This article suggesting how war is not necessarily ingrained in human culture piqued my interest, but something seemed off. Oh yeah, John Horgan… the guy who proposed there are no more big ideas in science remaining. Anyone proposing that doesn’t merit my trust. I went back to the comments thread on Reddit to see there was already some decent critical discussion.
Archive for the ‘anthropology’ Category
This paper is interesting, but with those new dates pushing back the Iberian Neandertals, makes me hesitate now, as a lot of this paper addresses avian bones from a Gibraltar site after 50k. That date was picked because:
“The prevailing paradigm among Palaeolithic archaeologists today is still one which regards flying birds to have been difficult prey to capture and beyond the capabilities of all hominins prior to 50 kya and non-modern hominins (including the Neanderthals) even after the 50 kya threshold. The corollary, which has been applied to the Neanderthals for the period after 50 kya, is that they only targeted birds once easier prey (presumed to be energetically less costly to obtain than birds) were exhausted.”
If all of the Neandertals were already dead though..
I skimmed the paper, missing any mention of carbon dating of the avian bones. The bones were associated with Neandertal sites. Maybe the whole paradigm about flying birds being difficult prey prior to 50k years ago is wrong? Or are these sites really associated with Neandertals?
Some articles reporting these new datings of Iberian Neandertals placing them 10,000 years earlier then they were previously are also insisting then there is no way modern humans interacted with Neandertals as modern humans were not in the same place at the same time. (That Nature article isn’t one of them, but this EurekAlert does.) That’s nice, but the genetics studies already show Neandertals and humans did interact, perhaps not in Iberia, but somewhere. I reckon that it’s just science journalists who haven’t accepted the genetics proofs are just ahead of the curve of the fossil evidence.
There’s another study arguing earlier dates for modern humans out of Africa than 60,000 years ago, in multiple dispersals. (via Dienekes.) Even if Neandertals all went extinct earlier than thought, not just the ones in the Iberian peninsula, they still had the opportunity to interact with modern humans, as they were already in Europe.
Homo erectus using fire is old news now, but possible evidence of Peking Man using leather as clothing is new to me.
I honestly don’t know what’s going on here. Two PDFs of research articles are floating about, but i’m too fuzzy-brained and undereducated to muddle through them.
The fossils date to the mid-Pleistocene to a river basin in northwestern India. They aren’t sure if they are modern humans or archaic hominids. One researcher was insisting on their being ancestors to modern pygmies, which is weird and almost certainly wrong.
I’m leaning on the usual wild guess… another archaic human branch that wound up in modern human DNA through admixture, possibly only in South Asians or probably only Austronesians. They’ll be distinct from both Neandertals and Denisovans.
Update 0.1.29.13: As noted in comments, the article seems to read differently than it did originally. There is a noted correction at the suggestion of Dr. A. R. Sankhyan on January 21st. It’s likely changing the wording to mean more specifically pygmies of South Asia and the article now seems far, far more plausible. The reason why I get nervous about the possibility of anyone even hinting about westward migration that early, back into Africa, is because there is all kinds of dubious research that has bubled up through my years of combing through these news stories proposing human evolved in China that reeks of nationalism. Thankfully, with this correction, this research isn’t one of them.
Once again, the find is out of South Africa. To quote the article, “But whether this flickering pattern in the archaeological record is real or merely an artifact of the small number of sites excavated has been unclear.” My vote is on the latter, based on just stubborn belief…. unscientific, yes, but it also doesn’t seem rational humans raced across the planet then refined these hunting technologies very quickly. They brought these more refined technologies with them, possibly why they spread so far and rapidly.
Yep, yep, yep… sapient animals are great with tools. Hominids figured out that stone tips on wood shafts were more effective early on… yep.
So when did modern humans really become modern humans, eh?
John Hawks’ blog is one of my favorite blogs regardless. It’s the human evolution posts that I’ve linked many times, but this time it’s this post on his visit to the Altai last summer, describing the Afanasievo and Pazyryk kurgans. It’s beautiful country and there’s a lot of fascinating work being done there, aside from the discovery of the Denisovans.