Summary of the 2016 ESHE Meeting

The 6th annual meeting of the European Society for the study of Human Evolution (ESHE) took place in Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid, Spain on September 15-17th 2016. This is a summary of most of the presentations that I attended, sorted by the number of engagements in twitter. Click on the podium pictures to enlarge. Contact me if you are missing any other lecture or need further information.

Alcalá de Henares

Alcalá de Henares, Plaza Cervantes. Photo:

Daniella Bar-Yosef. Shell assemblage from Manot cave, Israel, used for both food and ornamental use. Interesting to further understand the correlation with African modern humans arrival to the Levant and their migrations to/from Europe.

ESHE 2016. Bar-Yosef

ESHE 2016. Daniella Bar-Yosef. Photo: R. Sáez

Thomas Sutikna. New evidences show that the presence of Homo sapiens starts in Flores 46 kya, whereas the presence of Homo floresiensis ends by 50 kya.

ESHE 2016. Sutikna

ESHE 2016. Thomas Sutikna. Photo: R. Sáez

Fabio Di Vincenzo. Digital reconstruction of the Altamura neandertal skull, dated to 130-180 Ka. It is embedded in a stalagmite so only the front and back of the skull could be actually scanned. The rest of the skull was reconstructed with estimations from other Pleistocene hominins.

ESHE 2016. Di Vincenzo

ESHE 2016. Fabio Di Vincenzo. Photo: R. Sáez

Frido Welker. Palaeoproteomic evidence identifies archaic hominins associated with the Châtelperronian. Complete paper here.

Susanne Haupt. The study of infant tooth S7-37 (Homo erectus from Sangiran) shows the introduction of non-breastmilk food.

ESHE 2016. Haupt

ESHE 2016. Susanne Haupt. Photo: R. Sáez

Ine Leonard. Comprehensive study of lithic materials in Banat (Southwestern Romania) and similarities with Western Europe sites of the same age.

ESHE 2016. Leonard

ESHE 2016. Ine Leonard. Photo: R. Sáez

María Martinón-Torres. A tour through the Daoxian cave to show the place where 47 teeth were found and their context: they were dated to 80-120 Ka which is the earliest Homo sapiens evidence in Eastern Asia so far.

ESHE 2016. Martinón-Torres

ESHE 2016. María Martinón-Torres. Photo: Fundación Atapuerca

Antonio Rosas. Comparison of mandibles from Sima de los Huesos AT-950 vs. Mauer-1 vs. Arago-2. Review of the neanderthalensis / heidelbergensis lineages: structural similarities may indicate that the three mandibles belong to a single neandertal lineage.

ESHE 2016. Rosas

ESHE 2016. Antono Rosas. Photo: R. Sáez

Marcus Bastir. Homo naledi thorax is not similar to Homo‘s barrel-like nor African apes’ funnel-like. Instead, it could resemble that of Asian apes.

Mateja Hajdinjak. Analysis of 5 late neandertals: Les Cottes, Spy, Goyet, Vindija and Mezmeskaya: mtDNA show no evidence of split between of Western vs. Eastern Europe neandertals.

ESHE 2016. Hajdinjak

ESHE 2016. Mateja Hajdinjak. Photo: R. Sáez

Qiaomei Fu (in absentia). Analysis of DNA of 51 modern humans between 45 and 7 Ka: identification of 5 clusters that are ancestors of today’s Europeans. See full post in Spanish here.

ESHE 2016. Photo credit. Fu

ESHE 2016. Qiaomei Fu. Image: Fu et al, Nature 2016

Rolf Quam. Early hominin auditory capacities:

ESHE 2016. Quam

ESHE 2016. Rolf Quam. Photo: R. Sáez

Joan Daura. The Aroerira skull and its context. Found in 2013, it took more than 2 years to clean & reconstruct. Dated to 400 Ka, it may fall under the Homo heidelbergensis taxon.

ESHE 2016. Daura

ESHE 2016. Joan Daura. Photo: R. Sáez

Nicholas Conard. The Lochstäb from Hohle Fels is an Aurignacian device probably used for working plants fibers. Experimental archaeology shows that rope-making was a social activity.

ESHE 2016. Conard

ESHE 2016. Nicholas Conard. Photo:

Nohemi Sala. Evidences of cut marks and other anthropic traces in Brillenhohle bone remains, together with the presence of human tooth marks, are interpreted as acts of cannibalism during the Magdalenian.

Hélène Rougier. The Troisième cave at Goyet (Belgium) has yielded finds from 4 different periods, including neandertals and Upper Paleolithic modern humans. The remains are also key contributors to the DNA analysis of neandertals & first European modern humans. The cave is also remarkable for the finding of retouched neandertal bones.

José Manuel Maíllo: Loiyangalani in Tanzania has yielded 9000+ lithics, 3000+ fauna remains (mostly bovids) with marks from human activity c. 64 kya.

ESHE 2016. Maíllo

ESHE 2016. José Manuel Maíllo. Photo: Belén Márquez

Inga Bergmann. Analysis of mandibles from 103 modern humans covering early MH, UP and early Holocene. More recent humans show wider rami, narrower and shorter dental arch, and overall reduction in facial and mandibular size.

ESHE 2016. Bergmann

ESHE 2016. Inga Bergmann. Photo: R. Sáez

Alessio Veneziano: Test of the idea that cooking led to reduced mandibles in human by comparing modern primate jaws to their diets. Cooking may explain the reduced teeth but other factors play a role in the reduction of the lower jaw.

Katerina Harvati. Morphologically, the Oase 1 mandible falls within Upper Paleolithic modern human range. On other side, the Muierii 1 mandible is intermediate between neandertal and modern humans.

ESHE 2016. Hervati

ESHE 2016. Katerina Hervati. Photo: R. Sáez

Ekaterina Stansfield. Analysis of the Oase mandible vs. modern humans: the Oase mandible is better prepared for molar use but requires more force to bite.

ESHE 2016. Stansfield

ESHE 2016. Ekaterina Stansfield. Photo: R. Sáez

Enrique Baquedano. Cueva Des-cubierta (Madrid, Spain) is a neandertal site dated 40-45 Ka, with remains of at least 20 large bovids and 5 cervid, and remarkable number of horns and antler. There is no evidence of human consumption or bone industry. Funerary use?

Emiliano Bruner. The Maba specimen has  a neandertal face while an archaic braincase. It supports that ‘neandertalisation’ starts with the face, as also happens in the Sima de los Huesos hominins.

ESHE 2016. Bruner

ESHE 2016. Emiliano Bruner. Photo: R. Sáez

Yoel Rak. Based on the mandibular condyle shape alone, two forms may be visible in Australopithecus sediba: one is afarensis-like, the other is africanus/robust like. The morphology of Malapa hominid 2 is consistent with Homo sapiens direct lineage, but not MH1.

Jeanne Marie Geilin. El Mirón (Cantabria, Spain) exhibits changes in the economic strategies (specialization) during the Last Maximum Glacial transition, from a large base camp to more of a logistic camp.

ESHE 2016. Geilin

ESHE 2016. Jeanne Marie Geilin. Photo: R. Sáez

Tom Higham. Huge study of bones, shell and charcoal from 50 Western European sites in the 45-35 Ka period to develop a model to explain the dispersal of modern humans. The transition from the Proto-Aurignacian to the Aurignacian seems to have taken place between 42 to 38 Ka.

Mona Le Luyer: The environmental changes in the early Holocene drove to reduction of teeth size, and the Neolithic transition affected enamel distribution. Hypothesis: smaller teeth are not as susceptible to pathologies as larger teeth.

Rachel Hopkins. A chronometric model on 22 sites tries to explain if modern humans enter Europe via the Danube corridor. Results are not clear tough: some sites could not be accurately dated.

Eva Poza. 16 crania from the amazing collection of Sima de los Huesos were scanned and virtual 3D endocasts were rebuilt: they show a mosaic of features. Pre-frontal region with slight differences in position. Breadth of the temporal lobe is neandertal-like.

Ana Marin-Arroyo (in absentia). Study on reed deer and horse hunted by modern humans and neandertals in 7 sites of the Cantabrian Region: 137 specimens, carbon and nitrogen isotopes calculated. It shows mobility and climatic oscillations at the MP-LP transition. Red deer specimens show high and low nitrogen levels in the same archaeological levels. This can be explained because animals were feeding in areas with variable amounts of rainfall.

Heike Scherf. Interesting variation but also some overlaps in the humerus function between Pan, Pongo, neandertals, Neolithic MH and recient MH. Partial overlap between MH and pongo. Overlap between neandertals, Neolithic MH and Pongo.

Mark Sier. Challenges on Turkana basin paleolake drilling and analysis (214 m deep drill core), for example the difficulties of the study of magnetism near the equator.

Alistair Pike. Laser ablation micro scanning of neandertal tooth enamel to analyse strontium isotopes at Oliviera, Portugal. The study show a mobility of humans at Oliviera within a 30km range.

Viviane Slon. Molecular analysis of sediment by DNA capture from the soil, to identify 12 mammals from 5 Pleistocene sites. High potential method to extract fauna DNA from the soil in absence of fossils.

Zenobia Jacobs. Luminescence chronologies for Denisova and Chagyrskaya caves. Sediments are usually very disturbed because of fauna and karstic development. The deepest layers are dated to 165 Ka, the Denisova 5 and Denisova 8 layer are dated to 82-85 Ka.

Gary Schwartz. Test of the Inhibitory Cascade Model (ICM) to a big set of hominid tooth. It is possible to predict the tooth size of missing teeth from just one tooth by using the ICM.

ESHE 2016. Schwartz

ESHE 2016. Gary Schwartz. Photo: R. Sáez

Antonio Rodríguez-Hidalgo. Gran Dolina in Atapuerca shows evidences 1 mya of cooperative work to transport, delayed consumption and butchering of large ungulates.

Josep Pares. Chronostratigraphy of Gran Dolina, Atapuerca: level TD6 0.8-0.9 Ma, TD4 0.9-1.0, lower 9 meters 0.9-1.2 Ma.

Rodrigo Lacruz. Rythm of enamel in hominins and mammals and potential relation to history diversity. Full paper here.

Sahra Talamo. Story of the excavations, study and misattribution of the Monti Lessini ‘Neanderthal’ mandible. Paper here.

Lee Arnold (in absentia). 4 new bracketing luminiscence dating samples from Sima de los Huesos: layer LU 6 is dated to c. 455 Ka.

Bienvenido Martinez-Navarro. A new Plio-Pleistocene site in Eritrea: Engel Ela-Ramud basin, on the Danakil depression, south of the famous Buia site. It has a great potential, with interesting tools assemblage discovered so far. Pre-Acheulean?

Pierre Frémondiere. Australopithecines might have had non rotational birth. There is no difference observed between pelvis MH2, Sts 14 and AL 288-1.

Laura Rodríguez. Pinilla del Valle (Madrid, Spain) has 3 out of 4 sites with neandertal individuals. Cueva del Camino: a hyena den where 2 human molars were found. Cueva Des-Cubierta: 6 decidious teeth and one partial mandible. Buena Pinta: two molars.

Cueva de la Buena Pinta. Pinilla del Valle

Cueva de la Buena Pinta. Pinilla del Valle. Photo: R. Sáez

Manuel Will: Overall body size increase in human evolution but with no uniform pattern. Bodies with less than 40kg disappeared after 1.4 mya. There is a high variability in Australopithecines, Paranthropines and early Homo, while low variability in later hominins and a significant increase of body size after 2 mya.

Rebecca Miller. Stratigraphy & collections from the transit Middle Paleolithic to Upper Paleolithic at Trou Al’Wesse, Belgium, where neandertals and sapiens occupied the cave but at different times  More info here.

Sandra Mathews. Differential diagnosis by on MH2 Australopithecus sediba skeleton. Polyarticular arthritis due to fatigue and reduced mobility: clavicle, pelvis, shoulder joint, knee joint.

Sonia Harmand. 4 new sites in Nasura (Kenya) with lithic artifacts discovered in 2007 thanks to heavy rain, filling the gap of sites between 2.0-2.3 Ma. A hominin maxillary fragment was found in 2013: KNM WT 57382.  Bernard Wood suggests enamel thickness will determine if the teeth are Paranthropus or Homo.

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