An old grave in Austria could represent the oldest burial of twins, according to a new study.
The 31,000 year old burial dates from the Upper Paleolithic (a period of 40,000 to 10,000 years), also known as the Paleolithic. One of the infants died shortly after birth, while her twin brother lived about 50 days, or just over 7 weeks, according to scans of the two babies.
A third baby, a 3 month old, buried in a grave about five feet away, is likely her cousin. This is evident from the study published online in the journal November 6th. Communication biology.
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In 2005, the researchers discovered the oval burial of the twins at the archaeological site Krems-Wachtberg on the banks of the Danube near downtown Krems. The remains of the baby twins were covered with ocher, a red pigment commonly used in ancient burials around the world. The double burial also contained 53 pearls from mammoth Ivory, probably once strung on a necklace, and a Fox Incisor and three perforated mollusks that may have been necklace pendants, the researchers said. A mammoth shoulder blade above the burial site has protected the small bodies buried underneath for thousands of years.
The burial near the other baby also contained ocher, as well as a 3-inch mammoth ivory needle that may have a leather garment attached at the time of the burial, the researchers said.
The discovery hit the headlines shortly after its discovery, and the researchers even created a replica of the twin burial that was exhibited in the Natural History Museum in Vienna in 2013. Scientists had done so, however, there is still much to be learned about ancient burials. In the new project, an interdisciplinary group of researchers has come together to decipher the relationship between these three infants and to determine their gender and age at death.
The study is the first to be recorded DNA To confirm the twins on archaeological records, the researchers said. And not just any twins, but identical twins.
This is the “first evidence of a twin birth,” according to lead researcher Ron Pinhasi, associate professor at the Institute for Evolutionary Biology at the University of Vienna. said in a press release (translated from German with Google Translate). Researchers don’t know how common twin births were in the Upper Paleolithic (rate varies by region and time), but today, twins (identical and fraternal) occur in about 1 in 85 births that identical twins are born in about 1 in 250 births.
“Uncovering multiple burials from the Paleolithic is a specialty in itself,” said study director Maria Teschler-Nicola, biologist at the Vienna Natural History Museum, in the statement. “The fact that sufficiently old, high-quality DNA can be extracted from the fragile child Skeleton- remains for a genome analysis exceeded our expectations and can be compared to a lottery ticket. “”
A genetic analysis of the third child revealed that it was a third degree male relative, likely a cousin.
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To determine the age at which the babies died, the researchers examined each baby’s second upper incisor. The team paid particular attention to the so-called “newborn line”, a dark line in the tooth enamel that separates the tooth enamel formed before birth from that formed after birth, said Teschler. Nicola.
These newborn lines, along with the infants’ skeletal development, suggested that the twins were full or short term babies. It appears that the little hunter-gatherer group buried the first twin and then reopened the grave when they buried his brother.
The finding confirms the cultural-historical practice of reopening a grave for burial purposes, which had never been documented at a Paleolithic burial, the researchers said.
The team also analyzed chemical elements, including isotopes of carbon, nitrogen and barium in the enamel, showing that each of the twins was breastfed. Although the twins’ cousin survived three months, “stress lines” in his teeth suggest he was having trouble feeding, possibly because his mother had a painful breast infection known as mastitis or perhaps because she did not survive childbirth .
It is not known exactly why these infants died, but the death of these twins and their cousin was likely a painful event for this group of Paleolithic hunters and gatherers who set up camp there and buried their babies on the Danube. has been so long “Babies were obviously of special importance to the group and were highly regarded and valued,” Teschler-Nicola told 45Seconds.fr. The extraordinary burials “seem to imply that the death of the babies was a great loss to the community and its survival.”
Originally posted on 45Seconds.fr.
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