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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)
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High impact information on Fossils

  • Here we report on stratigraphically associated Late Middle Pleistocene artefacts and fossils from fluvial and lake margin sandstones of the Upper Herto Member of the Bouri Formation, Middle Awash, Afar Rift, Ethiopia [1].
  • The search for the earliest fossil evidence of the human lineage has been concentrated in East Africa. Here we report the discovery of six hominid specimens from Chad, central Africa, 2,500 km from the East African Rift Valley. The fossils include a nearly complete cranium and fragmentary lower jaws [2].
  • The external surface of even non-biomineralized cuticle was preserved by entombment in volcanic ash, subsequent incorporation into concretions, and infilling of the fossils with sparry calcite [3].
  • The carbon-13 content of archaeal molecular fossils indicates that these archaea were living chemoautotrophically [4].
  • New fossils of the giant African crocodyliform Sarcosuchus imperator clarify its skeletal anatomy, growth patterns, size, longevity, and phylogenetic position [5].

Biological context of Fossils

  • Resolution of these problems would shed light on hominid phylogeny in general and on the ancestry of later Australopithecus and Homo. Fossils discovered in the Afar of Ethiopia in 1990 constitute the first major addition to the 3-4 million year (Myr) hominid record since the 1970s [6].

Associations of Fossils with chemical compounds

  • First, we have developed a method to extract and identify sialic acids from bones and bony fossils [7].
  • Two Neanderthal fossils studied had clearly detectable Neu5Ac but no Neu5Gc, indicating that the CMAH mutation predated the common ancestor of humans and the Neanderthal, approximately 0.5-0.6 million years ago (mya) [7].
  • Modification in the presence of 2% Triton X-100 results in structures similar to the nuclear fossils (EGTA treatment), but missing the double bilayer and a 51K polypeptide that is a major component of the other structures [8].
  • Saccobranchus fossils, a freshwater fish, can convert 3-hydroxyretinol into 3-hydroxyanhydroretinol, which in turn is converted into-3-dehydroretinol [9].
  • Enamel, in contrast, is resistant to post-mortem alteration making it a more appropriate material for Sr/Ca analysis of Plio-Pleistocene fossils [10].

Gene context of Fossils

  • Sedimentary deposits in the Middle Awash research area of Ethiopia's Afar depression have yielded vertebrate fossils including the most ancient hominids known [11].
  • Age of Neoproterozoic bilatarian body and trace fossils, White Sea, Russia: implications for metazoan evolution [12].
  • snRNP mediators of 3' end processing: functional fossils [13]?
  • The results are consistent with the facts that (i) GS is a key enzyme of nitrogen metabolism found in all extant life forms and (ii) the oldest biological fossils date back 3800 million years [14].
  • In order to resolve long-standing issues surrounding the age of the Skhul early modern humans, new analyses have been conducted, including the dating of four well-provenanced fossils by ESR and U-series [15].


  1. Stratigraphic, chronological and behavioural contexts of Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia. Clark, J.D., Beyene, Y., WoldeGabriel, G., Hart, W.K., Renne, P.R., Gilbert, H., Defleur, A., Suwa, G., Katoh, S., Ludwig, K.R., Boisserie, J.R., Asfaw, B., White, T.D. Nature (2003) [Pubmed]
  2. A new hominid from the Upper Miocene of Chad, Central Africa. Brunet, M., Guy, F., Pilbeam, D., Mackaye, H.T., Likius, A., Ahounta, D., Beauvilain, A., Blondel, C., Bocherens, H., Boisserie, J.R., De Bonis, L., Coppens, Y., Dejax, J., Denys, C., Duringer, P., Eisenmann, V., Fanone, G., Fronty, P., Geraads, D., Lehmann, T., Lihoreau, F., Louchart, A., Mahamat, A., Merceron, G., Mouchelin, G., Otero, O., Pelaez Campomanes, P., Ponce De Leon, M., Rage, J.C., Sapanet, M., Schuster, M., Sudre, J., Tassy, P., Valentin, X., Vignaud, P., Viriot, L., Zazzo, A., Zollikofer, C. Nature (2002) [Pubmed]
  3. An exceptionally preserved vermiform mollusc from the Silurian of England. Sutton, M.D., Briggs, D.E., Siveter, D.J., Siveter, D.J. Nature (2001) [Pubmed]
  4. Massive expansion of marine archaea during a mid-Cretaceous oceanic anoxic event. Kuypers, M.M., Blokker, P., Erbacher, J., Kinkel, H., Pancost, R.D., Schouten, S., Sinninghe Damste, J.S. Science (2001) [Pubmed]
  5. The giant crocodyliform Sarcosuchus from the Cretaceous of Africa. Sereno, P.C., Larsson, H.C., Sidor, C.A., Gado, B. Science (2001) [Pubmed]
  6. New discoveries of Australopithecus at Maka in Ethiopia. White, T.D., Suwa, G., Hart, W.K., Walter, R.C., WoldeGabriel, G., de Heinzelin, J., Clark, J.D., Asfaw, B., Vrba, E. Nature (1993) [Pubmed]
  7. Inactivation of CMP-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase occurred prior to brain expansion during human evolution. Chou, H.H., Hayakawa, T., Diaz, S., Krings, M., Indriati, E., Leakey, M., Paabo, S., Satta, Y., Takahata, N., Varki, A. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2002) [Pubmed]
  8. Alterations in nuclear anatomy by chemical modification of proteins in isolated rat liver nuclei. Schindler, M. Exp. Cell Res. (1984) [Pubmed]
  9. Structure and synthesis of naturally occurring anhydrovitamin A2. Barua, A.B., Verma, K., Das, S.R. Biochem. J. (1979) [Pubmed]
  10. Sr/Ca and early hominin diets revisited: new data from modern and fossil tooth enamel. Sponheimer, M., de Ruiter, D., Lee-Thorp, J., Späth, A. J. Hum. Evol. (2005) [Pubmed]
  11. Ecological and temporal placement of early Pliocene hominids at Aramis, Ethiopia. WoldeGabriel, G., White, T.D., Suwa, G., Renne, P., de Heinzelin, J., Hart, W.K., Heiken, G. Nature (1994) [Pubmed]
  12. Age of Neoproterozoic bilatarian body and trace fossils, White Sea, Russia: implications for metazoan evolution. Martin, M.W., Grazhdankin, D.V., Bowring, S.A., Evans, D.A., Fedonkin, M.A., Kirschvink, J.L. Science (2000) [Pubmed]
  13. snRNP mediators of 3' end processing: functional fossils? Mowry, K.L., Steitz, J.A. Trends Biochem. Sci. (1988) [Pubmed]
  14. Evolution of the glutamine synthetase gene, one of the oldest existing and functioning genes. Kumada, Y., Benson, D.R., Hillemann, D., Hosted, T.J., Rochefort, D.A., Thompson, C.J., Wohlleben, W., Tateno, Y. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1993) [Pubmed]
  15. U-series and ESR analyses of bones and teeth relating to the human burials from Skhul. Grün, R., Stringer, C., McDermott, F., Nathan, R., Porat, N., Robertson, S., Taylor, L., Mortimer, G., Eggins, S., McCulloch, M. J. Hum. Evol. (2005) [Pubmed]
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