Anthropology news

Blondes and genes

It seems blonde hair is not confined to Scandinavia and Europe as up to ten per cent of Melanesians, who are somewhat black in skin colour, also have blonde hair. This trait didn't come from sex starved ships crew from the West either - a study has shown it evolved long before contact with foreigners in boats looking for girls in grass skirts (see www.nature.com/news/blonde-hair-evolved-more-thanonce-1.10587 (the study was published in the journal Science).

Who was Red Crag Man?

At www.pleistocenecoalition.com, a piece from the latest Pleistocene Coalition News by Richard Dullum on a 'Forbidden Archaeology' item, the 900 page book that is a sieve of palaeoanthropology on the look-out for anomalies, somewhat akin to the William Corliss series of a couple of decades ago. The Red Crag portrait is an engraving on a fossil bivalve shell that is unmistakeably a human face. It even had a hole in the top of the shell designed for a cord to carry the shell around - and show off.

The Graphics of Bilzingsleben

At http://www-personal.umich.edu/~feliks/graphics-of-bilzingsleben/ is an interesting story that seems to be further evidence of science dogma in action, in which a consensus theory is applied to evidence and when such evidence does not fit the storyline it is hushed up, ignored, or criticised in a manner that is derogatory of the scientist concerned rather than the data itself. Feliks has obviously felt the pain and the sorrow.

Humans in N America during the Ice Age?

It's all starting to spill out as the Clovis theory takes another stumble. A Canadian scientist analysed animal remains found in Ohio and claims a leg bone of an extinct giant ground sloth had been butchered - one of those notoriously difficult kind o interpretations that we might expect to have some kickback in the future - see http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2012/03/butchered-sloth-bone-.... Cut marks on the bones have been analysed and it seems they represent human action.

Footprints in the sand and fossil humans in China

At www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-17353470 ... animal and human fossil footprints found in peat and covered by sand at Borth beach in Ceredigion have been dated between four and three thousand years ago. A line of post holes has also been spotted and a well known submerged forest lies close by - indicating the coastline at this point was further out in Cardigan Bay at the time the fossil footprints were laid down. They emerged as a result of shifting sand on the beach and the sand is expected to recover them in the weeks ahead.

Pilgrimage ... and human behaviour

The Ohio Archaeology Blog, another excellent site - see http://ohio-archaeology.blogspot.com/2012/03/ancient-american-pilgrimage... comments on a paper in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology that claims that 'religiously motivated co-operation in the form of pilgrimage is a neglected element in discussions of co-operative behaviour among humans' and goes on to propose how to evaluate it in the future (but I won't bore you with details).

Neanderthal bottleneck

Now, we are told that Neanderthals wee on the verge of extinction even before the appearance of anatomically modern humans - see www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120225110942.htm according to a paper in Molecular Biology and Evolution (Feb 25th). The claim is that most Neanderthal populations in Europe disappeared in the great die-off that took place around 50,000 years ago (large numbers of animals in diverse regions of the world died out at this time although no such link is made in the article).

Language and Out of Africa

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120215143001.htm .. anthropologists have said the cradle of language could, or it that 'should', be traced back to Africa. A recent paper that received lots of press attention claimed language could be traced back to specifically, SW Africa, but a new paper has provided a dash of cold water to the fanfare - see Science 335 (no 6069), 2012.

Them ol' flint knapping dumb brutes ain't arf done it this time

At www.alphagalileo.org/PrintView.aspx?ItemId=116263&CultureCode=en (and also at the Daily Mail, online, but the comments are so bad, stay away) ... anthropologists at the University of Kent have published research on the stone tools used by our early human ancestors - and how they may have been engineered. In particular, they were interested in what is known as Levallois flaked stone tools that were common across Europe, Western Asia and North Africa as early as 300,000 years ago.

Are Neanderthals still with us?

At www.physorg.com/print245921695.html details of a modelling experiment has been written up in the December issue of Human Ecology - with some interesting results. Modelling is only as good as the data that is fed into it.