Anthropology news

Fire use in Prehistory

A paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on March 14th has an interesting article on fire use by early humans - and is the result of extensive research and access to libraries and excavation reports across Europe and North America. Neanderthals appeared at around 400,000 years ago and they ranged over most of Europe as far as Central Asia as well as the Near and Middle East regions.

Going back to Pygmy and Bushmen origins?

At www.bbc.co.uk/science-environment-12665643 we learn that 'modern humans' may have originated in southern Africa according to a genetic study and a paper in PNAS. It seems that hunter gatherer populations such as the Bushmen possess a greater degree of genetic diversity than, shall we say, Bantu subsistence farmers, or cattle raising and herd based cultures. Why is this novel? - it was being said years ago (see Jean-Pierre Hallet, Pygmy Kitabu, Souvenir Press:1974).

Aurignacian mystery?

At http://adhominin.com/index.php?id=9102845726448426623 ... most textbooks and internet sources such as Wikipedia or Britannica define the Aurignacians as the first Homo sapiens to enter Europe, appearing on the scene around 40,000 years ago. It is essentially a tool repertoire that is common to Europe and south west Asia.

Pastoralists in Africa

Redefining the entry into North Africa by pastoralists from Asia, via Sinai, Mathilda (at http://mathildasanthropologyblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/eurasian-y-chromosome-R1b-in-africa/) we find they migrated there some 8000 years ago. In other words, in the window after the 6200-6000BC event, the most severe of the Holocene climate glitches. In all likelihood the migration was driven by that event and there is every reason to think the Sahara has the same Semitic root as Sarah.

Proto-semitic languages

Another interesting article I picked up from Mathilda (see http://mathildasanthropologyblog/2010/05/16/bayesian-phylogenetic-analysing-of-semitic-languages-identifies-an-early-bronze-age-origin-of-semitic-in-the-near-east/ which may also interest SIS members - who were the semites and where did they come from?

Orion in the Ice Age

Any subject such as this spawns all kinds of strange ideas and web sites. However, at http://mathildasanthropologyblog.wordpress.com/2008/05/06/stone-age-star-chart-of-orion/ the subject is dealt with in a sober manner, and the story is all about a small piece of mammoth ivory found in the Ach Valley of Germany and dating back over 30,000 years ago.

Neanderthals with feathers in their hair

At www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41721082/ns/technology_and_science-science/ .... scientists digging at the Grotto of Smoke in North Italy have found some intriguing evidence. There are a lot of Neanderthal bones in the cave - and 660 bones belonging to 22 species of birds (with cut and scrape marks it is alleged). The birds include falcons, vultures, Alpine choughs, and wood pigeons.

Lucy's Foot

At www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/69712/title/Lucys_feet_were_made_for_walking/ ... the bones of a human foot curve upwards to form arches and this feature has been found in a 3.2 million year old Australpithecus afarensis to fossil in East Africa - a relative of Lucy.