A recent paper by Walker et al. (2009) states that iron-deficiency anaemia can no longer be regarded as being a cause of porotic hyperostosis (PH) or cribra orbitalia (CO). It is argued here that this conclusion is not supported by the current literature on iron-deficiency anaemia and associated haematopoietic responses or consequences to this condition. Indeed, iron-deficiency anaemia is still a plausible candidate in any differential diagnosis of lesions identified as PH and/or CO.
Recent studies suggest that acquired syphilis evolved in the Old World from a non-sexually transmitted treponeme originating in the New World during early European expansion and colonization. However, when and via which route the bacteria were introduced into Asia remains uncertain. This study examined the first paleopathological evidence of syphilitic infection in an individual from the 19th century AD in South Korea. The individuals from a site identified as the middle and late Joseon period were examined for the presence of the skeletal lesions that are indicative of an acquired syphilitic infection. Direct macroscopic observation of the skeletal remains was conducted alongside radiological analysis. One individual displayed extensive pathologies throughout the cranial and postcranial skeleton. Treponematosis is the only disease that best explains the pattern of lytic cranial lesions and widespread bilateral symmetrical periosteal new bone of the postcranial elements. To date, paleopathological evidence of treponemal disease in Asia is severely limited. In this regard, this study provides meaningful data for studying the history of infectious disease in Asia. This study represents the only known archaeological case in South Korea.
Linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) is a useful indicator of childhood health. This study aimed at investigating whether there was any diachronic change in LEH occurrence during the Edo period (1603-1867). The Edo period, which experienced no major transition in subsistence and had no large-scale contact with foreign population, did undergo various social changes that could have affected childhood health status. The skeletal remains of 144 adult individuals recovered from seven burial sites in Tokyo were examined. Based on historical records and archaeological evidence, these individuals were divided into two time-period groups, the early Edo period and the late Edo period. Each group was then subdivided into the two age-at-death groups of young and old. The late Edo period groups were also divided into coffin-type groups, which reflect their social status. Comparison of general prevalence, frequency distribution, and the mean number of LEHs observed per tooth revealed that the individuals of the late Edo period groups of any coffin type tend to have fewer LEHs than those of the early Edo period groups, and significant differences were found either in the frequency distribution or in the mean number of LEHs per tooth. Considering the possible factors that could affect the result, such as age-at death distribution and social status, the observed difference between the time periods can be attributed to diachronic change, which is assumed to be due to improvements in childhood health status during the Edo period. This assumption is compatible with historical evidence suggesting that the living environment in the city of Edo was improving in the 17th century and stabilized in the 18th century as a result of the establishment of basic infrastructure and improvements in public safety. The findings of this study will help us understand childhood health status in a changing society.
The individual-count method of bilateral nonmetric traits has been widely used despite its apparent defects in both theory and practice. Logically, its use means adopting the false concept of 'two thresholds' based on the single-liability model. This conceptual defect can create actual problems, including that of conventional `tetrachoric correlation.' The correlation coefficient calculated by formally applying the tetrachoric procedure to the individual-count frequencies is mathematically meaningless because there exists no true liability and threshold that can explain such data. Moreover, it considerably underestimates the correlation if it is used as the estimate of the correlation between the individual specific components of liability because it neglects the contribution of the inter-side component in the variance of total liability. Two statistical methods are proposed to estimate the correlation coefficient between inter-individual components of liability and its confidence interval. Some selected data from the database published by Ossenberg on the Internet were used to illustrate the utility of the new methods and to examine the problem of the conventional method. The method of estimation of the correlation between the inter-individual components of liability based on the combination of two dual-liability models provided, as a by-product, substantial support for the standard threshold model based on data. Because the conventional `tetrachoric correlations' proved to seriously underestimate the correlations, the results of almost all studies using Mahalanobis distances based on nonmetric traits so far published may require re-evaluation. It is also argued that a fundamental problem exists in the use of the individual-count method itself. Adopting an incorrect method for maintaining comparability is a vicious cycle. It is necessary to emphasize improving the reliability of future studies based on true statistics rather than keeping the comparability between less reliable results based on the false concept of threshold.
Cranial vault thickness is a widely studied variable in physical anthropology. However, direct physical measurements are difficult to assess in complete skulls, where the endocranial surface is not easily accessible for standard callipers. Computed tomography represents the best alternative, but is expensive and not always available for many field or museum samples. In this study we present a method for the measurement of cranial vault thickness based on magnetism. We measured bone thickness at 71 points of the vault in 30 human skulls with the use of a portable magnetic calliper, which offers a simple, direct, non-invasive, and cost-effective methodology. Magnetic measures were compared with physical measures sampled with a traditional spreading calliper, and error analysis was assessed. Thickness distribution was evaluated and represented in bidimensional maps after spatial interpolation. The two types of callipers provide the same results, suggesting that the magnetic calliper can be used in those situations in which a traditional calliper is not applicable. In accordance with previously published data, the most variable and thickest bones in our sample were the frontal and the occipital bones, and cranial vault thickness distribution follows a pattern of increasing thickness from lateral regions of the vault to the sagittal plane. The magnetic calliper is a reliable and effective tool to measure cranial thickness in those cases in which the endocranial surface is not easily accessible, and where expensive technology cannot be employed for economic or practical reasons.
Recent studies have revealed that the Jomon people are considerably genetically different from any other population, including modern-day Japanese. This gives rise to an intriguing question: when after the Jomon era did this drastic change of genetic features occur? The Shomyoji shell midden site in Kanagawa, Japan can provide some clues to address this question. The skeletons buried at this site include some that are more recent than the Jomon-era skeletons with whom they are almost contiguously buried. We tested the genetic continuity of the Shomyoji shell midden people by analyzing mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Our results show that the mtDNA haplogroups of the Kofun and Heian skeletons vastly differ from those of the Jomon skeletons. This finding implies that the genetic conversion of the Japanese people may have occurred during or before the Kofun era, at least at the Shomyoji site. To confirm this hypothesis, nuclear genome analysis of the Shomyoji people is considered promising.
The relationship between calcaneal size and body mass in extant primates and other land mammals is examined using regression analyses to provide simple equations for estimating the body mass of extinct primate and land mammal species based on the calcaneus. The results imply that among the linear calcaneal dimensions, the calcaneal width at the talar articular surfaces (CA2) is likely the best body mass estimator for land mammals (including primates), and the width of the posterior talar articular surface (CA3) appears to be relatively good body mass estimator for primates. The equation with a 95% prediction interval for estimating the body mass (BM, in g) using CA2 (in mm) for land mammals is: BM = exp(2.928 x In CA2 + 0.981 +/- 0.772) x 1.076; the corresponding equation using CA3 (in mm) for primates is: BM = exp(2.555 x In CA3 + 3.536 +/- 0.641) x 1.067.
This paper examines periodontal disease as well as other oral health indicators of the Jomon population in order to understand variations in their lifestyle and their response to dietary diversity. The oral conditions of three Jomon populations in Late Jomon period are evaluated using two periodontal indicators, namely the distance measured between the cement-enamel junction to the alveolar crest (CEJ-AC distance), and the degree of inflammation of the alveolar septum. The incidence of affected individuals with moderate to severe periodontal disease ranges from 31.8% to 38.6% based on the evaluation of the CEJ-AC distance, and from 38.4% to 66.0 % based on the interdental septum morphology, respectively. Comparisons of the inter-site difference (which includes that between coastal and inland populations) and sex differences were conducted with a combined dataset of the periodontal and oral health indicators (caries, antemortem tooth loss, wear, and chipping). The results indicated that inter-site and inter-sex differences are smaller in the cases with periodontal disease than in those with caries and antemortem tooth loss. In particular, almost no difference was found in the periodontal conditions between the coastal and inland sites. Although previous studies have indicated the effect of occlusal wear on the CEJ-AC distance, the results of the multivariate analysis show that the inflammation of the inter dental septum is more relevant than the occlusal wear. In addition, the sex difference was significant compared to the inter-site difference, and each sex difference within a site showed a common trend. Detected inter-site and sex differences are discussed and assumed to be associated with bioarchaeological background.
Recent fossil records have suggested that human erect bipedal locomotion started in Africa probably more than 6 million years ago. However, debate continues regarding how locomotion was acquired by our prehuman ancestors. Fossils and the genetic traits of recent humans and animals cannot answer this question directly. Therefore, the present paper reviews acquisition models of human bipedalism and explanations regarding how humans acquired bipedalism based on a comparative kinesiology of contemporary mammal species. Nonhuman primates are adequate models of human bipedal acquisition because of not only the phylogenetically close relationship with humans, but also the trend toward hindlimb dominance and orthograde positional behavior in daily life. Although dissimilar to the erect bipedalism seen in humans, nonhuman primates adopt bipedal positional behavior in the wild. All nonhuman primates use the arboreal environment, but some groups of species utilize the ground predominantly. Compared with relatively terrestrial nonhuman primates, relatively arboreal primates show more similarities with humans in their bipedal locomotion. Comparisons among primate species and between nonhuman primates and nonprimate mammals indicate that human-like bipedal characteristics are strongly related to arboreal life. Our prehuman ancestors likely started and adapted to bipedal locomotion while living in trees; this process is referred to as the generalized arboreal activity model. When humans began terrestrial locomotion, they likely performed proficient bipedalism from the first step. The generalized arboreal activity model presented here does not contradict the fossil records.
The Japanese medieval period encompassed almost 400 years, between 1185 and 1573 AD. Previous research of human skeletal remains from medieval Kamakura City has shown that medieval people had a poor level of health and general living conditions because of malnutrition and interpersonal violence. The aims of this study are to apply bioarchaelogical analyses to a new series of human skeletal remains from the Nozoji-ato site in Kamakura City and to test the hypothesis that the bioarchaeological features that characterize medieval Japanese people are commonly seen in the new skeletal series. The Nozoji-ato site has been dated to a chronological age of between 1500 and 1700 AD based on the known sequence of coins and vessels, but most of these artefacts belonged to the medieval period. A sample size of 45 individuals was used in this study from individual graves. The results of this study indicate that the sample from Nozoji-ato is characterized by an old age-at-death distribution and high number of caries-lesion and ante-mortem tooth loss frequencies. Individuals from the Nozoji-ato site also tend to lack evidence for lethal trauma, a phenomenon that is frequently observed in other comparative medieval populations. The results presented in this study led to the conclusion that the Nozoji-ato exhibit different bioarchaeological features compared to the populations from the first half of the medieval period and that living conditions at this site were less severe than expected.
Using computed tomography, we examined the surface and internal morphologies of the upper face of people living on the Ryukyu Islands and mainland Japanese, focusing on the nasal root protrusion and eyeball position. The results showed that the nasal root protrusion on the surface was influenced by a combination of changes in both hard and soft tissues, such as skeletal nasal protrusion, eyeball recession, and skin thickness. The eyeball position became more posterior as the orbital cavity height and depth increased. Compared with people originating from mainland Japan, Ryukyu Islanders had a more prominent nasal root at both surface and skeletal levels, and a lower orbital rim relative to its internal height. However, a significant difference in the eyeball position and skin thickness was not detected. Therefore, the skeletal nasal root protrusion, not soft tissue configuration, is likely to account for the difference in the surface nasal root protrusion between the two populations. These findings will contribute to a better understanding of the association between hard and soft tissue configurations and the diversification of human facial features at the individual and population levels.
This paper provides a thorough description of humeral, ulnar, and radial specimens of the Nacholapithecus holotype (KNM-BG 35250). A spool-shaped humeral trochlea (and keeled sigmoid notch of the ulna) is a hallmark of elbow joint evolution in hominoids. In lacking this feature, the elbow of Nacholapithecus is comparatively primitive, resembling that of proconsulids. However, the humeroulnar joint in Nacholapithecus is specialized for higher stability than that in proconsulids. The humeroradial joint (humeral capitulum) resembles that of extant apes and Sivapithecus. This condition may represent an intermediate stage leading to the fully modern elbow in extant apes. If this is the case, specialization of the humeroradial joint preceded that of the humeroulnar joint. Nacholapithecus elbow joint morphology suggests more enhanced forearm rotation compared to proconsulids. This observation accords with the forelimb-dominated positional behavior of Nacholapithecus relative to proconsulids, which has been proposed on the grounds of limb proportions and the morphology of the phalanges, shoulder girdle, and vertebrae.
A new excavation of the Iyai rock-shelter site has uncovered more than a dozen human skeletal remains from the Initial Jomon period. We describe here an almost complete female skeleton (Iyai 1), and examine this in the context of morphological variation in Jomon females, especially those of the Initial Jomon period. Two radiocarbon dates based on the Iyai 1 skeletal samples show a calibrated date c. 8300-8200 calBP, belonging to the later part of the Initial Jomon period. The Iyai 1 skeleton was found in a burial pit with an unusual body placement. Although it was a flexed burial with the both arms and limbs flexed, the upper and lower body was disconnected at the waist and the two portions placed on top of each other: the upper body was laid on its abdomen with the head faced into the pelvis, and the lower body was found under the upper trunk in a supine position. The individual is a young female, 146 cm in height using Sasou-Fujii method, and the age at death is estimated as c. 20-40 years. The neurocranium is long (cranial index = 79.9) and high (length-height index = 77.1), the face is wide and low (upper-facial index = 43.4). The dentition shows nearly horizontal heavy wear but no dental caries with an edge-to-edge bite occlusion. The postcranial long bones are gracile, although they exhibit clear musculature impressions in some attachment areas. No paleopathological bone modification was found. The talus exhibits a 'squatting' facet at the anterior contact of the talocrural joint. The stable isotopic signature of Iyai 1 falls among those of the inland Initial Jomon people, indicating that her proteins mainly came from C3 plants and terrestrial animals.
The Rakhigarhi site is the location of the ruins of an ancient megacity of the Harappan civilization and had not previously been investigated thoroughly. We tried to examine the physical and pathological traits of human skeletons (n = 37) from the cemetery at the site. In our study, a cranial index was calculated from one male skull (dolichocranic; index value = 65.78). The mean statures estimated by long bone length were 175.8 cm (male) and 166.1 cm (female). The indices of femoral diaphyseal shape were 79.8 (males) and 90.31 (females) for the platymeric index; and 113.78 (males) and 112.74 (female) for the pilasteric index. The dental health of the subjects appeared to be good as the overall prevalence of oral pathologies (caries and antemortem tooth loss) was generally low. Periosteal reactions were found in tibias and possible evidence of osteomyelitis was also observed in a femur. Some joint parts showed signs of osteoarthritis. Although various pathologies have been identified, we could not find any specific lesions suggestive of leprosy and tuberculosis in these skeletons. Although our study has added invaluable data to the existing information pool on the health and disease status of Harappan society, more accurate conjecture on the structure of Harrappan society based on bioarchaeological evidence will need additional research based on future excavations at Rakhigarhi cemetery.
Although previous studies have demonstrated successful single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping of modern samples, the potential applicability of this methodology to ancient human specimens has not been confirmed. With regard in particular to the SNPs in the ABCC11, EDAR, FGFR2, and ABO genes, all of which are commonly analyzed in biomedical research, only a relatively limited number of papers on ancient specimens are currently available. We thus studied the SNP genotypes in the ABCC11, EDAR, FGFR2, and ABO genes of mummies from the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. Those SNP genotypes in brain samples (n = 5) were determined using multiplex single-base extension (SBE) primers in polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses of each gene locus. SNP analysis revealed the mummies’ ABCC11 genotype was revealed to be 538AA (dry-type earwax and low risk for axillary osmidrosis). In the EDAR and FGFR2 genes, the variant alleles rs3827760-CC (EDAR) and rs4752566-TT (FGFR2), indicative of thick and straight hair, were identified. In addition, the ABO genotypes BO02 (SN1-2), O01O02 (Sapgyo), AO01 (Hadong2), BB (Yongin), and O02O02 (SN PK) were identified. Our SNP genotyping of Korean mummies provided us with specific insight into the potential of this methodology for application to the analysis of ancient human specimens. This study fills a gap in our knowledge of the use of SNP genotyping in forensic medicine by proving that it can help to reveal the physical traits of ancient individuals.
Electroglottography (EGG) is a low-cost, non-invasive method for documenting laryngeal sound production during vocalization. The EGG signal represents relative vocal fold contact area and thus delivers physiological evidence of vocal fold vibration. While the method has received much attention in human voice research over the last five decades, it has seen very little application in other mammals. Here, we give a concise overview of mammalian vocal production principles. We explain how mammalian voice production physiology and the dynamics of vocal fold vibration can be documented qualitatively and quantitatively with EGG, and we summarize and discuss key issues from research with humans. Finally, we review the limited number of studies applying EGG to non-human mammals, both in vivo and in vitro. The potential of EGG for non-invasive assessment of non-human primate vocalization is demonstrated with novel in vivo data of Cebus albifrons and Ateles chamek vocalization. These examples illustrate the great potential of EGG as a new minimally invasive tool in primate research, which can provide important insight into the ‘black box’ that is vocal production. A better understanding of vocal fold vibration across a range of taxa can provide us with a deeper understanding of several important elements of speech evolution, such as the universality of vocal production mechanisms, the independence of source and filter, the evolution of vocal control, and the relevance of non-linear phenomena.
We studied the relationship of tooth agenesis with tooth size and its proportional variability (PV) based on mesiodistal crown diameters of 276 Japanese males including 49 individuals for reference. Tooth agenesis was classified into third molar agenesis, hypodontia, and multiple agenesis. In addition, third molar agenesis was classified into four types according to the number of congenitally missing third molars. PV was measured by standard deviation of log-transformed data. The size of remaining teeth was generally larger in the agenesis groups than in the reference group, and largest in individuals with hypodontia, followed by those with multiple agenesis and those with third molar agenesis. The findings suggest the existence of two types of tooth agenesis differing in nature, where remaining teeth tend to enlarge in the ‘moderate type’ and reduce in the ‘degenerative type.’ The former is dominant in (tooth agenesis of) the Japanese, whereas the latter seems to be more prevalent in European descendants, which is in accordance with recent findings in genetics. The ‘moderate type’ might be advantageous for survival in human microevolution because of its improved function and reduced risk of dentoskeletal discrepancies. The PV of tooth size was greater in the agenesis groups than in the reference group except for premolars and second molars. Among those with third molar agenesis, the greatest increase in PV was exhibited by those with all third molars missing, followed by those with two third molars missing. Among remaining teeth, canines and first molars tended to exhibit a greater increase of PV in agenesis groups, whereas their magnitude of PV did not exceed that of other teeth. These results can be explained by the genetic stability of canines and first molars and an increased variation due to common factors across remaining teeth associated with tooth agenesis.