Anthropology news

Homo Erectus ... came in several different flavours?

This is turning into a big story - see ... the discovery of early human skulls in Georgia (in the Transcaucasus) which have been dated 1.8 million years ago, but surprisingly were found under medieval buildings, suggest the human family tree is not as varied or as lengthy as the consensus believes. The article is published in Science journal and requires reading in full before making lame assertions but the idea being explored is that Homo Erectus varied as far as shape, size, and type are concerned - but it must be emphasized, others disagree.

Why did modern humans replace Neanderthals around 40,000 years ago?

This question comes up all the time. What actually happened around 40,000 years ago. The old chestnust that Neanderthals were conservative in their diet no longer holds true - from a variety of evidence from different sites (but see A cave in the Caucasus mountains suggests Neanderthals were eating fish - or so it is theorised. It is assumed the fish were brought to the cave by humans for consumption - how else might they have got there. How else indeed.

Modern Humans in Lebanon

Not the very modern humans but those that were around 40,000 years ago - see

Modern Humans

At ... excavations in Kents Bank Cavern on Morecambe Bay in the 1990s found bones that ended up in a museum in Barrow in Furness (home of the Submarine museum, well worth a visit). Scientists from Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Nottingham have published their analysis of one of the sets of bones in Journal of Quaternary Science.

Neanderthals and Bone Tools

At ... Neanderthals again found to be not so backward. Four bone tools found at Pech de l'Aze were used to work hides. Modern leather workers still use similar tools - but these date 50,000 years ago. Bone tools have often been associated with Neanderthals in the past but the association has been denied as the deposits, usually found above the Neanderthal layers, has led to the accusation that the tools really belong to modern humans and have somehow penetrated into the lower Neanderthal levels.

Denisovans and India

At ... is a discussion of a paper by Sheila Mishra et al which centres on the introduction of micro blade tool assemblages in India, and their possible association with an actual human migration, focussing on one site in particular in Madhya Pradesh (and now dated around 45,000 years ago). John Hawks is his usual sceptical self and uses it to discuss the Late Pleistocene in India.

Y-Chromosomes In the News

At ... which is basically telling us the male line is as old as the female mitochondrial line - but what does it mean for earlier genetic studies into the age of migrating groups of people? Is it possible that migrations are also older than imagined - such as the genetic footprint of the first farmers. Might this mark the genetic footprint of a Palaeolithic migration - or is this pie in the sky.

Language - when did it begin?

At ... we learn that research seems to suggest Neanderthals were very similar to modern humans, in a variety of ways. The idea Neanderthals, or Homo erectus come to that, were completely different to modern humans is all down to scholarly classification - which box, or museum drawer a particularly skull might be stored away. Classification led to the idea modern humans are in some way special, rather clever creatures and therefore quite unlike their forebears.

Christianity in Egypt

On a day that a video has been published of a beheading of three Christian monks or Catholic priests in Syria by the very people some of our politicos want to get into bed with, and supply them with the arms to liberate Christian establishments by killing them all with kitchen knives, there is a story about Syrian Christians in Egypt at ... a geological depression west of the Nile delta was a cradle of Coptic monasticism going back to the 4th century AD.

How not to see reality in cave art

This story can be found at ... which once again is all in the head, and ignores alternative interpretations. The paper seems to imply they did not record what they could see but only what they believed as a result of their mythology. Perhaps they were also wearing blindfolds when they climbed up rock faces to make etchings in difficult locations.