Wednesday, 20 February 2013

AAPA 2013 abstracts

The program of the 2013 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists is now online (pdf). As always, there is plenty of interest here, so I'll just highlight a few titles that caught my eye; feel free to add more in the comments.

Neolithic human mitochondrial haplogroup H genomes and the genetic origins of Europeans.
Haplogroup (hg) H dominates present-day Western European mitochondrial (mt) DNA variability (>40%), yet was less prevalent amongst early Neolithic farmers (~19%) and virtually absent in Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. To investigate this haplogroup’s significance in the maternal population history of Europeans we employed novel techniques such as DNA immortalization and hybridization-enrichment to sequence 39 hg H mt genomes from ancient human remains across a transect through time in Neolithic Central Europe. The results of our population genetic analyses reveal that the current patterns of diversity and distribution of hg H were largely established during the Mid-Neolithic, but with substantial genetic contributions from subsequent pan-European cultures such as the Bell Beakers, which expanded out of Iberia in the Late Neolithic (~2800 BC). Using a strict diachronic approach allowed us to reconcile ‘real-time’ genetic data from the most common European mtDNA hg with cultural changes that took place between the Early Neolithic (~5450 BC) and Bronze Age (~2200 BC) in Central Europe. This revealed the Late Neolithic (2800-2200 BC) as a dynamic period that profoundly shaped the genetic landscape of modern-day Europeans. Furthermore, linking ancient hg H genome sequences to specific points in time by using radiocarbon dates as tip calibrations allowed us to reconstruct a precise lineage history of hg H and to calculate a mutation rate 45% higher than traditional estimates based on the human/chimp split.
Preliminary research on hereditary features of Yinxu Population.
... The 37 individuals sampled in this study have been discovered in middle to small size burials, and therefore constitute a representative sample to study Yinxu commoners’ society. Mitochondrial DNA analysis showed that the Yinxu population included the haplogroups D, G, A, C, Z, M10, M*, B, F and N9a. According to the analysis of molecular variance, the distribution frequency and the rare published data, the Yinxu population shows a closest genetic affinity with the populations of Dadianzi and Zhukaigou early Bronze Age sites (Inner Mongolia), but a more distant relation to the historical period populations. The Yinxu population is also very similar to the modern northern Han Chinese. ... 

Investigating lactase persistence in a Medieval German cemetery: A step towards understanding the rise of the European lactase persistence polymorphism (-3910C/T).
Previous ancient DNA-based studies on the Neolithic found that the incidence of LP falls below detection levels in most regions. Our research shows that between the Neolithic and Medieval periods, the frequency of LP rose from near 0% to over 50%. Also, given that the frequency of LP genotypes in modern-day Germany is estimated at 78.5%, our results indicate that rather than being stable by the Medieval period, the lactase persistent genotype has continued to increase in frequency over the last 1000 years. This new evidence sheds light on the dynamic evolutionary history of the European lactase persistent trait and its global cultural implications.
 New Neanderthal remains from Kalamakia cave, Mani peninsula, Southern Greece.

Peeling back the layers: additional evidence for the date of the Petralona skull (Homo heidelbergensis), Greece.
,.. We conclude that there is no white sinter deposited directly on the skull and therefore the initial date of the skull given by Henning et al. and Grun’s revised date of ca. 200 ka are correct.
Analysis of archaic introgression in Ötzi the Tyrolean Iceman, a 5300 year-old prehistoric modern human.
... We carried out a series of comparisons to address these questions. By examining the Neandertal similarity of individuals from the 1000 Genomes Project, we have substantially expanded the sample of Neandertal-human comparisons. We also examined the genome of the Tyrolean Iceman, a European from approximately 5300 years ago. This is the first comparison of Neandertal genomes to the genome of a prehistoric modern human individual.
A quantitative approach for late Pleistocene hominin brain size.
... The results of our study show that Neanderthals have smaller brains than the Pleistocene AMH despite the fact that the latter are smaller in body mass. However, the Holocene AMH (7 populations) have smaller brain sizes than those of Neanderthals. ...
Re-evaluating the functional and adaptive significance of Neandertal nasofacial anatomy.
... Among Middle and Late Pleistocene Homo, there is evidence that nasal morphology varies with climate, albeit within an archaic architectural nasofacial framework. Neandertal internal nasal dimensions are greater in both height and length than archaic humans from sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, while other aspects of the nose are relatively broad, superior internal breadth dimensions in Neandertals are narrowed relative to sub-Saharan archaics. These differences parallel those seen in modern humans, indicating that Neandertals had an increased capacity for nasal heat and moisture exchange over their African counterparts and thus exhibit clear evidence for cold-climate adaptation.

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