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Concept: Bone


To examine the evidence underpinning recommendations to increase calcium intake through dietary sources or calcium supplements to prevent fractures.

Concepts: Osteoporosis, Bone, Bone fracture, Fracture, Calcium


Evidence of interpersonal violence has been documented previously in Pleistocene members of the genus Homo, but only very rarely has this been posited as the possible manner of death. Here we report the earliest evidence of lethal interpersonal violence in the hominin fossil record. Cranium 17 recovered from the Sima de los Huesos Middle Pleistocene site shows two clear perimortem depression fractures on the frontal bone, interpreted as being produced by two episodes of localized blunt force trauma. The type of injuries, their location, the strong similarity of the fractures in shape and size, and the different orientations and implied trajectories of the two fractures suggest they were produced with the same object in face-to-face interpersonal conflict. Given that either of the two traumatic events was likely lethal, the presence of multiple blows implies an intention to kill. This finding shows that the lethal interpersonal violence is an ancient human behavior and has important implications for the accumulation of bodies at the site, supporting an anthropic origin.

Concepts: Psychology, Bone, Human, Skull, Human behavior, Terrorism, Human evolution, Hominina


To determine whether increasing calcium intake from dietary sources affects bone mineral density (BMD) and, if so, whether the effects are similar to those of calcium supplements.

Concepts: Osteoporosis, Bone, Vitamin D, Apatite, Water, Magnesium, Calcium, Calcium carbonate


Modern humans replaced Neandertals ∼40,000 y ago. Close to the time of replacement, Neandertals show behaviors similar to those of the modern humans arriving into Europe, including the use of specialized bone tools, body ornaments, and small blades. It is highly debated whether these modern behaviors developed before or as a result of contact with modern humans. Here we report the identification of a type of specialized bone tool, lissoir, previously only associated with modern humans. The microwear preserved on one of these lissoir is consistent with the use of lissoir in modern times to obtain supple, lustrous, and more impermeable hides. These tools are from a Neandertal context proceeding the replacement period and are the oldest specialized bone tools in Europe. As such, they are either a demonstration of independent invention by Neandertals or an indication that modern humans started influencing European Neandertals much earlier than previously believed. Because these finds clearly predate the oldest known age for the use of similar objects in Europe by anatomically modern humans, they could also be evidence for cultural diffusion from Neandertals to modern humans.

Concepts: Bone, Human, Chimpanzee, Neanderthal, Human evolution, Humans, Bone products, Bone tool


The preparation and consumption of bone broth is being increasingly recommended to patients, for example as part of the gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) diet for autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression and schizophrenia, and as part of the paleolithic diet. However, bones are known to sequester the heavy metal lead, contamination with which is widespread throughout the modern environment. Such sequestered lead can then be mobilised from the bones. We therefore hypothesised that bone broth might carry a risk of being contaminated with lead. A small, blinded, controlled study of lead concentrations in three different types of organic chicken broth showed that such broths do indeed contain several times the lead concentration of the water with which the broth is made. In particular, broth made from skin and cartilage taken off the bone once the chicken had been cooked with the bones in situ, and chicken-bone broth, were both found to have markedly high lead concentrations, of 9.5 and 7.01μgL(-1), respectively (compared with a control value for tap water treated in the same way of 0.89μgL(-1)). In view of the dangers of lead consumption to the human body, we recommend that doctors and nutritionists take the risk of lead contamination into consideration when advising patients about bone broth diets.

Concepts: Bone, Educational psychology, Human body, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Hyperactivity, Heavy metal music, Heavy metal, Broth


We have examined the remains of a Pilgrim burial from St Mary Magdalen, Winchester. The individual was a young adult male, aged around 18-25 years at the time of death. Radiocarbon dating showed the remains dated to the late 11th-early 12th centuries, a time when pilgrimages were at their height in Europe. Several lines of evidence in connection with the burial suggested this was an individual of some means and prestige. Although buried within the leprosarium cemetery, the skeleton showed only minimal skeletal evidence for leprosy, which was confined to the bones of the feet and legs. Nonetheless, molecular testing of several skeletal elements, including uninvolved bones all showed robust evidence of DNA from Mycobacterium leprae, consistent with the lepromatous or multibacillary form of the disease. We infer that in life, this individual almost certainly suffered with multiple soft tissue lesions. Genotyping of the M.leprae strain showed this belonged to the 2F lineage, today associated with cases from South-Central and Western Asia. During osteological examination it was noted that the cranium and facial features displayed atypical morphology for northern European populations. Subsequently, geochemical isotopic analyses carried out on tooth enamel indicated that this individual was indeed not local to the Winchester region, although it was not possible to be more specific about their geographic origin.

Concepts: Bone, Mycobacterium, Isotope, Skeleton, Leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae, The Passion of the Christ, Mary Magdalene


We provide evidence that citrate anions bridge between mineral platelets in bone and hypothesize that their presence acts to maintain separate platelets with disordered regions between them rather than gradual transformations into larger, more ordered blocks of mineral. To assess this hypothesis, we take as a model for a citrate bridging between layers of calcium phosphate mineral a double salt octacalcium phosphate citrate (OCP-citrate). We use a combination of multinuclear solid-state NMR spectroscopy, powder X-ray diffraction, and first principles electronic structure calculations to propose a quantitative structure for this material, in which citrate anions reside in a hydrated layer, bridging between apatitic layers. To assess the relevance of such a structure in native bone mineral, we present for the first time, to our knowledge, (17)O NMR data on bone and compare them with (17)O NMR data for OCP-citrate and other calcium phosphate minerals relevant to bone. The proposed structural model that we deduce from this work for bone mineral is a layered structure with thin apatitic platelets sandwiched between OCP-citrate-like hydrated layers. Such a structure can explain a number of known structural features of bone mineral: the thin, plate-like morphology of mature bone mineral crystals, the presence of significant quantities of strongly bound water molecules, and the relatively high concentration of hydrogen phosphate as well as the maintenance of a disordered region between mineral platelets.

Concepts: DNA, Scientific method, Bone, Apatite, Water, Phosphate, Phosphorus, Salt


BACKGROUND: Cycling is considered to be a highly beneficial sport for significantly enhancing cardiovascular fitness in individuals, yet studies show little or no corresponding improvements in bone mass. METHODS: A scientific literature search on studies discussing bone mass and bone metabolism in cyclists was performed to collect all relevant published material up to April 2012. Descriptive, cross-sectional, longitudinal and interventional studies were all reviewed. Inclusion criteria were met by 31 studies. RESULTS: Heterogeneous studies in terms of gender, age, data source, group of comparison, cycling level or modality practiced among others factors showed minor but important differences in results. Despite some controversial results, it has been observed that adult road cyclists participating in regular training have low bone mineral density in key regions (for example, lumbar spine). Conversely, other types of cycling (such as mountain biking), or combination with other sports could reduce this unsafe effect. These results cannot yet be explained by differences in dietary patterns or endocrine factors. CONCLUSIONS: From our comprehensive survey of the current available literature it can be concluded that road cycling does not appear to confer any significant osteogenic benefit. The cause of this may be related to spending long hours in a weight-supported position on the bike in combination with the necessary enforced recovery time that involves a large amount of time sitting or lying supine, especially at the competitive level. See related commentary

Concepts: Osteoporosis, Bone, Bone density, Density, Skeletal system, Lumbar vertebrae, Cycling, Bicycle


A second nearly complete, articulated specimen of the basal troodontid Mei long (DNHM D2154) is reported from the Early Cretaceous (Hauterivian-Valanginian) lower Yixian Formation, Liaoning Province, China. New diagnostic features of Mei long are identified, including: a uniquely shaped maxilla, low with small, low maxillary fenestra; sacrum with an extremely wide caudal portion and elongate 4(th) and 5(th) sacral processes; and a large distal articular surface on the tibiotarsus which continues caudally on the tibia. A phylogenetic analysis including new data from the second specimen recovered Mei as a basal troodontid, in keeping with previous analyses. Although the skeleton exhibits several juvenile-like features including free cervical ribs, unfused frontals and nasals, and a short snouted skull, other attributes, full fusion of all neurocentral synostoses and the sacrum, and dense exteriors to cortical bone, suggest a small, mature individual. Microscopic examination of tibia and fibula histology confirms maturity and suggests an individual greater than two years old with slowed growth. Despite being one of the smallest dinosaurs, Mei long exhibits multi-year growth and cortical bone consisting largely of fibro-lamellar tissue marked by lines of arrested growth as in much larger and more basal theropods. This Mei long specimen lies in a similar but mirrored sleeping position to that of the holotype, strengthening the hypothesis that both specimens were preserved in a stereotypical life position. Like many Liaoning specimens, the new specimen also lacks extensive taphonomic and stratigraphic data, making further behavioral inference problematic.

Concepts: Bone, Biology, Cretaceous, Liaoning, Dinosaur, Mei, Yixian Formation, Troodontidae


Bone loss caused by ionizing radiation is a potential health concern for radiotherapy patients, radiation workers and astronauts. In animal studies, exposure to ionizing radiation increases oxidative damage in skeletal tissues, and results in an imbalance in bone remodeling initiated by increased bone-resorbing osteoclasts. Therefore, we evaluated various candidate interventions with antioxidant or anti-inflammatory activities (antioxidant cocktail, dihydrolipoic acid, ibuprofen, dried plum) both for their ability to blunt the expression of resorption-related genes in marrow cells after irradiation with either gamma rays (photons, 2 Gy) or simulated space radiation (protons and heavy ions, 1 Gy) and to prevent bone loss. Dried plum was most effective in reducing the expression of genes related to bone resorption (Nfe2l2, Rankl, Mcp1, Opg, TNF-α) and also preventing later cancellous bone decrements caused by irradiation with either photons or heavy ions. Thus, dietary supplementation with DP may prevent the skeletal effects of radiation exposures either in space or on Earth.

Concepts: Electron, Bone, Cancer, Ionizing radiation, Bacteria, Skeletal system, Atom, Osteoclast