cal kBP. The curves were constructed using a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) implementation of the random walk model used for IntCal04 and Marine04. The new curves were ratified at the 20th International Radiocarbon Conference in June 2009 and are available in the Supplemental Material atwww.radiocarbon.org.
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            Patterns of molar wear in hunger-gatherers and agriculturalists.

             Tyler Smith (1983)
            Tooth wear records valuable information on diet and methods of food preparation in prehistoric populations or extinct species. In this study, samples of modern and prehistoric hunger-gatherers and agriculturalists are used to test the hypothesis that there are systematic differences in patterns of tooth wear related to major differences in subsistence and food preparation. Flatness of molar wear is compared for five groups in hunger-gatherers (N = 298) and five groups of early agriculturalists (N = 365). Hunger-gatherers are predicted to develop flatter molar wear due to the mastication of tough and fibrous foods, whereas agriculturalists should develop oblique molar wear due to an increase in the proportion of ground and prepared food in the diet. A method is presented for the quantitative measurement and analysis of flatness of molar wear. Comparisons of wear plane angle are made between teeth matched for the same stage of occlusal surface wear, thus standardizing all groups to the same rate of wear. Agriculturalists develop highly angled occlusal wear planes on the entire molar dentition. Their wear plane angles tend to exceed hunger-gatherers by about 10 degrees in advanced wear. Wear plane angles are similar within subsistence divisions despite regional differences in particular foods. This approach can be used to provide supporting evidence of change in human subsistence and to test dietary hypotheses in hominoid evolution.
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              A late Neanderthal associated with Upper Palaeolithic artefacts.

              The French site of Arcy-sur-Cure is a key locality in documenting the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition in Europe. Reliable attribution of the fragmentary hominid fossils associated with its early Upper Palaeolithic Châtelperronian industry has not been possible. Here we report the first conclusive identification of one of these fossils as Neanderthal on the basis of newly discovered derived features of the bony labyrinth. Dated at about thirty-four thousand years (34 kyr) ago, the fossil is representative of the youngest known Neanderthal populations, and its archaeological context indicates that these hominids used a rich bone industry as well as personal ornaments. The evidence supports the hypothesis of a long term coexistence with technocultural interactions between the first modern humans and the last Neanderthals in Europe. However, the complete absence of the derived Neanderthal traits in labyrinths of modern Upper Palaeolithic specimens from western Europe argues against phylogenetic continuity between the two populations in this region.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                22048311
                10.1038/nature10617

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