This paper combines the data sets available today for 14C-age calibration of the last 60 ka. By stepwise synchronization of paleoclimate signatures, each of these sets of 14C-ages is compared with the U/Th-dated Chinese Hulu Cave speleothem records, which shows global paleoclimate change in high temporal resolution. By this synchronization we have established an absolute-dated Greenland-Hulu chronological framework, against which global paleoclimate data can be referenced, extending the 14C-age calibration curve back to the limits of the radiocarbon method. Based on this new, U/Th-based Greenland(Hulu) chronology, we confirm that the radiocarbon timescale underestimates calendar ages by several thousand years during most of Oxygen Isotope Stage 3. Major atmospheric 14C variations are observed for the period of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition, which has significant implications for dating the demise of the last Neandertals. The early part of "the transition" (with 14C ages > 35.0 ka 14C BP) coincides with the Laschamp geomagnetic excursion. This period is characterized by highly-elevated atmospheric 14C levels. The following period ca. 35.0-32.5 ka 14C BP shows a series of distinct large-scale 14C age inversions and extended plateaus. In consequence, individual archaeological 14C dates older than 35.0 ka 14C BP can be age-calibrated with relatively high precision, while individual dates in the interval 35.0-32.5 ka 14C BP are subject to large systematic age-'distortions,' and chronologies based on large data sets will show apparent age-overlaps of up to ca. 5,000 cal years. Nevertheless, the observed variations in past 14C levels are not as extreme as previously proposed ("Middle to Upper Paleolithic dating anomaly"), and the new chronological framework leaves ample room for application of radiocarbon dating in the age-range 45.0-25.0 ka 14C BP at high temporal resolution.
The pine-dominated forests of west-central Mexico are internationally recognized for their high biodiversity, and some areas are protected through various conservation measures including prohibition of human activity. In this region, however, there is evidence for human settlement dating back to ca. AD 1200. It is therefore unclear whether the present forest composition and structure are part of a successional stage following use by indigenous human populations during the past, or due to natural processes, such as climate. We present a study reconstructing the vegetation dynamics of pine-dominated forest over the past 4200 years using paleoecological techniques. Results from fossil pollen and charcoal indicate that, in this region, pine-dominated forests are the native vegetation type and not anthropogenically derived secondary succession. The predominant driving mechanism for the expansion of pine-dominated forest appears to be intervals of aridity and naturally induced burning. A close association is noted between pine abundance and longer-term climatic trends, including intervals of aridity between ca. 4200 and 2500, 1200 and 850, and 500 and 200 cal yr BP and shorter-term trends. Evident periodicity occurs in pine and Poaceae abundance every 80 years. These short-term quasi-periodic oscillations have been recorded in a number of lake and ocean sediments in Mexico and are thought to be linked to solar forcing resulting in drought cycles that occur at approximately the same time intervals.
The Middle Palaeolithic site Salzgitter Lebenstedt (northern Germany), excavated in 1952, is well known because of its well-preserved faunal remains, dominated by adult reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). The archaeological assemblage accumulated in an arctic setting in an earlier part of the last (Weichsel) glacial (OIS5-3). The site is remarkable because of the presence of unique Middle Palaeolithic bone tools and the occurrence of the northernmost Neanderthal remains, but this paper focuses on an analysis of its reindeer assemblage. The results indicate autumn hunting of reindeer by Middle Palaeolithic hominids. After the hunt, carcasses were butchered and in subsequent marrow processing of the bones a selection against young and sub-adult animals occurred. Adults were clearly preferred, and from their bones, again, poorer marrow bones were neglected. This focus on primeness of resources has been documented in other domains of Neanderthal behaviour, but Salzgitter Lebenstedt is the best example yet known in terms of systematic and routinized processing of game. The Salzgitter Lebenstedt assemblage displays some remarkable similarities to the Late Glacial reindeer assemblages from the Ahrensburg tunnel valley sites. The subsequent review of the evidence on subsistence strategies from earlier periods of the European Palaeolithic shows that hunting of large mammals may have been a part of the behavioural repertoire of the Middle Pleistocene occupants of Europe from the earliest occupation onwards. At the same time, it is suggested that these early hunting strategies were incorporated in ways of moving through landscapes ("settlement systems") which were different from what we know from the middle parts of the Upper Palaeolithic onwards.
Since the 1940s, numerous cases of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) have been observed in certain American Indian populations. Extremely high prevalence rates of NIDDM occur most strikingly in several tribes of Paleo-Indians, whose ancestors migrated to North America greater than 11,000 yr ago. Archaeological evidence from that period indicates that certain groups of Paleo-Indians maintained an arctic-like hunter-gatherer life-style in an area in temperate North America ranging from Wyoming to Arizona. This life-style featured a reliance on unpredictable big game species as a major food source. However, at this time, big game species were becoming extinct. It is hypothesized that those Paleo-Indians who relied on big game as a food source developed a "thrifty" genotype that allowed a selective advantage during the periods of fasting that occurred between big game kills. It also is hypothesized that this thrifty genotype in these Indians may contribute to NIDDM when a sedentary life-style is adopted and food sources are constant. Because insulin resistance in muscle is a major feature of NIDDM, it is possible that insulin resistance per se is the phenotypic expression of the thrifty genotype.
The pattern of the evolutionary radiation of modern birds (Neornithes) has been debated for more than 10 years. However, the early fossil record of birds from the Paleogene, in particular, the Lower Eocene, has only recently begun to be used in a phylogenetic context to address the dynamics of this major vertebrate radiation. The Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-P) extinction event dominates our understanding of early modern bird evolution, but climate change throughout the Eocene is known to have also played a major role. The Paleocene and Lower Eocene was a time of avian diversification as a result of favourable global climatic conditions. Deteriorations in climate beginning in the Middle Eocene appear to be responsible for the demise of previously widespread avian lineages like Lithornithiformes and Gastornithidae. Other groups, such as Galliformes display replacement of some lineages by others, probably related to adaptations to a drier climate. Finally, the combination of slowly deteriorating climatic conditions from the Middle Eocene onwards, appears to have slowed the evolutionary rate in Europe, as avian faunas did not differentiate markedly until the Oligocene. Taking biotic factors in tandem with the known Paleogene fossil record of Neornithes has recently begun to illuminate this evolutionary event. Well-preserved fossil taxa are required in combination with ever-improving phylogenetic hypotheses for the inter-relationships of modern birds founded on morphological characters. One key avifauna of this age, synthesised for the first time herein, is the Lower Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark. The Fur birds represent some of the best preserved (often in three dimensions and with soft tissues) known fossil records for major clades of modern birds. Clear phylogenetic assessment of these fossils will prove critical for future calibration of the neornithine evolutionary timescale. Some early diverging clades were clearly present in the Paleocene as evidenced directly by new fossil material alongside the phylogenetically constrained Lower Eocene taxa. A later Oligocene radiation of clades other than Passeriformes is not supported by available fossil data.
Given the well-documented fact that human body proportions covary with climate (presumably due to the action of selection), one would expect that the Ipiutak and Tigara Inuit samples from Point Hope, Alaska, would be characterized by an extremely cold-adapted body shape. Comparison of the Point Hope Inuit samples to a large (n > 900) sample of European and European-derived, African and African-derived, and Native American skeletons (including Koniag Inuit from Kodiak Island, Alaska) confirms that the Point Hope Inuit evince a cold-adapted body form, but analyses also reveal some unexpected results. For example, one might suspect that the Point Hope samples would show a more cold-adapted body form than the Koniag, given their more extreme environment, but this is not the case. Additionally, univariate analyses seldom show the Inuit samples to be more cold-adapted in body shape than Europeans, and multivariate cluster analyses that include a myriad of body shape variables such as femoral head diameter, bi-iliac breadth, and limb segment lengths fail to effectively separate the Inuit samples from Europeans. In fact, in terms of body shape, the European and the Inuit samples tend to be cold-adapted and tend to be separated in multivariate space from the more tropically adapted Africans, especially those groups from south of the Sahara.
Disproportionately short metacarpals or metatarsals in eight burial skeletons and three unusually short metapodials recovered as disturbed bones were identified in a 1500 B.C. to A.D. 500 skeletal series from eight archeological sites of the north mainland coast of British Columbia, Canada. At least ten people were affected from four sites for a minimum series frequency of 5.2%. Various factors clinically implicated in the occurrence of brachymetapody were investigated to account for the anomaly. Context-sensitive information suggested that trauma, infarction or infection, and individual or family-related malformation syndromes were unlikely possibilities. Some modern population data suggest that the series frequency was unusually high, particularly for fourth metatarsal involvement, the most commonly affected bone. Modern pedigree interpretations, ethnohistoric inferences, and the archeological contexts of the affected burial skeletons and site samples provide a framework for concluding that brachymetapody in the series was more likely due to the inheritance of an essentially isolated anomaly.