Looking at fossils

13 Jul 2014

At http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/dam-construction-tu... ... you'd think the environmentalist brigade, so fond of blocking dam building in the third world, would baulk at the idea of dam building in Silicon Valley - where the huge profits from the electronic gadget industry are funnelled into CAGW organisations and preachers of the one true message to mankind. Well, the Greens in California have allowed a dam to be updated - against earthquakes. It makes common sense of course - but does it make Green sense? Not sure about that one. Anyway, the gist of the above link is that the dam builders have struck a rich vein of fossils dating back 20 million years ago, to the Miocene. In the Miocene, we are informed, the ocean extended inland as far as Bakersfield in California. Scallops, clams, barnacles, and the teeth of an extinct hippopotamus have been dug up. Now, teeth from a 40 foot long shark and what appears to be the complete skeleton of a whale have been found.

At http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/discovery-of-neande... ... which concerns the way scientists have contrived to map out human evolution, from one species to another. The theory of dispersal of humans during the Pleistocene is based on isolated anatomical and genetic features in fragmentary fossils - a whole raft of information in books and on the web has been accumulated based on very little actual skeletal material. Even those anthropologtists that are sceptical of the consensus do not stray too far from the straight and narrow. The discovery, in northern China, of an archaic skull dated 100,000 years ago, possessing traits associated normally only with Neanderthals, has caused a few ripples - no doubt temporary ripples that will quickly dissipate. Neanderthals are normally confined to Europe and western Asia. The carefully constructed maps of human dispersal do not place Neanderthals in the Far East. Is the evolutionary tree of humanity too rigid it is asked. Biology, they add, is a complex subject, unlike the simple lines drawn on maps by anthropologists. However, what appears to be missing is catastrophism - the element that can spark long range migration.