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

Concept: Northern Europe


Almost 150 years after the first identification of Neandertal skeletal material, the cognitive and symbolic abilities of these populations remain a subject of intense debate. We present 99 new Neandertal remains from the Troisième caverne of Goyet (Belgium) dated to 40,500-45,500 calBP. The remains were identified through a multidisciplinary study that combines morphometrics, taphonomy, stable isotopes, radiocarbon dating and genetic analyses. The Goyet Neandertal bones show distinctive anthropogenic modifications, which provides clear evidence for butchery activities as well as four bones having been used for retouching stone tools. In addition to being the first site to have yielded multiple Neandertal bones used as retouchers, Goyet not only provides the first unambiguous evidence of Neandertal cannibalism in Northern Europe, but also highlights considerable diversity in mortuary behaviour among the region’s late Neandertal population in the period immediately preceding their disappearance.

Concepts: Belgium, Northern Europe, Neanderthal, Carbon-14, Psychology, Critical thinking, Radiocarbon dating, Isotope


Investigations at Happisburgh, UK, have revealed the oldest known hominin footprint surface outside Africa at between ca. 1 million and 0.78 million years ago. The site has long been recognised for the preservation of sediments containing Early Pleistocene fauna and flora, but since 2005 has also yielded humanly made flint artefacts, extending the record of human occupation of northern Europe by at least 350,000 years. The sediments consist of sands, gravels and laminated silts laid down by a large river within the upper reaches of its estuary. In May 2013 extensive areas of the laminated sediments were exposed on the foreshore. On the surface of one of the laminated silt horizons a series of hollows was revealed in an area of ca. 12 m(2). The surface was recorded using multi-image photogrammetry which showed that the hollows are distinctly elongated and the majority fall within the range of juvenile to adult hominin foot sizes. In many cases the arch and front/back of the foot can be identified and in one case the impression of toes can be seen. Using foot length to stature ratios, the hominins are estimated to have been between ca. 0.93 and 1.73 m in height, suggestive of a group of mixed ages. The orientation of the prints indicates movement in a southerly direction on mud-flats along the river edge. Early Pleistocene human fossils are extremely rare in Europe, with no evidence from the UK. The only known species in western Europe of a similar age is Homo antecessor, whose fossil remains have been found at Atapuerca, Spain. The foot sizes and estimated stature of the hominins from Happisburgh fall within the range derived from the fossil evidence of Homo antecessor.

Concepts: Netherlands, Northern Europe, Europe, Foot, Western Europe, Human evolution, United Kingdom, Human


The human settlement of Europe during Pleistocene times was sporadic and several stages have been recognized, both from paleaoanthropological and archaeological records. If the first phase of hominin occupation (as early as 1.4 Ma) seems mainly restricted to the southern part of the continent, the second phase, characterized by specific lithic tools (handaxes), is linked to Acheulean settlements and to the emergence of Homo heidelbergensis, the ancestor of Neanderthals. This phase reached northwestern Europe and is documented in numerous sites in Germany, Great Britain and northern France, generally after 600 ka. At la Noira (Brinay, Central France), the Middle Pleistocene alluvial formation of the Cher River covers an archaeological level associated with a slope deposit (diamicton). The lithic assemblage from this level includes Large Cutting Tools (LCTs), flakes and cores, associated with numerous millstone slabs. The lithic series is classified as Acheulean on the basis of both technological and typological analyses. Cryoturbation features indicate that the slope deposits and associated archaeological level were strongly frozen and disturbed after hominin occupation and before fluvial deposition. Eight sediment samples were dated by the electron spin resonance (ESR) method and the weighted average age obtained for the fluvial sands overlying the slope deposits is 665±55 ka. This age is older than previous chronological data placing the first European Acheulean assemblages north of 45(th) parallel north at around 500 ka and modifies our current vision of the initial peopling of northern Europe. Acheulean settlements are older than previously assumed and the oldest evidences are not only located in southern Europe. La Noira is the oldest evidence of Acheulean presence in north-western Europe and attests to the possibility of pioneering phases of Acheulean settlement which would have taken place on a Mode 1-type substratum as early as 700 ka. The lithic assemblage from la Noira thus provides behavioral and technological data on early Acheulean occupation in Europe and contributes to our understanding of the diffusion of this tradition.

Concepts: France, Northern Europe, United Kingdom, Acheulean, Europe, Archaeology, Great Britain, Western Europe


Low calcium intake may adversely affect bone health in adults. Recognizing the presence of low calcium intake is necessary to develop national strategies to optimize intake. To highlight regions where calcium intake should be improved, we systematically searched for the most representative national dietary calcium intake data in adults from the general population in all countries. We searched 13 electronic databases and requested data from domain experts. Studies were double-screened for eligibility. Data were extracted into a standard form. We developed an interactive global map, categorizing countries based on average calcium intake and summarized differences in intake based on sex, age, and socioeconomic status. Searches yielded 9780 abstracts. Across the 74 countries with data, average national dietary calcium intake ranges from 175 to 1233 mg/day. Many countries in Asia have average dietary calcium intake less than 500 mg/day. Countries in Africa and South America mostly have low calcium intake between about 400 and 700 mg/day. Only Northern European countries have national calcium intake greater than 1000 mg/day. Survey data for three quarters of available countries were not nationally representative. Average calcium intake is generally lower in women than men, but there are no clear patterns across countries regarding relative calcium intake by age, sex, or socioeconomic status. The global calcium map reveals that many countries have low average calcium intake. But recent, nationally representative data are mostly lacking. This review draws attention to regions where measures to increase calcium intake are likely to have skeletal benefits.

Concepts: Social status, Socioeconomic status, Nationality, Bone, Northern Europe, Nation, Calcium


Radiotherapy is used for cure or palliation in around half of patients with cancer. We analysed data on radiotherapy equipment in 33 European countries registered in the Directory of Radiotherapy Centres (DIRAC) database, managed by the International Atomic Energy Agency. As of July, 2012, Europe had 1286 active radiotherapy centres. The average number of teletherapy machines per radiotherapy centre ranged from 1·2 to 7·0 in different countries. Nordic countries, the UK, the Netherlands, and Slovenia all have large centres with four to ten teletherapy machines. Most western and southern European countries have several small centres with one or two machines, with few larger centres. The fragmentation in radiotherapy services that prevails in many European countries might affect the economic burden of radiotherapy and its quality. Eastern and southeastern European countries need to expand and modernise their radiotherapy equipment.

Concepts: NATO, Slovenia, European Union, Eastern Europe, Netherlands, Northern Europe, Europe, International Atomic Energy Agency


Objectives. We compared cycling injury risks of 14 route types and other route infrastructure features. Methods. We recruited 690 city residents injured while cycling in Toronto or Vancouver, Canada. A case-crossover design compared route infrastructure at each injury site to that of a randomly selected control site from the same trip. Results. Of 14 route types, cycle tracks had the lowest risk (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.11; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.02, 0.54), about one ninth the risk of the reference: major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure. Risks on major streets were lower without parked cars (adjusted OR = 0.63; 95% CI = 0.41, 0.96) and with bike lanes (adjusted OR = 0.54; 95% CI = 0.29, 1.01). Local streets also had lower risks (adjusted OR = 0.51; 95% CI = 0.31, 0.84). Other infrastructure characteristics were associated with increased risks: streetcar or train tracks (adjusted OR = 3.0; 95% CI = 1.8, 5.1), downhill grades (adjusted OR = 2.3; 95% CI = 1.7, 3.1), and construction (adjusted OR = 1.9; 95% CI = 1.3, 2.9). Conclusions. The lower risks on quiet streets and with bike-specific infrastructure along busy streets support the route-design approach used in many northern European countries. Transportation infrastructure with lower bicycling injury risks merits public health support to reduce injuries and promote cycling.

Concepts: Automobile, Northern Europe, Segregated cycle facilities, Physical trauma, Injury, Sustainable transport, Bicycle, Cycling


Previous guidelines on consent for anaesthesia were issued by the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland in 1999 and revised in 2006. The following guidelines have been produced in response to the changing ethical and legal background against which anaesthetists, and also intensivists and pain specialists, currently work, while retaining the key principles of respect for patients' autonomy and the need to provide adequate information. The main points of difference between the relevant legal frameworks in England and Wales and Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are also highlighted.

Concepts: Ireland, Wales, Republic of Ireland, Northern Europe, England, Scotland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, United Kingdom


This article describes evidence for contact and exchange among Mesolithic communities in Poland and Scandinavia, based on the interdisciplinary analysis of an ornamented bâton percé from Gołębiewo site 47 (Central Poland). Typological and chronological-cultural analyses show the artefact to be most likely produced in the North European Plain, during the Boreal period. Carbon-14 dating confirms the antiquity of the artefact. Ancient DNA analysis shows the artefact to be of Rangifer tarandus antler. Following this species designation, a dispersion analysis of Early-Holocene reindeer remains in Europe was conducted, showing this species to exist only in northern Scandinavia and north-western Russia in this period. Therefore, the bâton from Gołębiewo constitutes the youngest reindeer remains in the European Plain and south-western Scandinavia known to date. An attempt was made to determine the biogeographic region from which the antler used to produce the artefact originates from. To this end, comprehensive δ18O, δ13C and δ15N isotope analyses were performed. North Karelia and South Lapland were determined as the most probable regions in terms of isotopic data, results which correspond to the known distribution range of Rangifer tarandus at this time. In light of these finds, the likelihood of contact between Scandinavia and Central Europe in Early Holocene is evaluated. The bâton percé from Gołębiewo is likely key evidence for long-distance exchange during the Boreal period.

Concepts: Poland, Estonia, Central Europe, Holocene, Western Europe, Northern Europe, Sweden, Finland


To illuminate patterns observed in International Cancer Benchmarking Programme studies by extending understanding of the various influences on presentation and referral with cancer symptoms.

Concepts: Europe, Medical terms, Northern Europe, The Various, Baltic Sea


Recent severe European droughts raise the vital question: are we already experiencing measurable changes in drought likelihood that agree with climate change projections? The plethora of drought definitions compounds this question, requiring instead that we ask: how have various types of drought changed, how do these changes compare with climate projections, and what are the causes of observed differences? To our knowledge, this study is the first to reveal a regional divergence in drought likelihood as measured by the two most prominent meteorological drought indices: the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and the Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) across Europe over the period 1958-2014. This divergence is driven primarily by an increase in temperature from 1970-2014, which in turn increased reference evapotranspiration (ET0) and thereby drought area measured by the SPEI. For both indices, Europe-wide analysis shows increasing drought frequencies in southern Europe and decreasing frequencies in northern Europe. Notably, increases in temperature and ET0 have enhanced droughts in southern Europe while counteracting increased precipitation in northern Europe. This is consistent with projections under climate change, indicating that climate change impacts on European drought may already be observable and highlighting the potential for discrepancies among standardized drought indices in a non-stationary climate.

Concepts: Western Europe, Northern Europe, Hydrology, Change, Climate, Precipitation, Drought, Meteorology