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Quaternary, Volume 4, Issue 1 (March 2021) – 10 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The use of lake sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) to track long-term changes in biological communities is a rapidly advancing field in Quaternary science. As sedaDNA captures biological changes in both the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, past genetic signals have the potential to provide insights into landscape development (including terrestrial floral and faunal changes, as well as anthropogenic impacts) and the ecology of the lake itself. They offer the opportunity to study the response of organisms to disturbances of natural and/or anthropogenic origin, the interactions of species, species recovery and ecosystem restoration. Lake sedaDNA can also provide insights into human history and interactions with the environment, such as agriculture and urbanization. In this issue, Capo et al. present a review of the state-of-the-art in this emerging and rapidly developing field. View this [...] Read more.
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Editorial
2020 Quaternary Young Investigator Award: Announcement and Interview with the Winner
Quaternary 2021, 4(1), 10; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4010010 - 10 Mar 2021
Viewed by 686
Abstract
After an extensive voting period, we are proud to present the winner of the Quaternary Young Investigator Award: Dr [...] Full article
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Article
A Detailed Record of Deglacial and Early Post-Glacial Fluvial Evolution: The River Ure in North Yorkshire, UK
Quaternary 2021, 4(1), 9; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4010009 - 08 Mar 2021
Viewed by 904
Abstract
The lower reaches of the River Ure, on the flanks of the Pennine Hills in northern England, contain sedimentary and erosional landforms that are a record of fluvial activity during deglaciation and valley-glacier retreat at the end of the last (Devensian) glacial period, [...] Read more.
The lower reaches of the River Ure, on the flanks of the Pennine Hills in northern England, contain sedimentary and erosional landforms that are a record of fluvial activity during deglaciation and valley-glacier retreat at the end of the last (Devensian) glacial period, and in the subsequent post-glacial Holocene. Terraces and channels, most of which are now relict features well above the altitude of the present river, attest to the impacts of massive meltwater discharge and deposition of sand and gravel outwash, and dynamic river regimes with rapid incision. Through field survey, we have created a detailed geomorphological map of these landforms and glacial and fluvioglacial surface deposits, as well as the terraces and palaeochannels that were abandoned by the river due to avulsion and incision-driven course changes. We have recorded the nature of the outwash gravels, now effectively terrace features, from exposed sections in working quarries, one of which we discuss here. The palaeochannels have accumulated sediment fills and we have examined several which lie within the range of 100 and 16 m above present sea level. The results of lithostratigraphic, palynological, and radiocarbon analyses at two main and three subsidiary sites indicate that palaeochannel ages range from almost 14,000 to approximately 4000 calibrated years ago in a clear altitudinal sequence. The oldest are probably caused by rapid incision due to deglaciation-driven isostatic uplift. The similarity in date of the three downstream sites suggests that a late Holocene combination of climatic deterioration and increased human activity in the catchment caused instability and entrenchment. Pollen data from the channel fills provide relative dating, and agree well with pollen records from other regional Lateglacial and Holocene sites. Non-pollen palynomorph (NPP) analysis at one of the sites allows reconstruction of the hydrological history of channel infill. This research shows that the application of an integrated suite of research techniques can yield a highly detailed understanding of fluvial evolution and landscape history. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluvial Archives: Climatic and Topographical Influences)
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Article
Facing Change through Diversity: Resilience and Diversification of Plant Management Strategies during the Mid to Late Holocene Transition at the Monte Castelo Shellmound, SW Amazonia
Quaternary 2021, 4(1), 8; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4010008 - 03 Mar 2021
Viewed by 978
Abstract
Recent advances in the archaeology of lowland South America are furthering our understanding of the Holocene development of plant cultivation and domestication, cultural niche construction, and relationships between environmental changes and cultural strategies of food production. This article offers new data on plant [...] Read more.
Recent advances in the archaeology of lowland South America are furthering our understanding of the Holocene development of plant cultivation and domestication, cultural niche construction, and relationships between environmental changes and cultural strategies of food production. This article offers new data on plant and landscape management and mobility in Southwestern Amazonia during a period of environmental change at the Middle to Late Holocene transition, based on archaeobotanical analysis of the Monte Castelo shellmound, occupied between 6000 and 650 yr BP and located in a modern, seasonally flooded savanna–forest mosaic. Through diachronic comparisons of carbonized plant remains, phytoliths, and starch grains, we construct an ecology of resource use and explore its implications for the long-term history of landscape formation, resource management practices, and mobility. We show how, despite important changes visible in the archaeological record of the shellmound during this period, there persisted an ancient, local, and resilient pattern of plant management which implies a degree of stability in both subsistence and settlement patterns over the last 6000 years. This pattern is characterized by management practices that relied on increasingly diversified, rather than intensive, food production systems. Our findings have important implications in debates regarding the history of settlement permanence, population growth, and carrying capacity in the Amazon basin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Activities and Development of Food Production in the Holocene)
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Article
Prey Size Decline as a Unifying Ecological Selecting Agent in Pleistocene Human Evolution
Quaternary 2021, 4(1), 7; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4010007 - 19 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 13706
Abstract
We hypothesize that megafauna extinctions throughout the Pleistocene, that led to a progressive decline in large prey availability, were a primary selecting agent in key evolutionary and cultural changes in human prehistory. The Pleistocene human past is characterized by a series of transformations [...] Read more.
We hypothesize that megafauna extinctions throughout the Pleistocene, that led to a progressive decline in large prey availability, were a primary selecting agent in key evolutionary and cultural changes in human prehistory. The Pleistocene human past is characterized by a series of transformations that include the evolution of new physiological traits and the adoption, assimilation, and replacement of cultural and behavioral patterns. Some changes, such as brain expansion, use of fire, developments in stone-tool technologies, or the scale of resource intensification, were uncharacteristically progressive. We previously hypothesized that humans specialized in acquiring large prey because of their higher foraging efficiency, high biomass density, higher fat content, and the use of less complex tools for their acquisition. Here, we argue that the need to mitigate the additional energetic cost of acquiring progressively smaller prey may have been an ecological selecting agent in fundamental adaptive modes demonstrated in the Paleolithic archaeological record. We describe several potential associations between prey size decline and specific evolutionary and cultural changes that might have been driven by the need to adapt to increased energetic demands while hunting and processing smaller and smaller game. Full article
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Review
Lake Sedimentary DNA Research on Past Terrestrial and Aquatic Biodiversity: Overview and Recommendations
Quaternary 2021, 4(1), 6; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4010006 - 13 Feb 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3333
Abstract
The use of lake sedimentary DNA to track the long-term changes in both terrestrial and aquatic biota is a rapidly advancing field in paleoecological research. Although largely applied nowadays, knowledge gaps remain in this field and there is therefore still research to be [...] Read more.
The use of lake sedimentary DNA to track the long-term changes in both terrestrial and aquatic biota is a rapidly advancing field in paleoecological research. Although largely applied nowadays, knowledge gaps remain in this field and there is therefore still research to be conducted to ensure the reliability of the sedimentary DNA signal. Building on the most recent literature and seven original case studies, we synthesize the state-of-the-art analytical procedures for effective sampling, extraction, amplification, quantification and/or generation of DNA inventories from sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) via high-throughput sequencing technologies. We provide recommendations based on current knowledge and best practises. Full article
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Article
Late Middle—Early Late Pleistocene Mammoths from the Lower Don River Region (Russia)
Quaternary 2021, 4(1), 5; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4010005 - 03 Feb 2021
Viewed by 1290
Abstract
The remains of “early” mammoths from a number of localities of the late Middle—early Late Pleistocene on the territory of the South of European Russia (the basin of the Don River, Rostov Region) are described. The description of the teeth and bones of [...] Read more.
The remains of “early” mammoths from a number of localities of the late Middle—early Late Pleistocene on the territory of the South of European Russia (the basin of the Don River, Rostov Region) are described. The description of the teeth and bones of a postcranial skeleton is given. Teeth characteristics (number of plates, lamellar frequency and enamel thickness) allow determining the finds as Mammuthus intermedius, described from the territory of France but known from other regions of Western Europe and Western Siberia as well. In Eastern Europe, this form was a typical representative of the Khazarian theriocomplex and existed during the MIS 5–7 interval. This mammoth taxon differs noticeably from the typical woolly mammoth M. primigenius, which appeared in continental Europe during MIS 4. Full article
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Review
Disentangling Domestication from Food Production Systems in the Neotropics
Quaternary 2021, 4(1), 4; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4010004 - 28 Jan 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2383
Abstract
The Neolithic Revolution narrative associates early-mid Holocene domestications with the development of agriculture that fueled the rise of late Holocene civilizations. This narrative continues to be influential, even though it has been deconstructed by archaeologists and geneticists in its homeland. To further disentangle [...] Read more.
The Neolithic Revolution narrative associates early-mid Holocene domestications with the development of agriculture that fueled the rise of late Holocene civilizations. This narrative continues to be influential, even though it has been deconstructed by archaeologists and geneticists in its homeland. To further disentangle domestication from reliance on food production systems, such as agriculture, we revisit definitions of domestication and food production systems, review the late Pleistocene–early Holocene archaeobotanical record, and quantify the use, management and domestication of Neotropical plants to provide insights about the past. Neotropical plant domestication relies on common human behaviors (selection, accumulation and caring) within agroecological systems that focus on individual plants, rather than populations—as is typical of agriculture. The early archaeobotanical record includes numerous perennial and annual species, many of which later became domesticated. Some of this evidence identifies dispersal with probable cultivation, suggesting incipient domestication by 10,000 years ago. Since the Pleistocene, more than 6500, 1206 and 6261 native plant species have been used in Mesoamerica, the Central Andes and lowland South America, respectively. At least 1555, 428 and 742 are managed outside and inside food production systems, and at least 1148, 428 and 600 are cultivated, respectively, suggesting at least incipient domestication. Full native domesticates are more numerous in Mesoamerica (251) than the Andes (124) and the lowlands (45). This synthesis reveals that domestication is more common in the Neotropics than previously recognized and started much earlier than reliance on food production systems. Hundreds of ethnic groups had, and some still have, alternative strategies that do involve domestication, although they do not rely principally on food production systems, such as agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Activities and Development of Food Production in the Holocene)
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Article
Early Grain Cultivation and Starting Processes in the Japanese Archipelago
Quaternary 2021, 4(1), 3; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4010003 - 27 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1401
Abstract
This paper presents a specific examination of the introduction of grain cultivation and the processes of development in the Japanese Archipelago. In fact, no definitive archaeological evidence has been found that Jomon hunter–gatherers cultivated grain in the Japanese Archipelago; the earliest potential evidence [...] Read more.
This paper presents a specific examination of the introduction of grain cultivation and the processes of development in the Japanese Archipelago. In fact, no definitive archaeological evidence has been found that Jomon hunter–gatherers cultivated grain in the Japanese Archipelago; the earliest potential evidence of grain is a stamp mark of rice on the surface of a final late-Jomon, in about 11th century BC, pottery found at the Itaya 3 site in Shimane Prefecture. Current evidence indicates that the first grain cultivation was started by Jomon people who adopted irrigated wet rice cultivation that had arrived from the Korean Peninsula to northern parts of Kyushu, and gradually spread eastward thereafter. This study specifically examines four regions, including northern Kyushu, Kinki, southern Kanto, and northern Tohoku, in order to investigate the processes of grain cultivation initiation and spread. First, the years during which wet rice cultivation started in each region are estimated based on carbon-14 dating of earthenware types used during that period. Secondly, the timing of the spread of wet rice cultivation has been estimated based on carbon-14 dating of earthenware. Subsequently, differences in the periods between the initiation and dissemination of wet rice cultivation were estimated. Results suggest that dissemination took place over approximately 250 years in northern Kyushu, where wet rice cultivation first started. The time required for adoption decreased gradually as the trend moved eastward. It was estimated to have taken approximately 150 years in Kinki and 20–30 years in southern Kanto, taking place at about the same time. A factor, significantly contributing to such differences in timing and development processes among regions, was likely the relationship between the first farmers who introduced wet rice farming and the indigenous hunter–gatherers who lived there. Full article
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Editorial
Acknowledgment to Reviewers of Quaternary in 2020
Quaternary 2021, 4(1), 2; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4010002 - 26 Jan 2021
Viewed by 718
Abstract
Peer review is the driving force of journal development, and reviewers are gatekeepers who ensure that Quaternary maintains its standards for the high quality of its published papers [...] Full article
Article
Dating of the Lower Pleistocene Vertebrate Site of Tsiotra Vryssi (Mygdonia Basin, Greece): Biochronology, Magnetostratigraphy, and Cosmogenic Radionuclides
Quaternary 2021, 4(1), 1; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4010001 - 08 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1411
Abstract
Background and scope: The late Villafranchian large mammal age (~2.0–1.2 Ma) of the Early Pleistocene is a crucial interval of time for mammal/hominin migrations and faunal turnovers in western Eurasia. However, an accurate chronological framework for the Balkans and adjacent territories is still [...] Read more.
Background and scope: The late Villafranchian large mammal age (~2.0–1.2 Ma) of the Early Pleistocene is a crucial interval of time for mammal/hominin migrations and faunal turnovers in western Eurasia. However, an accurate chronological framework for the Balkans and adjacent territories is still missing, preventing pan-European biogeographic correlations and schemes. In this article, we report the first detailed chronological scheme for the late Villafranchian of southeastern Europe through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary dating approach (biochronology, magnetostratigraphy, and cosmogenic radionuclides) of the recently discovered Lower Pleistocene vertebrate site Tsiotra Vryssi (TSR) in the Mygdonia Basin, Greece. Results: The minimum burial ages (1.88 ± 0.16 Ma, 2.10 ± 0.18 Ma, and 1.98 ± 0.18 Ma) provided by the method of cosmogenic radionuclides indicate that the normal magnetic polarity identified below the fossiliferous layer correlates to the Olduvai subchron (1.95–1.78 Ma; C2n). Therefore, an age younger than 1.78 Ma is indicated for the fossiliferous layer, which was deposited during reverse polarity chron C1r. These results are in agreement with the biochronological data, which further point to an upper age limit at ~1.5 Ma. Overall, an age between 1.78 and ~1.5 Ma (i.e., within the first part of the late Villafranchian) is proposed for the TSR fauna. Conclusions: Our results not only provide age constraints for the local mammal faunal succession, thus allowing for a better understanding of faunal changes within the same sedimentary basin, but also contribute to improving correlations on a broader scale, leading to more accurate biogeographic, palaeoecological, and taphonomic interpretations. Full article
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