Anthropology news

Homo erectus - and boats

The Boston Herald had an interesting story, possibly a rehash of something from last year, on Homo erectus and discovery of stone tools on Crete, the large island in the middle of the Mediterranean/Aegean (see Researchers say human ancestors were crossing the Mediterranean Sea at least 130,000 years ago, a claim based on stone tools found on Crete. This island, it is alleged, has been cut off from the mainland for 'eons' - whatever the reporter concerned may mean.

Homo erectus ... clues and counter clues

At there is a report from PLoS One (online journal) on Homo erectus in Indonesia, widely regarded as a human ancestor as they resemble Homo sapiens in a variety of ways. It is standard theory that Homo erectus also migrated Out of Africa - but some 1.8 million years ago. Now, we all read these dates but they are pretty meaningless except in a geological context, as geochronology has a pattern.

Aborigines are the whipping boys again

At there is a report on a paper in Geophysical Research Letters that claims Aborigines burnt old vegetation from the landscape in the hot dry season in order to help stimulate regrowth during the upcoming rainy season (the monsoon rains of northern Australia and the Darwin peninsular).

A hominid tooth that is 17 million years of age

Bones found in Wasden cave, a few miles west of Idaho Falls (in the State of Idaho) (see Archaeologists, or palaeontologists, have never explored the caves systematically and this is a plea for funds - which are unlikely to be forthcoming. There are bones from all kinds of animals, from the size of mice to that of mammoth - and lots of bison. Mixed in with the bones are prehistoric spear and arrow points and fragments of pottery.

Ice Age humans

A story at seems to indicate the first modern humans, the Gravettian culture, entered Europe from the Russian plains rather than through the Balkans. Why this might be so is not discussed, as such, as the evidence comes from a cave in the Ukraine - and presumably no such early evidence yet exists in the Balkans. Still, it does give weight to the idea the steppe zone, which in the Ice Age was a band running from Iberia to NE Siberia, was an idea location for human hunters to thrive. 

A northern odyssey

In the far north of Eurasia, at Byzovaya in the Ural Mountains, some kind of a Neanderthal mystery has emerged- and an explanation is hampered by C14 methodology. Stone implements said to date from between 34,000 and 31,000 years ago resemble scraping and cutting tools associated with Neanderthals - but the dating implies they belong to modern humans. In fact, the period between 40,000 and 30,000 years is problematic as far as C14 reliability is concerned - and it is the period when Neanderthals disappeared and modern humans emerged in their place. The question is why?

Lots on Neanderthals

For example, at there is a fascinating story about a Spanish cave that at some point during the Pleistocene became filled with soil, rocks, plant and animal remains and over time hardened into what is known as a breccia deposit. The breccia was found to be rich in fossils and Paleolithic artifacts and the deposit has been dated between 75,000 and 60,000 years ago.

Japanese lingual origins

An article in the New York Times (see ) reports on research into Japanese language origins, tracing it the arrival of wet rice farmer around 400BC via Korea. They are known as the Yayoi but the actual route of immigration is a bit of a puzzle as they would first have had to colonise the relatively cold climate of Korea before moving south into Japan.

Chinese Homo erectus and the Secrets of Pavilland Cave

At there is a posting on Peking Man, dated by a new methodology some 700,000 years ago and known from the cave system at Choukoutien in China (mentioned by Velikovsky). Related to Homo erectus, Peking Man appears to have adapted to cold Ice Age conditions, but these things are open to interpretation.

India and early human activity

At is a story about the discovery of stone tools in SE India that date back one million years ago - or longer (see Science March 25th 2011). Acheullian tools are usually associated with Homo erectus and on this evidence they were in South Asia not long after their appearance in East Africa. However, no fossil bones have been discovered so an argument might develop on what species of human was responsible.