Early Human Revisions

29 Dec 2010

At www.pasthorizons.com/index.php/archives/12/2010/new-work-casts-doubt-on-out-of-africa-theory/ ... there is a report on the recent discovery of the remains of humans found at Qesem Cave near Rosh Ha'ayin in modern Israel. Incredibly, these have been dated via cave floor detritus, to some 400,000 years ago. Now, according to this post the consensus Out of Africa hypothesis is under pressure. It will be interesting to watch how this new evidence is reinterpreted in order to keep the favoured scenario on track. The evidence rests largely on teeth - which appear to have modern parallels. However, the possibility is being broached, toyed around with by some anthropologists, that perhaps modern humans evolved in the Levant rather than Africa (see also http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2010/12/400-200ka-dental-remains-from-qesem.html and the Qesem Cave web site. The information above comes from a paper published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology D01:10.1002/ajpa.2146

Meanwhile, at www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/dental-exam-shows-neanderthals-cooked-and-ate-vegies/ which is another slant on a similar story and confirms Neanderthals were not meat heating hulks with bulging muscles from throwing spears at close range of fearsome beasts. They had a normal human diet which included plant material - leaves, tubers and roots as well as seeds, berries and fruit. In fact, wild grass seed was one of the items found trapped in plaque on teeth. Cooked starch grains also confirm they heated and processed food, used fire as a tool, and again, were not a lot different from modern humans. Neanderthals lived in Europe, central Asia and the Middle East between 200,000 and 30,000 years ago - note how this compares with the above find of teeth akin to modern humans in a cave layer dated to 400,000 years ago.

At www.npr.org/2010/12/28/132243863/2010-a-good-year-for-neanderthals-and-dna/ which tops the pile with an overview of the last year and various news stories concerning the maligned Neanderthals. We now know from their DNA their genes live on - in us. The Neanderthal genetic code was found to be relatively close to Europeans and Asians - but not to Africans. What is this telling us?