September 25, 2020


Aim for Excellence

The oldest Neanderthal DNA of Central-Eastern Europe

Image: Aerial perspective of Stajnia Cave. perspective more  Credit: Marcin ?arski Around a hundred,000 years in...

Image: Aerial perspective of Stajnia Cave.
perspective more 

Credit: Marcin ?arski

Around a hundred,000 years in the past, the climate worsened abruptly and the natural environment of Central-Eastern Europe shifted from forested to open steppe/taiga habitat, selling the dispersal of wooly mammoth, wooly rhino and other cold adapted species from the Arctic. Neanderthals residing in these territories experienced severe demographic contractions owing to the new ecological conditions and only returned to the spots over 48° N latitude through climatic ameliorations. However, in spite of the discontinuous settlement, specific bifacial stone resources persisted in Central-Eastern Europe from the beginning of this ecological change until eventually the demise of the Neanderthals. This cultural custom is named Micoquian, and unfold throughout the frosty natural environment concerning eastern France, Poland and the Caucasus. Preceding genetic analyses confirmed that two major demographic turnover activities in Neanderthal historical past are associated with the Micoquian cultural custom. At ~ninety,000 years in the past, western European Neanderthals replaced the nearby Altai Neanderthals populace in Central Asia. Successively, by at the very least ~45,000 years in the past, western European Neanderthals substituted the nearby groups in the Caucasus.

The paper released in Scientific Studies and led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, Wroclaw University, Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals Polish Academy of Sciences, and University of Bologna experiences the oldest mitochondrial genome of a Neanderthal found in Central-Eastern Europe. The molecular age of ~eighty,000 years places the tooth from Stajnia Cave in this crucial time period of Neanderthal historical past when the natural environment was characterized by serious seasonality and some groups dispersed eastwards to Central Asia. “Poland, found at the crossroad concerning the Western European Plains and the Urals, is a critical location in being familiar with these migrations and for solving issues about the adaptability and biology of Neanderthals in periglacial habitat. The Stajnia S5000 molar is actually an exceptional find that sheds light on the debate above the broad distribution of the Micoquian artefacts”, suggests Andrea Picin, guide writer of the review and Postdoctoral Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.

Genetic analysis

Neanderthal remains associated with the Micoquian cultural custom are very several and genetic information and facts has only been extracted from samples of Germany, Northern Caucasus and Altai. “We were aware of the geographical relevance of this tooth for incorporating extra chronological factors in the distribution map of genetic information and facts of Neanderthals”, suggests Mateja Hajdinjak, co-writer of the paper and Postdoctoral Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. “We found that the mitochondrial genome of Stajnia S5000 was closest to the one of a Mezmaiskaya one Neanderthal from the Caucasus. We then employed the molecular genetic clock in get to figure out its approximate age. Though the molecular branch shortening method will come with a broad mistake variety, crossing the information and facts with the archaeological report permitted us to place the fossil at the beginning of the Final Glacial”.

The tooth was uncovered in 2007 through fieldwork directed by Mikolaj Urbanowski, co-writer of the paper, in just animal bones and a several stone resources. The opening of the cave was likely also slim for extended settlement, and Neanderthal occupations were small-time period. The web site could have been a logistical place settled through forays into the Krakow-Czestochowa Upland.

“We were thrilled when the genetic analysis unveiled that the tooth was at the very least ~eighty,000 years old. Fossils of this age are very hard to find and, commonly, the DNA is not nicely preserved”, say Wioletta Nowaczewska of Wroclaw University and Adam Nadachowski from the Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals Polish Academy of Sciences, co-authors of the paper. “At the beginning, we imagined that the tooth was more youthful considering that it was found in an upper layer. We were aware that Stajnia Cave is a intricate web site, and write-up-depositional frost disturbance mixed artefacts concerning levels. We are happily shocked by the consequence”. About the paleoanthropological functions, Stefano Benazzi of Bologna University, co-writer of the paper, adds, “The morphology of the tooth is common of Neanderthal, which was also confirmed by the genetic analysis. The worn problem of the crown implies that it belonged to an adult”.

Neanderthals in periglacial environments

Archaeologists have been puzzled for a lengthy time by the resilience of Neanderthals in these locations and by the persistence of Micoquian stone resources for extra than 50,000 years throughout a large area. Over and above the taphonomic troubles, the lithic assemblage of Stajnia displays a set of functions that are prevalent to many critical web sites in Germany, Crimea, Northern Caucasus and Altai. These similarities are probably the consequence of growing mobility of Neanderthal groups that often moved throughout the Northern and Eastern European Plains chasing cold adapted migratory animals. The Prut and Dniester rivers were likely employed as the key corridors of dispersal from Central Europe to the Caucasus. Identical corridors could also have been employed at ~45,000 years in the past when other western Neanderthals carrying Micoquian stone resources replaced nearby populations at Mezmaiskaya Cave in the Caucasus.

In summarizing the wider implications of this review, Sahra Talamo from the University of Bologna suggests, “The multidisciplinary method is generally the most effective way to better contextualize a demanding archeological web site, as is evident in this research. The consequence of the Neanderthal of Stajnia is a wonderful instance exhibiting that the molecular clock is exceptionally successful for dates older than fifty five,000 years BP”.


More contacts:

Dr. Mateja Hajdinjak

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig

+49 341 3550-535

[email protected]

Prof. Dr. Sahra Talamo

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig &

Division of Chemistry “G. Ciamician”, University of Bologna

+39 051 209-9476

[email protected]

Primary publication:

Andrea Picin, et al.
New views on Neanderthal dispersal and turnover from Stajnia Cave (Poland)
Scientific Studies, 8 September 2020, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-71504-x

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