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Concept: Circumstantial evidence


Here we present evidence of phytoliths preserved in carbonised food deposits on prehistoric pottery from the western Baltic dating from 6,100 cal BP to 5750 cal BP. Based on comparisons to over 120 European and Asian species, our observations are consistent with phytolith morphologies observed in modern garlic mustard seed (Alliaria petiolata (M. Bieb) Cavara & Grande). As this seed has a strong flavour, little nutritional value, and the phytoliths are found in pots along with terrestrial and marine animal residues, these findings are the first direct evidence for the spicing of food in European prehistoric cuisine. Our evidence suggests a much greater antiquity to the spicing of foods than is evident from the macrofossil record, and challenges the view that plants were exploited by hunter-gatherers and early agriculturalists solely for energy requirements, rather than taste.

Concepts: Plant, Food, Taste, Flavor, Plant morphology, Cooking, Circumstantial evidence, Spices


The two major modes of locomotion in humans, walking and running, may be regarded as a function of different speed (walking as slower and running as faster). Recent results using motor learning tasks in humans, as well as more direct evidence from animal models, advocate for independence in the neural control mechanisms underlying different locomotion tasks. In the current study, we investigated the possible independence of the neural mechanisms underlying human walking and running. Subjects were tested on a split-belt treadmill and adapted to walking or running on an asymmetrically driven treadmill surface. Despite the acquisition of asymmetrical movement patterns in the respective modes, the emergence of asymmetrical movement patterns in the subsequent trials was evident only within the same modes (walking after learning to walk and running after learning to run) and only partial in the opposite modes (walking after learning to run and running after learning to walk) (thus transferred only limitedly across the modes). Further, the storage of the acquired movement pattern in each mode was maintained independently of the opposite mode. Combined, these results provide indirect evidence for independence in the neural control mechanisms underlying the two locomotive modes.

Concepts: Transport, Running, Walking, Locomotion, Circumstantial evidence, Treadmill, Animal locomotion, Human skills


We analyze a radius bone fragment of a raven (Corvus corax) from Zaskalnaya VI rock shelter, Crimea. The object bears seven notches and comes from an archaeological level attributed to a Micoquian industry dated to between 38 and 43 cal kyr BP. Our study aims to examine the degree of regularity and intentionality of this set of notches through their technological and morphometric analysis, complemented by comparative experimental work. Microscopic analysis of the notches indicate that they were produced by the to-and-fro movement of a lithic cutting edge and that two notches were added to fill in the gap left between previously cut notches, probably to increase the visual consistency of the pattern. Multivariate analysis of morphometric data recorded on the archaeological notches and sets of notches cut by nine modern experimenters on radii of domestic turkeys shows that the variations recorded on the Zaskalnaya set are comparable to experimental sets made with the aim of producing similar, parallel, equidistant notches. Identification of the Weber Fraction, the constant that accounts for error in human perception, for equidistant notches cut on bone rods and its application to the Zaskalnaya set of notches and thirty-six sets of notches incised on seventeen Upper Palaeolithic bone objects from seven sites indicate that the Zaskalnaya set falls within the range of variation of regularly spaced experimental and Upper Palaeolithic sets of notches. This suggests that even if the production of the notches may have had a utilitarian reason the notches were made with the goal of producing a visually consistent pattern. This object represents the first instance of a bird bone from a Neanderthal site bearing modifications that cannot be explained as the result of butchery activities and for which a symbolic argument can be built on direct rather than circumstantial evidence.

Concepts: Bird, Perception, Mind, Evidence, Stone Age, Circumstantial evidence, Upper Paleolithic, Middle Paleolithic


Drowning is infrequently reported as a cause of death of wild birds and such incidents typically involve individual, rather than multiple, birds. Over a 21-year period (1993 to 2013 inclusive), we investigated 12 incidents of mortality of multiple (2 - 80+) Common starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in Great Britain that appeared to be due to drowning. More than ten birds were affected in ten of these reported incidents. These incidents always occurred during the spring and early summer months and usually involved juvenile birds. In all cases, circumstantial evidence and post-mortem examinations indicated drowning to be the most likely cause of death with no underlying disease found. A behavioural explanation seems likely, possibly related to the gregarious nature of this species combined with juvenile inexperience in identifying water hazards. A review of data from the ringed bird recovery scheme across Great Britain (1909-2013 inclusive) of both starlings and Common blackbirds (Turdus merula), also a common garden visitor, identified additional suspected drowning incidents, which were significantly more common in the former species, supporting a species predisposition to drowning. For each species there was a marked seasonal peak from April to August. Drowning should be included as a differential diagnosis when investigating incidents of multiple starling mortality, especially of juveniles.

Concepts: Death, Bird, Autopsy, Evidence, Circumstantial evidence, European Starling, Starling, Bird migration


Strangulation is generally considered as homicidal death and in accidental strangulation circumstantial evidence alone can point toward the accidental nature of incidence. In present case, a 71-year-old woman, wearing a saree (garment worn by traditional women in India) working in agricultural field, got entangled in the crop thrasher machine and got strangled. Immediately, she was taken to the nearest hospital, where she survived for 6 to 8 hours and then died. The autopsy reveals cross ribbon-shaped ligature mark on neck and anterior chest along with 1 puncture wound at the right lateral aspect of the neck. A lack of proper precaution and safety measures at agricultural field are other contributing factors. Accidental strangulation by saree is extremely rare, hence, this case is presented for its rarity and pattern of injury.

Concepts: Death, Injury, Wound, Woman, Evidence, Circumstantial evidence, Evidence law, Year of birth missing


Whereas the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) has low active dispersal capabilities, its worldwide colonization has been rapid. Indirect evidence and informal reports have long implicated passive transportation in cars, but this has not previously been studied systematically given the difficulties of real-time roadside surveys. Here we report the first sampling study confirming that adult tiger mosquitoes travel with humans in cars and enabling us to estimate the frequency of these events. We combine the results with citizen science data to model the car-facilitated dispersal of Aedes albopictus at a nationwide level. During the summer of 2015, we sampled 770 cars in north-eastern Spain, discovering 4 adult female tiger mosquitoes that had entered cars prior to sampling. Our Bayesian model suggests that of the 6.5 million daily car trips in the Barcelona metropolitan area, between 13,000 and 71,500 facilitate tiger mosquito movement, and that Barcelona is the largest source of inter-province tiger mosquito transfers in Spain. Our results are supported by expert-validated citizen science data, and will contribute to better understanding the tiger mosquito’s invasion process and ultimately lead to more effective vector control strategies.

Concepts: Mosquito, Yellow fever, Aedes, Culicidae, Pest insects, Asian tiger mosquito, Circumstantial evidence, Barcelona


Delirium is characterized by acute changes in mental status including inattention, disorganized thinking, and altered level of consciousness, and is highly prevalent in critically ill adults. Delirium has adverse consequences for both patients and the healthcare system; however, at this time, no effective treatment exists. The identification of effective prevention strategies is therefore a clinical and research imperative. An important limitation of previous reviews of delirium prevention is that interventions were considered in isolation and only direct evidence was used. Our systematic review will synthesize all existing data using network meta-analysis, a powerful statistical approach that enables synthesis of both direct and indirect evidence.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Critical thinking, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Avicenna, Meta-analysis, Circumstantial evidence


Post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome (PI-IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by persistent abdominal pain despite recovery from acute gastroenteritis. The underlying mechanisms are unclear, although long-term changes in neuronal function, and low grade inflammation of the bowel have been hypothesized. We investigated the presence and mechanism of neuronal sensitization in a unique cohort of individuals who developed PI-IBS following exposure to contaminated drinking water 7 years ago. We provide direct evidence of ongoing sensitization of neuronal signaling in the bowel of patients with PI-IBS. These changes occur in the absence of any detectable tissue inflammation, and instead appear to be driven by pro-nociceptive changes in the gut micro-environment. This is evidenced by the activation of murine colonic afferents, and sensitization responses to capsaicin in dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) following application of supernatants generated from tissue biopsy of patients with PI-IBS. We demonstrate that neuronal signaling within the bowel of PI-IBS patients is sensitized 2 years after the initial infection has resolved. This sensitization appears to be mediated by a persistent pro-nociceptive change in the gut micro-environment, that has the capacity to stimulate visceral afferents and facilitate neuronal TRPV1 signaling.

Concepts: Inflammation, Nervous system, Dorsal root ganglion, Abdominal pain, Gastroenterology, Irritable bowel syndrome, Capsaicin, Circumstantial evidence


This article describes conceptual advances of the Grading of Recommendations Assessments, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) working group guidance to evaluate certainty of evidence (confidence in evidence, quality of evidence) from network meta-analysis (NMA). Application of the original GRADE guidance, published in 2014, in a number of NMAs has resulted in advances that strengthen its conceptual basis and make the process more efficient. This guidance will be useful for systematic reviewer authors who aim to assess the certainty of all pairwise comparisons from an NMA and who are familiar with the basic concepts of NMA and the traditional GRADE approach for pairwise meta-analysis. Two principles of the original GRADE NMA guidance are that we need to rate the certainty of the evidence for each pairwise comparison within a network separately, and that in doing so we need to consider both the direct and indirect evidence. We present, discuss, and illustrate four conceptual advances: 1) Consideration of imprecision is not necessary when rating the direct and indirect estimates to inform the rating of NMA estimates, 2) There is no need to rate the indirect evidence when the certainty of the direct evidence is high and the contribution of the direct evidence to the network estimate is at least as great as that of the indirect evidence, 3) We should not trust a statistical test of global incoherence of the network to assess incoherence at the pairwise comparison level, and 4) In the presence of incoherence between direct and indirect evidence, the certainty of the evidence of each estimate can help decide which estimate to believe.

Concepts: Estimator, Evaluation, Psychometrics, Preference, Circumstantial evidence, Pairwise comparison


We describe the first known occurrence of a Devonian coelacanth specimen from the lower Famennian of the Holy Cross Mountains, Poland, with a conodont element preserved in its digestive tract. A small spiral and phosphatic coprolite (fossil excrement) containing numerous conodont elements and other unrecognized remains was also found in the same deposits. The coprolite is tentatively attributed to the coelacanth. Although it is unclear whether the Late Devonian coelacanth from Poland was an active predator or a scavenger, these finds provide the first direct evidence of feeding on conodont animals by early coelacanth fish, and one of the few evidences of feeding on these animals known to date. It also expands our knowledge about the diet and trophic relations between the Paleozoic marine animals in general.

Concepts: Fish, Animal, Vertebrate, Fossil, Coelacanth, Circumstantial evidence, Evidence law, Mount of the Holy Cross