The hypothesis of an American origin of acquired (venereal) syphilis and other infectious diseases carried by Columbus’s crew has been considered for a long time as the most plausible one, and has been supported recently by considerable anthropological and molecular evidence. According to this line of thought, it can be argued that Spain would have been the gateway of acquired syphilis, which quickly expanded after the return of Columbus in the late 15th century. However, the hypothesis that syphilis previously existed in Europe but went unrecognized has also been considered by many authors. The present work reports one Pre-Columbian putative case of venereal syphilis found in a Spanish necropolis and radiocarbon dated to the 9th–11th century. The complexities of carrying out accurate diagnoses in remains from archaeological timeframes are addressed by the combined use of palaeopathological, medical, and histological techniques. The results, which point toward third-stage acquired syphilis, spark discussion about the need to revisit or complement the theories and hypothesis on the origin of syphilis in the light of a growing body of cases from European historical populations.
Considering the geographical setting of the Japanese archipelago at the periphery of the Asian continent, regional variation in Jomon phenotypes can be interpreted as an outcome of population history. In this paper, we focused on regional variation in the Jomon craniofacial morphology and assumed that the observed regional differences were a reflection of the formation process of the Jomon population, which is a mixture of intrinsic expansion of an initial population with extrinsic influence of hypothetical gene flow. Compiled craniometric data from archeological site reports indicate that Jomon skulls, especially in the neurocranium, exhibit a discernible level of northeast-to-southwest geographical cline across the Japanese archipelago, placing the Hokkaido and Okinawa samples at both extreme ends. A quantitative genetic approach using an R-matrix method indicates that the cranial parts of the neurocranium and mandible exhibit a proportionately larger regional variation, the former of which confirms a trend of geographical cline and reveals the respective region presumably having different population histories with their respective local backgrounds. The following scenarios can be hypothesized with caution: (a) the formation of Jomon population seemed to proceed in eastern or central Japan, not western Japan (Okinawa or Kyushu regions); (b) the Kyushu Jomon could have a small-sized and isolated population history; and (c) the population history of Hokkaido Jomon could have been deeply rooted and/or affected by long-term extrinsic gene flows.
Homo erectus is among the best-represented fossil hominin species, with a particularly rich record in Indonesia. Understanding variation within this sample and relative to other groups of H. erectus in China, Georgia, and Africa is crucial for answering questions about H. erectus migration, local adaptation, and evolutionary history. Neurocranial shape is analyzed within the Indonesian sample, including representatives from Sangiran, Ngandong, Sambungmacan, and Ngawi, as well as a comparative sample of H. erectus from outside of Java, using three-dimensional geometric morphometric techniques. This study includes several more recently described Indonesian fossils, including Sambungmacan 4 and Skull IX, producing a more complete view of Indonesian variation than seen in previous shape analyses. While Asian fossils can be distinguished from the African/Georgian ones, there is not a single cranial Bauplan that distinguishes all Indonesian fossils from those in other geographic areas. Nevertheless, late Indonesian H. erectus, from sites such as Ngandong, are quite distinct relative to all other H. erectus groups, including earlier fossils from the same region. It is possible that this pattern represents a loss of genetic diversity through time on the island of Java, coupled with genetic drift, although other interpretations are plausible. A temporal pattern of diachronic change was identified within Indonesia for the posterior neurocranium such that younger Sangiran fossils more closely approached the Ngandong/Sambungmacan/Ngawi pattern, but there was not a linear trend of shape change from Sangiran to Sambungmacan to Ngandong, as has been suggested previously. The Sambungmacan 3 fossil, which often appears as a morphological outlier, fits the general pattern of late Indonesian vault shape, but has a more extreme expression of the shape trends for this group than other individuals.
We here describe a prosimian specimen discovered from the early Middle Miocene (~15 Ma) of Nachola, northern Kenya. It is a right maxilla that preserves P4–M3, and is assigned to a new species of the Miocene lorisid genus Mioeuoticus. Previously, Mioeuoticus was known from the Early Miocene of East Africa. The Nachola specimen is therefore the first discovery of this genus from the Middle Miocene. The presence of a new lorisid species in the Nachola fauna indicates a forested paleoenvironment for this locality, consistent with previously known evidence including the abundance of large-bodied hominoid fossils (Nacholapithecus kerioi), the dominance of browsers among the herbivore fauna, and the presence of plenty of petrified wood.
The effective population size (Ne) quantifies the rate at which genetic diversity is eroded by genetic drift, a fundamental process of evolutionary change, and also provides an insight into the demographic history and dynamics of modern human populations. The main interest of this study was to reconstruct the recent effective population size, by using inferred long segments of identity by descent (IBD), and to estimate the effective/census size ratio in the Lithuanian population. We used Illumina 770K HumanOmniExpress-12v1.0 array data of 295 unrelated individuals of the Lithuanian population. IBDseq v. r1206 and IBDNe v. 04Sep15.e78 software packages were used to detect IBD segments and to estimate Ne, respectively. We estimated the effective population size in Lithuania 50 generations (g) ago to be 11900, whereas for g = 0 (1991) the effective population was 417000 (95% confidence interval, CI [218000; 1150000], and the census size was 3701968. We evaluated the ratio of effective size to census (N) size. The estimates of Ne were approximately one-tenth of the census size. We conclude that natural levels of fluctuations in the Lithuanian population size probably caused the small values of Ne/N. Because of extrapolation of slowing growth rates and migration of the Lithuanian population, this estimate might be correct, as the census size is expected to be several times larger than the Ne.
The African primate fossil record is very poor between the mid-Middle and mid-Late Miocene. Nakali (~10–9.8 Ma) is one of the rare African localities that have yielded primate fossils from this period, including a new genus of great ape, Nakalipithecus nakayamai, and another large-bodied hominoid species. The Nakali primate fauna also includes small-bodied ‘apes’ and Old World monkeys (mostly colobines). In this article, we describe a new specimen of a small-bodied ‘ape’ discovered from Nakali, which is assigned to nyanzapithecines. Nyanzapithecines are characterized by their derived dental morphology, and the previously known nyanzapithecines range in chronological age between the Late Oligocene and early Middle Miocene (~25–13.7 Ma). The new nyanzapithecine specimen from Nakali is therefore the latest occurrence of this group in the African fossil record, extending its chronological range by almost 4 million years younger.
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