Nakali is an early Late Miocene fossil locality in north-central Kenya, where the Kenya–Japan Joint Expedition team has carried out fieldwork since 2002. Previously, a large hominoid Nakalipithecus nakayamai was reported from site NA39 of this locality. In addition to Nakalipithecus, the hominoid material collected from Nakali includes an isolated P3, which shows a considerably different morphology from the P3 assigned to Nakalipithecus, suggesting the presence of a different hominoid species. The general morphology of this P3 is reminiscent of that of primitive hominoids such as Proconsul, which are mainly known from the Early Miocene of East Africa. Although the present material is limited, the presence of a primitive-looking second hominoid species in Nakali indicates a higher hominoid (and hominoid-like catarrhine) diversity in the early Late Miocene of Africa than previously envisaged.
Microsatellites are highly mutable elements in eukaryotic genomes. Although they are widely used by researchers as genetic markers and tools for evolutionary studies, the full mutation mechanisms and factors affecting the mutation rate of microsatellites are not well understood. Microsatellite loci shared by human, chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan and rhesus macaque genomes were sorted into four different perfection status groups named Perfect, Imperfect, Perfect-Compound, and Imperfect-Compound. We found that compound microsatellite loci generally had no significant effect on mutation rates, while imperfect microsatellite loci significantly lowered mutation rates compared to perfect ones (P = 1 × 10−4). The significant difference resulted from a small amount of interruption (1–2 bp) within microsatellites, especially when the loci were shorter than 14–15 repeats. Furthermore, real perfect loci were used to compare with split up ‘perfect loci’ actually obtained from the imperfect group. We found that the mutation rates were significantly different from each other for small numbers of repeats, especially in 7–9 repeats (P < 0.05). This suggests that an imperfect locus should not be considered as two or more separated perfect loci. This also raises the question that the algorithms currently used to find microsatellite loci based on mismatch penalties may result not only in heterogeneous microsatellite data sets with heterogeneous numbers of imperfect loci but also in data sets that are biased in mutation rate because of these imperfect loci.
A complete deciduous dentition was excavated from the Mesolithic site of Damdama (8800– 8600 BC) in the Gangetic Plain of north India. The site yielded remains of 47 individuals, including one child specimen 3.0–3.5 years of age, in association with an aceramic, microlithic technology and a seminomadic foraging pattern. Because sub-adult dental remains from Mesolithic contexts are very rare in South Asia, this specimen yields critical insight into deciduous dental attributes, including: (i) tooth crown size and temporal trends in dental reduction; (ii) non-metric dental morphology and biological affinity; and (iii) dental pathology, physiological stress, and diet. Standardized methods were employed in each component of the analysis, and most comparative samples were analyzed by the author, reducing the potential for inter-observer variance in data collection.
We present the oldest human skeletal case yet identified with possible SAPHO syndrome (synovitis, acne, pustulosis, hyperostosis, osteitis), a chronic disease involving the skin, bone, and joints. A human skeleton with a severe pathological condition was recovered from a shell mound of the prehistoric Okhotsk culture at the Hamanaka 2 site, Rebun Island, Hokkaido, Japan in 2013. Morphological and Amelogenin gene analyses determined the sex as female, and the age at time of death was estimated to be in the forties using analysis of the auricular surface of the ilium. The stable isotope ratios of this individual (NAT002) and other Hamanaka 2 samples indicated a heavy dependence on marine mammals and fish for dietary protein intake. Radiocarbon age on collagen from the bone of NAT002 was 1689 ± 20 BP, or 1060–1155 (68.2%) calAD. Macroscopic and computed tomography (CT) findings indicated diffuse hyperostosis in the axial and appendicular skeleton, including the mandible, vertebrae, clavicles, sternum, scapulae, humeri, radii, ulnae, and ilium, caused by osteitis and synovitis. The bilateral clavicles were most affected, in which CT imaging revealed irregular cortical thickening, termed ‘grotesque periostitis.’ The case was diagnosed as most likely having SAPHO syndrome, although dermatological findings could not be detected. Although SAPHO syndrome is a fairly new concept in autoimmune diseases, this case suggests the syndrome originated much earlier in human history.
This study examines the health and lifestyle of some of Taiwan’s earliest Neolithic inhabitants using skeletons from the Nankuanli East site (c. 5000–4200 BP) from the Tainan Science Park in southwestern Taiwan. Two indicators of health, cribra orbitalia and adult stature, and evidence of dental staining are reported for the first time. Comparisons between males and females, and between the early Neolithic Taiwan, Iron Age Taiwan (Shihsanhang site), and with skeletal series from surrounding regions of East and Southeast Asia are made. The estimated average stature, using non-ethnic formulae, is 160.1 cm for males and 154.7 cm for females from the Nankuanli East site, statures that are similar to those of indigenous Taiwanese and other prehistoric inhabitants from surrounding regions. Twenty-five percent of the adult individuals from Nankuanli East exhibit cribra orbitalia, a childhood indicator of health that is not significantly different between males and females. Approximately 75% of male and 52% of female teeth exhibit some type of staining, a difference that is statistically significant. Although taphonomic processes, such as the mineral content of the soil, may account for the observed dental staining, the dental profile suggests that the staining may be due to chewing betel (areca) nut. Comparisons with Iron Age skeletons from the Shihsanhang site, once again, do not support the prediction of a decline in health during the transition from early Neolithic to Iron Age Taiwan. Overall, the similarities in health between the early Neolithic and later Iron Age inhabitants of Taiwan indicate similar subsistence economies based on marine and terrestrial resources. Further studies of the skeletons from the Nankuanli East site and other sites in the Tainan Science Park will improve our understanding of the health and lifestyle of Taiwan prehistoric inhabitants.
In 1999, during the excavation of Khaiyrgas Cave on the Middle Lena River in Yakutia (in the Russian Federation), a fragmented human deciduous tooth was discovered in the upper 5th (Paleolithic) horizon, at the contact with the 4th (Mesolithic) horizon. The cave is one of a number of interesting Upper Paleolithic sites on the Lena, located at the border of two cultural regions: Lake Baikal and Yakutia. Previous findings indicate active cultural and perhaps ethnic contacts, in particular with areas of the Lower Angara region and Northern Baikal. In order to determine the morphology and taxonomic position of the tooth, its metric and non-metric parameters were studied. Comparative analysis indicates that the tooth characteristics adhere to the Eastern dental pattern with some archaic traits. This tooth is one of the earliest known human remains in Yakutia, which are crucial for the study of the ancient population of the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic in North-East Asia. Its conformity with the Eastern dental pattern confirms the alleged affiliation of human groups that inhabited the territory of Yakutia in the late Pleistocene/early Holocene to the Mongoloid anthropological type. In addition, the results of comparative analysis suggest the presence of ancient affinities between the Upper Paleolithic populations of North-Eastern and Western Siberia.
The co-occurrence of a bregmatic bone and metopism is an extremely rare finding. In the present study we investigate, compare, and describe this uncommon combination in two skulls of a child and an adult male. Both samples were from the osteological collection of the Institute of Experimental Morphology, Pathology and Anthropology with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The skulls were obtained from archaeological excavations of two necropoles located on the northern Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. The samples were macroscopically observed and measured. A CT scan was also performed in order to investigate the internal structure and the relation between the calvarial bones. Both bregmatic bones were slightly prominent unpaired structures wedged into the frontal and parietal bones with a developed diploic space. In the child, the frontal sinus was underdeveloped, whereas in the adult the frontal sinuses were well developed on both sides of the metopic suture. In the latter, an osteoma on the left side of the sinus was observed. The retention of the metopic suture along with the formation of a bregmatic bone could be considered as indispensable accessory sites for the regulation of the bone growth as a response to the increasing brain mass requirements under specific circumstances. This could be a mechanism for maintaining the optimal balance between the calvarial shape and size for a maximal effectiveness and stability in the presence of some developmental abnormalities.