Species-specific albumin in fossil bones from Orce, Granada, Spain

Abstract

A skull fragment (VM-0) from Orce, Granada, Spain, dated palaeomagnetically at about 1.6 Myr, is thought by some palaeontologist to be hominid, while others maintain it is equid. If hominid, it would be by far the oldest evidence ofHomo in Europe. Immunological studies on residual albumin in this fossil were carried out independently, and with different immunological methods, at the University of California, San Francisco (radioimmunoassay), and at the University of Granada, Spain (enzyme immunoassay). Other fossils attributed to hominids also studied wereVM1960 from Venta Micena, andCV-1 from Cueva Victoria, Murcia, Spain. Undisputed equid and bovid fossils from the same deposits and dated to a similar period as the Orce skull were also analyzed. Our results showed that species-specific albumin can be detected in 1.6 Myr-old hominid, equid and bovid fossils. The albumin from the Orce skull fragment and fromVM-1960 was immunologically closer to human albumin. These findings support the contention that theVM-0 andVM-1960 are hominid and that members of the genusHomo occupied southern Spain 1.6 Myr ago.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Agustì J. and Moyà-Solà S., 1987.Sobre la identidad del fragmento craneal atribuido a Homo sp en Venta Micena (Orce, Granada). Estud. Geol. 43:535–538.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Borja, C., Garcia-Pacheco M., Olivares E.G., Scheuenstuhl G. & Lowenstein JM. 1997.Immunospecificity of albumin detected in 1.6 million-year-old fossils from Venta Micena in Orce, Granada, Spain. Amer. J. Phys.Anthrop., 103:493–441

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Campillo D., 1992.Estudio del hombre de Orce. In J. Gibert (ed.): Presencia Humana en el Pleistoceno Inferior de Granada y Murcia. Orce: Museo de Prehistoria, Orce, Granada, pp. 341–370.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Downs, E.F. and Lowenstein J.M. (1995).Identification of archaeological blood proteins: a cautionary mote. J. Arch. Sci 22: 11–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Eglinton, G.E. and Curry, G.B. Eds. (1991). Molecules through the time. The Royal Society, London.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Garcia-Pacheco J.M., 1990. Producción y caracterización de anticuerpos monoclonales frente a albúmina humana. Aplicacion al estudio antigenico de esta proteina. Ph. D. Dissertation. University of Granada

  7. Gibert, J., Ribot, F., Ferrández C., Martínez, B., Camoricci R., and Campillo D., 1989.Anatomical study: comparison of the cranial fragment from Venta Micena (Orce, Spain) with fossil and extant mammals. Hum. Evol., 4: 283–305.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Gibert, J. Ed., 1992. Presencia Humana en el Pleistoceno Inferior de Granada y Murcia. Orce, Museo de Prehistoria.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Gibert, J., Arribas A., Martinez, B., Albadalejo, S., Gaete L., Oms O., Peñas, C. and Torrico R., 1994.Biostratigraphie et magnétostratigraphie des gisements à présence humain et action anthropique du Pléistocène inférieur de la région d’Orce (Granada, Espagne). C.R. Acad. Sci. 318: 1277–1282.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Gibert, J. and Palmqvist P., 1995.Fractal analysis of the Orce skull sutures. J. Hum. Evol. 28: 561–575.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Gibert, J., Tixier, J., Roe, D., Turq, A., Martínez, B., Arribas, A., Gibert L., Maillo A. et Iglesias A., 1995.Presence d’industries lithiques dans le pleistocene inferieur de la region d’Orce (Granada, Espagne): etat de la question. C.R. Acad. Sci. 321: 71–78.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Hare, P.E., Hoering T.C. and King K.K., Eds. 1980. Biogeochemistry of amino acids. Wiley, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Lowenstein, J.M., 1981.Immunological reactions from fossil material. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 292: 143–149.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Lowenstein, J.M. & Ryder, O.A., 1985.Immunological systematics of the extinct quagga (Equidae). Experientia 41: 1192–1193.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Lowenstein, J.M., Sarich, V.M. & Richardson, B.J., 1981.Albumin systematics of the extinct mammoth and Tasmanian wolf. Nature 291: 409–411.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Lowenstein, J.M. & Scheuenstuhl, G., 1991.Immunological methods in molecular palaeontology. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London B333: 375–380.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Rainey, W.E., Lowenstein, J.M., Sarich, V.M. & Magor, D.M., 1984.Sirenian molecular systematics including the extinct Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas). Naturwissenschaften 67: 343–346.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Shoshani, J., Lowenstein, J.M., Walz, D.A. & Goodman, M.,Proboscidean origins of mastodon and mammoth demonstrated immunologically. Paleobiology 11: 429–437.

  19. Wyckoff, R.W.G., 1972. The Biochemistry of Animal Fossils. Bristol, Scientechnica.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lowenstein, J.M., Borja, C. & García-Olivares, E. Species-specific albumin in fossil bones from Orce, Granada, Spain. Hum. Evol. 14, 21–28 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02436194

Download citation

Key words

  • VM-0
  • Fossil proteins
  • ELISA
  • RIA
  • Monoclonal antibodies
  • Venta Micena
  • Cueva Victoria