Anthropology news

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At https://phys.org/print419665468.html ... archeologists have placed humans arriving in Australia further and further back in time, throwing into confusion the Out of Africa theory (a migration out of Africa around 50,000 years ago. They have been forced to backtrack on this and now think Out of Africa occurred around 70,000 years ago. However, new evidence from Australia throws a spanner into this idea too and a migration as long ago as 200,000 years is being touted by some, admittedly on the fringe of the theory and taking it to the extreme.

Pushing Back Origins

It seems the Out of Africa people are on the back foot once again. No doubt they will rebound but cracks are increasingly appearing in the idea that all modern humans have their origin in a movement out of Africa just 70,000 years ago. In fact, until recently it was thought to have occurred no earlier than 50,000 years ago - which became untenable, especially as Australian Aborigines appear to have been living in their landscape far at least that amount of time. At http://anthropology.net/2017/07/04/a-deeper-introgression-of-ancient-hum... ...

Human Origins

There is an interesting post upp at www.everythingselectric.com/multiregional/ ... which concerns the recent discovery of what looks very much like modern humans at a new site in Morocco - but they date 300,000 years ago. This is way earlier than the Out of Africa theory as it currently stands would have it and comes on the heels of a recent discovery in southern Europe and the Levant of similar bones at a similar date.

Homo Naledi

It seems Homo naledi remains may be much younger than previously assumed. Much as in very much. Instead of a couple of million years they have been dated to 300,000 years ago - and potentially less than that. This is a significant number to revise the remains as it means the survival of a primitive hominid into the time of the Neanderthals and Denisovans, and the emergence of modern humans in other parts of Africa. Hominid remains are once again throwing a stick in the spokes of the evolutionary tree of humanity.

Hobbit again

It's only a few days but the claim the Hobbit was a remote human ancestor related to Homo habilus is being questioned already - at The Conversation (see https://phys.org/print412232632.html ). The author of the piece likens the Hobbit debate as an ongoing soap opera - never ending quarrels and claims. However, the author, an anthropologist, provides us with some useful information, and the first point to bear in mind is that there is a lack of bones to actually analyse.

Pleistocene Indonesia

The idea that modern humans in SE Asia, in the Holocene, were more advanced than Pleistocene predecessors, has taken a bit of a knocking - as a result of research by the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution (see https://phys.org/print410447018.html ). The discovery of cave art, said to go back up to 40,000 years ago, on the island of Sulawesi, and various tools etc, seems to show that Ice Age humans were as advanced as those in India and elsewhere.

DNA and Europeans

At https://phys.org/print410172163.html ... DNA research is said to map the migration route of early farmers 8000 years ago - courtesy of the University of Huddersfield's Archaeogenetic Research Group. However, the sample comes from just 1500 mitochondrial genome lineages spread over a large area. Is that enough? They think they have evidence of post-glacial expansion from western Asia (a so called refugia from the ice sheet).

Stone Age Aspirin

At https://anthropology.net/2017/03/09/neanderthals-used-penicillin-and-asp... ... this story has been around for a week or so (see also https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/dental-plaque-dna-... ) ... a microbiologist at the University of Adelaide and colleagues analysed hardened plaque from the teeth of five Neanderthal skulls from Belgium and Spain. They date from between 42,000 and 50,000 years ago. Chipping small bits of plaque off to sequence for DNA they found Neanderthals in Belgium ate a lot of meat, and mushrooms.

Aborigines

At https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/aboriginal-hair-sh... ... DNA derived from hair samples taken early last century have been analysed for MtDNA and they are said to show they have been in occupation of Australia for 50,000 years. More importantly, they are said to show that individual tribes have been living in same locales for all that time, which is pretty incredible. None of them were driven out by neighbouring tribes, for example, and each recognised their boundaries.

Human Continuity

A study in the journal Science (see https://phys.org/print407677784.html ) concerns two archaic skulls uncovered in Xuchang in central China which appear to contradict some embedded ideas on the pristine origin of modern humans (wherever they might be found). The two skulls are dated back to 100,000 years ago but present a mosaic of features that seem to support regional continuity. Similarities exist with early modern humans across the ancient world - such as large brains and lightly built cranial vaults with modest brow ridges.