Anthropology news

Easter Island DNA

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, in the SE Pacific, has spawned various theories and one of these is that the inhabitants, prior to the arrival of Europeans, was a mixture of Polynesian voyagers, and South Americans (the nearest land mass). In fact, a genetic test a few years ago, showed an 8 per cent South American ancestry. We are then told this study was based on 'modeling' - an area of genetic research that can be imprecise). In other words, they admit modeling is inexact - but only because they wish to drive their own piece of genetic research to the forefront.

Human Footprints

At ... human footprints found off Canada's Pacific coast may be 13,000 years old according to a study in PLoS ONE online journal (March 20th 2018) by a team from Hakai Institute and the University of Victoria. In other words, humans prior to the Younger Dryas Event - which is post-Ice Age proper. Nowadays, the Pacific coast of British Columbia is thickly forested and most of it is only accessible by boat. Archaeology is few and far between.

Out of Africa

Chris Catling, in World Current Archaeology 88 sets his eye on recent DNA research. In issue 85 he drew attention to the lack of a consensus among archaeologists over the dates for the evolution of modern humans and the first Out of Africa migration (as new finds were pushing dates earlier and earlier). In issue 88 Professor Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University was involved in the the discovery of a jawbone in a cave on Mount Carmel dating back 177,000 years ago.

DNA home truth

I was looking through a press release at ... which is about the genomes of five late Neanderthals that lived between 39,000 and 47,000 years ago. They contributed DNA to modern human ancestors which is okay - so far. We are then told the Neanderthals overlapped with the arrival of modern human, which is partly based on the fact that modern humans have a small amount of Neanderthal DNA (so they must have overlapped, must they not?). Did they? Did late Neanderthals pass on their genes to modern humans by mating with them - which is the nub of the issue.

Denisova SNA

At ... the discovery of fossils belonging to a new group of people, the Denisovans (in central Asia) a few years back has led to some DNA linkages to modern people - but only in a small way. The first link was to Austronesian people - such as the inhabitants of New Guinea. DNA links have also been found in southern Asia in general - but now we are told the biggest genetic signature is among the East Asians (China, Korea, Japan etc).

Dumb Neanderthals

At .... Richard Coss, described as a professor emeritus of psychology, questions why there is no Neanderthal cave art in the archaeological record. He seems to skip the obvious answer - it hasn't been found yet, the blog author says. Coss jumps to the conclusion that modern humans have a superior kind of eye and limb co-ordination. It turns out Coss has taught art as well as psychology - so he should know something about the subject.

Human DNA sequencing

William sent in the link, ... but see also ... where the genetics of modern humans appear to contradict fossil evidence of modern humans. It was suggested in the Phil Salmon post at (see yesterday's post) there was a bottleneck coinciding with the Mount Toba super volcano eruption that has been dated around 74,000 years ago.

Out of Africa Going Backwards

At ... various people sent in links to the same story. William fowarded the link ... an international team led by Israel Hershkovitz from Tel Aviv University have discovered the earliest 'modern human' fossil ever found outside of Afriica. It mentions modern humans must have left Africa much earlier than previously thought.

First Humans Europe

William sent in this excellent link - research refutes theory regarding the dispersal of humans in Europe - go to ... and you can read the full article, if so inclined, (over 30 pages including references) by going to DOI:10.1007/s41982-017-003-5 (click on the link at the bottom of the page above). A paper in the Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology disagrees with a recent publication that postulates the first humans entered northern and central Europe as early as a million years ago - earlier than previously estimated.

Sungir Homo sapiens

At ... a reconstruction of the faces of the Sungir people who lived in central Russia some 30,000 years ago, has been done (see image below). They have created a virtual reality 3D animation that is said to bring them to life ...