Anthropology news

Japanese origins

At there are several interesting new postings, a flurry of activity after a long quiet period. One, 'Study reveals DNA link between ancient Peruvians and Japanese' is a story that surfaced a few months ago - but interesting from a Japanese perspective. Another, 'Ram's Horn motif on painted tomb murals of western Japan points to the identity of the immigrant groups' claims that Turkic tribes reached Japan and Korea, from central Asia, in the past. The motif first appears during the Kofun Period.

Human evolution

At ... scientists have revised the timeline of human origins after it was found Homo erectus sometimes overlapped their assumed ancestors by several hundred thousand years. This sounds an awfully long time but it is worked out from dating geological deposits and therefore may be subject to some revision itself in the future. Be that as it may it would seem to cast doubt on the evolution from one to the other - but that is not the outcome.

Neanderthals - getting towards reality

At ... seems like Out of Africa might be redundant. US and Dutch researchers are saying Neanderthals were not less advanced than anatomically modern humans. The paper was published in PLoS ONE and it says what most people have been thinking for some time.

The first population explosion

At ... genetic studies, we are told, indicate Palaeolithic people grew in huge numbers between 80,000 and 60,000 years ago. Why this should have happened is not clear - but the idea of growing numbers of people at around that time is very convenient for the Out of Africa theory (and therefore should be treated with a bit of caution).

Homo antecessor

At ... you haven't heard of Homo antecessor? Well, he lived a very long time ago. The oldest hominim in Europe apparently, going back 900,000 years ago. Some 90 hominim fossils and 200 fragments of worked stone have been pulled out of the ground at one site in Spain.

Mesolithic Europeans had blue eyes ... and dark skin

At first I thought this might be a bit of modern politikking but the research is published in Nature which would put that idea in the car park. The Out of Africa theory has a strong political connection but it seems we are not necessary looking at Mesolithic people with an origin in Africa - but in Siberia (where one branch went west and another went east, the latter colonising the Americas and the former, Europe.

A Strange kind of bird behaviour

In The Times January 10th 2014, the Red Knecked Phalorope spends the summer months gobbling midges in Scotland but it spends the winter in a different place to its brethren in Scandinavia and Russia. They take the route south to the Arabian Sea. The Scottish birds, instead, fly west, first to feed on plankton in Canada, and then via the Caribbean and central America, to Ecuador and Peru.

Jared Diamond - snookered

At ... Jared Diamond's best selling book is beloved of the Greens and the Enviros but is under attack once again. Why people appear to object to it may in part be the suffocating moralising involved - and the fact he has deliberately altered historical accounts in order to satisfy a preconceived agenda.

Cannibal Neanderthals

Apparently, research presented to the Royal Society  in London by scientists from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, as reported by the Sunday Times, claims a gang of Neanderthals feasted on the raw flesh of another group of Neanderthals (which included their children).


The name is derived from tal or thal = a valley, and Neander = a river, where the first specimen was unearthed, a chap that appears to have been arthritic or had a physical disability. At ... a geologist blogger provides his take on the debate - were they oafish, beastial, low brow, or were they not so different from us nowadays.