Anthropology news

Neanderthals and Rabbits

A rather strange story at http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/failure-to-hunt-rabbits-part-of-... ... and concerns the absence of rabbits and similar small animals in the diet of Neanderthals. It seems a very big assumption is being made here and it is taken further by the claim they failed to hunt rabbits, or were unable to hunt them because their technology was inadequate, and this led to their decline. I'm sure if Neanderthals were hungry they would eat anything they could catch, including our small furry friends with the long ears.

European genes --- where might they have travelled to or from?

Chiefio has turned his mind to genes and has a spiffing post on Native Americans and European roots, all nicely speculative but interesting never the less, not so much science as observation by the eye - see http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/native-americans-and-european-ro.... In a distribution map of Haplogroup R Y-DNA one can see a close connection between western Europe, on the one hand, and the Great Lakes region, on the other. He also notes the use of long houses among the Iroquois peoples, and others such as the Cherokee.

Out of Africa - revised version now on the conveyor belt

The Out of Africa hypothesis - humans are said to have migrated out of Africa around 60,000 years ago, has remained remarkably robust in spite of a lot of contradictory evidence in recent times. It has achieved consensus status and therefore a lot of shove is required for a relook at the basics of what has become an article of faith rather than a purely scientific model. At http://phys.org/print274630312.html ...

Native Americans and Northern Europeans are closely related

This story pops up at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121130151606.htm ... and at http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2012/11/native-americans-and-... (and various other sites). To a certain extent this amounts to a recycling of old news as it has been recognised that one strand of Palaeolithic people entered Europe from the NE direction (see for example Clive Finlayson, The Humans that went Extinct, Oxford University Press: 2009).

The knotty subject of cave art ... did Neanderthals have the ability to stick their hands in paint and leave marks on the walls, or better still, did they actually compose pictures

The comes from Current World Archaeology 55 (november 2012 issue) see www.world-archaeology.com, and 'Redating Ice Age Art: were Neanderthals the first artists in Europe?' which comes as a result of a new dating technique, and was first reported in the journal Science earlier in the year.

Stone Age technology

At http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/september-2012/article/stone-tipped... ... a Canadian team of anthropologists say they have found evidence humans were using stone tipped weapons to hunt as long ago as 500,000 year - somewhat earlier than was led to believe. Neanderthal and modern humans alike used such stone tools but now, we are being assured, so too did Homo Heidelbergensis, in the Middle Pleistocene.

We all speak Egyptian

We all speak Egyptian, it seems, not the Arab variety introduced by a colonialist invaders around 1400 hundred years ago, but the real Egyptian language as spoken by pharaohs and their subjects. It was known to the Greeks as the language of demes, the common people, and this has given rise to the Demotic Dictionary - see http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2012/09/17/chicago-demotic-dictionary-r... ...

Genetic mutation in Africa

At http://phys.org/print267290115.html (and now at www.geneticarchaeology.com from today, the 21st Sept) ... new research is suggesting genetic mutation explains how early humans were able to move from central Africa in what is known as the 'Great Expansion' event. I don't suppose many people outside anthropology circles were aware of this 'great expansion', which is dated to 85,000 years ago (for various interlocking and complex reasons involving Out of Africa, archaeology, genetics and geology etc).

Velly Oldie People

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120917085535.htm ... eight well preserved spears have been found in Germany, 300,000 years of age. These are purported to be the world's oldest weaponry. The finds indicate the people concerned were skilled craftsmen and hunters with a capacity for abstract thought and planning comparable to modern humans, and yet they are thought to be predecessors to the Neanderthals.

Lactose tolerance in Africa

EM Smith is catching up on the discovery that cattle herders and pastoralists in the green Sahara, prior to 4000BC, led to lactose tolerance - thereby mirroring what happened in Europe at about the same point in time. Consuming dairy products led to lactose tolerance, a boon to people in the cool climate of northern Europe when crops were in short supply in winter months, but equally a boon to people in the Sahara, where it became extremely arid in the subsequent period following the Mid Holocene Warm Period.