Anthropology news

Revivalism

A hoary chestnut has reared its head once again - see http://phys.org/print399808185.html ... the Aborigines are blamed when scientists come across evidence of landscape fire in the Holocene and Late Pleistocene. This is thought to represent evidence of Aborigines managing their environment, burning off unwelcome vegetation and allowing plants they favour to flourish in a non-forest environment.

Bottleneck Genes

The Neanderthal/Denisovan surviving genes in modern humans has been taken up at http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/fall-2016/article/evolution-purged-... ... which again implies that the genetic inheritance from archaic humans such as the Neanderthals and Denisovans, has gradually been diluted as the modern human genome has evolved in the intervening years - over 30,000 years. However, little pieces of them live on in modern genes - but the inference is that they have grown smaller and smaller as time has progressed.

Reed Boat Voyages

At http://phys.org/print396196467.html ... a reed boat, the Viracocha III, is being built by Aymara Indians in Bolivia. American explorer Phil Buck claims Thor Heyerdahl was his boyhood hero - and he aims to  take a leaf out of his book. Her wants to prove that ancient mariners were capable of long distance voyages across the world's oceans, specifically using reed boats. He thinks this will open up some of the current restrictions on human migration patterns in the past, mainly as a result of scholarly resistance rather than practical reality.

Sewing with Denisova

Stitching a hole in their shirts may have been a problem ovecome by the Denisova contemporaries of Neanderthals. These people lived in central Asia before the 40,000 year watershed when Europe was colonised by modern humans (and some of them came here by way of central Asia which adds another dimension). A bone needle has been plucked out of sediment on the floor of the Denisova cave in the Altai Mountains, complete with a carefully drilled eye hole.

Human Origins Again

At http://phys.org/print387794468.html ... fossil finds in China challenge the Out of Africa theory of the evolution of modern humans.    The Chinese have wondered if Peking Man (dated 780,000 years ago( and Homo erectus in general, evolved into more modern humans and contributed to the gene pool of people in East Asia. This is a bit like Europeans and Neanderthals - how much of the latter is inside the former (diluted over time).

Hobbits and Fire

At http://phys.org/print386437614.html ... we return once again to the Hobbits. Anthropologists can't leave them alone. They were just three feet in height. Scientists have now discovered evidence of fire in the heart of the Liang Bua Cave on Flores Island in Indonesia after taking samples of sediments from between the Hobbit remains and the modern era. The suggestion is that modern humans, with camp fires, turned up around 41,000 years ago - but the date is elastic to a certain extent.

Footprints in the sand

At https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/earliest-footprint... ... footprints in the dry region of Eritrea have been dated to 800,000 years ago. Humans living at that time, assumed to be Homo erectus, left behind footprints in what had been sand or silt on the side of a lake - or possibly on the dried up bed of a lake. The footprints are very similar to those of modern people which says a lot about Homo erectus - how different were they really?

migration into Africa

Mainstream is very fond of emphasizing migration Out of Africa but it seems there was also a bit of migration Into Africa - see http://phys.org/print383472524.html

More on Neanderthals ...

 

At https://anthropology.net/2016/05/27/neanderthal-the-interior-cave-decora... ... the broken stalagmite pieces (see yesterday) were assembled into two oval rings 176,000 years ago, we are told. Together with them were pieces of burnt bone and evidence of fire - some kind of ritual activity perhaps.

Neanderthal disappearance

At www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/did-neanderthals-die-out-because-p... .... Neanderthals had bigger brains than we have and a similar tool repertoire to early modern humans so why did they die out? This obviously intrigues a lot of people and some odd theories have been touted to account for their sudden disappearance and the equally sudden appearance of modern humans in their place. The latest and also odd explanation being put forward is that they died out as a result of their diet - assumed to be high in meat (but lacking enough fat).