miércoles, 20 de marzo de 2013

For 1.5 million years old, he's in good shape

"Turkana Boy," an exquisitely preserved 1.5-million-year-old human ancestor found in Kenya, may not have had dwarfism or scoliosis, new research suggests.

Past studies had suggested that the ancient human ancestor, a Homo erectus, had suffered from a congenital bone disorder that made him unrepresentative of his species.

"Until now, the Turkana Boy was always thought to be pathological," said study co-author Martin Häusler, a physician and physical anthropologist at the University of Zurich. "The spine was somewhat weird, and so he couldn't be used as a comparative model for Homo erectus biology because he was so pathological."

But the new analysis, published in the March issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, suggests that apart from a herniated disc in his back, Turkana Boy was a fairly healthy person with no genetic bone problems. [...] MSNBC.com

Actualización 25-03-13. El "Niño de Turkana" no padecía ninguna enfermedad ósea
Estudios anteriores habían sugerido que este antiguo ancestro humano, un Homo erectus/Homo ergaster, había sufrido una enfermedad ósea congénita que le hacía poco representativo de su especie...

Curso. Neandertales en la Sima de las Palomas. Evolución humana durante el Pleistoceno en el sureste

• Fechas de realización: Del 27-04-2013 al 01-05-2013

Esta mañana se ha presentado el curso que la Universidad Internacional del Mar celebrará este año en Torre-Pacheco. El objetivo del curso es enseñar, difundir y poner al día los aspectos multidisciplinares relacionados con el Hombre de Neandertal y la Evolución Humana. Más información

La ocupación del territorio de la comarca del Guadalteba por sociedades del Pleistoceno

MEDIANERO, J., RAMOS, J., CANTALEJO, P., DURÁN, J. J., WENIGER, G.-Chr., DOMÍNGUEZ-BELLA, S. y ESPEJO, M. M. (2012), “La ocupación del territorio de la comarca del Guadalteba (Málaga, Sur de España) por sociedades del Pleistoceno”. Menga, 3,  59-82.

En la comarca del Guadalteba (noroeste de Málaga) hemos desarrollado desde hace años una intensa actividad de prospección arqueológica relacionada con la documentación de registros arqueológicos vinculados a las sociedades del Pleistoceno y del Holoceno en los valles de los ríos Turón y Guadalteba, en estrecha relación con la ocupación social de los macizos montañosos kársticos. Presentamos en este trabajo el enmarque geográfico, geológico, geomorfológico y un análisis de las materias primas documentadas. Se presentan las zonas de localización de productos líticos en relación a su enmarque cronoestratigráfico. Se realiza un ensayo de análisis histórico sobre la ocupación de la zona por sociedades cazadoras-recolectoras con tecnología muy definida de modos II y III.

Texto completo (sólo lectura) del artículo que será publicado en la revista Menga-3, cortesía de Pedro Cantalejo.

Ancient humans footprints may mislead

Fossil footprints could provide a skewed view of how ancient animals — including early human ancestors similar to the famous Lucy fossil — walked, new research suggests.

In the past, paleontologists and anthropologists assumed the depth of the footprint correlated with the pressure used to create it. But the analysis, published March 19 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, reveals that the heel tends to create a deeper indentation even when applying the same amount of pressure.

"We shouldn't necessarily expect the shape of a footprint to directly reflect the way the animal that made it walked," said study co-author Karl Bates, a biomechanics researcher at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

As a result, some conclusions about how early human ancestors walked upright may need some rethinking, Bates said. [...] MSNBC.com  

Reference: S. M. Bruijn, O. G. Meijer, P. J. Beek, and J. H. van Dieën. Assessing the stability of human locomotion: a review of current measures. J. R. Soc. Interface June 6, 2013 10 83 20120999; doi:10.1098/rsif.2012.0999 1742-5662

Farming has deep roots in Chinese ice age

Some ideas need time to take root. A new analysis suggests it took up to 12,000 years for people in what is now China to go from eating wild plants to farming them. Agriculture elsewhere also took time to flower.

Li Liu of Stanford University and colleagues studied three grinding stones from China's Yellow River region. They bear residues showing that they were used to process millet and other grains, as well as yams, beans and roots.

The stones date from 23,000 to 19,500 years ago, late in the last ice age. But the earliest archaeological evidence for crop cultivation in China is 11,000 years old, suggesting that farming was slow to emerge from ancient traditions of plant use.

That fits with a wider pattern, says Robin Allaby of the University of Warwick, UK. In the Middle East "we also have evidence of cereals at that 23,000-year point", he says – which is long before people were farming them. "Although this period is around the late glacial maximum, there is a blip at 23,000 years during which time it was milder." Millet and the other food plants could have flourished in the warmth, tempting people to start exploiting them.

Some of the plants, like the snakegourd root, are still used in traditional medicines. Karen Hardy at the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies in Barcelona, Spain, says she would not be surprised if ancient peoples "knew how to select plant food that benefited their health". Last year she reported evidence that Neanderthals used medicinal plants.

"We can never know for certain why a plant was ingested, but I think these early people probably had a detailed knowledge of the plants they selected and used," Hardy says. "This is likely to have included their medicinal as well as their nutritional qualities." New Scientist

Xiaoyan Yang, Zhiwei Wan, Linda Perry, Houyuan Lu, Qiang Wang, Chaohong Zhao, Jun Li, Fei Xie, Jincheng Yu, Tianxing Cui, Tao Wang, Mingqi Li, and Quansheng Ge. Early millet use in northern China. PNAS 2012 109 (10) 3726-3730; published ahead of print February 21, 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1115430109

Actualización 25-03-13. La agricultura china tiene raíces profundas en la Edad del Hielo
Li Liu, de la Universidad de Stanford, y sus colegas, estudiaron tres piedras de moler de la región del Río Amarillo en China. Las mismas tenían restos que demuestran que se utilizaron para procesar granos de mijo y otros, tales como el ñame, frijóles y raíces.

Las piedras datan de entre 23.000 a 19.500 años atrás, al final de la última edad de hielo. Pero la primera evidencia arqueológica de cultivos en China es de hace 11.000 años, lo que sugiere que la agricultura tardó en emerger de entre las tradiciones ancestrales del uso de las plantas...

Rewriting Biblical history? Agriculture might be 5,000 years older than believed.

A new find suggests farmers in Bible lands built channels for irrigation long before historians thought they did, allowing for cultivated vineyards, olives, wheat and barley.

For thousands of years, different groups of people have lived in the Negev desert, building stone walls and cities that survive to this day. But how did they make their living?

The current thinking is that these desert denizens didn't practice agriculture before approximately the first century, surviving instead by raising animals, said Hendrik Bruins, a landscape archaeologist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

But new research suggests people in this area, the Negev highlands, practiced agriculture as long ago as 5000 B.C., Bruins told LiveScience. If true, the finding could change historians' views of the area's inhabitants, who lived in the region in biblical times and even before, he added. [...] csmonitor.com/

Actualización 25-03-13. La agricultura en Israel comenzó probablemente 5.000 años antes de lo pensado
Una nueva investigación sugiere que las gentes de esta zona, las tierras altas del Negev, practicaban la agricultura ya en el año 5.000 a.C., dijo Bruins a LiveScience. Si es verdad, el hallazgo podría cambiar el punto de vista de los historiadores sobre los habitantes de esta área, los cuales han vivido en la región desde los tiempos bíblicos, e incluso antes, agregó.

Los hallazgos de Bruins provienen de la datación mediante radiocarbono de huesos y materiales orgánicos de diferentes capas del suelo en un campo antiguo al sur de Israel...