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Palaeoproteomic evidence identifies archaic hominins associated with the Châtelperronian at the Grotte du Renne

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  • Frido Welker
  • Mateja Hajdinjak
  • Sahra Talamo
  • Klervia Jaouen
  • Michael Dannemann
  • Francine David
  • Michèle Julien
  • Matthias Meyer
  • Janet Kelso
  • Ian Barnes
  • Selina Brace
  • Pepijn Kamminga
  • Roman Fischer
  • Benedikt M Kessler
  • John R Stewart
  • Svante Pääbo
  • Matthew J Collins
  • Jean-Jacques Hublin


Publication details

JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
DateAccepted/In press - 29 Jul 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 16 Sep 2016
DatePublished (current) - 4 Oct 2016
Issue number40
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)11162–11167
Early online date16/09/16
Original languageEnglish


In Western Europe, the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition is associated with the disappearance of Neandertals and the spread of anatomically modern humans (AMHs). Current chronological, behavioral, and biological models of this transitional period hinge on the Châtelperronian technocomplex. At the site of the Grotte du Renne, Arcy-sur-Cure, morphological Neandertal specimens are not directly dated but are contextually associated with the Châtelperronian, which contains bone points and beads. The association between Neandertals and this "transitional" assemblage has been controversial because of the lack either of a direct hominin radiocarbon date or of molecular confirmation of the Neandertal affiliation. Here we provide further evidence for a Neandertal-Châtelperronian association at the Grotte du Renne through biomolecular and chronological analysis. We identified 28 additional hominin specimens through zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry (ZooMS) screening of morphologically uninformative bone specimens from Châtelperronian layers at the Grotte du Renne. Next, we obtain an ancient hominin bone proteome through liquid chromatography-MS/MS analysis and error-tolerant amino acid sequence analysis. Analysis of this palaeoproteome allows us to provide phylogenetic and physiological information on these ancient hominin specimens. We distinguish Late Pleistocene clades within the genus Homo based on ancient protein evidence through the identification of an archaic-derived amino acid sequence for the collagen type X, alpha-1 (COL10α1) protein. We support this by obtaining ancient mtDNA sequences, which indicate a Neandertal ancestry for these specimens. Direct accelerator mass spectometry radiocarbon dating and Bayesian modeling confirm that the hominin specimens date to the Châtelperronian at the Grotte du Renne.

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© 2016, The Authors.This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

    Research areas

  • Châtelperronian, Neandertal, Palaeoproteomics, ZooMS, DNA, Mitochondrial/genetics, Hominidae/metabolism, Humans, Carbon Isotopes, Paleontology, Bone and Bones/anatomy & histology, Archaeology, Tandem Mass Spectrometry, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide/genetics, Animals, Radiometric Dating, Collagen Type X, Alleles, Bayes Theorem, Chromatography, Liquid, Proteomics/methods, France

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