Anthropology news

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.

Group Behaviour

The phoney CAGW alarmism has given us all an upfront view of group behaviour. It is not so much something that has bitten the legs off the plebs but has mainly been prominent amongs the educated classes - not just here in the UK but in North America, in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. Some blogsters and posters see it through a political lens but it is somewhat odd that even scientists have been caught up in the same malaise - or is it that odd?

Early Human Footprints

One of the most controversial archaeological sites in North America is in the Mojave desert of California, in the low hills of the Calico Mountains. It displays evidence for the presence of tool making humans from at the latest, 200,000 years ago (see http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/unsettled-age-for-american-early... abd www.calicodig.org/text/16 ). A few years ago they were arguing that Clovis were the first people in the Americas and now ....

Neanderthals, too clever by half

A computer programme has come to the rescue of the reputation of Neanderthals - otherwise described as dull-witted and rather unpretty, with great big conks. It seems they were too clever by half - see http://popular-archaeology.com/issue-printer/september-2011/ and they were actually victims of their own success. This is the latest attempt to rationalise the inexplicable disappearance of the Neanderthals - and computers don't lie.

Woodworking Neanderthals

At http://averyremoteperiodindeed.blogspot.com/2011/09/mousterian-wooden-sp... ... the Mousterian refers to Neanderthal stone culture - or stone tools found in the ground. A Neanderthal site in France has preserved organic features including a partly burn wooden implement. Until now the possibility of Neanderthals and Homo Erectus with wood working skills has rarely been mentioned - and is generally passed over. This find may change minds.

The jawbone in a cave

Kents Cavern in Torquay in SW England is famous for the discovery of numerous Ice Age mammals. Mixed in with these bones was the jawbone of a human. It is assumed to be that of a modern human - for anatomical reasons. It might well be otherwise. In the 1980s it was dated by C14 methodology to around 35,000 years ago - which was just about at the boundary C14 dating techniques was reliable. In fact, it was in that sort of plateau in which dates between 40,000 and 30,000 years ago are considered to be open to error.

Short legs ... for walking up hills or because of the cold draught?

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111019172103.htm ... another misconception bites the dust - perhaps. It seems that the consensus view that Neanderthals had short legs in comparison to modern humans (although lots of people actually do have short legs), might be misinformed. It was thought it had something to do with the cold weather during the Ice Age - or rather the cold weather in Europe and western Asia over the last 200,000 years, and ending in around 35,000 years ago, when they disappeared in an inexplicatble fashion.

Human Movements

At http://news.ku.dk/all_news/2011/2011.9/aboriginals-get-new-history/  ... the human genome of Australian Aborigines has been collated and the results published in the journal Science - which will have repercussions on Out of Africa. It seems they represent the descendants of an earlier human expansion.

More on early humans

At http://in.news.yahoo.com/study-suggests-earliest-humans-were-not-very-di... there is a report on a study from an American university by archaeologist John Shea which claims early humans were variants of Homo sapiens rather than different species. The evidence in the ground shows a wide variability in human tool making strategies from the earliest times onwards. He argues there is no such things as modern humans, as such, just different kinds of behaviour.