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Bibliography on: Neanderthals

The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project: Providing world-wide, free access to classic scientific papers and other scholarly materials, since 1993.


ESP: PubMed Auto Bibliography 21 Mar 2023 at 01:52 Created: 


Wikipedia: Neanderthals or Neandertals — named for the Neandertal region in Germany — were a species or subspecies of archaic human, in the genus Homo. Neanderthals became extinct around 40,000 years ago. They were closely related to modern humans, sharing 99.7% of DNA. Remains left by Neanderthals include bone and stone tools, which are found in Eurasia, from Western Europe to Central and Northern Asia. Neanderthals are generally classified by paleontologists as the species Homo neanderthalensis, having separated from the Homo sapiens lineage 600,000 years ago, but a minority consider them to be a subspecies of Homo sapiens (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis). Several cultural assemblages have been linked to the Neanderthals in Europe. The earliest, the Mousterian stone tool culture, dates to about 160,000 years ago. Late Mousterian artifacts were found in Gorham's Cave on the south-facing coast of Gibraltar. Compared to Homo sapiens, Neanderthals had a lower surface-to-volume ratio, with shorter legs and a bigger body, in conformance with Bergmann's rule, as an energy-loss reduction adaptation to life in a high-latitude (i.e. seasonally cold) climate. Their average cranial capacity was notably larger than typical for modern humans: 1600 cm3 vs. 1250-1400 cm3. The Neanderthal genome project published papers in 2010 and 2014 stating that Neanderthals contributed to the DNA of modern humans, including most humans outside sub-Saharan Africa, as well as a few populations in sub-Saharan Africa, through interbreeding, likely between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.

Created with PubMed® Query: ( Neanderthal OR Neandertal ) NOT pmcbook NOT ispreviousversion

Citations The Papers (from PubMed®)


RevDate: 2023-03-20

Wei X, Robles CR, Pazokitoroudi A, et al (2023)

The lingering effects of Neanderthal introgression on human complex traits.

eLife, 12: pii:80757 [Epub ahead of print].

The genetic variants introduced into the ancestors of modern humans from interbreeding with Neanderthals have been suggested to contribute an unexpected extent to complex human traits. However, testing this hypothesis has been challenging due to the idiosyncratic population genetic properties of introgressed variants. We developed rigorous methods to assess the contribution of introgressed Neanderthal variants to heritable trait variation relative to that of modern human variants. We applied these methods to analyze 235,592 introgressed Neanderthal variants and 96 distinct phenotypes measured in about 300,000 unrelated white British individuals in the UK Biobank. Introgressed Neanderthal variants have a significant contribution to trait variation consistent with the polygenic architecture of complex phenotypes (contributing 0.12% of heritable variation averaged across phenotypes). However, the contribution of introgressed variants tends to be significantly depleted relative to modern human variants matched for allele frequency and linkage disequilibrium (about 59% depletion on average), consistent with purifying selection on introgressed variants. Different from previous studies (McArthur 2021), we find no evidence for elevated heritability across the phenotypes examined. We identified 348 independent significant associations of introgressed Neanderthal variants with 64 phenotypes . Previous work (Skov 2020) has suggested that a majority of such associations are likely driven by statistical association with nearby modern human variants that are the true causal variants. We therefore developed a customized statistical fine-mapping methodology for introgressed variants that led us to identify 112 regions (at a false discovery proportion of 16%) across 47 phenotypes containing 4,303 unique genetic variants where introgressed variants are highly likely to have a phenotypic effect. Examination of these variants reveal their substantial impact on genes that are important for the immune system, development, and metabolism. Our results provide the first rigorous basis for understanding how Neanderthal introgression modulates complex trait variation in present-day humans.

RevDate: 2023-03-18

Avni HL, Shvalb N, Pokhojaev A, et al (2023)

Evolutionary roots of the risk of hip fracture in humans.

Communications biology, 6(1):283.

The transition to bipedal locomotion was a fundamental milestone in human evolution. Consequently, the human skeleton underwent substantial morphological adaptations. These adaptations are responsible for many of today's common physical impairments, including hip fractures. This study aims to reveal the morphological changes in the proximal femur, which increase the risk of intracapsular hip fractures in present-day populations. Our sample includes chimpanzees, early hominins, early Homo Neanderthals, as well as prehistoric and recent humans. Using Geometric Morphometric methods, we demonstrate differences in the proximal femur shape between hominids and populations that practiced different lifestyles. We show that the proximal femur morphology is a risk factor for intracapsular hip fracture independent of osteoporosis. Changes in the proximal femur, such as the shortening of the femoral neck and an increased anterolateral expansion of the greater trochanter, are associated with an increased risk for intracapsular hip fractures. We conclude that intracapsular hip fractures are a trade-off for efficient bipedal walking in humans, and their risk is exacerbated by reduced physical activity.

RevDate: 2023-03-16

Chen Z, Reynolds RH, Pardiñas AF, et al (2023)

The contribution of Neanderthal introgression and natural selection to neurodegenerative diseases.

Neurobiology of disease pii:S0969-9961(23)00096-7 [Epub ahead of print].

Humans are thought to be more susceptible to neurodegeneration than equivalently-aged primates. It is not known whether this vulnerability is specific to anatomically-modern humans or shared with other hominids. The contribution of introgressed Neanderthal DNA to neurodegenerative disorders remains uncertain. It is also unclear how common variants associated with neurodegenerative disease risk are maintained by natural selection in the population despite their deleterious effects. In this study, we aimed to quantify the genome-wide contribution of Neanderthal introgression and positive selection to the heritability of complex neurodegenerative disorders to address these questions. We used stratified-linkage disequilibrium score regression to investigate the relationship between five SNP-based signatures of natural selection, reflecting different timepoints of evolution, and genome-wide associated variants of the three most prevalent neurodegenerative disorders: Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson's disease . We found no evidence for enrichment of positively-selected SNPs in the heritability of Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, suggesting that common deleterious disease variants are unlikely to be maintained by positive selection. There was no enrichment of Neanderthal introgression in the SNP-heritability of these disorders, suggesting that Neanderthal admixture is unlikely to have contributed to disease risk. These findings provide insight into the origins of neurodegenerative disorders within the evolution of Homo sapiens and addresses a long-standing debate, showing that Neanderthal admixture is unlikely to have contributed to common genetic risk of neurodegeneration in anatomically-modern humans.

RevDate: 2023-03-14

Carretero JM, García-González R, Rodríguez L, et al (2023)

Main anatomical characteristics of the hominin fossil humeri from the Sima de los Huesos Middle Pleistocene site, Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain: An update.

Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007) [Epub ahead of print].

Some of the Sima de los Huesos (SH) humeri have been previously studied and described elsewhere. Here we present an updated inventory and a review of the specimens recovered to the present day. The morphological key traits of the adult and subadult specimens are described, discussed, and illustrated. The SH humeri share with Neandertals many traits usually considered to be Neandertal specializations, thus, most of this morphological pattern is not exclusive to them. The variation found within fossil samples stresses the frequential nature of all these traits and in the specific case of the SH humeri, most of the traits considered as phylogenetically relevant are retained by their descendants, the Neandertals. Some traits are plesiomorphic for the entire genus Homo or are present in European hominins since the early Pleistocene. Finally, some other traits display high variability within the SH sample or different hominin samples and are of uncertain phylogenetic value. Altogether, this evidence is consistent with the hypothesis based on the overall cranial and postcranial morphology that the SH hominins are a sister group to the later Neandertals.

RevDate: 2023-03-14

Dekker J, Larson T, Tzvetkov J, et al (2023)

Spatial analysis of the ancient proteome of archeological teeth using mass spectrometry imaging.

Rapid communications in mass spectrometry : RCM, 37(8):e9486.

RATIONALE: Proteins extracted from archaeological bone and teeth are utilised for investigating the phylogeny of extinct and extant species, the biological sex and age of past individuals, as well as ancient health and physiology. However, variable preservation of proteins in archaeological materials represents a major challenge.

METHODS: To better understand the spatial distribution of ancient proteins preserved within teeth, we applied matrix assisted laser desorption/ionisation mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI-MSI) for the first time to bioarchaeological samples to visualise the intensity of proteins in archaeological teeth thin sections. We specifically explored the spatial distribution of four proteins (collagen type I, of which the chains alpha-1 and alpha-2, alpha-2-HS-glycoprotein, haemoglobin subunit alpha and myosin light polypeptide 6).

RESULTS: We successfully identified ancient proteins in archaeological teeth thin sections using mass spectrometry imaging. The data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD038114. However, we observed that peptides did not always follow our hypotheses for their spatial distribution, with distinct differences observed in the spatial distribution of several proteins, and occasionally between peptides of the same protein.

CONCLUSIONS: While it remains unclear what causes these differences in protein intensity distribution within teeth, as revealed by MALDI-MSI in this study, we have demonstrated that MALDI-MSI can be successfully applied to mineralised bioarchaeological tissues to detect ancient peptides. In future applications, this technique could be particularly fruitful not just for understanding the preservation of proteins in a range of archaeological materials, but making informed decisions on sampling strategies and the targeting of key proteins of archaeological and biological interest.

RevDate: 2023-03-09

Herai RH, Semendeferi K, AR Muotri (2023)

Comment on "Human TKTL1 implies greater neurogenesis in frontal neocortex of modern humans than Neanderthals".

Science (New York, N.Y.), 379(6636):eadf0602.

Pinson et al. (1) concluded that the modern human TKTL1 gene is responsible for an increased number of cortical neurons. We show that the "putative Neanderthal variant" of TKTL1 is present in modern human backgrounds. We dispute their argument that this genetic variant is responsible for brain differences in modern humans as opposed to Neanderthals.

RevDate: 2023-03-09

Pinson A, Maricic T, Zeberg H, et al (2023)

Response to Comment on "Human TKTL1 implies greater neurogenesis in frontal neocortex of modern humans than Neanderthals".

Science (New York, N.Y.), 379(6636):eadf2212.

Herai et al. discuss the known fact that a low percentage of modern humans who lack any overt phenotypes carry the ancestral TKTL1 allele. Our paper demonstrates that the amino acid substitution in TKTL1 increases neural progenitor cells and neurogenesis in the developing brain. It is another question if, and to what extent, this has consequences for the adult brain.

RevDate: 2023-03-05

Jones EL, M Carvalho (2023)

Ecospaces of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition: The archaeofaunal record of the Iberian Peninsula.

Journal of human evolution, 177:103331 pii:S0047-2484(23)00008-8 [Epub ahead of print].

The rich archaeofaunal record of Iberia provides a means of exploring potential differences between Neanderthal and anatomically modern human interactions with the environment. In this article, we present an analysis of Iberian archaeofaunas dating between 60 and 30 ka to explore if, how, and why the faunal ecospaces of Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans differed. We test for impacts of chronology (as a proxy for Neanderthal and anatomically modern human exploitation) and environmental regionalization (using bioclimatic regions) on archaeofaunal composition, using a combination of cluster (unweighted pair-group method using arithmetic averages) and nonmetric multidimensional scaling. Our chronological analysis finds no significant compositional difference between Neanderthal and anatomically modern mammalian faunal assemblages; however, bioclimatic regionalization is stronger in anatomically modern human-affiliated assemblages than in Neanderthal ones, a finding that may indicate a difference in site occupation duration or foraging mobility between Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans.

RevDate: 2023-03-01

Shoaee MJ, Breeze PS, Drake NA, et al (2023)

Defining paleoclimatic routes and opportunities for hominin dispersals across Iran.

PloS one, 18(3):e0281872 pii:PONE-D-22-31141.

Fossil and archaeological evidence indicates that hominin dispersals into Southwest Asia occurred throughout the Pleistocene, including the expansion of Homo sapiens populations out of Africa. While there is evidence for hominin occupations in the Pleistocene in Iran, as evidenced by the presence of Lower to Upper Paleolithic archaeological sites, the extent to which humid periods facilitated population expansions into western Asia has remained unclear. To test the role of humid periods on hominin dispersals here we assess Paleolithic site distributions and paleoenvironmental records across Iran. We developed the first spatially comprehensive, high-resolution paleohydrological model for Iran in order to assess water availability and its influence on hominin dispersals. We highlight environmentally mediated routes which likely played a key role in Late Pleistocene hominin dispersals, including the expansion of H. sapiens and Neanderthals eastwards into Asia. Our combined analyses indicate that, during MIS 5, there were opportunities for hominins to traverse a northern route through the Alborz and Kopet Dagh Mountains and the Dasht-I Kavir desert owing to the presence of activated fresh water sources. We recognize a new southern route along the Zagros Mountains and extending eastwards towards Pakistan and Afghanistan. We find evidence for a potential northern route during MIS 3, which would have permitted hominin movements and species interactions in Southwest Asia. Between humid periods, these interconnections would have waned, isolating populations in the Zagros and Alborz Mountains, where hominins may have continued to have had access to water.

RevDate: 2023-02-25

Ganapathee DS, P Gunz (2023)

Insights into brain evolution through the genotype-phenotype connection.

Progress in brain research, 275:73-92.

It has recently become possible to start exploring how the genotype translates into human brain morphology and behavior by combining detailed genomic and phenotypic data from thousands of present-day people with archaic genomes of extinct humans, and gene expression data. As a starting point into this emerging interdisciplinary domain, we highlight current debates about which aspects of the modern human brain are unique. We review recent developments from (1) comparative primate neuroscience-a fast-growing field offering an invaluable framework for understanding general mechanisms and the evolution of human-specific traits. (2) paleoanthropology-based on evidence from endocranial imprints in fossil skulls, we trace the evolution from the ape-like brain phenotype of early hominins more than 3 million years ago to the unusual globular brain shape of present-day people. (3) Genomics of present-day and extinct humans. The morphological and genetic differences between modern humans and our closest extinct cousins, the Neandertals, offer important clues about the genetic underpinnings of brain morphology and behavior. The functional consequences of these genetic differences can be tested in animal models, and brain organoids.

RevDate: 2023-02-25

González-Álvarez R, Rodríguez-Sánchez IP, HA Barrera-Saldaña (2023)

Gene Content and Coding Diversity of the Growth Hormone Loci of Apes.

Genes, 14(2): pii:genes14020241.

The growth hormone (GH) locus has experienced a dramatic evolution in primates, becoming multigenic and diverse in anthropoids. Despite sequence information from a vast number of primate species, it has remained unclear how the multigene family was favored. We compared the structure and composition of apes' GH loci as a prerequisite to understanding their origin and possible evolutionary role. These thorough analyses of the GH loci of the chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan were done by resorting to previously sequenced bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) harboring them, as well as to their respective genome projects data available in GenBank. The GH loci of modern man, Neanderthal, gibbon, and wild boar were retrieved from GenBank. Coding regions, regulatory elements, and repetitive sequences were identified and compared among species. The GH loci of all the analyzed species are flanked by the genes CD79B (5') and ICAM-1 (3'). In man, Neanderthal, and chimpanzee, the loci were integrated by five almost indistinguishable genes; however, in the former two, they rendered three different hormones, and in the latter, four different proteins were derived. Gorilla exhibited six genes, gibbon seven, and orangutan four. The sequences of the proximal promoters, enhancers, P-elements, and a locus control region (LCR) were highly conserved. The locus evolution might have implicated duplications of the ancestral pituitary gene (GH-N) and subsequent diversification of the copies, leading to the placental single GH-V gene and the multiple CSH genes.

RevDate: 2023-02-24

Conde-Valverde M, Martínez I, Quam R, et al (2023)

The ear of the Sima de los Huesos hominins (Atapuerca, Spain).

Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007) [Epub ahead of print].

Previous studies on the morphology of the inner ear (semicircular canals and cochlea) in the Sima de los Huesos hominin sample have provided important results on the evolution of these structures in the Neandertal lineage. Similarly, studies of the anatomy of the external and middle ear cavities of the Sima de los Huesos hominins have also provided important data on the auditory capacities of this European Middle Pleistocene population. The present contribution provides unpublished data on three new middle ear variables from the Sima de los Huesos fossils and compares these data with values from samples of Pan troglodytes, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens. The results of this analysis are combined with those obtained in previous studies to characterize the anatomy of the outer, middle and inner ear in the Sima de los Huesos fossils, as well as to establish the order of appearance of the features that characterize Neandertal ears. As in other cranial structures, the ear region in the Sima de los Huesos show a mosaic evolutionary pattern that includes primitive traits, others shared exclusively with Neandertals, and others that are specific to the Sima de los Huesos hominins. Neandertals and Sima de los Huesos hominins share two exclusive features of the middle ear that are among the first characteristics of the Neandertal lineage: a long tympanic cavity and a large entrance and exit of the mastoid antrum. Along with these traits, the Sima de los Huesos hominins present two specialized features: large volumes of the tympanic cavity and the mastoid antrum. Finally, the middle ear of the Neandertals is characterized by the presence of small angles between the tympanic axis and the plane of the oval window.

RevDate: 2023-02-23

Wang PY, Yang Y, Shi XQ, et al (2023)

Distilling functional variations for human UGT2B4 upstream region based on selection signals and implications for phenotypes of Neanderthal and Denisovan.

Scientific reports, 13(1):3134.

Our previous work identified one region upstream human UGT2B4 (UDP glucuronosyltransferase family 2 member B4) which is associated with breast cancer and under balancing selection. However, the distribution, functional variation and molecular mechanism underlying breast cancer and balancing selection remain unclear. In current study, the two haplotypes with deep divergence are described by analyzing 1000 genomes project data and observed to be with high frequencies in all human populations. Through population genetics analysis and genome annotation, the potential functional region is identified and verified by reporter gene assay. Further mutagenesis indicates that the functional mutations are rs66862535 and rs68096061. Both SNPs can alter the interaction efficiency of transcription factor POU2F1 (POU class 2 homeobox 1). Through chromosome conformation capture, it is identified that the enhancer containing these two SNPs can interact with UGT2B4 promoter. Expression quantitative trait loci analysis indicates that UGT2B4 expression is dependent on the genotype of this locus. The common haplotype in human is lost in four genomes of archaic hominins, which suggests that Neanderthal and Denisovan should present relatively lower UGT2B4 expression and further higher steroid hormone level. This study provides new insight into the contribution of ancient population structure to human phenotypes.

RevDate: 2023-02-23

Ghasidian E, Kafash A, Kehl M, et al (2023)

Modelling Neanderthals' dispersal routes from Caucasus towards east.

PloS one, 18(2):e0281978 pii:PONE-D-22-25769.

The study of the cultural materials associated with the Neanderthal physical remains from the sites in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Siberian Altai and adjacent areas documents two distinct techno-complexes of Micoquian and Mousterian. These findings potentially outline two dispersal routes for the Neanderthals out of Europe. Using data on topography and Palaeoclimate, we generated computer-based least-cost-path modelling for the Neanderthal dispersal routes from Caucasus towards the east. In this regard, two dispersal routes have been identified: A northern route from Greater Caucasus associated with Micoquian techno-complex towards Siberian Altai and a southern route from Lesser Caucasus associated with Mousterian towards Siberian Altai via the Southern Caspian Corridor. Based on archaeological, bio- and physio-geographical data, our model hypothesises that during climatic deterioration phases (e.g. MIS 4) the connection between Greater and Lesser Caucasus was limited. This issue perhaps resulted in the separate development and spread of two cultural groups of Micoquian and Mousterian with an input from two different population sources of Neanderthal influxes: eastern and southern Europe refugia for these two northern and southern dispersal routes respectively. Of these two, we focus on the southern dispersal route, for it comprises a 'rapid dispersal route' towards east. The significant location of the Southern Caspian corridor between high mountains of Alborz and the Caspian Sea, provided a special biogeographical zone and a refugium. This exceptional physio-geographic condition brings forward the Southern Caspian corridor as a potential place of admixture of different hominin species including Neanderthals and homo sapiens.

RevDate: 2023-02-22

Cazenave M, D Radovčić (2023)

The Neanderthal patellae from Krapina (Croatia): A comparative investigation of their endostructural conformation and distinctive features compared to the extant human condition.

American journal of biological anthropology [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVES: The Neanderthal patella differs from that of extant humans by being thicker anteroposteriorly and by having more symmetric medial and lateral articular facets. However, it is still unclear to what extent these differences affect knee kinesiology. We aim at assessing the endostructural conformation of Neanderthal patellae to reveal functionally related mechanical information comparatively to the extant human condition. In principle, we expect that the Neanderthal patella (i) shows a higher amount of cortical bone and (ii) a trabecular network organization distinct from the extant human condition.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: By using micro-focus X-ray tomography, we characterized the endostructure of six adult patellae from the OIS 5e Neanderthal site of Krapina, Croatia, the largest assemblage of human fossil patellae assessed so far, and compared their pattern to the configuration displayed by a sample of 22 recent humans.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The first expectation is rejected, indicating that the patellar bone might have not followed the trend of generalized gracilization of the human postcranial skeleton occurred through the Upper Pleistocene. The second prediction is at least partially supported. In Krapina the trabecular network differs from the comparative sample by showing a higher medial density and by lacking a proximal reinforcement. Such conformation indicates similar load patterns exerted in Neanderthals and extant humans by the vastus lateralis, but not by the vastus medialis, with implications on the mediolateral stabilization of the knee joint. However, the patterns of structural variation of the patellar network remain to be assessed in other Neanderthal samples.

RevDate: 2023-02-16

Corcoran M, Chernyshev M, Mandolesi M, et al (2023)

Archaic humans have contributed to large-scale variation in modern human T cell receptor genes.

Immunity pii:S1074-7613(23)00038-9 [Epub ahead of print].

Human T cell receptors (TCRs) are critical for mediating immune responses to pathogens and tumors and regulating self-antigen recognition. Yet, variations in the genes encoding TCRs remain insufficiently defined. Detailed analysis of expressed TCR alpha, beta, gamma, and delta genes in 45 donors from four human populations-African, East Asian, South Asian, and European-revealed 175 additional TCR variable and junctional alleles. Most of these contained coding changes and were present at widely differing frequencies in the populations, a finding confirmed using DNA samples from the 1000 Genomes Project. Importantly, we identified three Neanderthal-derived, introgressed TCR regions including a highly divergent TRGV4 variant, which mediated altered butyrophilin-like molecule 3 (BTNL3) ligand reactivity and was frequent in all modern Eurasian population groups. Our results demonstrate remarkable variation in TCR genes in both individuals and populations, providing a strong incentive for including allelic variation in studies of TCR function in human biology.

RevDate: 2023-02-15

Talamo S, Kromer B, Richards MP, et al (2023)

Back to the future: The advantage of studying key events in human evolution using a new high resolution radiocarbon method.

PloS one, 18(2):e0280598 pii:PONE-D-22-26185.

Radiocarbon dating is the most widely applied dating method in archaeology, especially in human evolution studies, where it is used to determine the chronology of key events, such as the replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans in Europe. However, the method does not always provide precise and accurate enough ages to understand the important processes of human evolution. Here we review the newest method developments in radiocarbon dating ('Radiocarbon 3.0'), which can lead us to much better chronologies and understanding of the major events in recent human evolution. As an example, we apply these new methods to discuss the dating of the important Palaeolithic site of Bacho Kiro (Bulgaria).

RevDate: 2023-02-15

Oxilia G, Bortolini E, Marciani G, et al (2022)

Direct evidence that late Neanderthal occupation precedes a technological shift in southwestern Italy.

American journal of biological anthropology, 179(1):18-30.

OBJECTIVES: During the middle-to-upper Paleolithic transition (50,000 and 40,000 years ago), interaction between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens varied across Europe. In southern Italy, the association between Homo sapiens fossils and non-Mousterian material culture, as well as the mode and tempo of Neanderthal demise, are still vividly debated. In this research, we focus on the study of two human teeth by using 3D geometric morphometric approaches for a reliable taxonomical attribution as well as obtaining new radiometric dates on the archeological sequence.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: This work presents two lower deciduous molars uncovered at Roccia San Sebastiano (Mondragone-Caserta, Italy), stratigraphically associated with Mousterian (RSS1) and Uluzzian (RSS2) artifacts. To obtain a probabilistic attribution of the two RSS teeth to each reference taxa group composed of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, we performed and compared the performance of three supervised learning algorithms (flexible discriminant analysis, multiadaptive regression splines, and random forest) on both crown and cervical outlines obtained by virtual morphometric methods.

RESULTS: We show that RSS1, whose Mousterian context appears more recent than 44,800-44,230 cal BP, can be attributed to a Neanderthal, while RSS2, found in an Uluzzian context that we dated to 42,640-42,380 cal BP, is attributed to Homo sapiens.

DISCUSSION: This site yields the most recent direct evidence for a Neanderthal presence in southern Italy and confirms a later shift to upper Paleolithic technology in southwestern Italy compared to the earliest Uluzzian evidence at Grotta del Cavallo (Puglia, Italy).

RevDate: 2023-02-13

Velazquez-Arcelay K, Colbran LL, McArthur E, et al (2023)

Neanderthal Introgression Shaped Human Circadian Traits.

bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology pii:2023.02.03.527061.

INTRODUCTION: When the ancestors of modern Eurasians migrated out of Africa and interbred with Eurasian archaic hominins, namely Neanderthals and Denisovans, DNA of archaic ancestry integrated into the genomes of anatomically modern humans. This process potentially accelerated adaptation to Eurasian environmental factors, including reduced ultra-violet radiation and an increased variation in seasonal dynamics. However, whether these groups differed substantially in circadian biology, and whether archaic introgression adaptively contributed to human chronotypes remains unknown.

RESULTS: Here we traced the evolution of chronotype based on genomes from archaic hominin and present-day humans. First, we inferred differences in circadian gene sequences, splicing, and regulation between archaic hominins and modern humans. We identified 28 circadian genes containing variants likely to alter splicing in archaics (e.g., CLOCK, PER2, RORB, RORC), and 16 circadian genes likely divergently regulated between present-day humans and archaic hominins, including RORA . These differences suggest the potential for introgression to modify circadian gene expression. Testing this hypothesis, we found that introgressed variants are enriched among eQTLs for circadian genes. Supporting the functional relevance of these regulatory effects, we found that many introgressed alleles have strong associations with chronotype. Strikingly, the strongest introgressed effects on chronotype increase morningness, which is consistent with adaptations to high latitude in other species. Finally, we identified 26 circadian loci with evidence of adaptive introgression, including PER2 and MYBBP1A .

CONCLUSIONS: These findings identify differences in circadian gene regulation between modern humans and archaic hominins and support the contribution of introgression via coordinated effects on variation in human chronotype.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals created the potential for adaptive introgression as humans moved into new environments that had been populated by Neanderthals for hundreds of thousands of years. Here we discover substantial lineage-specific genetic differences in circadian genes and their regulatory elements between humans and Neanderthals. We then show that introgressed archaic alleles are enriched for effects on circadian gene regulation and consistently increase propensity for morningness in modern Europeans. These results substantially expand our understanding of how the genomes of humans and our closest relatives responded to living in environments with different light/dark cycles, and they demonstrate a coordinated contribution of archaic admixture to modern human chronotype in a direction that is consistent with adaptation to higher latitudes.

RevDate: 2023-02-13

Hagymási K (2023)

The Nobel prize in physiology and medicine - 2022.

Structural chemistry [Epub ahead of print].

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to a Swedish geneticist, Svante Pääbo, for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution, for the sequencing of the genome of the Neanderthal, the discovery of a previously unknown hominin, Denisova, and the establishment of a new scientific discipline, paleogenomics.

RevDate: 2023-02-10

Jagoda E, Marnetto D, Senevirathne G, et al (2023)

Regulatory dissection of the severe COVID-19 risk locus introgressed by Neanderthals.

eLife, 12: pii:71235.

Individuals infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus present with a wide variety of symptoms ranging from asymptomatic to severe and even lethal outcomes. Past research has revealed a genetic haplotype on chromosome 3 that entered the human population via introgression from Neanderthals as the strongest genetic risk factor for the severe response to COVID-19. However, the specific variants along this introgressed haplotype that contribute to this risk and the biological mechanisms that are involved remain unclear. Here, we assess the variants present on the risk haplotype for their likelihood of driving the genetic predisposition to severe COVID-19 outcomes. We do this by first exploring their impact on the regulation of genes involved in COVID-19 infection using a variety of population genetics and functional genomics tools. We then perform a locus-specific massively parallel reporter assay to individually assess the regulatory potential of each allele on the haplotype in a multipotent immune-related cell line. We ultimately reduce the set of over 600 linked genetic variants to identify four introgressed alleles that are strong functional candidates for driving the association between this locus and severe COVID-19. Using reporter assays in the presence/absence of SARS-CoV-2, we find evidence that these variants respond to viral infection. These variants likely drive the locus' impact on severity by modulating the regulation of two critical chemokine receptor genes: CCR1 and CCR5. These alleles are ideal targets for future functional investigations into the interaction between host genomics and COVID-19 outcomes.

RevDate: 2023-02-07

Kozowyk PRB (2023)

Archaeological Podocarpus tar supports the cognitive complexity of Neanderthals.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 120(7):e2221676120.

RevDate: 2023-02-06

Sironi M, Cagliani R, Biasin M, et al (2022)

No association of a risk variant for severe COVID-19 with HIV protection in three cohorts of highly exposed individuals.

PNAS nexus, 1(3):pgac138.

An extended haplotype on chromosome 3 is the major genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19. The risk haplotype, which was inherited from Neanderthals, decreases the expression of several cytokine receptors, including CCR5. Recently, a study based on three general population cohorts indicated that the minor allele of one of the variants in the haplotype (rs17713054) protects against HIV infection. We thus expected this allele to be over-represented in highly exposed individuals who remain uninfected (exposed seronegative individuals, ESN). To perform a meta-analysis, we genotyped rs17713054 in three ESN cohorts of European ancestry exposed to HIV through different routes. No evidence of association was detected in the single cohorts. The meta-analysis also failed to detect any effect of the variant on protection from HIV-1. The same results were obtained in a Cox-regression analysis for the time to seroconversion. An in-vitro infection assay did not detect differences in viral replication as a function of rs17713054 genotype status. We conclude that the rs17713054 minor allele is not associated with the ESN phenotype and does not modulate HIV infection in vitro.

RevDate: 2023-02-02

Curry A (2023)

Neanderthals lived in groups big enough to eat giant elephants.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 379(6631):428.

Meat from the butchered beasts would have fed hundreds.

RevDate: 2023-02-01

Gaudzinski-Windheuser S, Kindler L, MacDonald K, et al (2023)

Hunting and processing of straight-tusked elephants 125.000 years ago: Implications for Neanderthal behavior.

Science advances, 9(5):eadd8186.

Straight-tusked elephants (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) were the largest terrestrial mammals of the Pleistocene, present in Eurasian landscapes between 800,000 and 100,000 years ago. The occasional co-occurrence of their skeletal remains with stone tools has generated rich speculation about the nature of interactions between these elephants and Pleistocene humans: Did hominins scavenge on elephants that died a natural death or maybe even hunt some individuals? Our archaeozoological study of the largest P. antiquus assemblage known, excavated from 125,000-year-old lake deposits in Germany, shows that hunting of elephants weighing up to 13 metric tons was part of the cultural repertoire of Last Interglacial Neanderthals there, over >2000 years, many dozens of generations. The intensity and nutritional yields of these well-documented butchering activities, combined with previously reported data from this Neumark-Nord site complex, suggest that Neanderthals were less mobile and operated within social units substantially larger than commonly envisaged.

RevDate: 2023-01-31

Ben-Dor M, R Barkai (2023)

A limited protein high-fat diet may explain the low δ[66]Zn conundrum in the Neandertal from Gabasa.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 120(6):e2218081120.

RevDate: 2023-01-30

Williams SA, Zeng I, Paton GJ, et al (2022)

Inferring lumbar lordosis in Neandertals and other hominins.

PNAS nexus, 1(1):pgab005.

Lumbar lordosis is a key adaptation to bipedal locomotion in the human lineage. Dorsoventral spinal curvatures enable the body's center of mass to be positioned above the hip, knee, and ankle joints, and minimize the muscular effort required for postural control and locomotion. Previous studies have suggested that Neandertals had less lordotic (ventrally convex) lumbar columns than modern humans, which contributed to historical perceptions of postural and locomotor differences between the two groups. Quantifying lower back curvature in extinct hominins is entirely reliant upon bony correlates of overall lordosis, since the latter is significantly influenced by soft tissue structures (e.g. intervertebral discs). Here, we investigate sexual dimorphism, ancestry, and lifestyle effects on lumbar vertebral body wedging and inferior articular facet angulation, two features previously shown to be significantly correlated with overall lordosis in living individuals, in a large sample of modern humans and Neandertals. Our results demonstrate significant differences between postindustrial cadaveric remains and archaeological samples of people that lived preindustrial lifestyles. We suggest these differences are related to activity and other aspects of lifestyle rather than innate population (ancestry) differences. Neandertal bony correlates of lumbar lordosis are significantly different from all human samples except preindustrial males. Therefore, although Neandertals demonstrate more bony kyphotic wedging than most modern humans, we cast doubt on proposed locomotor and postural differences between the two lineages based on inferred lumbar lordosis (or lack thereof), and we recommend future research compare fossils to modern humans from varied populations and not just recent, postindustrial samples.

RevDate: 2023-01-30

Flegontov P, Işıldak U, Maier R, et al (2023)

Modeling of African population history using f -statistics can be highly biased and is not addressed by previously suggested SNP ascertainment schemes.

bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology pii:2023.01.22.525077.

f -statistics have emerged as a first line of analysis for making inferences about demographic history from genome-wide data. These statistics can provide strong evidence for either admixture or cladality, which can be robust to substantial rates of errors or missing data. f -statistics are guaranteed to be unbiased under "SNP ascertainment" (analyzing non-randomly chosen subsets of single nucleotide polymorphisms) only if it relies on a population that is an outgroup for all groups analyzed. However, ascertainment on a true outgroup that is not co-analyzed with other populations is often impractical and uncommon in the literature. In this study focused on practical rather than theoretical aspects of SNP ascertainment, we show that many non-outgroup ascertainment schemes lead to false rejection of true demographic histories, as well as to failure to reject incorrect models. But the bias introduced by common ascertainments such as the 1240K panel is mostly limited to situations when more than one sub-Saharan African and/or archaic human groups (Neanderthals and Denisovans) or non-human outgroups are co-modelled, for example, f 4 -statistics involving one non-African group, two African groups, and one archaic group. Analyzing panels of SNPs polymorphic in archaic humans, which has been suggested as a solution for the ascertainment problem, cannot fix all these problems since for some classes of f -statistics it is not a clean outgroup ascertainment, and in other cases it demonstrates relatively low power to reject incorrect demographic models since it provides a relatively small number of variants common in anatomically modern humans. And due to the paucity of high-coverage archaic genomes, archaic individuals used for ascertainment often act as sole representatives of the respective groups in an analysis, and we show that this approach is highly problematic. By carrying out large numbers of simulations of diverse demographic histories, we find that bias in inferences based on f -statistics introduced by non-outgroup ascertainment can be minimized if the derived allele frequency spectrum in the population used for ascertainment approaches the spectrum that existed at the root of all groups being co-analyzed. Ascertaining on sites with variants common in a diverse group of African individuals provides a good approximation to such a set of SNPs, addressing the great majority of biases and also retaining high statistical power for studying population history. Such a "pan-African" ascertainment, although not completely problem-free, allows unbiased exploration of demographic models for the widest set of archaic and modern human populations, as compared to the other ascertainment schemes we explored.

RevDate: 2023-01-30

Witt KE, Funk A, Fang LL, et al (2023)

The impact of modern admixture on archaic human ancestry in human populations.

bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology pii:2023.01.16.524232.

Admixture, the genetic merging of parental populations resulting in mixed ancestry, has occurred frequently throughout the course of human history. Numerous admixture events have occurred between human populations across the world, as well as introgression between humans and archaic humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans. One example are genomes from populations in the Americas, as these are often mosaics of different ancestries due to recent admixture events as part of European colonization. In this study, we analyzed admixed populations from the Americas to assess whether the proportion and location of admixed segments due to recent admixture impact an individual’s archaic ancestry. We identified a positive correlation between non-African ancestry and archaic alleles, as well as a slight enrichment of Denisovan alleles in Indigenous American segments relative to European segments in admixed genomes. We also identify several genes as candidates for adaptive introgression, based on archaic alleles present at high frequency in admixed American populations but low frequency in East Asian populations. These results provide insights into how recent admixture events between modern humans redistributed archaic ancestry in admixed genomes.

RevDate: 2023-01-28

Anonymous (2023)

Neanderthals stashed dozens of animal skulls in a cave - but why?.

RevDate: 2023-01-27
CmpDate: 2023-01-27

Montag A (2023)

[The history of skin color is the history of mankind!].

Dermatologie (Heidelberg, Germany), 74(2):75-79.

In the early days of mankind, at a time when various other human species populated the earth coexisting with Homo sapiens, the genetic mixing of mankind had already begun. Today, paleogenetics-as a branch of human genetic research-can prove that individuals from the most diverse human species already produced offspring together long before our era. This intermixing was supported from the beginning by massive migratory movements that started in East Africa and led first Homo neanderthalensis and much later also Homo sapiens to as far as Europe-two human species of which we know today that they were lighter-skinned than their ancestors. The adaptation to life in different climatic zones led to development of specific characteristics, which, in addition to physique and physiognomy, also affect specific features of the skin and the integumentary system. The most striking feature among these is the skin color and all associated skin-specific characteristics. These characteristics ensure special protection, but can also be the origin for specific diseases. Any division of Homo sapiens into races has been scientifically refuted. Due to ongoing genetic mixing of mankind, skin color, hair color and all associated characteristics should always be considered individually.

RevDate: 2023-01-26

Baquedano E, Arsuaga JL, Pérez-González A, et al (2023)

A symbolic Neanderthal accumulation of large herbivore crania.

Nature human behaviour [Epub ahead of print].

This work examines the possible behaviour of Neanderthal groups at the Cueva Des-Cubierta (central Spain) via the analysis of the latter's archaeological assemblage. Alongside evidence of Mousterian lithic industry, Level 3 of the cave infill was found to contain an assemblage of mammalian bone remains dominated by the crania of large ungulates, some associated with small hearths. The scarcity of post-cranial elements, teeth, mandibles and maxillae, along with evidence of anthropogenic modification of the crania (cut and percussion marks), indicates that the carcasses of the corresponding animals were initially processed outside the cave, and the crania were later brought inside. A second round of processing then took place, possibly related to the removal of the brain. The continued presence of crania throughout Level 3 indicates that this behaviour was recurrent during this level's formation. This behaviour seems to have no subsistence-related purpose but to be more symbolic in its intent.

RevDate: 2023-01-24

de March CA, Matsunami H, Abe M, et al (2023)

Genetic and functional odorant receptor variation in the Homo lineage.

iScience, 26(1):105908.

Humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans independently adapted to a wide range of geographic environments and their associated food odors. Using ancient DNA sequences, we explored the in vitro function of thirty odorant receptor genes in the genus Homo. Our extinct relatives had highly conserved olfactory receptor sequence, but humans did not. Variations in odorant receptor protein sequence and structure may have produced variation in odor detection and perception. Variants led to minimal changes in specificity but had more influence on functional sensitivity. The few Neanderthal variants disturbed function, whereas Denisovan variants increased sensitivity to sweet and sulfur odors. Geographic adaptations may have produced greater functional variation in our lineage, increasing our olfactory repertoire and expanding our adaptive capacity. Our survey of olfactory genes and odorant receptors suggests that our genus has a shared repertoire with possible local ecological adaptations.

RevDate: 2023-01-21

Zhou Z, M A Swagemakers S, S Lourens M, et al (2022)

Did variants in inborn errors of immunity genes contribute to the extinction of Neanderthals?.

Asian Pacific journal of allergy and immunology, 40(4):422-434.

BACKGROUND: Neanderthals were a species of archaic humans that became extinct around 40,000 years ago. Modern humans have inherited 1-6% of Neanderthal DNA as a result of interbreeding. These inherited Neanderthal genes have paradoxical influences, while some can provide protection to viral infections, some others are associated with autoimmune/auto-inflammatory diseases.

OBJECTIVE: We aim to investigate whether genetic variants with strong detrimental effects on the function of the immune system could have potentially contributed to the extinction of the Neanderthal population.

METHODS: We used the publically available genome information from an Altai Neanderthal and filtered for potentially damaging variants present in genes associated with inborn errors of immunity (IEI) and checked whether these variants were present in the genomes of the Denisovan, Vindija and Chagyrskaya Neanderthals.

RESULTS: We identified 24 homozygous variants and 15 heterozygous variants in IEI-related genes in the Altai Neanderthal. Two homozygous variants in the UNC13D gene and one variant in the MOGS gene were present in all archaic genomes. Defects in the UNC13D gene are known to cause a severe and often fatal disease called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocystosis (HLH). One of these variants p.(N943S) has been reported in patients with HLH. Variants in MOGS are associated with glycosylation defects in the immune system affecting the susceptibility for infections.

CONCLUSIONS: Although the exact functional impact of these three variants needs further elucidation, we speculate that they could have resulted in an increased susceptibility to severe diseases and may have contributed to the extinction of Neanderthals after exposure to specific infections.

RevDate: 2023-01-21

Nezami E, PP Gallego (2023)

History, Phylogeny, Biodiversity, and New Computer-Based Tools for Efficient Micropropagation and Conservation of Pistachio (Pistacia spp.) Germplasm.

Plants (Basel, Switzerland), 12(2): pii:plants12020323.

The word "pstk" [pistag], used in the ancient Persian language, is the linguistic root from which the current name "pistachio", used worldwide, derives. The word pistachio is generally used to designate the plants and fruits of a single species: Pistacia vera L. Both the plant and its fruits have been used by mankind for thousands of years, specifically the consumption of its fruits by Neanderthals has been dated to about 300,000 years ago. Native to southern Central Asia (including northern Afghanistan and northeastern Iran), its domestication and cultivation occurred about 3000 years ago in this region, spreading to the rest of the Mediterranean basin during the Middle Ages and finally being exported to America and Australia at the end of the 19th century. The edible pistachio is an excellent source of unsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and bioactive phenolic compounds that help promote human health through their antioxidant capacity and biological activities. The distribution and genetic diversity of wild and domesticated pistachios have been declining due to increasing population pressure and climatic changes, which have destroyed natural pistachio habitats, and the monoculture of selected cultivars. As a result, the current world pistachio industry relies mainly on a very small number of commercial cultivars and rootstocks. In this review we discuss and summarize the current status of: etymology, origin, domestication, taxonomy and phylogeny by molecular analysis (RAPID, RFLP, AFLP, SSR, ISSR, IRAP, eSSR), main characteristics and world production, germplasm biodiversity, main cultivars and rootstocks, current conservation strategies of both conventional propagation (seeds, cutting, and grafting), and non-conventional propagation methods (cryopreservation, slow growth storage, synthetic seed techniques and micropropagation) and the application of computational tools (Design of Experiments (DoE) and Machine Learning: Artificial Neural Networks, Fuzzy logic and Genetic Algorithms) to design efficient micropropagation protocols for the genus Pistacia.

RevDate: 2023-01-19

García-González R, Rodríguez L, Salazar-Fernández A, et al (2023)

Updated study of adult and subadult pectoral girdle bones from Sima de los Huesos site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain). Anatomical and age estimation keys.

Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007) [Epub ahead of print].

Here we present an updated inventory and study of pectoral girdle remains recovered from the Sima de los Huesos (SH) site. Here, we describe the key morphological traits of adults and, for the first time, subadult specimens. Because morphological traits can change with age, we also discuss some shortcomings related to age estimation in postcranial fossil specimens. Adult clavicles from the SH are long with a low robusticity index and marked curvatures in the superior view. Among these traits, only extreme clavicular length seems to characterize subadult individuals. Neandertals share all these traits. In the case of the scapula, the SH specimens share a relatively long and narrow glenoid fossa with Neandertals. This trait is also present in subadult individuals. Additionally, most specimens from SH, adults, and subadults showed a dorsal axillary sulcus on the scapular lateral border, a trait also present in most adult and subadult Neandertals. These traits in adult and subadult specimens supports substantial genetic control for many of them in both human species.

RevDate: 2023-01-18

Berlioz E, Capdepon E, E Discamps (2023)

A long-term perspective on Neanderthal environment and subsistence: Insights from the dental microwear texture analysis of hunted ungulates at Combe-Grenal (Dordogne, France).

PloS one, 18(1):e0278395 pii:PONE-D-22-20581.

Large bovids and cervids constituted major components of the European Middle Palaeolithic faunas and hence a key resource for Neanderthal populations. In paleoenvironmental reconstructions, red deer (Cervus elaphus) occurrence is classically considered as a tree-cover indicator while Bovinae (Bison priscus and Bos primigenius) and reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) occurrences are typically associated with open landscapes. However, insights into the ecology of extant ungulate populations show a more complex reality. Exploring the diet of past ungulates allows to better comprehend the hunting strategies of Palaeolithic populations and to reconstruct the modifications through time of past landscapes. By reflecting what animals have eaten during the last days or weeks of their life, dental microwear textures of herbivores link a population and its environment. Here we analyzed, via Dental Microwear Texture Analysis (DMTA), the diet of 50 Bos/Bison, 202 R. tarandus and 116 C. elaphus preyed upon by the Neanderthals that occupied Combe-Grenal rock-shelter, one of the most important Mousterian archaeo-sequences in southwestern France considering its long stratigraphy, abundance of faunal remains and the variations perceptible in Palaeolithic material culture. Grazers and mixed-feeders are the most represented dietary categories among Combe-Grenal's guild of herbivores, highlighting the availability, along the sequence, of open landscapes. The absence of clear changes in the use of plant resources by hunted ungulates through time, even though palaeoenvironmental changes were well-documented by previous studies along the sequence, is interpreted as resulting from the hunting of non-randomly selected prey by Neanderthals, preferentially in open environments. Thus, these results provide further insight into the hunting strategies of Neanderthals and modify our perception of potential links between subsistence and material culture. Combe-Grenal hunters "stayed in the open" through millennia, and were not forced to switch to hunting tactics and material technology adapted to close encounters in forested environments.

RevDate: 2023-01-18

Moreira F, Arenas M, Videira A, et al (2023)

Evolution of TOP1 and TOP1MT Topoisomerases in Chordata.

Journal of molecular evolution [Epub ahead of print].

Type IB topoisomerases relax the torsional stress associated with DNA metabolism in the nucleus and mitochondria and constitute important molecular targets of anticancer drugs. Vertebrates stand out among eukaryotes by having two Type IB topoisomerases acting specifically in the nucleus (TOP1) and mitochondria (TOP1MT). Despite their major importance, the origin and evolution of these paralogues remain unknown. Here, we examine the molecular evolutionary processes acting on both TOP1 and TOP1MT in Chordata, taking advantage of the increasing number of available genome sequences. We found that both TOP1 and TOP1MT evolved under strong purifying selection, as expected considering their essential biological functions. Critical active sites, including those associated with resistance to anticancer agents, were found particularly conserved. However, TOP1MT presented a higher rate of molecular evolution than TOP1, possibly related with its specialized activity on the mitochondrial genome and a less critical role in cells. We could place the duplication event that originated the TOP1 and TOP1MT paralogues early in the radiation of vertebrates, most likely associated with the first round of vertebrate tetraploidization (1R). Moreover, our data suggest that cyclostomes present a specialized mitochondrial Type IB topoisomerase. Interestingly, we identified two missense mutations replacing amino acids in the Linker region of TOP1MT in Neanderthals, which appears as a rare event when comparing the genome of both species. In conclusion, TOP1 and TOP1MT differ in their rates of evolution, and their evolutionary histories allowed us to better understand the evolution of chordates.

RevDate: 2023-01-10

Aqil A, Speidel L, Pavlidis P, et al (2023)

Balancing selection on genomic deletion polymorphisms in humans.

eLife, 12: pii:79111 [Epub ahead of print].

A key question in biology is why genomic variation persists in a population for extended periods. Recent studies have identified examples of genomic deletions that have remained polymorphic in the human lineage for hundreds of millennia, ostensibly owing to balancing selection. Nevertheless, genome-wide investigation of ancient and possibly adaptive deletions remains imperative. Here, we demonstrate an excess of polymorphisms in present-day humans that predate the modern human-Neanderthal split (ancient polymorphisms), which cannot be explained solely by selectively neutral scenarios. We analyze the adaptive mechanisms that underlie this excess in deletion polymorphisms. Using a previously published measure of balancing selection, we show that this excess of ancient deletions is largely owing to balancing selection. Based on the absence of signatures of overdominance, we conclude that it is a rare mode of balancing selection among ancient deletions. Instead, more complex scenarios involving spatially and temporally variable selective pressures are likely more common mechanisms. Our results suggest that balancing selection resulted in ancient deletions harboring disproportionately more exonic variants with GWAS associations. We further found that ancient deletions are significantly enriched for traits related to metabolism and immunity. As a by-product of our analysis, we show that deletions are, on average, more deleterious than single-nucleotide variants. We can now argue that not only is a vast majority of common variants shared among human populations, but a considerable portion of biologically relevant variants has been segregating among our ancestors for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years.

RevDate: 2023-01-08

Zhang X, Kim B, Singh A, et al (2023)

MaLAdapt reveals novel targets of adaptive introgression from Neanderthals and Denisovans in worldwide human populations.

Molecular biology and evolution pii:6974177 [Epub ahead of print].

Adaptive introgression (AI) facilitates local adaptation in a wide range of species. Many state-of-the-art methods detect AI with ad-hoc approaches that identify summary statistic outliers or intersect scans for positive selection with scans for introgressed genomic regions. Although widely used, approaches intersecting outliers are vulnerable to a high false-negative rate as the power of different methods varies, especially for complex introgression events. Moreover, population genetic processes unrelated to AI, such as background selection or heterosis, may create similar genomic signals to AI, compromising the reliability of methods that rely on neutral null distributions. In recent years, machine learning (ML) methods have been increasingly applied to population genetic questions. Here, we present a ML-based method called MaLAdapt for identifying AI loci from genome-wide sequencing data. Using an Extra-Trees Classifier algorithm, our method combines information from a large number of biologically meaningful summary statistics to capture a powerful composite signature of AI across the genome. In contrast to existing methods, MaLAdapt is especially well-powered to detect AI with mild beneficial effects, including selection on standing archaic variation, and is robust to non-AI selective sweeps, heterosis from deleterious mutations, and demographic misspecification. Further, MaLAdapt outperforms existing methods for detecting AI based on the analysis of simulated data and on a validation of empirical signals through visual inspection of haplotype patterns. We apply MaLAdapt to the 1000 Genomes Project human genomic data, and discover novel AI candidate regions in non-African populations, including genes that are enriched in functionally important biological pathways regulating metabolism and immune responses.

RevDate: 2023-01-05

Sansalone G, Profico A, Wroe S, et al (2023)

Homo sapiens and Neanderthals share high cerebral cortex integration into adulthood.

Nature ecology & evolution [Epub ahead of print].

There is controversy around the mechanisms that guided the change in brain shape during the evolution of modern humans. It has long been held that different cortical areas evolved independently from each other to develop their unique functional specializations. However, some recent studies suggest that high integration between different cortical areas could facilitate the emergence of equally extreme, highly specialized brain functions. Here, we analyse the evolution of brain shape in primates using three-dimensional geometric morphometrics of endocasts. We aim to determine, firstly, whether modern humans present unique developmental patterns of covariation between brain cortical areas; and secondly, whether hominins experienced unusually high rates of evolution in brain covariation as compared to other primates. On the basis of analyses including modern humans and other extant great apes at different developmental stages, we first demonstrate that, unlike our closest living relatives, Homo sapiens retain high levels of covariation between cortical areas into adulthood. Among the other great apes, high levels of covariation are only found in immature individuals. Secondly, at the macro-evolutionary level, our analysis of 400 endocasts, representing 148 extant primate species and 6 fossil hominins, shows that strong covariation between different areas of the brain in H. sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis evolved under distinctly higher evolutionary rates than in any other primate, suggesting that natural selection favoured a greatly integrated brain in both species. These results hold when extinct species are excluded and allometric effects are accounted for. Our findings demonstrate that high covariation in the brain may have played a critical role in the evolution of unique cognitive capacities and complex behaviours in both modern humans and Neanderthals.

RevDate: 2023-01-03

Laudicina NM, M Cartmill (2023)

Clavicle length and shoulder breadth in hominoid evolution.

Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007) [Epub ahead of print].

For a given body mass, hominoids have longer clavicles than typical monkeys, reflecting the lateral reorientation of the hominoid glenoid. Relative length of the clavicle varies among hominoids, with orangutans having longer clavicles than expected for body mass and gorillas and chimpanzees having shorter clavicles than expected. Modern humans conform to the general hominoid distribution, but Neandertals and Upper Paleolithic Homo sapiens have longer clavicles than expected for their size and exhibit marked positive allometry in clavicle length. Relative to clavicle length, adult and newborn humans have broader shoulders (biacromial breadths) than comparable apes, because the reduced elevation of the human shoulder swings the acromion laterally downward away from the head. Since broadened shoulders yield an increased risk of maternal and neonatal injury and/or death from shoulder dystocia during birth, we might expect hominins to manifest trends toward reduction in shoulder breadth and clavicle length. They do not, presumably because of countering selection pressures favoring a long clavicle in the adults. The marked sexual dimorphism seen in patterns of clavicular growth and static adult allometry in humans suggests that those selection pressures have disproportionately affected the males.

RevDate: 2022-12-28

Peresani M (2022)

Inspecting human evolution from a cave. Late Neanderthals and early sapiens at Grotta di Fumane: present state and outlook.

Journal of anthropological sciences = Rivista di antropologia : JASS, 100: [Epub ahead of print].

Of the many critical phases of human evolution, one of the most investigated is the transition from the Middle to the Upper Palaeolithic with the pivotal bio-cultural substitution of Neanderthals by Homo sapiens in Western Eurasia. The complexity of this over ten thousands years phase raises from the ensemble of evidence ascribed to the diverse adaptations expressed by Neanderthals and the first representatives of our species. In countless archaeological records Neanderthals left clear traces of a cultural variability dotted with innovations in the technology of stone and bone tools, alongside with manifestations in the range of the symbolic sphere. Together with other aspects of daily life, this evidence contributes shedding light on the cognitive aptitudes of those hominins and reassessing gaps in Pleistocene human diversities. Among archaeological contexts, the cave of Fumane in the Monti Lessini (Veneto Pre-Alps, northeastern Italy) is a key site. It is positioned along the potential trajectory of hominins moving into southern Europe from eastern and southeastern regions and includes a finely layered sedimentary sequence with cultural layers ascribed to the Mousterian, Uluzzian, Aurignacian and Gravettian. The ensemble constitutes one of the most complete, detailed and dated continental stratigraphic series from a segment of the late Pleistocene between 50 and 30 ka cal BP in a cave context of Southern Europe. Assessments based on sedimentological and palaeontological record provide indicators for framing Neanderthals in their respective ecological contexts since the late Middle Pleistocene until their demise during MIS3. On-going research is producing data ascribable to the human ecological relations and the interaction with specific natural resources, thus contributing to shed light on the complexity of Neanderthal behavior. Thanks to the high-resolution archaeological record of the earliest appearances of Homo sapiens, Fumane also provides clues to compare life, subsistence, and cultures between these Pleistocene hominins for comprehensive reasonings on our unicity.

RevDate: 2022-12-23

Bañuls-Cardona S, Blasco R, Rosell J, et al (2022)

New quantitative method for dental wear analysis of small mammals.

Scientific reports, 12(1):22231.

The application of dental wear study to murids has always been ruled out because of their omnivorous diet, which does not leave significant wear on the dentition. Nevertheless, in our work we select Apodemus sylvaticus (wood mouse) as the object of study for several reasons: its seasonal diet, its ability to resist the gastric juices of predators, the fact that it has not undergone major morphological changes since its appearance 3 million years ago, and its widespread distribution throughout much of Europe and part of Africa. The importance of this work lies in the modifications we make to the dental wear methodology for its application to murids. These enable us to obtain quantitative data on the entire tooth surface. The sample chosen was a total of 75 lower first molars from two different archaeological sites: Teixoneres cave and Xaragalls cave. The chronology of the samples chosen ranges from Marine Isotope Stages 5-3. The data obtained reveal that the part of the tooth that shows most wear is the distal part (entoconid). Furthermore, the results provide us with relevant information on the types of accumulations of remains in the caves (short vs. long term), as well as on the seasonality of Neanderthal occupations during the Upper Pleistocene (MIS5-3) of the northeastern Iberian Peninsula.

RevDate: 2022-12-23

Yermakovich D, Pankratov V, Võsa U, et al (2022)

Long-range regulatory effects of Neandertal DNA in modern humans.

Genetics pii:6957427 [Epub ahead of print].

The admixture between modern humans and Neandertals has resulted in ∼2% of the genomes of present-day non-Africans being composed of Neandertal DNA. Introgressed Neandertal DNA has been demonstrated to significantly affect the transcriptomic landscape in people today and via this molecular mechanism influence phenotype variation as well. However, little is known about how much of that regulatory impact is mediated through long-range regulatory effects that have been shown to explain ∼20% of expression variation. Here we identified 60 transcription factors (TFs) with their top cis-eQTL SNP in GTEx being of Neandertal ancestry and predicted long-range Neandertal DNA-induced regulatory effects by screening for the predicted target genes of those TFs. We show that the TFs form a significantly connected protein-protein interaction network. Among them are JUN and PRDM5, two brain-expressed TFs that have their predicted target genes enriched in regions devoid of Neandertal DNA. Archaic cis-eQTLs for the 60 TFs include multiple candidates for local adaptation, some of which show significant allele frequency increases over the last ∼10,000 years. A large proportion of the cis-eQTL-associated archaic SNPs have additional associations with various immune traits, schizophrenia, blood cell type composition and anthropometric measures. Finally, we demonstrate that our results are consistent with those of Neandertal-DNA-associated empirical trans-eQTLs. Our results suggest that Neandertal DNA significantly influences regulatory networks, that its regulatory reach goes beyond the 40% of genomic sequence that it still covers in present-day non-Africans and that via the investigated mechanism Neandertal DNA influences the phenotypic variation in people today.

RevDate: 2022-12-15

Gorgé O, Bennett EA, Massilani D, et al (2023)

Analysis of Ancient Microbial DNA.

Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 2605:103-131.

The development of next-generation sequencing has led to a breakthrough in the analysis of ancient genomes, and the subsequent genomic analyses of ancient human skeletal remains have revolutionized our understanding of human evolution. This research led to the discovery of a new hominin lineage, and demonstrated multiple admixture events with more distantly related archaic human populations such as Neandertals and Denisovans over the last 100,000 years. Moreover, it has also yielded novel insights into the evolution of ancient pathogens. The analysis of ancient microbial genomes enables the study of their recent evolution, presently covering the last several millennia. These spectacular results have been obtained despite the degradation of DNA that takes place after the death of the host and increases with time. This cumulative degradation results in very short ancient DNA molecules, low in quantity, and highly prone to contamination by modern DNA molecules, especially from human and animal DNA present in reagents used in downstream biomolecular analyses. Finally, the minute amounts of ancient molecules are further diluted in environmental DNA from the soil microorganisms that colonize bones and teeth. Thus, ancient skeletal remains can share DNA profiles with environmental samples, and the identification of ancient microbial genomes among the more recent, presently poorly characterized, environmental microbiome is particularly challenging. Here, we describe the methods developed and/or in use in our laboratory to produce reliable and reproducible paleogenomic results from ancient skeletal remains that can be used to identify the presence of ancient microbiota.

RevDate: 2022-12-13

Stringer C (2022)

The development of ideas about a recent African origin for Homo sapiens.

Journal of anthropological sciences = Rivista di antropologia : JASS, 100: [Epub ahead of print].

In this contribution I will review the development of ideas about a recent African origin for our species over the last 50 years, starting from the time of my PhD in the early 1970s. I will examine the instructive and quite different interpretations placed on the 1979 discovery of a partial Neanderthal skeleton associated with a Châtelperronian industry at the rock shelter of St-Césaire in France, and then focus on the crucial years from 1987-1989, including the so-called 'Human Revolution' conference of 1987, and my 1988 Science paper with Peter Andrews: 'Genetic and Fossil Evidence for the Origin of Modern Humans'. Following the historical review, I will assess the status of five proposed models for the evolution of derived Homo sapiens: Recent African Origin (RAO); RAO and Hybridisation (RAOH); Assimilation (AM); Multiregional Evolution (MRE); and Braided Stream (BS). I conclude that a recent African origin model with hybridization (RAOH) is the best supported from the fossil and genetic evidence.

RevDate: 2022-12-12

Taravella Oill AM, Buetow KH, MA Wilson (2022)

The role of Neanderthal introgression in liver cancer.

BMC medical genomics, 15(1):255.

BACKGROUND: Neanderthal introgressed DNA has been linked to different normal and disease traits including immunity and metabolism-two important functions that are altered in liver cancer. However, there is limited understanding of the relationship between Neanderthal introgression and liver cancer risk. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between Neanderthal introgression and liver cancer risk.

METHODS: Using germline and somatic DNA and tumor RNA from liver cancer patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas, along with ancestry-match germline DNA from unaffected individuals from the 1000 Genomes Resource, and allele specific expression data from normal liver tissue from The Genotype-Tissue Expression project we investigated whether Neanderthal introgression impacts cancer etiology. Using a previously generated set of Neanderthal alleles, we identified Neanderthal introgressed haplotypes. We then tested whether somatic mutations are enriched or depleted on Neanderthal introgressed haplotypes compared to modern haplotypes. We also computationally assessed whether somatic mutations have a functional effect or show evidence of regulating expression of Neanderthal haplotypes. Finally, we compared patterns of Neanderthal introgression in liver cancer patients and the general population.

RESULTS: We find Neanderthal introgressed haplotypes exhibit an excess of somatic mutations compared to modern haplotypes. Variant Effect Predictor analysis revealed that most of the somatic mutations on these Neanderthal introgressed haplotypes are not functional. We did observe expression differences of Neanderthal alleles between tumor and normal for four genes that also showed a pattern of enrichment of somatic mutations on Neanderthal haplotypes. However, gene expression was similar between liver cancer patients with modern ancestry and liver cancer patients with Neanderthal ancestry at these genes. Provocatively, when analyzing all genes, we find evidence of Neanderthal introgression regulating expression in tumor from liver cancer patients in two genes, ARK1C4 and OAS1. Finally, we find that most genes do not show a difference in the proportion of Neanderthal introgression between liver cancer patients and the general population.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that Neanderthal introgression provides opportunity for somatic mutations to accumulate, and that some Neanderthal introgression may impact liver cancer risk.

RevDate: 2022-12-09

Keeling BA, Quam R, Martínez I, et al (2022)

Reassessment of the human mandible from Banyoles (Girona, Spain).

Journal of human evolution, 174:103291 pii:S0047-2484(22)00151-8 [Epub ahead of print].

Since the discovery of a human mandible in 1887 near the present-day city of Banyoles, northeastern Spain, researchers have generally emphasized its archaic features, including the lack of chin structures, and suggested affinities with the Neandertals or European Middle Pleistocene (Chibanian) specimens. Uranium-series and electron spin resonance dating suggest the mandible dates to the Late Pleistocene (Tarantian), approximately ca. 45-66 ka. In this study, we reassessed the taxonomic affinities of the Banyoles mandible by comparing it to samples of Middle Pleistocene fossils from Africa and Europe, Neandertals, Early and Upper Paleolithic modern humans, and recent modern humans. We evaluated the frequencies and expressions of morphological features and performed a three-dimensional geometric morphometric analysis on a virtual reconstruction of Banyoles to capture overall mandibular shape. Our results revealed no derived Neandertal morphological features in Banyoles. While a principal component analysis based on Euclidean distances from the first two principal components clearly grouped Banyoles with both fossil and recent Homo sapiens individuals, an analysis of the Procrustes residuals demonstrated that Banyoles did not fit into any of the comparative groups. The lack of Neandertal features in Banyoles is surprising considering its Late Pleistocene age. A consideration of the Middle Pleistocene fossil record in Europe and southwest Asia suggests that Banyoles is unlikely to represent a late-surviving Middle Pleistocene population. The lack of chin structures also complicates an assignment to H. sapiens, although early fossil H. sapiens do show somewhat variable development of the chin structures. Thus, Banyoles represents a non-Neandertal Late Pleistocene European individual and highlights the continuing signal of diversity in the hominin fossil record. The present situation makes Banyoles a prime candidate for ancient DNA or proteomic analyses, which may shed additional light on its taxonomic affinities.

RevDate: 2022-12-08

Vespasiani DM, Jacobs GS, Cook LE, et al (2022)

Denisovan introgression has shaped the immune system of present-day Papuans.

PLoS genetics, 18(12):e1010470 pii:PGENETICS-D-22-00130.

Modern humans have admixed with multiple archaic hominins. Papuans, in particular, owe up to 5% of their genome to Denisovans, a sister group to Neanderthals whose remains have only been identified in Siberia and Tibet. Unfortunately, the biological and evolutionary significance of these introgression events remain poorly understood. Here we investigate the function of both Denisovan and Neanderthal alleles characterised within a set of 56 genomes from Papuan individuals. By comparing the distribution of archaic and non-archaic variants we assess the consequences of archaic admixture across a multitude of different cell types and functional elements. We observe an enrichment of archaic alleles within cis-regulatory elements and transcribed regions of the genome, with Denisovan variants strongly affecting elements active within immune-related cells. We identify 16,048 and 10,032 high-confidence Denisovan and Neanderthal variants that fall within annotated cis-regulatory elements and with the potential to alter the affinity of multiple transcription factors to their cognate DNA motifs, highlighting a likely mechanism by which introgressed DNA can impact phenotypes. Lastly, we experimentally validate these predictions by testing the regulatory potential of five Denisovan variants segregating within Papuan individuals, and find that two are associated with a significant reduction of transcriptional activity in plasmid reporter assays. Together, these data provide support for a widespread contribution of archaic DNA in shaping the present levels of modern human genetic diversity, with different archaic ancestries potentially affecting multiple phenotypic traits within non-Africans.

RevDate: 2022-12-05

Saraiva LR (2022)

The Neanderthal inside us.

Nature reviews. Genetics [Epub ahead of print].

RevDate: 2022-12-06

Schäfer W, Stähler T, Pinto Espinoza C, et al (2022)

Origin, distribution, and function of three frequent coding polymorphisms in the gene for the human P2X7 ion channel.

Frontiers in pharmacology, 13:1033135.

P2X7, an ion channel gated by extracellular ATP, is widely expressed on the plasma membrane of immune cells and plays important roles in inflammation and apoptosis. Several single nucleotide polymorphisms have been identified in the human P2RX7 gene. In contrast to other members of the P2X family, non-synonymous polymorphisms in P2X7 are common. Three of these occur at overall frequencies of more than 25% and affect residues in the extracellular "head"-domain of P2X7 (155 Y/H), its "lower body" (270 R/H), and its "tail" in the second transmembrane domain (348 T/A). Comparison of the P2X7 orthologues of human and other great apes indicates that the ancestral allele is Y-R-T (at 155-270-348). Interestingly, each single amino acid variant displays lower ATP-sensitivity than the ancestral allele. The originally published reference sequence of human P2X7, often referred to as "wildtype," differs from the ancestral allele at all three positions, i.e. H-H-A. The 1,000 Genome Project determined the sequences of both alleles of 2,500 human individuals, including roughly 500 persons from each of the five major continental regions. This rich resource shows that the ancestral alleles Y155, R270, and T348 occur in all analyzed human populations, albeit at strikingly different frequencies in various subpopulations (e.g., 25%-59% for Y155, 59%-77% for R270, and 13%-47% for T348). BLAST analyses of ancient human genome sequences uncovered several homozygous carriers of variant P2X7 alleles, possibly reflecting a high degree of inbreeding, e.g., H-R-T for a 50.000 year old Neanderthal, H-R-A for a 24.000 year old Siberian, and Y-R-A for a 7,000 year old mesolithic European. In contrast, most present-day individuals co-express two copies of P2X7 that differ in one or more amino acids at positions 155, 270, and 348. Our results improve the understanding of how P2X7 structure affects its function and suggest the importance of considering P2X7 variants of participants when designing clinical trials targeting P2X7.

RevDate: 2022-12-06

Ma X, S Xu (2022)

Archaic introgression contributed to the pre-agriculture adaptation of vitamin B1 metabolism in East Asia.

iScience, 25(12):105614.

Thiamine (vitamin B1) is an essential micronutrient. Genes involved in thiamine metabolisms, such as SLC19A2, SLC35F3, and SLC35F4, were assumed to be underlying positive selection in East Asians, but the detailed mechanism remains unknown. Here, we analyzed genome data of 3,823 individuals representing 223 global populations and identified the adaptive haplotypes at thiamine genes. Interestingly, the putative adaptive haplotype at SLC35F4 was of Neanderthal ancestry, while that at SLC35F3 was also likely of archaic origins. Leveraging new methods and available ancient DNA data, we further demonstrated that the beneficial haplotypes reached a high frequency at least 10,000 years ago and are maintained persistently in present-day East Asians. We argue that pathogens, rather than agriculture developed ∼10,000 years ago in East Asia, were likely the initial driving force of the putative positive selection. Notably, the first American people did not carry the putative adaptive haplotype at SLC35F4.

RevDate: 2022-12-01

Velez AD, Quam R, Conde-Valverde M, et al (2022)

Geometric morphometric analysis of the bony labyrinth of the Sima de los Huesos hominins.

Journal of human evolution, 174:103280 pii:S0047-2484(22)00140-3 [Epub ahead of print].

The bony labyrinth contains phylogenetic information that can be used to determine interspecific differences between fossil hominins. The present study conducted a comparative 3D geometric morphometric analysis on the bony labyrinth of the Middle Pleistocene Sima de los Huesos (SH) hominins. The findings of this study corroborate previous multivariate analyses of the SH hominin bony labyrinth. The analysis of the semicircular canals revealed the SH hominin canal morphologies appear closer to those of the Neandertals than to those of Homo sapiens. This is attributable to a Neandertal-like ovoid anterior canal, and mediolaterally expanded, circular posterior canal. However, the SH hominins lack the increased torsion in the anterior canal and the inferior orientation of the lateral canal seen in Neandertals. The results of the cochlear analysis indicated that, although there is some overlap, there are notable differences between the SH hominins and the Neandertals. In particular, the SH hominin cochlea appears more constricted than in Neandertals in the first and second turns. A principal component analysis of the full bony labyrinth separated most SH hominins from the Neandertals, which largely clustered with modern humans. A covariance ratio analysis found a significant degree of modularity within the bony labyrinth of all three groups, with the SH hominins and Neandertals displaying the highest modularity. This modular signal in the bony labyrinth may be attributable to different selective pressures related to locomotion and audition. Overall, the results of this study confirm previous suggestions that the semicircular canals in the SH hominins are somewhat derived toward Neandertals, while their cochlea is largely primitive within the genus Homo.

RevDate: 2022-12-01

Britton K, Jimenez EL, Le Corre M, et al (2022)

Multi-isotope zooarchaeological investigations at Abri du Maras: The paleoecological and paleoenvironmental context of Neanderthal subsistence strategies in the Rhône Valley during MIS 3.

Journal of human evolution, 174:103292 pii:S0047-2484(22)00152-X [Epub ahead of print].

The exploitation of mid- and large-sized herbivores (ungulates) was central to hominin subsistence across Late Pleistocene Europe. Reconstructing the paleoecology of prey-taxa is key to better understanding procurement strategies, decisions and behaviors, and the isotope analysis of faunal bones and teeth found at archaeological sites represent a powerful means of accessing information about past faunal behaviors. These isotope zooarchaeological approaches also have a near-unique ability to reveal environmental conditions contemporary to the human activities that produced these remains. Here, we present the results of a multi-isotope, multitissue study of ungulate remains from the Middle Paleolithic site of Abri du Maras, southern France, providing new insights into the living landscapes of the Rhône Valley during MIS 3 (level 4.2 = 55 ± 2 to 42 ± 3 ka; level 4.1 = 46 ± 3 to 40 ± 3 ka). Isotope data (carbon, nitrogen) reveal the dietary niches of different ungulate taxa, including the now-extinct giant deer (Megaloceros). Oxygen isotope data are consistent with a mild seasonal climate during level 4.2, where horse (Equus), bison (Bison), and red deer (Cervus elaphus) were exploited year-round. Strontium and sulfur isotope analyses provide new evidence for behavioral plasticity in Late Pleistocene European reindeer (Rangifer) between level 4.2 and level 4.1, indicating a change from the migratory to the sedentary ecotype. In level 4.1, the strong seasonal nature of reindeer exploitation, combined with their nonmigratory behavior, is consistent with a seasonally restricted use of the site by Neanderthals at that time or the preferential hunting of reindeer when in peak physical condition during the autumn.

RevDate: 2022-11-28
CmpDate: 2022-11-28

Mangan RJ, Alsina FC, Mosti F, et al (2022)

Adaptive sequence divergence forged new neurodevelopmental enhancers in humans.

Cell, 185(24):4587-4603.e23.

Searches for the genetic underpinnings of uniquely human traits have focused on human-specific divergence in conserved genomic regions, which reflects adaptive modifications of existing functional elements. However, the study of conserved regions excludes functional elements that descended from previously neutral regions. Here, we demonstrate that the fastest-evolved regions of the human genome, which we term "human ancestor quickly evolved regions" (HAQERs), rapidly diverged in an episodic burst of directional positive selection prior to the human-Neanderthal split, before transitioning to constraint within hominins. HAQERs are enriched for bivalent chromatin states, particularly in gastrointestinal and neurodevelopmental tissues, and genetic variants linked to neurodevelopmental disease. We developed a multiplex, single-cell in vivo enhancer assay to discover that rapid sequence divergence in HAQERs generated hominin-unique enhancers in the developing cerebral cortex. We propose that a lack of pleiotropic constraints and elevated mutation rates poised HAQERs for rapid adaptation and subsequent susceptibility to disease.

RevDate: 2022-11-26
CmpDate: 2022-11-25

Deschamps M, Martín-Lerma I, Linares-Matás G, et al (2022)

Organization of residential space, site function variability, and seasonality of activities among MIS 5 Iberian Neandertals.

Scientific reports, 12(1):20221.

Whether ethnoarcheological models of hunter-gatherer mobility, landscape use, and structuration of the inhabited space are relevant to the archeology of Neandertals and the Middle Paleolithic remains controversial. The thin lenses of hearth-associated stone tools and faunal remains excavated in sub-complex AS5 of Cueva Antón (Murcia, Spain) significantly advance these debates. Dated to 77.8-85.1 ka, these living floors are interstratified in river-accumulated sands and were buried shortly after abandonment by low-energy inundation events, with minimal disturbance and negligible palimpsest formation. Stone tools were made and ergonomically modified to fit tasks; their spatial distributions and use-wear reveal hearth-focused activities and a division of the inhabited space into resting and working areas. Site function varied with season of the year: units III-i/j1 and III-i/j2-3 record winter visits focused on filleting and hide processing, while woodworking predominated in unit III-b/d, which subsumes visits to the site over the course of at least one winter, one spring, and one summer. These snapshots of Neandertal behavior match expectations derived from the ethnographic and Upper Paleolithic records for the lifeways of hunter-gatherers inhabiting temperate regions with a markedly seasonal climate.

RevDate: 2022-11-23

Wielgus K, Danielewski M, J Walkowiak (2022)

Svante Pääbo, reader of the Neanderthal genome.

RevDate: 2022-11-29
CmpDate: 2022-11-29

Harvati K, H Reyes-Centeno (2022)

Evolution of Homo in the Middle and Late Pleistocene.

Journal of human evolution, 173:103279.

The Middle and Late Pleistocene is arguably the most interesting period in human evolution. This broad period witnessed the evolution of our own lineage, as well as that of our sister taxon, the Neanderthals, and related Denisovans. It is exceptionally rich in both fossil and archaeological remains, and uniquely benefits from insights gained through molecular approaches, such as paleogenetics and paleoproteomics, that are currently not widely applicable in earlier contexts. This wealth of information paints a highly complex picture, often described as 'the Muddle in the Middle,' defying the common adage that 'more evidence is needed' to resolve it. Here we review competing phylogenetic scenarios and the historical and theoretical developments that shaped our approaches to the fossil record, as well as some of the many remaining open questions associated with this period. We propose that advancing our understanding of this critical time requires more than the addition of data and will necessitate a major shift in our conceptual and theoretical framework.

RevDate: 2022-12-02
CmpDate: 2022-11-09

Tveito K (2022)

From Icelandic family sagas to Neanderthal genes.

Tidsskrift for den Norske laegeforening : tidsskrift for praktisk medicin, ny raekke, 142(16): pii:22-0684.

RevDate: 2022-11-20
CmpDate: 2022-11-09

Koller D, Wendt FR, Pathak GA, et al (2022)

Denisovan and Neanderthal archaic introgression differentially impacted the genetics of complex traits in modern populations.

BMC biology, 20(1):249.

BACKGROUND: Introgression from extinct Neanderthal and Denisovan human species has been shown to contribute to the genetic pool of modern human populations and their phenotypic spectrum. Evidence of how Neanderthal introgression shaped the genetics of human traits and diseases has been extensively studied in populations of European descent, with signatures of admixture reported for instance in genes associated with pigmentation, immunity, and metabolic traits. However, limited information is currently available about the impact of archaic introgression on other ancestry groups. Additionally, to date, no study has been conducted with respect to the impact of Denisovan introgression on the health and disease of modern populations. Here, we compare the way evolutionary pressures shaped the genetics of complex traits in East Asian and European populations, and provide evidence of the impact of Denisovan introgression on the health of East Asian and Central/South Asian populations.

RESULTS: Leveraging genome-wide association statistics from the Biobank Japan and UK Biobank, we assessed whether Denisovan and Neanderthal introgression together with other evolutionary genomic signatures were enriched for the heritability of physiological and pathological conditions in populations of East Asian and European descent. In EAS, Denisovan-introgressed loci were enriched for coronary artery disease heritability (1.69-fold enrichment, p=0.003). No enrichment for archaic introgression was observed in EUR. We also performed a phenome-wide association study of Denisovan and Neanderthal alleles in six ancestry groups available in the UK Biobank. In EAS, the Denisovan-introgressed SNP rs62391664 in the major histocompatibility complex region was associated with albumin/globulin ratio (beta=-0.17, p=3.57×10[-7]). Neanderthal-introgressed alleles were associated with psychiatric and cognitive traits in EAS (e.g., "No Bipolar or Depression"-rs79043717 beta=-1.5, p=1.1×10[-7]), and with blood biomarkers (e.g., alkaline phosphatase-rs11244089 beta=0.1, p=3.69×10[-116]) and red hair color (rs60733936 beta=-0.86, p=4.49×10[-165]) in EUR. In the other ancestry groups, Neanderthal alleles were associated with several traits, also including the use of certain medications (e.g., Central/South East Asia: indapamide - rs732632 beta=-2.38, p=5.22×10[-7]).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides novel evidence regarding the impact of archaic introgression on the genetics of complex traits in worldwide populations, highlighting the specific contribution of Denisovan introgression in EAS populations.

RevDate: 2022-11-25

Richards GD, Jabbour RS, Guipert G, et al (2022)

Endocranial anatomy of the Guercy 1 early Neanderthal from Baume Moula-Guercy (Soyons, Ardèche, France).

Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007) [Epub ahead of print].

We provide the first comparative description of the endocranium of the Guercy 1 Early Neanderthal and examine its affinities to Preneanderthals, Neanderthals, and Homo sapiens. The Guercy 1 cranium derives from deposits chronostratigraphically and biostratigraphically dated to the Eemian Interglacial (MIS 5e). For comparative purposes, we compiled a sample of European and Southwest Asian subadult and adult Middle-to-Late Pleistocene hominins (≈MIS 12-MIS 1; N = 65). We sampled both a Preneanderthal-Neanderthal group and a Homo sapiens group. The Preneanderthal-Neanderthal group was further divided into three time-successive subgroups defined by associated MIS stages. Metric and morphological observations were made on original fossils and physical and virtual endocranial reconstructions. Guercy 1 and other Early Neanderthals, differ from Preneanderthals by increased development of the prefrontal cortex, precentral and postcentral gyri, inferior parietal lobule, and frontoparietal operculum. Early Neanderthal differ, in general, from Late Neanderthals by exhibiting less development in most of the latter brain structures. The late group additionally differentiates itself from the early group by a greater development of the rostral superior parietal lobule, angular gyrus, superior and middle temporal gyri, and caudal branches of the superior temporal gyrus. Endocranial morphology assessed along the Preneanderthal-Neanderthal sequence show that brain structures prominent in Preneanderthals are accentuated in Early-to-Late Neanderthals. However, both the Early and Late groups differentiate themselves by also showing regionally specific changes in brain development. This pattern of morphological change is consistent with a mosaic pattern of neural evolution in these Middle-to-Late Pleistocene hominins.

RevDate: 2022-11-03

Graham F (2022)

Daily briefing: First known Neanderthal family discovered.

RevDate: 2022-12-05
CmpDate: 2022-11-04

Campelo Dos Santos AL, Owings A, Sullasi HSL, et al (2022)

Genomic evidence for ancient human migration routes along South America's Atlantic coast.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 289(1986):20221078.

An increasing body of archaeological and genomic evidence has hinted at a complex settlement process of the Americas by humans. This is especially true for South America, where unexpected ancestral signals have raised perplexing scenarios for the early migrations into different regions of the continent. Here, we present ancient human genomes from the archaeologically rich Northeast Brazil and compare them to ancient and present-day genomic data. We find a distinct relationship between ancient genomes from Northeast Brazil, Lagoa Santa, Uruguay and Panama, representing evidence for ancient migration routes along South America's Atlantic coast. To further add to the existing complexity, we also detect greater Denisovan than Neanderthal ancestry in ancient Uruguay and Panama individuals. Moreover, we find a strong Australasian signal in an ancient genome from Panama. This work sheds light on the deep demographic history of eastern South America and presents a starting point for future fine-scale investigations on the regional level.

RevDate: 2022-11-02

Mortazavi SA, Bevelacqua JJ, Welsh JS, et al (2022)

The Paradox of COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa: Why it is More Unethical Not to Investigate Low Dose Radiotherapy for COVID-19.

Journal of biomedical physics & engineering, 12(5):539-542.

An accumulating body of evidence shows that various ethnicities are differentially affected by SARS-COV-2 infection. Moreover, some evidence shows that due to the vaccine inequity and millions of people living with HIV, a major catastrophe could occur in African countries that possibly affects the whole world. Given the possibility that Neanderthal genes confer a slight increase in susceptibility, this difference, at least to some extent, might possibly decrease the risk of the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants among black people in Africa. Recent studies show less death and fewer cases among the ethnic group classified as "Black Africans". Although Neanderthal DNA might explain some differences in morbidity and mortality of COVID-19, a multitude of confounders complicate things to where drawing definite conclusions is hard or even impossible. Using selective-pressure-free treatments (e.g. low dose radiotherapy) for COVID-19 pneumonia would be of crucial importance everywhere, but particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where "long COVID" in millions of people with HIV paves the road for the more frequent emergence of new variants.

RevDate: 2022-10-27

Thompson B, S Bundell (2022)

Ancient DNA reveals family of Neanderthals living in Siberian cave.

RevDate: 2022-11-05

Vidal-Cordasco M, Ocio D, Hickler T, et al (2022)

Publisher Correction: Ecosystem productivity affected the spatiotemporal disappearance of Neanderthals in Iberia.

Nature ecology & evolution, 6(11):1789.

RevDate: 2022-10-28
CmpDate: 2022-10-28

Callaway E (2022)

First known Neanderthal family discovered in Siberian cave.

Nature, 610(7933):615-616.

RevDate: 2022-10-27
CmpDate: 2022-10-26

Skov L, Peyrégne S, Popli D, et al (2022)

Genetic insights into the social organization of Neanderthals.

Nature, 610(7932):519-525.

Genomic analyses of Neanderthals have previously provided insights into their population history and relationship to modern humans[1-8], but the social organization of Neanderthal communities remains poorly understood. Here we present genetic data for 13 Neanderthals from two Middle Palaeolithic sites in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia: 11 from Chagyrskaya Cave[9,10] and 2 from Okladnikov Cave[11]-making this one of the largest genetic studies of a Neanderthal population to date. We used hybridization capture to obtain genome-wide nuclear data, as well as mitochondrial and Y-chromosome sequences. Some Chagyrskaya individuals were closely related, including a father-daughter pair and a pair of second-degree relatives, indicating that at least some of the individuals lived at the same time. Up to one-third of these individuals' genomes had long segments of homozygosity, suggesting that the Chagyrskaya Neanderthals were part of a small community. In addition, the Y-chromosome diversity is an order of magnitude lower than the mitochondrial diversity, a pattern that we found is best explained by female migration between communities. Thus, the genetic data presented here provide a detailed documentation of the social organization of an isolated Neanderthal community at the easternmost extent of their known range.

RevDate: 2022-10-23
CmpDate: 2022-10-21

Cassidy LM (2022)

The first genomic portrait of a Neanderthal family.

Nature, 610(7932):454-455.

RevDate: 2022-10-22
CmpDate: 2022-10-21

Mayoral E, Duveau J, Santos A, et al (2022)

New dating of the Matalascañas footprints provides new evidence of the Middle Pleistocene (MIS 9-8) hominin paleoecology in southern Europe.

Scientific reports, 12(1):17505.

Hominin footprints were recently discovered at Matalascañas (Huelva; South of Iberian Peninsula). They were dated thanks to a previous study in deposits of the Asperillo cliff to 106 ± 19 ka, Upper Pleistocene, making Neandertals the most likely track-makers. In this paper, we report new Optically Stimulated Luminescence dating that places the hominin footprints surface in the range of 295.8 ± 17 ka (MIS 9-MIS 8 transition, Middle Pleistocene). This new age implies that the possible track-makers are individuals more likely from the Neandertal evolutionary lineage. Regardless of the taxon attributed to the Matalascañas footprints, they supplement the existing partial fossil record for the European Middle Pleistocene Hominins being notably the first palaeoanthropological evidence (hominin skeleton or footprints) from the MIS 9 and MIS 8 transition discovered in the Iberian Peninsula, a moment of climatic evolution from warm to cool. Thus, the Matalascañas footprints represent a crucial record for understanding human occupations in Europe in the Pleistocene.

RevDate: 2022-10-27
CmpDate: 2022-10-19

Bergman J, MH Schierup (2022)

Evolutionary dynamics of pseudoautosomal region 1 in humans and great apes.

Genome biology, 23(1):215.

BACKGROUND: The pseudoautosomal region 1 (PAR1) is a 2.7 Mb telomeric region of human sex chromosomes. PAR1 has a crucial role in ensuring proper segregation of sex chromosomes during male meiosis, exposing it to extreme recombination and mutation processes. We investigate PAR1 evolution using population genomic datasets of extant humans, eight populations of great apes, and two archaic human genome sequences.

RESULTS: We find that PAR1 is fast evolving and closer to evolutionary nucleotide equilibrium than autosomal telomeres. We detect a difference between substitution patterns and extant diversity in PAR1, mainly driven by the conflict between strong mutation and recombination-associated fixation bias at CpG sites. We detect excess C-to-G mutations in PAR1 of all great apes, specific to the mutagenic effect of male recombination. Despite recent evidence for Y chromosome introgression from humans into Neanderthals, we find that the Neanderthal PAR1 retained similarity to the Denisovan sequence. We find differences between substitution spectra of these archaics suggesting rapid evolution of PAR1 in recent hominin history. Frequency analysis of alleles segregating in females and males provided no evidence for recent sexual antagonism in this region. We study repeat content and double-strand break hotspot regions in PAR1 and find that they may play roles in ensuring the obligate X-Y recombination event during male meiosis.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides an unprecedented quantification of population genetic forces governing PAR1 biology across extant and extinct hominids. PAR1 evolutionary dynamics are predominantly governed by recombination processes with a strong impact on mutation patterns across all species.

RevDate: 2022-11-03
CmpDate: 2022-10-19

Jaouen K, Villalba-Mouco V, Smith GM, et al (2022)

A Neandertal dietary conundrum: Insights provided by tooth enamel Zn isotopes from Gabasa, Spain.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(43):e2109315119.

The characterization of Neandertals' diets has mostly relied on nitrogen isotope analyses of bone and tooth collagen. However, few nitrogen isotope data have been recovered from bones or teeth from Iberia due to poor collagen preservation at Paleolithic sites in the region. Zinc isotopes have been shown to be a reliable method for reconstructing trophic levels in the absence of organic matter preservation. Here, we present the results of zinc (Zn), strontium (Sr), carbon (C), and oxygen (O) isotope and trace element ratio analysis measured in dental enamel on a Pleistocene food web in Gabasa, Spain, to characterize the diet and ecology of a Middle Paleolithic Neandertal individual. Based on the extremely low δ[66]Zn value observed in the Neandertal's tooth enamel, our results support the interpretation of Neandertals as carnivores as already suggested by δ[15]N isotope values of specimens from other regions. Further work could help identify if such isotopic peculiarities (lowest δ[66]Zn and highest δ[15]N of the food web) are due to a metabolic and/or dietary specificity of the Neandertals.

RevDate: 2022-11-08
CmpDate: 2022-10-17

Djakovic I, Key A, M Soressi (2022)

Optimal linear estimation models predict 1400-2900 years of overlap between Homo sapiens and Neandertals prior to their disappearance from France and northern Spain.

Scientific reports, 12(1):15000.

Recent fossil discoveries suggest that Neandertals and Homo sapiens may have co-existed in Europe for as long as 5 to 6000 years. Yet, evidence for their contemporaneity at any regional scale remains highly elusive. In France and northern Spain, a region which features some of the latest directly-dated Neandertals in Europe, Protoaurignacian assemblages attributed to Homo sapiens appear to 'replace' Neandertal-associated Châtelperronian assemblages. Using the earliest and latest known occurrences as starting points, Bayesian modelling has provided indication that these occupations may in fact have been partly contemporaneous. The reality, however, is that we are unlikely to ever identify the 'first' or 'last' appearance of a species or cultural tradition in the archaeological and fossil record. Here, we use optimal linear estimation modelling to estimate the first appearance date of Homo sapiens and the extinction date of Neandertals in France and northern Spain by statistically inferring these 'missing' portions of the Protoaurignacian and Châtelperronian archaeological records. Additionally, we estimate the extinction date of Neandertals in this region using a dataset of directly-dated Neandertal fossil remains. Our total dataset consists of sixty-six modernly produced radiocarbon determinations which we recalibrated using the newest calibration curve (IntCal20) to produce updated age ranges. The results suggest that the onset of the Homo sapiens occupation of this region likely preceded the extinction of Neandertals and the Châtelperronian by up to 1400-2900 years. This reaffirms the Bayesian-derived duration of co-existence between these groups during the initial Upper Palaeolithic of this region using a novel independent method, and indicates that our understanding of the timing of these occupations may not be suffering from substantial gaps in the record. Whether or not this co-existence featured some form of direct interaction, however, remains to be resolved.

RevDate: 2022-10-11

Callaway E (2022)

From Neanderthal genome to Nobel prize: meet geneticist Svante Pääbo.

RevDate: 2022-10-25
CmpDate: 2022-10-07

Dannemann M, Milaneschi Y, Yermakovich D, et al (2022)

Neandertal introgression partitions the genetic landscape of neuropsychiatric disorders and associated behavioral phenotypes.

Translational psychiatry, 12(1):433.

Despite advances in identifying the genetic basis of psychiatric and neurological disorders, fundamental questions about their evolutionary origins remain elusive. Here, introgressed variants from archaic humans such as Neandertals can serve as an intriguing research paradigm. We compared the number of associations for Neandertal variants to the number of associations of frequency-matched non-archaic variants with regard to human CNS disorders (neurological and psychiatric), nervous system drug prescriptions (as a proxy for disease), and related, non-disease phenotypes in the UK biobank (UKBB). While no enrichment for Neandertal genetic variants were observed in the UKBB for psychiatric or neurological disease categories, we found significant associations with certain behavioral phenotypes including pain, chronotype/sleep, smoking and alcohol consumption. In some instances, the enrichment signal was driven by Neandertal variants that represented the strongest association genome-wide. SNPs within a Neandertal haplotype that was associated with smoking in the UKBB could be replicated in four independent genomics datasets.Our data suggest that evolutionary processes in recent human evolution like admixture with Neandertals significantly contribute to behavioral phenotypes but not psychiatric and neurological diseases. These findings help to link genetic variants in a population to putative past beneficial effects, which likely only indirectly contribute to pathology in modern day humans.

RevDate: 2022-11-22
CmpDate: 2022-11-22

Huang X, Kruisz P, M Kuhlwilm (2022)

sstar: A Python Package for Detecting Archaic Introgression from Population Genetic Data with S.

Molecular biology and evolution, 39(11):.

S* is a widely used statistic for detecting archaic admixture from population genetic data. Previous studies used freezing-archer to apply S*, which is only directly applicable to the specific case of Neanderthal and Denisovan introgression in Papuans. Here, we implemented sstar for a more general purpose. Compared with several tools, including SPrime, SkovHMM, and ArchaicSeeker2.0, for detecting introgressed fragments with simulations, our results suggest that sstar is robust to differences in demographic models, including ghost introgression and two-source introgression. We believe sstar will be a useful tool for detecting introgressed fragments in various scenarios and in non-human species.

RevDate: 2022-11-18
CmpDate: 2022-11-04

Vidal-Cordasco M, Ocio D, Hickler T, et al (2022)

Ecosystem productivity affected the spatiotemporal disappearance of Neanderthals in Iberia.

Nature ecology & evolution, 6(11):1644-1657.

What role did fluctuations play in biomass availability for secondary consumers in the disappearance of Neanderthals and the survival of modern humans? To answer this, we quantify the effects of stadial and interstadial conditions on ecosystem productivity and human spatiotemporal distribution patterns during the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition (50,000-30,000 calibrated years before the present) in Iberia. First, we used summed probability distribution, optimal linear estimation and Bayesian age modelling to reconstruct an updated timescale for the transition. Next, we executed a generalized dynamic vegetation model to estimate the net primary productivity. Finally, we developed a macroecological model validated with present-day observations to calculate herbivore abundance. The results indicate that, in the Eurosiberian region, the disappearance of Neanderthal groups was contemporaneous with a significant decrease in the available biomass for secondary consumers, and the arrival of the first Homo sapiens populations coincided with an increase in herbivore carrying capacity. During stadials, the Mediterranean region had the most stable conditions and the highest biomass of medium and medium-large herbivores. These outcomes support an ecological cause for the hiatus between the Mousterian and Aurignacian technocomplexes in Northern Iberia and the longer persistence of Neanderthals in southern latitudes.

RevDate: 2022-09-29
CmpDate: 2022-09-29

Reilly PF, Tjahjadi A, Miller SL, et al (2022)

The contribution of Neanderthal introgression to modern human traits.

Current biology : CB, 32(18):R970-R983.

Neanderthals, our closest extinct relatives, lived in western Eurasia from 400,000 years ago until they went extinct around 40,000 years ago. DNA retrieved from ancient specimens revealed that Neanderthals mated with modern human contemporaries. As a consequence, introgressed Neanderthal DNA survives scattered across the human genome such that 1-4% of the genome of present-day people outside Africa are inherited from Neanderthal ancestors. Patterns of Neanderthal introgressed genomic sequences suggest that Neanderthal alleles had distinct fates in the modern human genetic background. Some Neanderthal alleles facilitated human adaptation to new environments such as novel climate conditions, UV exposure levels and pathogens, while others had deleterious consequences. Here, we review the body of work on Neanderthal introgression over the past decade. We describe how evolutionary forces shaped the genomic landscape of Neanderthal introgression and highlight the impact of introgressed alleles on human biology and phenotypic variation.

RevDate: 2022-11-25
CmpDate: 2022-10-26

Lockey AL, Rodríguez L, Martín-Francés L, et al (2022)

Comparing the Boxgrove and Atapuerca (Sima de los Huesos) human fossils: Do they represent distinct paleodemes?.

Journal of human evolution, 172:103253.

The early Middle Pleistocene human material from Boxgrove (West Sussex, UK) consists of a partial left tibia and two lower incisors from a separate adult individual. These remains derive from deposits assigned to the MIS 13 interglacial at about 480 ka and have been referred to as Homo cf. heidelbergensis. The much larger skeletal sample from the Sima de los Huesos (Atapuerca, Spain) is dated to the succeeding MIS 12, at about 430 ka. This fossil material has previously been assigned to Homo heidelbergensis but is now placed within the Neanderthal clade. Because of the scarcity of human remains from the Middle Pleistocene and their morphological variability, this study assessed whether the Boxgrove specimens fit within the morphological variability of the homogeneous Sima de los Huesos population. Based on morphometric analyses performed against 22 lower incisors from Sima de los Huesos and published material, the data from the Boxgrove incisors place them comfortably within the range of Sima de los Huesos. Both assemblages present robust incisors distinct from the overall small recent Homo sapiens incisors, and Boxgrove also aligns closely with Homo neanderthalensis and some other European Middle Pleistocene hominins. Following morphological and cross-sectional analyses of the Boxgrove tibia compared to seven adult Sima de los Huesos specimens and a set of comparative tibiae, Boxgrove is shown to be similar to Sima de los Huesos and Neanderthals in having thick cortices and bone walls, but in contrast resembles modern humans in having a straight anterior tibial crest and a suggestion of a lateral concavity. Based on the patterns observed, there is no justification for assigning the Boxgrove and Sima de los Huesos incisors to distinct paleodemes, but the tibial data show greater contrasts and suggest that all three of these samples are unlikely to represent the same paleodeme.

RevDate: 2022-10-25
CmpDate: 2022-09-28

Alagöz G, Molz B, Eising E, et al (2022)

Using neuroimaging genomics to investigate the evolution of human brain structure.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(40):e2200638119.

Alterations in brain size and organization represent some of the most distinctive changes in the emergence of our species. Yet, there is limited understanding of how genetic factors contributed to altered neuroanatomy during human evolution. Here, we analyze neuroimaging and genetic data from up to 30,000 people in the UK Biobank and integrate with genomic annotations for different aspects of human evolution, including those based on ancient DNA and comparative genomics. We show that previously reported signals of recent polygenic selection for cortical anatomy are not replicable in a more ancestrally homogeneous sample. We then investigate relationships between evolutionary annotations and common genetic variants shaping cortical surface area and white-matter connectivity for each hemisphere. Our analyses identify single-nucleotide polymorphism heritability enrichment in human-gained regulatory elements that are active in early brain development, affecting surface areas of several parts of the cortex, including left-hemispheric speech-associated regions. We also detect heritability depletion in genomic regions with Neanderthal ancestry for connectivity of the uncinate fasciculus; this is a white-matter tract involved in memory, language, and socioemotional processing with relevance to neuropsychiatric disorders. Finally, we show that common genetic loci associated with left-hemispheric pars triangularis surface area overlap with a human-gained enhancer and affect regulation of ZIC4, a gene implicated in neurogenesis. This work demonstrates how genomic investigations of present-day neuroanatomical variation can help shed light on the complexities of our evolutionary past.

RevDate: 2022-11-22
CmpDate: 2022-09-28

Sossa-Ríos S, Mayor A, Hernández CM, et al (2022)

Multidisciplinary evidence of an isolated Neanderthal occupation in Abric del Pastor (Alcoi, Iberian Peninsula).

Scientific reports, 12(1):15883.

Testing Neanderthal behavioural hypotheses requires a spatial-temporal resolution to the level of a human single occupation episode. Yet, most of the behavioural data on Neanderthals has been obtained from coarsely dated, time-averaged contexts affected by the archaeological palimpsest effect and a diversity of postdepositional processes. This implies that time-resolved Neanderthal behaviour remains largely unknown. In this study, we performed archaeostratigraphic analysis on stratigraphic units IVe, IVf, IVg, Va, Vb and Vc from Abric del Pastor (Alcoi, Iberian Peninsula). Further, we isolated the archaeological remains associated with the resulting archaeostratigraphic unit and applied raw material, technological, use-wear, archaeozoological and spatial analyses. Our results show a low-density accumulation of remains from flintknapping, flint tool-use and animal processing around a hearth. These data provide a time-resolved human dimension to previous high-resolution environmental and pyrotechnological data on the same hearth, representing the first comprehensive characterisation of a Neanderthal single occupation episode. Our integrated, multidisciplinary method also contributes to advance our understanding of archaeological record formation processes.

RevDate: 2022-09-28

Garralda MD, Weiner S, Arensburg B, et al (2022)

Dental Paleobiology in a Juvenile Neanderthal (Combe-Grenal, Southwestern France).

Biology, 11(9):.

Combe-Grenal site (Southwest France) was excavated by F. Bordes between 1953 and 1965. He found several human remains in Mousterian levels 60, 39, 35 and especially 25, corresponding to MIS 4 (~75-70/60 ky BP) and with Quina Mousterian lithics. One of the fossils found in level 25 is Combe-Grenal IV, consisting of a fragment of the left corpus of a juvenile mandible. This fragment displays initial juvenile periodontitis, and the two preserved teeth (LLP4 and LLM1) show moderate attrition and dental calculus. The SEM tartar analysis demonstrates the presence of cocci and filamentous types of bacteria, the former being more prevalent. This result is quite different from those obtained for the two adult Neanderthals Kebara 2 and Subalyuk 1, where more filamentous bacteria appear, especially in the Subalyuk 1 sample from Central Europe. These findings agree with the available biomedical data on periodontitis and tartar development in extant individuals, despite the different environmental conditions and diets documented by numerous archeological, taphonomical and geological data available on Neanderthals and present-day populations. New metagenomic analyses are extending this information, and despite the inherent difficulties, they will open important perspectives in studying this ancient human pathology.

RevDate: 2022-12-03
CmpDate: 2022-12-02

Ruf CG, Schmidt S, Kliesch S, et al (2022)

Testicular germ cell tumours' clinical stage I: comparison of surveillance with adjuvant treatment strategies regarding recurrence rates and overall survival-a systematic review.

World journal of urology, 40(12):2889-2900.

PURPOSE: Testicular germ cell tumours (GCTs) represent the most common malignancy in young adult males with two thirds of all cases presenting with clinical stage I (CSI). Active surveillance is the management modality mostly favoured by current guidelines. This systematic review assesses the treatment results in CSI patients concerning recurrence rate and overall survival in non-seminoma (NS) and pure seminoma (SE) resulting from surveillance in comparison to adjuvant strategies.

METHODS/SYSTEMATIC REVIEW: We performed a systematic literature review confining the search to most recent studies published 2010-2021 that reported direct comparisons of surveillance to adjuvant management. We searched Medline and the Cochrane Library with additional hand-searching of reference lists to identify relevant studies. Data extraction and quality assessment of included studies were performed with stratification for histology (NS vs. SE) and treatment modalities. The results were tabulated and evaluated with descriptive statistical methods.

RESULTS: Thirty-four studies met the inclusion criteria. In NS patients relapse rates were 12 to 37%, 0 to 10%, and 0 to 11.8% for surveillance, chemotherapy and for retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND) while overall survival rates were 90.7-100%, 91.7-100%, and 97-99.1%, respectively. In SE CSI, relapse rates were 0-22.3%, 0-5%, and 0-12.5% for surveillance, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, while overall survival rates were 84.1-98.7%, 83.5-100%, and 92.3-100%, respectively.

CONCLUSION: In both histologic subgroups, active surveillance offers almost identical overall survival as adjuvant management strategies, however, at the expense of higher relapse rates. Each of the management strategies in CSI GCT patients have specific merits and shared-decision-making is advised to tailor treatment.

RevDate: 2022-09-12

Graham F (2022)

Daily briefing: Mutation might have given us a cognitive advantage over Neanderthals.

RevDate: 2022-11-01
CmpDate: 2022-09-13

Pinson A, Xing L, Namba T, et al (2022)

Human TKTL1 implies greater neurogenesis in frontal neocortex of modern humans than Neanderthals.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 377(6611):eabl6422.

Neanderthal brains were similar in size to those of modern humans. We sought to investigate potential differences in neurogenesis during neocortex development. Modern human transketolase-like 1 (TKTL1) differs from Neanderthal TKTL1 by a lysine-to-arginine amino acid substitution. Using overexpression in developing mouse and ferret neocortex, knockout in fetal human neocortical tissue, and genome-edited cerebral organoids, we found that the modern human variant, hTKTL1, but not the Neanderthal variant, increases the abundance of basal radial glia (bRG) but not that of intermediate progenitors (bIPs). bRG generate more neocortical neurons than bIPs. The hTKTL1 effect requires the pentose phosphate pathway and fatty acid synthesis. Inhibition of these metabolic pathways reduces bRG abundance in fetal human neocortical tissue. Our data suggest that neocortical neurogenesis in modern humans differs from that in Neanderthals.

RevDate: 2022-10-26
CmpDate: 2022-10-04

Harvati K, RR Ackermann (2022)

Merging morphological and genetic evidence to assess hybridization in Western Eurasian late Pleistocene hominins.

Nature ecology & evolution, 6(10):1573-1585.

Previous scientific consensus saw human evolution as defined by adaptive differences (behavioural and/or biological) and the emergence of Homo sapiens as the ultimate replacement of non-modern groups by a modern, adaptively more competitive group. However, recent research has shown that the process underlying our origins was considerably more complex. While archaeological and fossil evidence suggests that behavioural complexity may not be confined to the modern human lineage, recent palaeogenomic work shows that gene flow between distinct lineages (for example, Neanderthals, Denisovans, early H. sapiens) occurred repeatedly in the late Pleistocene, probably contributing elements to our genetic make-up that might have been crucial to our success as a diverse, adaptable species. Following these advances, the prevailing human origins model has shifted from one of near-complete replacement to a more nuanced view of partial replacement with considerable reticulation. Here we provide a brief introduction to the current genetic evidence for hybridization among hominins, its prevalence in, and effects on, comparative mammal groups, and especially how it manifests in the skull. We then explore the degree to which cranial variation seen in the fossil record of late Pleistocene hominins from Western Eurasia corresponds with our current genetic and comparative data. We are especially interested in understanding the degree to which skeletal data can reflect admixture. Our findings indicate some correspondence between these different lines of evidence, flag individual fossils as possibly admixed, and suggest that different cranial regions may preserve hybridization signals differentially. We urge further studies of the phenotype to expand our ability to detect the ways in which migration, interaction and genetic exchange have shaped the human past, beyond what is currently visible with the lens of ancient DNA.

RevDate: 2022-10-18
CmpDate: 2022-09-08

Kaczanowska J, Ganglberger F, Chernomor O, et al (2022)

Molecular archaeology of human cognitive traits.

Cell reports, 40(9):111287.

The brains and minds of our human ancestors remain inaccessible for experimental exploration. Therefore, we reconstructed human cognitive evolution by projecting nonsynonymous/synonymous rate ratios (ω values) in mammalian phylogeny onto the anatomically modern human (AMH) brain. This atlas retraces human neurogenetic selection and allows imputation of ancestral evolution in task-related functional networks (FNs). Adaptive evolution (high ω values) is associated with excitatory neurons and synaptic function. It shifted from FNs for motor control in anthropoid ancestry (60-41 mya) to attention in ancient hominoids (26-19 mya) and hominids (19-7.4 mya). Selection in FNs for language emerged with an early hominin ancestor (7.4-1.7 mya) and was later accompanied by adaptive evolution in FNs for strategic thinking during recent (0.8 mya-present) speciation of AMHs. This pattern mirrors increasingly complex cognitive demands and suggests that co-selection for language alongside strategic thinking may have separated AMHs from their archaic Denisovan and Neanderthal relatives.

RevDate: 2022-08-30

Churchill SE, Keys K, AH Ross (2022)

Midfacial Morphology and Neandertal-Modern Human Interbreeding.

Biology, 11(8):.

Ancient DNA from, Neandertal and modern human fossils, and comparative morphological analyses of them, reveal a complex history of interbreeding between these lineages and the introgression of Neandertal genes into modern human genomes. Despite substantial increases in our knowledge of these events, the timing and geographic location of hybridization events remain unclear. Six measures of facial size and shape, from regional samples of Neandertals and early modern humans, were used in a multivariate exploratory analysis to try to identify regions in which early modern human facial morphology was more similar to that of Neandertals, which might thus represent regions of greater introgression of Neandertal genes. The results of canonical variates analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis suggest important affinities in facial morphology between both Middle and Upper Paleolithic early modern humans of the Near East with Neandertals, highlighting the importance of this region for interbreeding between the two lineages.

RevDate: 2022-10-14
CmpDate: 2022-08-25

Eising E, Mirza-Schreiber N, de Zeeuw EL, et al (2022)

Genome-wide analyses of individual differences in quantitatively assessed reading- and language-related skills in up to 34,000 people.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(35):e2202764119.

The use of spoken and written language is a fundamental human capacity. Individual differences in reading- and language-related skills are influenced by genetic variation, with twin-based heritability estimates of 30 to 80% depending on the trait. The genetic architecture is complex, heterogeneous, and multifactorial, but investigations of contributions of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were thus far underpowered. We present a multicohort genome-wide association study (GWAS) of five traits assessed individually using psychometric measures (word reading, nonword reading, spelling, phoneme awareness, and nonword repetition) in samples of 13,633 to 33,959 participants aged 5 to 26 y. We identified genome-wide significant association with word reading (rs11208009, P = 1.098 × 10[-8]) at a locus that has not been associated with intelligence or educational attainment. All five reading-/language-related traits showed robust SNP heritability, accounting for 13 to 26% of trait variability. Genomic structural equation modeling revealed a shared genetic factor explaining most of the variation in word/nonword reading, spelling, and phoneme awareness, which only partially overlapped with genetic variation contributing to nonword repetition, intelligence, and educational attainment. A multivariate GWAS of word/nonword reading, spelling, and phoneme awareness maximized power for follow-up investigation. Genetic correlation analysis with neuroimaging traits identified an association with the surface area of the banks of the left superior temporal sulcus, a brain region linked to the processing of spoken and written language. Heritability was enriched for genomic elements regulating gene expression in the fetal brain and in chromosomal regions that are depleted of Neanderthal variants. Together, these results provide avenues for deciphering the biological underpinnings of uniquely human traits.

RevDate: 2022-08-25
CmpDate: 2022-08-19

Vettese D, Borel A, Blasco R, et al (2022)

New evidence of Neandertal butchery traditions through the marrow extraction in southwestern Europe (MIS 5-3).

PloS one, 17(8):e0271816.

Long bone breakage for bone marrow recovery is a commonly observed practice in Middle Palaeolithic contexts, regardless of the climatic conditions. While lithic technology is largely used to define cultural patterns in human groups, despite dedicating research by zooarchaeologists, for now butchering techniques rarely allowed the identification of clear traditions, notably for ancient Palaeolithic periods. In this paper, we test the hypothesis of butchery traditions among Neandertal groupsusing the bone assemblages from three sites in southwestern Europe. These sites are located in southeastern France and northern Italy and are dated to the Late Middle Palaeolithic: Abri du Maras (Marine Isotopic Stages (MIS) 4-3, Ardèche), Saint-Marcel (MIS 3, Ardèche), and Riparo Tagliente (MIS 4-3, Verona). The detection of culturally-induced patterns of bone breakage involves differentiating them from intuitively generated patterns. To tackle this issue, we used a zooarchaeological approach focusing on the percussion marks produced during the bone breakage process. Statistical analyses as the chi-square test of independence were employed to verify if percussion mark locations were randomly distributed, and if these distributions were different from the intuitive ones. For femurs and humeri, our results demonstrate that Neandertal groups occupying the Abri du Maras (levels 4.1 and 4.2) and the Saint-Marcel Cave (levels g and h) sites in France applied butchery traditions to recover yellow marrow. However, the traditions developed at each site were different. On the contrary, in Riparo Tagliente, in Italy, several groups or individuals of a same group did not share the same butchery traditions over time. Regarding the Abri du Maras and Saint Marcel Cave assemblages, our research demonstrates that Neandertal groups applied intense standardized bone breakage, far from the intuitive practice observed experimentally and related to bone density and/or skeletal morphology. These standardized patterns, which are systematic and counter-intuitive, can be interpreted as culturally induced for the Abri du Maras and Saint Marcel Cave. The diversity of Neandertal traditions should be considered by taking into account the butchery, in particular the practice of bone marrow extraction, and not only technological behaviours and types of tool kits.

RevDate: 2022-10-25
CmpDate: 2022-10-25

Roksandic M, Radović P, Wu XJ, et al (2022)

Homo bodoensis and why it matters.

Evolutionary anthropology, 31(5):240-244.

In our original paper, we proposed a new species, Homo bodoensis, to replace the problematical taxa Homo heidelbergensis and Homo rhodesiensis, with the goal of streamlining communication about human evolution in the Chibanian. We received two independent responses. Given their substantial overlap, we provide one combined reply. In this response: (1) we are encouraged that the primary proposal in our paper, to discontinue the use of H. heidelbergensis (as a junior synonym to Homo neanderthalensis) due to its' nomenclatural problems, is acknowledged. (2) we provide additional clarification about the rules governing taxonomic nomenclature as outlined by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature and join the growing calls for a revision to these rules. (3) we discuss further why H. rhodesiensis should be abandoned, particularly in light of the current sensitivity to using culturally inappropriate names. We conclude that H. bodoensis is a better solution than the proposed alternatives.

RevDate: 2022-11-17
CmpDate: 2022-08-02

Andreeva TV, Manakhov AD, Gusev FE, et al (2022)

Genomic analysis of a novel Neanderthal from Mezmaiskaya Cave provides insights into the genetic relationships of Middle Palaeolithic populations.

Scientific reports, 12(1):13016.

The Mezmaiskaya cave is located on the North Caucasus near the border that divides Europe and Asia. Previously, fossil remains for two Neanderthals were reported from Mezmaiskaya Cave. A tooth from the third archaic hominin specimen (Mezmaiskaya 3) was retrieved from layer 3 in Mezmaiskaya Cave. We performed genome sequencing of Mezmaiskaya 3. Analysis of partial nuclear genome sequence revealed that it belongs to a Homo sapiens neanderthalensis female. Based on a high-coverage mitochondrial genome sequence, we demonstrated that the relationships of Mezmaiskaya 3 to Mezmaiskaya 1 and Stajnia S5000 individuals were closer than those to other Neanderthals. Our data demonstrate the close genetic connections between the early Middle Palaeolithic Neanderthals that were replaced by genetically distant later group in the same geographic areas. Based on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) data, we suggest that Mezmaiskaya 3 was the latest Neanderthal individual from the early Neanderthal's branches. We proposed a hierarchical nomenclature for the mtDNA haplogroups of Neanderthals. In addition, we retrieved ancestral mtDNA mutations in presumably functional sites fixed in the Neanderthal clades, and also provided the first data showing mtDNA heteroplasmy in Neanderthal specimen.

RevDate: 2022-12-03
CmpDate: 2022-12-02

Zengerling F, Beyersdorff D, Busch J, et al (2022)

Prognostic factors in patients with clinical stage I nonseminoma-beyond lymphovascular invasion: a systematic review.

World journal of urology, 40(12):2879-2887.

OBJECTIVE: To systematically evaluate evidence on prognostic factors for tumor recurrence in clinical stage I nonseminoma patients other than lymphovascular invasion (LVI).

METHODS: We performed a systematic literature search in the biomedical databases Medline (via Ovid) and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (search period January 2010 to February 2021) for full text publications in English and German language, reporting on retro- or prospectively assessed prognostic factors for tumor recurrence in patients with stage I nonseminomatous germ cell tumors.

RESULTS: Our literature search yielded eleven studies reporting on 20 potential prognostic factors. Results are based on cohort studies of mostly moderate to low quality. Five out of eight studies found a significant association of embryonal carcinoma (EC) in the primary tumor with relapse. Among the different risk definitions of embryonal carcinoma (presence, predominance, pure), presence of EC alone seems to be sufficient for prognostification. Interesting results were found for rete testis invasion, predominant yolk sac tumor, T-stage and history of cryptorchidism, but the sparse data situation does not justify their clinical use.

CONCLUSIONS: No additional factors that meet the prognostic value of LVI, especially when determined by immunohistochemistry, could be identified through our systematic search. The presence of EC might serve as a second, subordinate prognostic factor for clinical use as the data situation is less abundant than the one of LVI. Further efforts are necessary to optimize the use of these two prognostic factors and to evaluate and validate further potential factors with promising preliminary data.

RevDate: 2022-08-11
CmpDate: 2022-08-02

Mora-Bermúdez F, Kanis P, Macak D, et al (2022)

Longer metaphase and fewer chromosome segregation errors in modern human than Neanderthal brain development.

Science advances, 8(30):eabn7702.

Since the ancestors of modern humans separated from those of Neanderthals, around 100 amino acid substitutions spread to essentially all modern humans. The biological significance of these changes is largely unknown. Here, we examine all six such amino acid substitutions in three proteins known to have key roles in kinetochore function and chromosome segregation and to be highly expressed in the stem cells of the developing neocortex. When we introduce these modern human-specific substitutions in mice, three substitutions in two of these proteins, KIF18a and KNL1, cause metaphase prolongation and fewer chromosome segregation errors in apical progenitors of the developing neocortex. Conversely, the ancestral substitutions cause shorter metaphase length and more chromosome segregation errors in human brain organoids, similar to what we find in chimpanzee organoids. These results imply that the fidelity of chromosome segregation during neocortex development improved in modern humans after their divergence from Neanderthals.

RevDate: 2022-07-31

Borić D, Cristiani E, Hopkins R, et al (2022)

Neanderthals on the Lower Danube: Middle Palaeolithic evidence in the Danube Gorges of the Balkans.

Journal of quaternary science, 37(2):142-180.

The article presents evidence about the Middle Palaeolithic and Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition interval in the karst area of the Danube Gorges in the Lower Danube Basin. We review the extant data and present new evidence from two recently investigated sites found on the Serbian side of the Danube River - Tabula Traiana and Dubočka-Kozja caves. The two sites have yielded layers dating to both the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic and have been investigated by the application of modern standards of excavation and recovery along with a suite of state-of-the-art analytical procedures. The presentation focuses on micromorphological analyses of the caves' sediments, characterisation of cryptotephra, a suite of new radiometric dates (accelerator mass spectrometry and optically stimulated luminescence) as well as proteomics (zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry) and stable isotope data in discerning patterns of human occupation of these locales over the long term.

RevDate: 2022-07-31

Boschin F, Columbu A, Spagnolo V, et al (2022)

Human occupation continuity in southern Italy towards the end of the Middle Palaeolithic: a palaeoenvironmental perspective from Apulia.

Journal of quaternary science, 37(2):204-216.

After the last interglacial [Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5e] Europe was affected by several harsh climatic oscillations. In this context southern Italy acted, like the rest of peninsular Mediterranean Europe, as a 'glacial refugium', allowing the survival of various species, and was involved in the spread of 'cold taxa' (e.g. woolly mammoth and woolly rhino) only during the coldest phases (MIS 4 and MIS 2). Both late Mousterian and early Upper Palaeolithic sites testify to a human occupation continuity in southern Italy and especially in Apulia in this time span. Here we present a focus on three key Apulian Palaeolithic sequences (Grotta di Santa Croce, Riparo L'Oscurusciuto and Grotta del Cavallo - layers F-E) jointly spanning from the late MIS 4 to the demise of Neanderthals around 43 ka. Novel chronological, sedimentological and zooarchaeological data are discussed for the first time in the light of the palaeoenvironmental information provided by recent analyses carried out on a speleothem from Pozzo Cucù cave (Bari) and the results of the magnetic susceptibility analysis from Riparo L'Oscurusciuto. This integrated reading allows a better understanding of the role played by the Apulian region as both a refugium for late Neaderthals and a suitable habitat for the early settling of modern humans.

RevDate: 2022-07-23

D Farhud D, Azari M, A Mehrabi (2022)

The History of Corona Virus: From Neanderthals to the Present Time: A Brief Review.

Iranian journal of public health, 51(3):531-534.

Contrary to popular belief, 2019 was not the first time humans were infected by the Coronavirus. Coronavirus is one of the oldest viruses on the earth. This article discusses the history of this virus from Neanderthal time so far. We have collected a variety of articles related to coronaviruses and the extent of their interaction with humans from the first time probably appeared on earth, given that this virus is one of the ancient viruses. By examining and following the footsteps of coronaviruses in different works of literature, we found that the first homo that was infected with the coronavirus was Neanderthal. Moreover, we realized that in addition to risk factors such as age and background diseases, genetic evolution also plays an essential role in the protection of the body against coronavirus. On the other hand, this virus has evolved throughout history gradually, the same as humans. The presence of disease in humans, in any period of history, causes changes in human quality of life. Therefore, paying attention to the background of ancient diseases reveals principal information about the complexity of pathogens.

RevDate: 2022-11-14
CmpDate: 2022-07-13

Peyrégne S, Kelso J, Peter BM, et al (2022)

The evolutionary history of human spindle genes includes back-and-forth gene flow with Neandertals.

eLife, 11:.

Proteins associated with the spindle apparatus, a cytoskeletal structure that ensures the proper segregation of chromosomes during cell division, experienced an unusual number of amino acid substitutions in modern humans after the split from the ancestors of Neandertals and Denisovans. Here, we analyze the history of these substitutions and show that some of the genes in which they occur may have been targets of positive selection. We also find that the two changes in the kinetochore scaffold 1 (KNL1) protein, previously believed to be specific to modern humans, were present in some Neandertals. We show that the KNL1 gene of these Neandertals shared a common ancestor with present-day Africans about 200,000 years ago due to gene flow from the ancestors (or relatives) of modern humans into Neandertals. Subsequently, some non-Africans inherited this modern human-like gene variant from Neandertals, but none inherited the ancestral gene variants. These results add to the growing evidence of early contacts between modern humans and archaic groups in Eurasia and illustrate the intricate relationships among these groups.

RevDate: 2022-08-16
CmpDate: 2022-08-09

Saha S, Khan N, Comi T, et al (2022)

Evolution of Human-Specific Alleles Protecting Cognitive Function of Grandmothers.

Molecular biology and evolution, 39(8):.

The myelomonocytic receptor CD33 (Siglec-3) inhibits innate immune reactivity by extracellular V-set domain recognition of sialic acid (Sia)-containing "self-associated molecular patterns" (SAMPs). We earlier showed that V-set domain-deficient CD33-variant allele, protective against late-onset Alzheimer's Disease (LOAD), is derived and specific to the hominin lineage. We now report multiple hominin-specific CD33 V-set domain mutations. Due to hominin-specific, fixed loss-of-function mutation in the CMAH gene, humans lack N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), the preferred Sia-ligand of ancestral CD33. Mutational analysis and molecular dynamics (MD)-simulations indicate that fixed change in amino acid 21 of hominin V-set domain and conformational changes related to His45 corrected for Neu5Gc-loss by switching to N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac)-recognition. We show that human-specific pathogens Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Group B Streptococcus selectively bind human CD33 (huCD33) as part of immune-evasive molecular mimicry of host SAMPs and that this binding is significantly impacted by amino acid 21 modification. In addition to LOAD-protective CD33 alleles, humans harbor derived, population-universal, cognition-protective variants at several other loci. Interestingly, 11 of 13 SNPs in these human genes (including CD33) are not shared by genomes of archaic hominins: Neanderthals and Denisovans. We present a plausible evolutionary scenario to compile, correlate, and comprehend existing knowledge about huCD33-evolution and suggest that grandmothering emerged in humans.


ESP Quick Facts

ESP Origins

In the early 1990's, Robert Robbins was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins, where he directed the informatics core of GDB — the human gene-mapping database of the international human genome project. To share papers with colleagues around the world, he set up a small paper-sharing section on his personal web page. This small project evolved into The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.

ESP Support

In 1995, Robbins became the VP/IT of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. Soon after arriving in Seattle, Robbins secured funding, through the ELSI component of the US Human Genome Project, to create the original ESP.ORG web site, with the formal goal of providing free, world-wide access to the literature of classical genetics.

ESP Rationale

Although the methods of molecular biology can seem almost magical to the uninitiated, the original techniques of classical genetics are readily appreciated by one and all: cross individuals that differ in some inherited trait, collect all of the progeny, score their attributes, and propose mechanisms to explain the patterns of inheritance observed.

ESP Goal

In reading the early works of classical genetics, one is drawn, almost inexorably, into ever more complex models, until molecular explanations begin to seem both necessary and natural. At that point, the tools for understanding genome research are at hand. Assisting readers reach this point was the original goal of The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.

ESP Usage

Usage of the site grew rapidly and has remained high. Faculty began to use the site for their assigned readings. Other on-line publishers, ranging from The New York Times to Nature referenced ESP materials in their own publications. Nobel laureates (e.g., Joshua Lederberg) regularly used the site and even wrote to suggest changes and improvements.

ESP Content

When the site began, no journals were making their early content available in digital format. As a result, ESP was obliged to digitize classic literature before it could be made available. For many important papers — such as Mendel's original paper or the first genetic map — ESP had to produce entirely new typeset versions of the works, if they were to be available in a high-quality format.

ESP Help

Early support from the DOE component of the Human Genome Project was critically important for getting the ESP project on a firm foundation. Since that funding ended (nearly 20 years ago), the project has been operated as a purely volunteer effort. Anyone wishing to assist in these efforts should send an email to Robbins.

ESP Plans

With the development of methods for adding typeset side notes to PDF files, the ESP project now plans to add annotated versions of some classical papers to its holdings. We also plan to add new reference and pedagogical material. We have already started providing regularly updated, comprehensive bibliographies to the ESP.ORG site.

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The first fossil recognized to be an ancestral human was found in the Neander Valley (thal in German) in 1856. William King suggested Homo neanderthalensis (human from the Neander Valley) as the scientific name for the specimen — hence Neanderthal became the common name by which this early human became known. Now Neanderthal genomes have been sequenced, more is known about their path to extinction, and the existence of Neanderthal culture, including music, has been established. To understand the evolutionary path of the hominid line, one must be familiar with Homo neanderthalensis. These books are highly recommended. R. Robbins

Electronic Scholarly Publishing
961 Red Tail Lane
Bellingham, WA 98226

E-mail: RJR8222 @

Papers in Classical Genetics

The ESP began as an effort to share a handful of key papers from the early days of classical genetics. Now the collection has grown to include hundreds of papers, in full-text format.

Digital Books

Along with papers on classical genetics, ESP offers a collection of full-text digital books, including many works by Darwin (and even a collection of poetry — Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg).


ESP now offers a much improved and expanded collection of timelines, designed to give the user choice over subject matter and dates.


Biographical information about many key scientists.

Selected Bibliographies

Bibliographies on several topics of potential interest to the ESP community are now being automatically maintained and generated on the ESP site.

ESP Picks from Around the Web (updated 07 JUL 2018 )