Anthropology news

The Toba volcano and Out of Africa

New Scientist 17th April, 2010 ... had an interesting story on the so called Toba super volcano which blew its head on what is now Sumatra - 74,000 years ago. Various articles appeared that seemed to suggest it was a massive catastrophic event that almost wiped out humanity from the face of the earth - creating a genetic bottlekneck in Africa. The severity of the Toba eruption was not actually based on reality but on a series of computer simulations.

Lascaux constellations

BBC News 'online science editor' Dr David Whitehouse, in 2000, reported on the Ice Age prehistoric map of the night sky on the walls of Lascaux, as interpreted by Dr Michael Rappenglueck. Spanish researcher Luz Antequerra Congregeulo, in a doctoral thesis (1992) first suggested an astronomical interpretation of the dots above the shoulder of the bull painting as a depiction of the Pleiades. Qualifying that, the first academic publication of such an idea. Early investigators of the caves also suggested something quite similar.

Neanderthals killed off by volcanoes?

At  and as reported elsewhere, a paper in the October issue of Current Anthropology suggests that volcanic eruptions in the Caucasus and Italy coincided with the demise of the Neanderthals. Pollen and ash was analysed in sediment layers dated from around 40,000 years ago. A sterile layer was found.

Out of Africa

At Sept 2Ist ... geneticists have estimated the the Out of Africa human migration to SE Asia and Australia took place around 60,000 years ago. However, stone tools found in Arabia and India recently point to an earlier date, possibly around 80,000 years ago.

Other Worlds

The Journal of the British Interplanetary Society published a letter in 1986 that has obviously intrigued Paul Gilster for a long while - see his blog at and the posting for August 26th 2010). It is all about contact iwth other civilisations - and other worlds. What if advanced civilisations did tend to explore their immediate solar systems, but for various reasons confined themselves only to their neighbours and not to space at large - might this explain why nobody has been in contact with the earth.

Neanderthal Sleeping Quarters

At otherwise Discovery News, there is a description in juvenile terminology of the discovery of a separate space set aside in a cave in Cantabria with a makeshift bed.

The Out of Taiwan human migration

An article in Current Anthropology (April 2010) (see ) disputes the consensus model of human colonisation of the Philippines, Malaysia and islands of Indonesia by farming communities with an origin in Taiwan, otherwise the Out of Taiwan hypothesis.

A Negritoe Migration?

Negritoes are a very obvious minority population element in various parts of SE Asia and the Pacific, and once lived in India (and still inhabit the Andaman Islands) and various other places enroute (even in the Malayan peninsular), and it could be argued they represent a well defined migration, an Out of Africa movement that has some reality. At a footbone has been found in a cave in the Philippines that has been dated as early as 67,000 years  ago.

Homo erectus

At there is a news report issued by Nature on attempts to date, both geologically and historically, a cache of Homo erectus fossils discovered in the 1930s, together with 25,000 vertebrate remains, in Java. Homo erectus in Indonesia potentially lived until the Late Pleistocene at the same time as Homo sapiens inhabited other parts of the world. An expedition back to the site has been made and the bone bed reopened and extended.