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The researchers argue that the death of the infants reflects a "painful episode" due to difficulties in the food supply of a group of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers.
An international team of researchers has managed to identify the oldest burial of twins in the world, who lived about 31,000 years ago in what is now Austrian territory, the Vienna Museum of Natural History reported last week.
In 2005, two graves with the remains of three babies were discovered in thearchaeological site Krems-Wachtberg (Lower Austria). The graves dated from the Upper Paleolithic and in one of them the skeletal remains of two newborn twins were found, covered with theshoulder blade of a mammoth, which helped to preserve them better.
Now, thanks to a series of different analyzes, the interdisciplinary team of researchers deciphered theparental relationship of the three infants, your sex and the approximate age at the time of your death.
Because few baby burials are known from that time corresponding toanatomically contemporary humans, the find represents a world heritage site of exceptional importance in answering questions about the development and evolution of our species, the museum notes.
Molecular genetic analysis revealed that the remains of the double burial corresponded tomonozygotic male twins (identical). This is the "first verified molecular genetic test and the earliest test of twin birth," explained Ron Pinhasi of the University of Vienna.
“Rarely is a multiple Paleolithic burial discovered. The fact that enough could be extractedHigh quality ancient DNA of the fragile skeletal remains of babies for genome analysis exceeded all our expectations, ”said Maria Teschler-Nicola, from the Natural History Museum in Vienna.
Analysis of the skeletal remains of the third baby recovered from the second grave determined that he was a third-degree male relative (possibly cousin) of the twins. Likewise, it was concluded that one of the twobrothers died at birth or shortly after, while the other passed away at 6 or 7 weeks of age. The third baby is estimated to have died at 3 months of age.
"A painful episode"
On the other hand, it is presumed that a corpse was first placed in the tomb of the twins and then it was reopened to bury the second child with his brother. Thereopening of the tomb It is a "cultural-historical finding of great relevance, since it broadens the previously known spectrum of burial practices" from the Upper Paleolithic.
The researchers argue that the death of these children reflects “a painful episode due todifficulties in food supply of a group of hunter-gatherers who made their camp a little more than 30,000 years ago "in what is now Krems-Wachtberg.