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The Natural History Museum is an international leader in the study of the natural world. Our science describes the diversity of nature, promotes an understanding of its past, and supports the anticipation and management of the impact of human activity on the environment.
The Museum's repository provides free access to publications produced by more than 300 scientists working here. Researchers at the Museum study a diverse range of issues, including threats to Earth's biodiversity, the maintenance of delicate ecosystems, environmental pollution and disease. The accessible repository showcases this broad research output.
The repository was launched in 2016 with an initially modest number of journal publications in its database. It now includes book chapters and blogs from Museum scientists.
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Aveline's Hole: An Unexpected Twist in the TaleAveline's Hole is the largest known Early Mesolithic cemetery in Britain, previously thought to have no evidence for subsequent burial activity. Thus, it came as some surprise when the results of a recent ancient human DNA study found that, of four individuals from the site yielding genomic data, two showed high levels of ancestry from Early Neolithic Aegean farmers. Radiocarbon dating confirmed that these two individuals were indeed British Early Neolithic in date, while the other two had the expected 'Western Hunter-Gatherer' ancestry genomic signatures, with the two groups separated in time by nearly five millennia. Moreover, the two Neolithic samples were both crania, while the two Mesolithic samples were long bones. Given the absence of Neolithic dates in the previous sizeable dating programme combined with the difficult history of the collection, i.e., the WWII bombing of its Bristol repository, this raised the question of whether the crania might in fact be from another site. As we show in this paper, a very strong case can be made that the crania do in fact originate from Aveline's Hole. Additional radiocarbon dating (14 in total, including the above mentioned four) suggests that about half the cranial elements from the site fall within the Early Neolithic, though there is still no evidence for the deposition of post-cranial remains at this time, nor is there any burial evidence in the long intervening period between the Early Mesolithic and the Early Neolithic. Intriguingly, craniometric analyses of legacy data including three crania lost in the bombing suggest that one, Aveline's Hole 'A', may be Upper Palaeolithic in date. As part of this re-investigation of the human remains from the site, we present new stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses that differ significantly from those originally reported for the Early Mesolithic, with the new results more in keeping with other isotopic data for this period. We also present new stable carbon and nitrogen isotope results on human remains from the nearby Early Mesolithic sites of Badger Hole and Greylake, and report new Early Mesolithic radiocarbon dates and isotopic data from Cannington Park Quarry. Clear isotopic differences between the Early Mesolithic and the Neolithic remains can be seen, but these are argued to relate primarily to shifts in the underlying ecological baselines, rather than to differences in types of foods consumed (with the caveat that terrestrial wild and domesticated foods will be isotopically similar). The genetic data are summarised, giving evidence not only of the ancestry of Mesolithic and Neolithic individuals from Aveline's Hole, but also suggesting something of their physical appearance. The degree of population replacement now indicated by ancient DNA suggests that there was a substantial migration of farmers into Britain at the start of the Neolithic. This new information demonstrates the archaeological importance of Aveline's Hole for both the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.
Abyssal fauna of polymetallic nodule exploration areas, eastern Clarion-Clipperton Zone, central Pacific Ocean: Annelida: Capitellidae, Opheliidae, Scalibregmatidae, and TravisiidaeWe present DNA taxonomy of abyssal polychaete worms from the eastern Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), central Pacific Ocean, using material collected as part of the Abyssal Baseline (ABYSSLINE) environmental survey cruises ‘AB01’ and ‘AB02’ to the UK Seabed Resources Ltd (UKSRL) polymetallic nodule exploration contract area ‘UK-1’, the Ocean Mineral Singapore exploration contract area ‘OMS-1’ and an Area of Particular Environmental Interest, ‘APEI-6’. This is the fourth paper in a series to provide regional taxonomic data with previous papers reporting on Cnidaria, Echinodermata and Mollusca. Taxonomic data are presented for 23 species from 85 records within four polychaete families: Capitellidae, Opheliidae, Scalibregmatidae and Travisiidae, identified by a combination of morphological and genetic data, including molecular phylogenetic analyses. Two taxa (genetically separated from one another) morphologically matched the same known cosmopolitan species, Ophelina abranchiata that has a type locality in a different ocean basin and depth from where no genetic data was available. These two species were assigned the open nomenclature ‘cf.’ as a precautionary approach in taxon assignments to avoid over-estimating species ranges. Twelve (12) taxa are here described as new species, Ammotrypanella keenani sp. nov., Ammotrypanella kersteni sp. nov., Ophelina curli sp. nov., Ophelina ganae sp. nov., Ophelina juhazi sp. nov., Ophelina martinezarbizui sp. nov., Ophelina meyerae sp. nov., Ophelina nunnallyi sp. nov., Oligobregma brasierae sp. nov., Oligobregma tani sp. nov., Oligobregma whaleyi sp. nov. and Travisia zieglerae sp. nov. For the remaining nine taxa, we have determined them to be potentially new species, for which we make the raw data, imagery and vouchers available for future taxonomic study. The CCZ is a region undergoing intense exploration for potential deep-sea mineral extraction from polymetallic nodules. We present these data to facilitate future taxonomic and environmental impact study by making both data and voucher materials available through curated and accessible biological collections.
Detection of ascaridoid nematode parasites in the important marine food-fish Conger myriaster (Brevoort) (Anguilliformes: Congridae) from the Zhoushan Fishery, ChinaBackground The whitespotted conger Conger myriaster (Brevoort) (Anguilliformes: Congridae) is an extremely marketable food fish, commonly consumed as sashimi or sushi in some Asian countries (i.e. Japan, Korea and China). Conger myriaster is also suspected as being an extremely important source of human anisakidosis. However, there is currently very little information on the levels of infection with ascaridoid nematode parasites in this economically important marine fish. The aims of the present study are to determine the species composition, prevalence and mean intensity of ascaridoid parasites of C. myriaster caught in the Zhoushan Fishery. Results A total of 1142 third-stage ascaridoid larvae were isolated from 204 C. myriaster. The overall prevalence of infection was 100% (mean intensity 5.6). Nine species of such larvae were accurately identified using integrative taxonomic techniques involving both morphological and genetic data; these included Anisakis pegreffii, A. typica and A. simplex (sensu stricto) × A. pegreffii, Hysterothylacium fabri, H. aduncum, H. sinense, H. amoyense, H. zhoushanense and Raphidascaris lophii. Although high levels of infection and species richness were revealed in C. myriaster, most of the ascaridoid parasites (1135 individuals) were collected from the body cavity and visceral organs of the fish and only seven individuals of A. pegreffii were found in the musculature. Conclusions This study represents the first report C. myriaster from the Zhoushan Fishery being heavily infected with third-stage ascaridoid larvae. Among the ascaridoid larvae parasitic in this fish, an important etiological agent of human anisakidosis, A. pegreffii (L3), represents the predominant species. The genus Hysterothylacium has the highest species richness, with H. fabri (L3) being the most prevalent species. This high level of infection of A. pegreffii (L3) in C. myriaster suggests a high risk of anisakidosis or associated allergies for people consuming raw or poorly cooked fish originating from this marine area. These findings provide important basic information on the occurrence and infection parameters of ascaridoid nematodes in this economically important marine fish. They also have significant implications for the prevention and control of human anisakidosis when conger eels from the Zhoushan Fishery are consumed.
A morphological revision of Keraterpeton, the earliest horned nectridean from the Pennsylvanian of England and Ireland.The aquatic diplocaulid nectridean Keraterpeton galvani is the commonest taxon represented in the Jarrow Coal assemblage from Kilkenny, Ireland. The Jarrow locality has yielded the earliest known Carboniferous coal-swamp fauna in the fossil record and is, therefore, of importance in understanding the history and diversity of the diplocaulid clade. The morphology of Keraterpeton is described in detail with emphasis on newly observed anatomical features. A reconstruction of the palate includes the presence of interpterygoid vacuities and new morphological details of the pterygoid, parasphenoid and basicranial region. The hyoid apparatus comprising an ossified basibranchial element has not been reported previously in nectrideans. The structure of the scapulocoracoid and primitive nature of the humerus is described and the presence of a five-digit manus confirmed. Previously unrecognised accessory dermal ossifications are present in the pectoral girdle. Keraterpeton longtoni from the Bolsovian in Staffordshire, England, is also described and newly figured. The primitive condition in diplocaulids is defined on the basis of the earliest occurrence at Jarrow and discussed in relation to functional morphology and mode of life. The evolution of the diplocaulid clade is assessed in relation to the revised diagnoses that define the primitive condition in Keraterpeton.
Bear wasps of the Middle Kingdom: a decade of discovering China's bumblebeesBumble bees are well known for being among the most important pollinators in the world’s north-temperate regions. Perhaps more surprisingly, half of the world’s bumble bee species are concentrated in just one country, China. With an area only slightly smaller than the U.S., China has almost three times as many species.