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Human Movements

22 September 2011

At http://news.ku.dk/all_news/2011/2011.9/aboriginals-get-new-history/  … the human genome of Australian Aborigines has been collated and the results published in the journal Science – which will have repercussions on Out of Africa. It seems they represent the descendants of an earlier human expansion.

Meanwhile, a paper in the American Journal of Human Genetics, also based on genetic analysis, have found that even earlier humans, the so called Denisovans, contemporaries of Neanderthals and Homo erectus and known solely from a finger bone found in Siberia, have contributed DNA to Aborigines and natives of New Guinea, the Philippines, Melanesia etc. See www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-09/hmas-dk091611.php – and other sources such as Science Daily. It is thought, from this, that Denisovans (no fossils found anywhere but in Siberia) must have occupied a large range from Siberia to South East Asia – but primarily in the latter region (before the arrival of the East Asians that dominate Indonesia and elsewhere nowadays).

Elsewhere, BBC News at www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14947363 says that a reanalysis of a 13.000 years old skull from a cave in Nigeria has found some primitive features – otherwise not expected. It does not look like a modern human, as it has a strong brow ridge, and is larger and flatter than it should be. Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum and author of Homo Britannicus says it shows that human evolution in Africa was more complex than thought – meaning it may cause a problem for the old tidy theories that previously were so certain they were right. Clearly, ancient humans in Africa did not die out once modern humans had evolved – and it is far messier that that.

At www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-09/uol-cfd092111.php we are told research at University of Liverpool has found that periods of rapid fluctuation in temperature coincided with the emergence of the first distant relatives of humans and the use and spread of stone tools. Somehting big was a factor in the evolution of humans – but what?

Also at Eurekalert, www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-09/w-dto092111.php there is a piece on a paper in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology which explores the settlement of the Americas. 

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