Anthropology news


A study in the journal Science pots modern human origins in South Africa back to 300,000 years ago. The DNA from the remains of a 2000 year old boy found at Ballito Bay in Natal during the 1960s has been used to re-write human history - after reconstructing his full genome (and that of 6 others who lived between 2700 and 300 years ago). Three of these people were Khoe-San (which includes Bushmen) and four were of Bantu origin. The genome of the Ballito boy was used to calculate the split between modern humans and earlier human groups and came up with the 300,000 figure.

African DNA

At ... DNA from sub-Sahara Africa has opened a window on prehistoric population movements over the past 8000 years. However, the results are not too much in dispute with African prehistory prior to the use of genetics and the DNA code of humans. In fact, they seem to agree quite remarkably - especially where it concerns the movement of Bantu people from western Africa across the top of the equatorial zone into East Africa and down towards South Africa, a process that was still going on at the start of the colonial period.

Human Origins

An article in New Scientist (26th August 2017) by Colin Barras, p 22-33. said, 'the story of human origins is being re-written. The past 15 years have called into question every assumption about who we are and where we come from' - a sweeping statement. Until recently the consensus was that our great march Out of Africa began 60,000 years ago and that by 30,000 years ago every other contender for humanity had disappeared. Only modern humans remained - a species with a linear evolutionary history stretching back 6 million years.

New Guinea

At ... a huge amount of genetic diversity has been found between different groups and tribes in New Guinea which seems to reflect the length of the period they have been living on the island. This matches the equally diverse number of languages and sub languages spoken on the island - 850 in number. Not only is Papua New Guinea diverse but there is also big differences between people living in the highland zone and those living in the lowlands and along the coastlines.

Clever Chappies

Neanderthals, it would seem, invented the first adhesive (known to archaeology) - see ... Neanderthals, it seems, were nothing like their cave men image. Indeed, they were quite bright and are now being entertained as the inventors of adhesives as used in fixing tools on a haft. Adhesive residue has been found on stone tools going back 200,000 years ago.

Older by Far

At ... 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 ...

Human Origins

There is an interesting post upp at ... 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 ). 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.