Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Iberian Peninsula


The rapid Arab-Islamic conquest during the early Middle Ages led to major political and cultural changes in the Mediterranean world. Although the early medieval Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula is now well documented, based in the evaluation of archeological and historical sources, the Muslim expansion in the area north of the Pyrenees has only been documented so far through textual sources or rare archaeological data. Our study provides the first archaeo-anthropological testimony of the Muslim establishment in South of France through the multidisciplinary analysis of three graves excavated at Nimes. First, we argue in favor of burials that followed Islamic rites and then note the presence of a community practicing Muslim traditions in Nimes. Second, the radiometric dates obtained from all three human skeletons (between the 7th and the 9th centuries AD) echo historical sources documenting an early Muslim presence in southern Gaul (i.e., the first half of 8th century AD). Finally, palaeogenomic analyses conducted on the human remains provide arguments in favor of a North African ancestry of the three individuals, at least considering the paternal lineages. Given all of these data, we propose that the skeletons from the Nimes burials belonged to Berbers integrated into the Umayyad army during the Arab expansion in North Africa. Our discovery not only discusses the first anthropological and genetic data concerning the Muslim occupation of the Visigothic territory of Septimania but also highlights the complexity of the relationship between the two communities during this period.

Concepts: North Africa, Iberian Peninsula, Al-Andalus, Spain, Islam, Italy, Archaeology, 1st millennium


The extent and nature of symbolic behavior among Neandertals are obscure. Although evidence for Neandertal body ornamentation has been proposed, all cave painting has been attributed to modern humans. Here we present dating results for three sites in Spain that show that cave art emerged in Iberia substantially earlier than previously thought. Uranium-thorium (U-Th) dates on carbonate crusts overlying paintings provide minimum ages for a red linear motif in La Pasiega (Cantabria), a hand stencil in Maltravieso (Extremadura), and red-painted speleothems in Ardales (Andalucía). Collectively, these results show that cave art in Iberia is older than 64.8 thousand years (ka). This cave art is the earliest dated so far and predates, by at least 20 ka, the arrival of modern humans in Europe, which implies Neandertal authorship.

Concepts: Human, Iberian Peninsula, Spain, Neanderthal, Cave, Painting, Cave painting, Cantabria


While Phoenician culture and trade networks had a significant impact on Western civilizations, we know little about the Phoenicians themselves. In 1994, a Punic burial crypt was discovered on Byrsa Hill, near the entry to the National Museum of Carthage in Tunisia. Inside this crypt were the remains of a young man along with a range of burial goods, all dating to the late 6th century BCE. Here we describe the complete mitochondrial genome recovered from the Young Man of Byrsa and identify that he carried a rare European haplogroup, likely linking his maternal ancestry to Phoenician influenced locations somewhere on the North Mediterranean coast, the islands of the Mediterranean or the Iberian Peninsula. This result not only provides the first direct ancient DNA evidence of a Phoenician individual but the earliest evidence of a European mitochondrial haplogroup, U5b2c1, in North Africa.

Concepts: Mediterranean Sea, Iberian Peninsula, Spain, Tunisia, Morocco, Ancient Rome, Carthage, Phoenicia


The consequences of the Neolithic transition in Europe-one of the most important cultural changes in human prehistory-is a subject of great interest. However, its effect on prehistoric and modern-day people in Iberia, the westernmost frontier of the European continent, remains unresolved. We present, to our knowledge, the first genome-wide sequence data from eight human remains, dated to between 5,500 and 3,500 years before present, excavated in the El Portalón cave at Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain. We show that these individuals emerged from the same ancestral gene pool as early farmers in other parts of Europe, suggesting that migration was the dominant mode of transferring farming practices throughout western Eurasia. In contrast to central and northern early European farmers, the Chalcolithic El Portalón individuals additionally mixed with local southwestern hunter-gatherers. The proportion of hunter-gatherer-related admixture into early farmers also increased over the course of two millennia. The Chalcolithic El Portalón individuals showed greatest genetic affinity to modern-day Basques, who have long been considered linguistic and genetic isolates linked to the Mesolithic whereas all other European early farmers show greater genetic similarity to modern-day Sardinians. These genetic links suggest that Basques and their language may be linked with the spread of agriculture during the Neolithic. Furthermore, all modern-day Iberian groups except the Basques display distinct admixture with Caucasus/Central Asian and North African groups, possibly related to historical migration events. The El Portalón genomes uncover important pieces of the demographic history of Iberia and Europe and reveal how prehistoric groups relate to modern-day people.

Concepts: Portugal, Iberian Peninsula, Europe, Asia, Spain, Neolithic, Spanish people, Ethnic groups in Europe


Multi-decadal increase in shell removal by tourists, a process that may accelerate degradation of natural habitats, was quantified via two series of monthly surveys, conducted thirty years apart (1978-1981 and 2008-2010) in one small embayment on the Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Over the last three decades, the local tourist arrivals have increased almost three-fold (2.74), while the area has remained unaffected by urban encroachment and commercial fisheries. During the same time interval the abundance of mollusk shells along the shoreline decreased by a comparable factor (2.62) and was significantly and negatively correlated with tourist arrivals (r = -0.52). The strength of the correlation increased when data were restricted to months with high tourist arrivals (r = -0.72). In contrast, the maximum monthly wave energy (an indirect proxy for changes in rate of onshore shell transport) was not significantly correlated with shell abundance (r = 0.10). Similarly, rank dominance of common species, drilling predation intensity, and body size-frequency distribution patterns have all remained stable over recent decades. A four-fold increase in global tourist arrivals over the last 30 years may have induced a comparable worldwide acceleration in shell removal from marine shorelines, resulting in multiple, currently unquantifiable, habitat changes such as increased beach erosion, changes in calcium carbonate recycling, and declines in diversity and abundance of organisms, which are dependent on shell availability.

Concepts: Mediterranean Sea, Portugal, Iberian Peninsula, Classical mechanics, Spain, Acceleration, Tourism, Coastal geography


Population genomic studies of ancient human remains have shown how modern-day European population structure has been shaped by a number of prehistoric migrations. The Neolithization of Europe has been associated with large-scale migrations from Anatolia, which was followed by migrations of herders from the Pontic steppe at the onset of the Bronze Age. Southwestern Europe was one of the last parts of the continent reached by these migrations, and modern-day populations from this region show intriguing similarities to the initial Neolithic migrants. Partly due to climatic conditions that are unfavorable for DNA preservation, regional studies on the Mediterranean remain challenging. Here, we present genome-wide sequence data from 13 individuals combined with stable isotope analysis from the north and south of Iberia covering a four-millennial temporal transect (7,500-3,500 BP). Early Iberian farmers and Early Central European farmers exhibit significant genetic differences, suggesting two independent fronts of the Neolithic expansion. The first Neolithic migrants that arrived in Iberia had low levels of genetic diversity, potentially reflecting a small number of individuals; this diversity gradually increased over time from mixing with local hunter-gatherers and potential population expansion. The impact of post-Neolithic migrations on Iberia was much smaller than for the rest of the continent, showing little external influence from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. Paleodietary reconstruction shows that these populations have a remarkable degree of dietary homogeneity across space and time, suggesting a strong reliance on terrestrial food resources despite changing culture and genetic make-up.

Concepts: Genomics, Population, Mediterranean Sea, Portugal, Iberian Peninsula, Europe, Spain, Bronze Age


This study focused on the occurrence of several EDCs including bisphenol A, estrone (E1), the 17β-estradiol (E2) and 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2) in fourteen rivers of Portugal. Samples analysis revealed a widespread contamination of BPA especially in Ave, Cávado, Douro, Ferro, Sousa and Vizela Rivers. Achieving 98.4 ng/L for the highest concentration. The estrogens achieved above the method quantification limit (MQL) were E1 in Águeda River and E2 in Ave, Lima and Tâmega Rivers. The maximum concentration detected for E1 was 26.9 ng/L. EE2 was detected only below MQL.

Concepts: Method acting, Portugal, Bisphenol A, Calculus, Mathematical analysis, Xenoestrogen, Iberian Peninsula, River


Fungi belonging to the genus of Alternaria are recognised as being significant plant pathogens, and Alternaria allergens are one of the most important causes of respiratory allergic diseases in Europe. This study aims to provide a detailed and original analysis of Alternaria transport dynamics in Badajoz, SW Spain. This was achieved by examining daily mean and hourly observations of airborne Alternaria spores recorded during days with high airborne concentrations of Alternaria spores (>100sm(-3)) from 2009 to 2011, as well as four inventory maps of major Alternaria habitats, the overall synoptic weather situation and analysis of air mass transport using Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model and geographic information systems. Land use calculated within a radius of 100km from Badajoz shows that crops and grasslands are potentially the most important local sources of airborne Alternaria spores recorded at the site. The results of back trajectory analysis show that, during the examined four episodes, the two main directions where Alternaria source areas were located were: (1) SW-W; and (2) NW-NE. Regional scale and long distance transport could therefore supplement the airborne catch recorded at Badajoz with Alternaria conidia originating from sources such as crops and orchards situated in other parts of the Iberian Peninsula.

Concepts: Fungus, Geographic information system, Iberian Peninsula, Europe, Spore, Spain, Iberians, Iberian language


On October 15, 2016, experts met at Clínica CEMTRO in Madrid, Spain, under the patronage of the Spanish Society for Sports Traumatology (SETRADE), the Spanish Society of Sports Medicine (SEMED), the Spanish Association of Medical Services for Football Clubs (AEMEF), the Spanish Association of Medical Services for Basketball Clubs (AEMB), F.C. Barcelona, and Clínica CEMTRO. The purpose was to consider the most appropriate clinical management and treatment of tendinopathies in sports, based on proven scientific data described in the medical literature as well as on each expert’s experience. Prior to the meeting, each expert received a questionnaire regarding clinical management and treatment of tendinopathies in sports. The present consensus document summarizes the answers to the questionnaire and the resulting discussion and consensus regarding current concepts on tendinopathies in sports.

Concepts: Medicine, Iberian Peninsula, Experience, Spain, Madrid, Catalan language, Barcelona, Catalonia


We describe a European Acheulean site characterised by an extensive accumulation of large cutting tools (LCT). This type of Lower Paleolithic assemblage, with dense LCT accumulations, has only been found on the African continent and in the Near East until now. The identification of a site with large accumulations of LCTs favours the hypothesis of an African origin for the Acheulean of Southwest Europe. The lithic tool-bearing deposits date back to 293-205 thousand years ago. Our chronological findings confirm temporal overlap between sites with clear “African” Acheulean affinities and Early Middle Paleolithic sites found elsewhere in the region. These complex technological patterns could be consistent with the potential coexistence of different human species in south-western Europe during the Middle Pleistocene.

Concepts: Human, Africa, Portugal, Iberian Peninsula, Europe, Spain, Pleistocene, Paleolithic