Verteba Cave (VC) in western Ukraine dates to the Eneolithic period (c. 5500 YBP), and contains the largest collection yet found of human skeletal remains associated with the Cucuteni–Tripolye culture. The subsistence economy of this people was based on agropastoralism, and included some of the largest and densest Middle Neolithic settlement sites in all of Europe. To understand further the evolutionary history of the Tripolye people, we examined population genetics patterns in mitochondrial DNA from ancient human remains excavated from VC chambers. From five commingled and secondary burial sites within the cave, we obtained 368 bp mtDNA HVR1 sequences from 22 individuals assignable to eight haplogroups: H (three haplotypes), HV (two haplotypes), W, K, and T. Overall nucleotide diversity is low (π = 0.00621). The two largest samples, from Chamber G3 and Site 7, were significantly differentiated with respect to haplotype composition: G3 (n = 8) is dominated by haplotype W (π = 0), whereas Site 7 (n = 15) is dominated by H haplotypes (π = 0.00439). Tajima’s D as an indication of population expansion was not significantly negative for the complete sample (D = −1.37) or for sites G3 (D = −0.973) and 7 (D = −1.35), which were analyzed separately. Individuals from the Tripolye culture buried at VC c. 5500 YBP had predominantly haplogroup H and related haplotypes. This contrasts with predominantly haplogroup U individuals in preEneolithic peoples from the same area, which suggests lack of genetic continuity in a site that has been dated to the Mesolithic. Peoples of the Tripolye culture are more closely related to other early European farmers than to Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and/or pre-Eneolithic cultures.
The Pacopampa site is one of the largest Formative Period sites in Peru’s northern highlands. This study describes newly excavated human remains from the site, compares them with previous findings, and provides bioarchaeological approaches to assess social stratification in Formative Period Andes, leading to an understanding of how social stratification emerged in the Andean civilization. The human remains studied were two individuals from an elite tomb (the ‘Serpent-Jaguar Priests’ tomb) at the ceremonial center of the site. At the bottom of the tomb, a middle-aged female was laid over the remains of a young male. The central position of the tomb and the rich repertoire of grave goods suggest that these individuals had symbolic importance and belonged to an elite social group. The possible presence of artificial cranial deformation in the female suggests that the buried individuals were socially different from the other burial individuals of this site. There is no dental caries in these two individuals. The comparison of caries frequencies between these two individuals and non-elites showed lower caries frequencies in the former than in the latter. Taking into consideration existing isotopic data of Formative Period sites, the social differences in the caries frequencies can be attributed to the elites’ dietary patterns— which contained fewer cariogenic foods. Thus, this study revealed the emergence of social stratification in Peru’s northern highlands and its possible pathological impacts.
The orbital shape is one of the most ambiguous features for morphological study in ancestry estimation. Recent research has used digital image analysis to obtain more objective and better results. The aim of this study was to create a method and formula to determine ancestry using image analysis of orbital shapes from skulls of Thai and Japanese individuals. This pilot study applied two-dimensional digital image processing techniques to analyze 440 skulls comprising 220 modern Thai and 220 modern Japanese samples of known identities. The image analysis involved four steps: pre-processing, segmentation, feature extraction, and classification. Five shape measurements of both the left and right orbital rims were selected and a formula was derived using multivariate discriminant analysis. Another set of 68 Thai and Japanese skulls was used as a blind test set for accuracy. The formula had a predicted and cross-validated accuracy of 80.7% and a tested accuracy of 86.8%. This methodology potentially increases the utility of orbital shapes for ancestry estimation, especially between these two subgroups of Asians.
This article reports eight new humeral, ulnar, and radial fragments of Nacholapithecus kerioi collected from Nachola, Kenya during the 1998/1999 field seasons. The study refines the description of its forelimb bones, which was mostly based on a single partial skeleton. The most distinctive feature of the distal humerus is a large, globular, medially tilted capitulum. The groove between the capitulum and the zona conoidea is quite deep. The medial part of the humeral trochlea is also diagnostic in showing a less salient medial border. The medial epicondyle is moderately long and more posteriorly reflected than was previously presumed. The coronoid process of the ulna is quite wide. Its medial portion is distinctly concave. The ulnar shaft is anteroposteriorly deep in its proximal half, slender, straight in frontal view, and weakly anteriorly bowing. The elbow of Nacholapithecus exhibits a primitive functional pattern as a hominoid, including lack of universal stability of the humeroulnar joint through full extension and flexion, restriction of hyperextension of the elbow, and relatively anteroposteriorly oriented loading at the proximal ulna. On the other hand, it is derived in terms of enhanced rotational mobility and stability of the radius, incipiently increased stability at the humeroulnar joint, and more frequent maximum extension of the elbow compared to proconsulids. This mosaic morphology is different from both early Miocene proconsulids and later suspensory or orthograde European fossil apes. Although Nacholapithecus was neither suspensory nor orthograde, its forelimbs may have played a greater role for body support or balance maintenance, more frequently reaching to and exploiting overhead supports than in early Miocene proconsulids.