Department of Geoscience

WS 2012/2013

Datum Vortragende/r

Dr. Amanda Henry

(Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

"Not by meat alone: Assessing the role of plant foods in human evolution."

 Modern nutritional studies and ethnographies of modern foragers both suggest that plant foods are essential components of human diet. However, the potential contribution of these foods to human diet throughout our evolution has been relatively ignored. We seek to determine if and how plant foods were consumed using a variety of methods, from stable isotopes to plant microfossils to studies of modern foragers. Our results suggest that plant processing and consumption may have been as important in determining aspects of human biology and behavior as hunting and meat-eating.


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Maier

(Fachbereich Biologie, Universität Tübingen)

Title: “Konstruktionsmorphologie und Evolution der menschlichen Molaren”

Abstract: Die Zähne spielen in der phylogenetischen Systematik der Säugetiere eine zentrale Rolle, da sie sehr merkmalsreich und fossil gut erhaltungsfähig sind; ihre Morphologie hat daher seit langem große Beachtung gefunden. Gleichwohl ist man erst durch einen konstruktionsmorphologischen Ansatz auf experimenteller Grundlage zu einem vertieften Verständnis der Strukturen des Zahnreliefs gelangt: Als relevante kaumechanische Form-Funktionseinheiten werden nunmehr die komplementären Scherkanten und -facetten angesehen. Die komplex geformten Molaren (Backenzähne) aller rezenten Säugetiere (mit Ausnahme der Monotremen) können von einem tribosphenischen Bautypus abgeleitet werden, der sich bereits in der späten Jurazeit ausgebildet hatte. Die meisten Primatenmolaren stehen diesem tribosphenischen Grundplan noch relativ nahe; das gilt auch für die Molaren der Hominoidea einschließlich des Menschen, die allerdings innerhalb der Primaten am komplexesten strukturiert sind.


Dr. Dorothée Drucker

(Biogeology, University of Tübingen)


“Sulphur-34 as a tracker of aquatic resources consumption and subsistence territories: insights into and from the Mesolithic of northern France”


Aquatic dietary resources are considered as high quality food that provided ancient humans with beneficial nutrient to brain development and alternative subsistence advantage. Due to its low archaeological visibility, contribution of fish and other aquatic prey to the diet of past populations have been investigated using direct trackers such as carbon and nitrogen isotope abundances in bone collagen. In contrast with marine resources, freshwater resources cannot always be distinguished from terrestrial ones based on carbon-13 and nitrogen-15 abundances. To go beyond this limitation, sulphur-34 analysis of collagen has been recently applied to archaeological remains. In continental context, collagen sulphur-34 abundances have been proved to be a potential tracker of freshwater contribution to diet as well as a marker of geographical origin. These two aspects were explored in the context of the Mesolithic culture extending from about 11,600 to 8000 years ago in Europe. Those late hunter-gatherers were living in a temperate environment where they had access to a high diversity of terrestrial and aquatic resources, while their land use pattern was suggesting a reducing mobility over time. The isotopic results obtained so far on human and faunal remains from Mesolithic sites in northern France are examined to decipher the potential of sulphur-34 to identify the consumption of freshwater resources and the territories exploited for subsistence.


Dr. Phillip Endicott

(Départment Hommes, Natures, Sociétés, Musée de l'Homme)


Andaman Islanders and beyond: revisiting the 'Negrito' hypothesis in Southeast Asia


The Negrito hypothesis dates to the time of the inauguration of Anthropology as an academic discipline during the late 19th century; resulting from the observation that various hunter-gatherer populations of Southeast Asia shared a similar phenotype defined by small-stature, dark pigmentation and tight curly 'peppercorn' hair. In this early evolutionary paradigm the Negritos were an substrate of humanity, most of whom were replaced or absorbed by Neolithic migrants, with the remnants pushed into increasingly marginal environments. An alternative explanation is that they are cases of convergent evolution, even if they must share common ancestors in the past. Although no formal definition exists for the term Negrito, it is still used to describe indigenous populations of the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and the Andaman Islands. This September, an inter-disciplinary meeting was convened in Paris to assess the continued validity of the designation 'Negrito' from a variety of perspectives, the proceedings of which will be published during 2013 in a special edition of Human Biology. I will present an overview of proceedings together with details of projects on the Philippines and Andaman Islanders, contextualized within ongoing genetic research into the regional prehistory of Southeast Asia.


Dr. Stefano Benazzi

(Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

Title: “Virtual techniques applied: from cranial reconstruction to dental analysis”

18.01.2013 Robert Kelly

(Department of Anthropology, University of Wyoming)

A Continuous Climatic Impact on Human Demography over 13,000 Years in Wyoming's Bighorn Basin, USA


Enza Spinapolice

(Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

New insights and perspectives on Middle to Upper Palaeolithic Transition in Italy


Dr. Marie-Anne Julien

(Biogeology, University of Tübingen)

Formation processes at Schöningen: insights from intra- and inter-individual isotopic variations

Dr. Florent Rivals

(Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social)

Tooth microwear: methods and applications in Paleolithic and Neolithic archaeology