Anthropology news

Homo erectus in Europe where he is not supposed to be

This story can be found at an interesting site with a nice name, http://averyremoteperiodindeed.blogspot.com/2011/08/170000-year-old-huma...  is all about a human skull, described by one of the people involved as Homo erectus - but at an impossible time. It was found in France in the period normally assigned to the Neanderthals - considered to be a more advanced form of Homo erectus. Is the skull a throwback or may it simply be another variant of Homo erectus.

Neanderthals and Denisovans - and genetic links to modern humans

This story can be seen at www.physorg.com/print233498054.html and at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825141635.htm and is derived from the journal Science - at the online Science Express, August 25th. Some modern human gene pools have derived beneficial versions of immune system genes from Neanderthals and Denisovans - this is additional to the shared DNA, from 4 to 6 per cent. The HLA class 1 immune system gene is rare in African populations and therefore could not have accompanied the migrants per the Out of Africa theory of modern human origins.

How real is the DNA evidence?

At www.semioticon.com/frontline/bednarik.htm there is another article by Robert Bednarik, on beads and symbolism and the fact that Homo erectus in all likelihood had the capability to make them and make use of them (the same article or something very similar was published in Time and Mind two years ago). In doing so he outlines his opposition to the Out of Africa hypothesis - the idea of an African 'Eve' that gave birth to modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens. They duly spread around the world in the Late Pleistocene - a wholly unsound idea he thinks.

Homo erectus - boats (update)

In a follow-up to the story of a few days ago on Homo erectus reaching Crete by using boats (see for instance www.physorg.com/print232812463.html). I have come across an article at http://mc2.vicnet.net.au/home/epistem/web/meta.html where Homo erectus in boats is accepted as a means by which early humans colonised islands off the mainland in various parts of the world - such as Australia and New Guinea, the Solomons, Japan etc.

Dating Rock Art

At http://mc2.vicnet.net.au/home/epistem/web/crisis.html there is a revealing article on dating rock art. In Europe it is the Late Pleistocene cave art of Iberia and southern France that dominates university course and it has created a euro-centric view that is causing some chagrin in other parts of the world - such as Australia, India and South Africa. This is no trifling matter as from a euro-centric view rock art is securely within the Upper Palaeolithic - post 40,000BC.

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 www.bostonherald.com/news/international/general/view.bg?articleid=135915...). 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 www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-06/nyu-fsh062811.php 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 http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/06/did-australian-aborigines-... 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 www.idahopress.com/news/state/scientist-fights-for-research-at-e-idaho-c...). 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 www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13846262?print=true 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.