30,000-year-old twin remains found in old grave in Austria

30.000 jaar oude tweelingresten gevonden in oud graf in Oostenrijk

Burial 1 with the skeletal remains of two babies recovered as a block in 2005 (ind1 on the left, ind2 on the right). Photo: Natural History Museum Vienna; changed. Credit: Communication biology (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s42003-020-01372-8

A team of researchers at multiple institutions in Austria, the US and Portugal has identified the remains of two babies found in an old grave in Austria as identical twin babies. In their paper published in the journal Communication biologythe group describes their study of the remains and surrounding artifacts and what they learned about the burial.

In 2005, archaeologists discovered the remains of three very young people buried in a grave at the Krems-Wachtberg excavation site in Austria – all three were dated to about 30,000 years ago. Work on the site has revealed the presence of an ancient settlement called Gravettian. In this new effort, the researchers studied the remains of the three babies and analyzed other artifacts found in their graves.

Two of the babies were buried under about five meters of soil. They sat close together under a mammoth shoulder bone that had been cut and shaved to serve as the lid of a chest. The lid had protected the remains, making them in very good condition. A DNA analysis showed that the two babies (both boys) were newborn identical twin babies. The first died shortly after birth, the second died about 50 days later. The time between deaths indicated that the tomb had been reopened for use when the second baby died. The third child, buried a short distance away without a cover, was in bad shape, but the researchers were able to retrieve DNA material that showed it was a cousin of the other two babies. The cause of death of the infants is unknown.

The tomb itself was oval in shape, and the babies were laid out as if they were spoons – they had been laid on a bed of red ocher. The researchers also found 53 beads made of mammoth ivory lined up in the tomb, suggesting they were strung together. Since the beads showed no signs of wear, the researchers assumed they were strung for burial. The researchers also found three perforated mollusk shells in the grave and a fox incisor. The twins’ remains represent the oldest known monozygotic twins ever found.

30.000 jaar oude tweelingresten gevonden in oud graf in Oostenrijk

a The bodies of the twins (individual 1 and 2) in the burial pit of Burial 1. b, c Ivory beads of mammoth and their placement on the pelvis of individual 1. d Decoration of individual 2 consisting of a perforated fox incisor (Vulpes sp. ) and three perforated molluscs (Theodoxus sp.). e Ivory pin from Burial 2 (individual 3) (find numbers: c Ivory colored bead WA-18158; d molluscs (top to bottom) WA-151565, WA-151561, WA-151564, fox incisor WA-151558; e ivory pin WA- 37552). Photos: OREA, Austrian Academy of Sciences. Graph: R. Thomas. Credit: Communication biology (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s42003-020-01372-8

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More information:
Maria Teschler-Nicola et al. Ancient DNA Reveals Upper Paleolithic Monozygotic Newborn Twins, Communication biology (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s42003-020-01372-8

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Quote: 30,000-year-old twin remains found in old grave in Austria (2020, November 12) Retrieved November 12, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-11-year-old-twin-ancient-grave-austria .html

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