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Neanderthals introduced solid food in their children’s diet at around 5-6 months of age
Neanderthals behaved not so differently from us in
raising their children, whose pace of growth was similar to Homo sapiens.
Thanks to the combination of geochemical and histological analyses of three
Neanderthal milk teeth, researchers were able to determine their pace of growth
and the weaning onset time. These teeth belonged to three different Neanderthal
children who have lived between 70,000 and 45,000 years ago in a small area of
FRANKFURT/KENT/BOLOGNA/FERRARA. Teeth grow and register information in form of growth lines, akin to tree rings, that can be read through histological techniques. Combining such information with chemical data obtained with a laser-mass spectrometer, in particular strontium concentrations, the scientists were able to show that these Neanderthals introduced solid food in their children's diet at around 5-6 months of age.
Not cultural but physiological
Alessia Nava (University of Kent, UK),
co-first author of the work, says: “The beginning of weaning relates to
physiology rather than to cultural factors. In modern humans, in fact, the
first introduction of solid food occurs at around 6 months of age when the
child needs a more energetic food supply, and it is shared by very different
cultures and societies. Now, we know that also Neanderthals started to wean
their children when modern humans do".
“In particular, compared to other
primates" says Federico Lugli (University of Bologna), co-first author of the
work “it is highly conceivable that the high energy demand of the growing human
brain triggers the early introduction of solid foods in child diet".
Neanderthals are our closest cousins
within the human evolutionary tree. However, their pace of growth and early
life metabolic constraints are still highly debated within the scientific
Stefano Benazzi (University of Bologna),
co-senior author, says: “This work's results imply similar energy demands
during early infancy and a close pace of growth between Homo sapiens and
Neanderthals. Taken together, these factors possibly suggest that Neanderthal
newborns were of similar weight to modern human neonates, pointing to a likely
similar gestational history and early-life ontogeny, and potentially shorter
Home, sweet home
Other than their early diet and growth,
scientists also collected data on the regional mobility of these Neanderthals
using time-resolved strontium isotope analyses.
“They were less mobile than previously
suggested by other scholars" says Wolfgang Müller (Goethe University
Frankfurt), co-senior author “the strontium isotope signature registered in
their teeth indicates in fact that they have spent most of the time close to
their home: this reflects a very modern mental template and a likely thoughtful
use of local resources".
“Despite the general cooling during the
period of interest, Northeastern Italy has almost always been a place rich in
food, ecological variability and caves, ultimately explaining survival of
Neanderthals in this region till about 45,000 years ago" says Marco Peresani
(University of Ferrara), co-senior author and responsible for findings from
archaeological excavations at sites of De Nadale and Fumane.
This research adds a new piece in the
puzzling pictures of Neanderthal, a human species so close to us but still so
enigmatic. Specifically, researchers exclude that the Neanderthal small
population size, derived in earlier genetic analyses, was driven by differences
in weaning age, and that other biocultural factors led to their demise. This
will be further investigated within the framework of the ERC project SUCCESS
('The Earliest Migration of Homo sapiens in Southern Europe - Understanding the
biocultural processes that define our uniqueness'), led by Stefano Benazzi at
University of Bologna.
Fumane Cave near Verona (Wikipedia): This is where several of the
milk teeth of Neanderthal children investigated by Professor Wolfgang Müller at
Goethe University were found. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grotta_di_Fumane#/media/Datei:Grotta_di_Fumane_3.jpg
Neanderthal milk teeth: Presumably a Neanderthal child lost this
tooth 40,000 to 70,000 year ago when his or her permanent teeth came in.
Credit: ERC project SUCCESS, University of Bologna, Italy
Ultra-thin cut: Researchers at Goethe University cut
paper-thin slices off of a Neanderthal milk tooth. The teeth are subsequently
put back together and reconstructed. Credit/video still: Luca Bondioli and
Alessia Nava, Rome, Italy
Institute for Geosciences /
Frankfurt Isotope and Element Research Center (FIERCE)
Tel. +49 (0)69 798 40291,
Film and media scholars at Goethe University Frankfurt dissect the new media world of the pandemic
With the onset of the current pandemic, our lives have
become more digital and more mediatized than ever before. But how can we
understand this transformation, and how can we envision our lives in this “new“
media world? A new publication edited by a group of media scholars working in
Frankfurt offers a glimpse of some of the research questions and challenges to
current pandemic poses a particular challenge for film and media scholars.
COVID-19 changes not just their work routines but transforms their very object
of study: the media. “As a consequence of the pandemic, we have to adapt
ourselves to new conditions of producing, accessing, consuming, sharing, and
deploying media for the flow of information, labor, goods, policies, and culture”,
says Laliv Melamed, post-doc researcher in the Graduate Research Training
Program “Konfigurationen des Films” (www.konfigurationen-des-films.de). Together with her colleague Phillipp
Keidl, Melamed has initiated and co-edited the collection “Pandemic Media”,
which appears as an open access publication this week.
“‘Pandemic Media‘ is an attempt to meet
the challenges of the pandemic with a series of flashlight essays which address
current and future research questions in media studies”, says professor Vinzenz
Hediger, project director of “Konfigurationen des Films”. In that spirit, the
publication’s subtitles is “Preliminary Notes Towards an Inventory”.
“Pandemic Media“ brings together 37 contributions
from the scientific network of “Konfiguration des Films” – a network that is
truly global. Contributors include researchers working at universities in New
York, Stanford, Toronto, Seattle, Oxford, London, Lagos, Utrecht, Frankfurt,
Weimar or Paris. The diversity of the contributors is reflected in the variety
of their topics and perspectives: These include the now ubiquitous drone
images, the split-screen aesthetics of video conferencing software, dating
apps, Trump’s television strategy against COVID, visualisations of the virus or
the development and implementation of the COVID tracing app in Germany.
The publication’s cover is based on the
current work of MAGNUM photographer Antoine D’Agata, who has been documenting
the impact of the pandemic in Paris streets and hospitals with a heat sensor
camera. D’Agata’s eerily suggestive images, which are on display at the
Brownstone Foundation in Paris until the end of October, are also the subject
of one the contributions to the volume.
Among “Pandemic Media”‘s innovations is
the digital open access publication strategy, which allowed the editors to put
the project in the short space of four months.
All contributions underwent a two-step double blind peer review process.
The project director of “Konfigurationen des Films“ and Professor Antonio
Somaini, who teaches at Université Paris-3 and is also a partner of Goethe
University in the International Master Cinema Studies (IMACS, www.imacsite.net)
serve as co-editors.
The publication date for the 37
contributions and the introduction is 28 October 2020. “Pandemic Media“ is the
latest volume in the „Configurations of film“ series published by meson press.
The full publication can be accessed here: https://meson.press/books/pandemic-media/, first in html format, later as PDF files
for download. The publication will be available in book form in time for the
Meson press is an innovative new publisher
specializing in open access publications on digital media culture. “From our
point of view, ‘Pandemic Media’ is an exciting pilot project”, comments Andreas
Kirchner, co-founder and co-director of meson press. “Not only does the volume
perfectly fit our profile, it offers us an opportunity to experiment with
groundbreaking new publication formats.”
The Graduate Research Training Program
“Konfigurationen des Films“, which is funded by the Deutsche
Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), has been studying the digital transformation of
film culture since 2017. This summer, the second cohort of 12 doctoral
candidates has assumed their positions and started their research projects.
„Pandemic Media. Preliminary Notes Towards an Inventory“, published by Vinzenz
Hediger, Philipp Keidl, Laliv Melamed und Antonio Somaini
to download: http://www.uni-frankfurt.de/93471401
The temperature of the pandemic: The book cover is based on a photo by Magnum
photographer Antoine D’Agata, who has been documenting Parisian street scenes
and processes in hospitals with a heat-sensitive camera since April (Foto:
Cover (c) meson press/Mathias Bär/Antoine D’Agata)
Graduate Research Training Program „Konfigurationen des Films“
Graduate Research Training Program „Konfigurationen des Films“
Prof. Dr. Vinzenz
Speaker of the Graduate Research Training Program „Konfigurationen des Films“
Physicists from Frankfurt, Hamburg and Berlin track the propagation of light in a molecule
Three-year German-American project studies biology of LRRK2
FRANKFURT. About ten percent of Parkinson's cases can be ascribed to mutations in the LRRK2 gene. Five research teams from the University of California in San Diego, Goethe University Frankfurt and the University of Konstanz want to explain in the next few years how mutations in the LRRK2 gene trigger Parkinson's disease and what possible targets there are for drugs. The US-American initiative “Aligning Science Across Parkinson's" has made the equivalent of € 6.1 million available for this project.
In the early 2000s, it was discovered that
in many Parkinson's patients a certain enzyme called LRRK2 mutates and
evidently plays a significant role in five to ten percent of hereditary Morbus
Parkinson and between one and five percent of the spontaneous form. LRRK2 is an
enzyme that attaches phosphate groups to other proteins in the human cell and
is far more active than normal in the brain cells of Parkinson's patients,
leading it to block transport processes in the cell. Many inhibitors against
the LRRK2 enzyme have already been tested in the past, but they are not
sufficiently effective or their side-effects are too severe.
The five teams from USA and Germany want
now to elucidate in detail the enzyme's structure and how it works in the cell
and thus create a basis for the targeted production of inhibitors. A first
three-dimensional structure of the LRRK2 protein was recently published by the
research team in the journal Nature. The initiative “Aligning Science
Across Parkinson's", which is backed by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for
Parkinson's Research, is supporting the project financially.
Co-Project Manager Stefan Knapp, Professor
for Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Goethe University, explains: “By comparing
LRRK2 mutations in Parkinson's patients with normal LRRK2, we want to find out
which tasks LRRK2 assumes in the cell, how the enzyme moves three-dimensionally,
and how the mutated LRRK2 contributes to nerve cells dying off. While the
expertise of our colleagues in the USA lies in various imaging methods, here in
Frankfurt we'll develop chemical probes to localize and study LRRK2 in cells
and we will produce recombinant LRRK2 variants that will help us to understand
their three-dimensional structure."
Co-Project Manager Florian Stengel, Professor
for Cellular Proteostasis at the University of Konstanz, says: “In the
framework of this project, we here in Konstanz want to identify the cellular
interaction partners of LRRK2. In this way, we'll be able to complete our
picture of its cellular role and thus make it possible to develop a drug
against LRRK2 mutated Morbus Parkinson."
on the first three-dimensional structure of the LKKR2 protein: C K Deniston, J Salogiannis, S Mathea, D M
Snead, I Lahiri, M Matyszewski, O Donosa, R Watanabe, J Böhning, A K Shiau, S
Knapp, E Villa, S L Reck-Peterson, A E Leschziner. Structure of LRRK2 in
Parkinson's disease and model for microtubule interaction. Nature. 2020 Aug 19 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32814344/
Pictures to download: www.uni-frankfurt.de/92946466
Professor Stefan Knapp, Institute of
Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Goethe University, Frankfurt (Foto: Uwe Dettmar)
Professor Stefan Knapp
Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Goethe University Frankfurt
Phone: +49 69 798-29871
Department of Biology / Laboratory of Cellular Proteostasis and Mass Spectrometry
University of Konstanz
Phone: +49 7531 88-5172
Study by Goethe University shows: Particulate matter is also reduced – ventilation remains necessary because of CO2