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Volume 79, 2016, Issue 2

Editor-in-Chief: Maria Kaczmarek

Editors: Maciej Henneberg, Sławomir Kozieł

Online: ISSN 1898-6773


Anthropol Rev 2016 © 2016 Polish Anthropological Society


90 years of the Polish Anthropological Society and Anthropological Review: a success story
Maria Kaczmarek

Contemporary views on human aging and longevity
Piotr Chmielewski, Krzysztof Borysławski, Bartłomiej Strzelec

Aging is currently stimulating intense interest of both researchers and the general public. In developed countries, the average life expectancy has increased by roughly 30 years within the last century, and human senescence has been delayed by around a decade. Although aging is arguably the most familiar aspect of human biology, its proximate and ultimate causes have not been elucidated fully and understood yet. Nowadays there are two main approaches to the ultimate causes of aging. These are deterministic and stochastic models. The proximate theories constitute a distinct group of explanations. They focus on mechanistic causes of aging. In this view, there is no reason to believe that there is only one biological mechanism responsible for aging. The aging process is highly complex and results from an accumulation of random molecular damage. Currently, the disposable soma theory (DST), proposed by Thomas Kirkwood, is the most influential and coherent line of reasoning in biogerontology. This model does not postulate any particular mechanism underpinning somatic defense. Therefore, it is compatible with various models, including mechanistic and evolutionary explanations. Recently, however, an interesting theory of hyperfunction of mTOR as a more direct cause of aging has been formulated by Mikhail Blagosklonny, offering an entirely different approach to numerous problems and paradoxes in current biogerontology. In this view, aging is quasi-programmed, which means that it is an aimless continuation of developmental growth. This mTOR-centric model allows the prediction of completely new relationships. The aim of this article is to present and compare the views of both parties in the dispute, based on the results of some recent experimental studies, and the contemporary knowledge of selected major aspects of human aging and longevity.

The relationship between latitudinal light variation and orbit and cranial size in humans
Alice Short

Increased orbit size is suggested to be an adaptation for enhanced visual acuity and sensitivity in conditions of reduced light quality. Whilst light ambience has a well established correlation with eye size in birds and primates, evidence in humans is very limited. The aim of this study was to analyse the anatomical compensations of the eye and visual cortex as a result of varying levels of light exposure. It was hypothesized that humans of higher latitudes will have an increased orbit size to improve visual sensitivity and acuity in conditions of decreased light, and thus greater cranium size due to enlarged visual cortices. Craniometric measurements of 1,209 male and 1,021 female individuals from 27 series coming from different latitudes were sourced from William W. Howells Craniometric Data Set. Mean cranial and orbit size was calculated by combining linear craniometric measurements of length, width and height for individual males and females at each latitude. Linear regressions of orbit and cranial size on latitude were created and significance was measured using Pearson’s r and P value. Partial correlations were calculated to test whether orbit size correlates with latitude independent of cranial size. Significant positive correlations were found between i) orbit and cranial size and ii) orbit size and latitude and iii) cranial size and latitude in males and females. Additionally, partial correlation values for latitude and orbit size were significant in both males and females. The relationship between visual system size and increasing latitude among humans is currently understudied. Significant relationships between visual system size and increasing latitude suggest that enlarged eyes were an evolutionary mechanism for individuals with compromised light availability. Other factors related to varying geographic location may also play a role.

Discriminative grandparental investment – the impact of grandchild´s gender and sociodemographic parameters
Sylvia Kirchengast and Beatrix Putz

Homo sapiens is a typical cooperative breeder and grandparents are among the most important caregivers besides the mothers. Grandparental investment however differs markedly between maternal and paternal grandparents but also between grandmothers and grandfathers. From an evolutionary viewpoint this differential grandparental investment is mainly explained as a result of paternity uncertainty. On the other hand emotional support and child care help from grandparents may also be associated with sociocultural factors. The present study focused on the impact of grandchild’s gender, but also grandparental age and occupation on discriminative grandparental investment, i.e. solicitude, contact frequency and quality of relationship. 272 adults persons between the age 18 and 35 years (x= 23.5yrs; ±3.7) were enrolledin the study. Patterns of grandparental investment during childhood as well as quality of the grandparent-grandchild relationship were collected retrospectively using a 57 item questionnaire. As to be expected maternal grandmothers showed the highest contact frequency and the highest solicitude while -as to be expected – the paternal grandfather exhibited the lowest degree of investment. Grandparental investment was independent of grandparent category mainly influenced by residential distance. Grandchild´s gender and sociodemographic characteristics of the grandparents in contrast had a minor impact on grandparental caregiving and contact frequency. Contrary, grandchild´s gender was related significantly with the quality of relationship and emotional closeness.

Body composition of Slovak midlife women with cardiovascular complications
Darina Drozdová, Zuzana Danková, Veronika Čerňanová, Daniela Siváková

The aim of this study was to analyse differences in body composition of women with and without cardiovascular complications. Bioelectrical parameters were measured with bioimpedance monofrequency analyser (BIA 101) and tissue electric properties were analysed by bioelectric impedance vector analysis (BIVA). The clinical sample (with CVD) consisted of 254 women ranging in age between 39 and 65 years. The sample of women without CVD consisted of 318 women in the same age range and was created from database of our previous studies. Statistical analysis adjusted for age showed significant differences in body composition characteristics of the studied samples. The results of vector analysis showed significantly different tissue electric properties of women in studied groups, what was confirmed by the Hotelling T2-test (p=0.0000). More women with CVD attained risky mean values of obesity indices of BMI and WHR than their “healthy” counterparts. Among women with CVD 80.2% had higher value of the BMI index than optimal one (>24.9 kg/m2) and 74.4% of women had higher value of the WHR index than optimal (>0.80). From the BIA parameters strong correlation coefficient was found between BMI and FM in both groups (r=0.962 for women with CVD; r=0.968 for relatively healthy women). Our data confirmed that cardiovascular disease complications are strongly linked in body composition changes. The cross-sectional nature of our study makes it difficult to draw conclusions regarding causal pathways, though variables of obesity are in line with unhealthy conditions.

The relationship between facial morphology, body measurements and socio-economic factors
Marie Jandová, Petra Urbanová

Background and aim: The effect of socio-economic factors (living conditions) and parental smoking habits on development of facial morphology and body measurements was studied on a longitudinal Czech sample of 25 girls and 25 boys.
Subjects and methods: A set of studied digitalized photographs taken from 0.5 to 18 years in intervals of 6 months originated in the Brno Longitudinal Study. Facial shape changes of sub-adult participants were described using a configuration of 27 landmarks and further studied by using methods of geometric morphometric and multivariate statistics. In order to localize growth-related shape changes within the face, the studied region was divided into upper, middle and lower facial units and analyzed separately.
Results and conclusion: The results show that in the course of ontogenesis there is a strong correlation between facial shape change and body measurements, height included (r=0.10 and r=0.24 in boys and in girls, respectively). The pubertal spurt of the facial shape change rate was revealed at 10.5 years in girls and at 11.5 years in boys. The earlier onset of the pubertal rate increase in facial shape changes in boys was associated with records of poor living conditions. In addition, the mother’s smoking habits were linked to a noticeable facial shape change.

Morphological optimization of female combat sports athletes as seen by the anthropologists
Anna Burdukiewicz, Jadwiga Pietraszewska, Justyna Andrzejewska, Aleksandra Stachoń

Body build and proportions are key determinants of athletic success. The effects of the athlete selection process and discipline-specific training are differentiated body dimensions. The aim of the study was to examine the physical characteristics of female combat athletes. The results of anthropometric measurements of 154 females aged 21.2±1.79 years competing in judo, jiu-jitsu, karate, taekwondo, and fencing for 7.5±3.43 years.
Significant differences were observed between the judo and karate, taekwondo and fencing practitioners in chest, hip, arm and forearm girths. More variance was observed in body proportions. Fencers had the slimmest body shape, a more massive body size in the judokas. Longer upper extremities relative to lower extremity length were found in the jiu-jitsu group. Relative to body height, a larger torso and greater girths were observed in the judokas compared with the fencing, karate, and taekwondo practitioners. The groups did not differ in the level of endomorphy. Mesomorphy was highest in judokas and the lowest in fencers, although ectomorphy was most dominant in the latter group.
Females practitioners of combat sports exhibit differences in physical characteristics as an effect of optimizing body type and build via the training and athlete selection process of a given discipline. The anthropometric measures could play a role in talent identification programmes for martial arts and help the trainers to optimize the motoric effectiveness of athletes.

No effect of birth month or season on height in a large international sample of adults
Robin S.S. Kramer

Although several studies in recent years have provided evidence of a relationship between month of birth and height during childhood, the association remains less clear for adult (final) height. Here, I investigated this relationship using a large international sample of adult actors. Analyses considered both the sample as a whole, as well as subsamples based on nationality, and treated men and women separately. In all instances, I found no relationship between birth month or season and height, even after controlling for year of birth. This may be due to the particular nature of samples of actors, who are taller than the general population, or could suggest more broadly that birth month effects are minimal or absent in adults.

The Invaders. How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction
Anna Maria Kubicka

Book review
Pat Shipman. (editor). 2015. The Invaders. How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction. London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press Cambridge, England, 288 pp. ISBN: 978-0-674-73676-4.

Volume 79, 2016, Issue 1

Editor-in-Chief: Maria Kaczmarek

Editors: Maciej Henneberg, Sławomir Kozieł

Online: ISSN 1898-6773


Anthropol Rev 2016 © 2016 Polish Anthropological Society


Palaeopathology and its relevance to understanding health and disease today:the impact of the environment on health, past and present
Charlotte Ann Roberts

This paper considers the discipline of palaeopathology, how it has developed, how it is studied, and what limitations present challenges to analysis. The study of disease has a long history and has probably most rapidly developed over the last 40–50 years with the development of methods, and particularly ancient pathogen DNA analysis. While emphasizing that palaeopathology has close synergies to evolutionary medicine, it focuses then on three ‘case studies’ that illustrate the close interaction people have had with their environments and how that has impacted their health. Upper and lower respiratory tract disease has affected sinuses and ribs, particularly in urban contexts, and tuberculosis in particular has been an ever present disease throughout thousands of years of our existence. Ancient DNA methods are now allowing us to explore how strains of the bacteria causing TB have changed through time. Vitamin D deficiency and ‘phossy jaw’ are also described, both potentially related to polluted environments, and possibly to working conditions in the industrial period. Access to UV light is emphasized as a preventative factor for rickets and where a person lives is important (latitude). The painful stigmatizing ‘phossy jaw’ appears to be a condition related to the match making industries. Finally, thoughts for the future are outlined, and two key concerns: a close consideration of ethical issues and human remains, especially with destructive analyses, and thinking more about how palaeopathological research can impact people beyond academia.

Association of FTO and TMEM18 polymorphisms with overweight and obesity in the population of Polish children
Iwona Rosset, Dominik Strapagie, Aneta Sitek, Małgorzata Majewska, Lidia Ostrowska-Nawarycz, Elżbieta Żądzińska


The objective of the study was to verify whether or not FTO rs9939609, rs9926289 and TMEM18 rs4854344, rs6548238, rs2867125 variants are important risk factors for overweight and/or obesity in Polish children aged 6–16 (n=283). FTO rs 9939609 and rs9926289 exhibited a strong codominant obesity-predisposing effect of genotypes homozygous for minor alleles (OR=5.42, 95% CI: 2.04–14.39, p=0.0006). The important finding of the study is increased risk of overweight (OR=5.03, 95% CI: 1.15–21.93, p=0.0306) in individuals homozygous for the minor alleles rs4854344, rs6548238 and rs2867125 in the recessive inheritance model, while no other significant associations between TMEM18 variants and risk of obesity were found. Given the identified interaction TMEM18 genotype × BMI category (p=0.0077), it seems that the effect of homozygous for the minor alleles may be compared to a “weight guard”, which significantly increases the risk of overweight, but not of obesity, because it promotes weight gain only up to the threshold of obesity. Conclusion: The proposed hypothetical effect (“weight guard”) of homozygous for the minor alleles in the TMEM18 based on a rather small sample is a possible explanation of the effects of minor alleles, which minimize the risk of obesity.

Detecting overweight and obesity among young Syrian boys based on skinfold thickness
Mahfouz Al-Bachir, Hussam Ahhmad


There is no data on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in young Syrian boys. Therefore, the present study aimed to provide baseline and reference data on the prevalence of overweight and obesity among young Syrian boys using skin-fold thickness measurements and deuterium dilution (DD) as a reference method. The sample of 2470 healthy Syrian 18- to 19-year-old boys were enrolled in this study. SFTs were measured at the biceps (B), triceps (T), subscapular (SI) and suprailiac locations (SS) were done and validated using the DD technique as a reference method. Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve was drawn to determine appropriate cut-off points of the Σ2 limb SFT (T+B), Σ2 trunk SFT (SI+SS), Σ4 SFT (T+B+SI+SS) and Log Σ4 SFT for defining overweight and obesity. The overall prevalence of overweight and obesity in young Syrian boys, based on biceps SFT, triceps SFT, subscapular SFT, suprailiac SFT, Σ2 limb SFT, Σ2 trunk SFT, Σ4 SFT, logarithm Σ4 SFT, and DDT were 35.3%, 32%, 31.6%, 14.8%, 32.9%, 26.6%, 28.1%, 24.1%, 46.5%, respectively. Strongly positive correlation was found between SFT and total body fat in adolescents. For diagnosing overweight on the basis of Σ2 limb SFT, Σ2 trunk SFT, Σ4 SFT and logarithm Σ4 SFT, we propose the following cut-off points: 17.25 mm, 23.50 mm, 39.25 mm and 1.60, respectively. To predict obesity, Σ2 limb SFT, Σ2 trunk SFT, Σ4 SFT and logarithm Σ4 SFT threshold were increased to 23.25 mm, 32.50 mm, 55.25 and 1.75, respectively. Basing on SFT clearly leads to underestimates of the prevalence of weight problems among young boys. SFT measurement screen missed 11.2 to 31.7% of overall overweight and obesity cases.

Predictive equations for height estimation using knee height of older Bengalees of Purba Medinipur, West Bengal, India
Binoy Kuiti, Kaushik Bose


For nutritional assessment work for older population, it is important to be able to estimate body height based on knee height. The present report describes three equations for height estimation among older Bengalees based on knee height and compares the results with knee height based formulae developed for several other populations. Anthropometric measurements were analyzed from 114 (62 men and 52 women) older subjects aged >= 55 years. The subjects were randomly selected from two blocks (Contai I and Ramnagar I), at coastal area of Purba Medinipur District in West Bengal, India. A population specific formula for height was created based on knee height of the subjects. These estimated formulae from the present study and fourteen other previously reported formulae were also applied to these older population and the mean estimation errors were statistically compared. Analysis indicated that our derived formulae gave accurate estimation of height among the subjects.

Sex determination from femora in late antique sample from Eastern Adriatic coast (Salona necropolis)
Ivan Jerković, Željana Bašić, Ivana Kružić, Šimun Anđelinović

The determination of sex is one of the first steps in anthropological analysis. When skeletal remains are fragmented, the most useful approach is application of osteometric methods. The methods are population specific, and therefore require development of discriminant functions for each population group.
The aim of this study was to test sexual dimorphism of femoral measurements and to calculate discriminant functions applicable for sex determination on fragmented skeletal remains on the late antique sample from the Eastern Adriatic coast (2nd–6th century AD). 214 randomly chosen skeletons from the excavation site Solin-Smiljanovac were analyzed. Sex and age were assessed using standard anthropological methods, and skeletons were examined for pathologic and traumatic changes. In the next step, we selected 27 female and 48 male skeletons free of peri- or post-mortem changes that could affect measurements Eight standard femoral measurements were taken. Sexual dimorphism was initially compared using independent sample t test, after which discriminant functions were computed.
All femoral measurements showed statistically significant sexual dimorphism (p<0.001). Ten discriminant functions for every part of femur were calculated and obtained classification accuracy of 73.1–91.8%. This study reached relatively high classification, which will improve further analysis of the skeletal remains from the Salona necropolis. Due to similar population structure in the Roman period across the Adriatic coast, the discriminant functions could be applicable for all populations from the same period and area. This study also raised a few methodological questions showing that when creating discriminant functions we should consider not only the accuracy, but also the applicability based on the experience from the anthropology laboratory that considers the state of preservation and frequent pathology.

Two cases of osteoid osteoma in skulls dating from the 13–14th centuries from St. Elisabeth’s Church in Wrocław, Poland
Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Sroka, Barbara Kwiatkowska, Jacek Szczurowski, Stanisław Gronkiewicz, Paweł Dąbrowski

In the study two human skulls recovered from archaeological excavations at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Wrocław, dating from the 13–14th centuries were assessed. Direct measurements of each skull were recorded, and X-ray images in P-A, lateral and basal projections were taken. The skulls represented adult males. Large, bony, lobular tumours were found on the palatine bones of both skulls. X-ray examination identified these tumours as osteoid osteomas, which are benign bone tumours that may originate in the periosteum or may be located inside the bone, distorting the maxilla or mandible. However, osteoid osteoma of the palatine is very rare. This study extends our knowledge regarding the health and diseases of historical populations.

A Companion to Medical Anthropology
Elżbieta Żądzińska