The Young Man of Byrsa

The genetics of “Young Man of Byrsa” are interesting, but just his maternal heritage isn’t enough to prove Phoenicians weren’t from the Near East. He’s a Phoenecian found in a crypt on Byrsa Hill, which was the highest point in Carthage. He possesses mitochondrial haplogroup U5b2c1, which is a relatively rare and ancient haplogroup, from the early hunter-gatherers. What does that say about the Phoenicians?

…that they moved around a lot, started a bunch of colonies along their trade network, and intermarried among the locals. That was already known. It just happens that Ariche, the Young Man of Byrsa, has an intriguing maternal lineage.

Obviously the Young Man of Byrsa wound up in Carthage, but we don’t know how he arrived there. We do know the Phoenicians were a seafaring people and had colonies throughout the Mediterranean. His mother’s family clearly originated from what seems northwestern Spain. Both the articles linked state as much and point out the huge trade Phoenicians trade network. However, there are several articles I stumbled across that suggest that the Phoenicians themselves are now thought to be from that U mitochondrial haplogroup, somehow displaced then migrating west. Nope, nope, nope.

Good science. Too much bad reporting.

two waves of pre-Columbian settlers in South America

Populations of early human settlers grew like an ‘invasive species,’ researchers find. Let’s see:

The researchers found strong evidence for two distinct phases of demographic growth in South America. The first phase, characterized by logistic growth, occurred between 14,000 and 5,500 years ago and began with a rapid spread of people and explosive population size throughout the continent.

Then, consistent with other invasive species, humans appear to have undergone an early population decline consistent with over-exploitation of their resources. This coincided with the last pulses of an extinction of big animals. Subsequent to the loss of these big animals, humans experienced a long period of constant population size across the continent. The second phase, from about 5,500 to 2,000 years ago, saw exponential population growth. This pattern is distinct from those seen in North America, Europe and Australia.

The dates come from radiocarbon dates from 1,100 sites. I still have the same old suspicion that there are more ancient sites that haven’t been identified or have been dated relatively conservatively. (Monte Verde, yo…) Those would alter the dates on the first wave quite a bit.

Neandertal introgression 100,000 years ago

Although the article drops in that hopefully soon-to-be abandoned Out of Africa 65,000 years ago trope, the rest of it shows that an Altai Neandertal shows signs of…. tah-dah! Homo sapiens introgression! The bone is 60,000 years old. The modern human DNA found seems to have diverged from the later African lineage 200,000 years ago, and introgressed into this Neandertal line 100,000 years ago.

The Neandertal is from the same site in which Denisovans were identified.


Sulawesi hominid?

The title and article seems a little misleading, hinting there may be a cousin to Homo floresiensis on island of Sulawesi.

There has been no fossil discovered.

Homo sapiens is believed to have reached Sulawesi 50,000 years ago. Stone tools have been found there which seem to date to 118,000 years  to 194,000 old. So who made these tools?


(Probably Homo erectus)

Whoooooole lot of speculation. I don’t mind that much because that’s what I love to do, but it still seems odd.

Polynesian sailors spread the sweet potato from Peru across the Pacific

It’s a three year old article that the Daily Grail dug up. I remember the theory seeing the sweet potato theory floating around for years, but missed news of the research published.

Polynesian sailors spread the sweet potato from Peru across the Pacific. A key paragraph:

By analyzing genetic markers specific to sweet potatoes in both modern samples of the plant and older herbarium specimens, the researchers discovered significant differences between varieties found in the western Pacific versus the eastern Pacific. This finding supports the so-called tripartite hypothesis, which argues that the sweet potato was introduced to the region three times: first through premodern contact between Polynesia and South America, then by Spanish traders sailing west from Mexico, and Portuguese traders coming east from the Caribbean. The Spanish and Portuguese varieties ended up in the western Pacific, while the older South American variety dominated in the east, which would explain the genetic differences the French team saw.

Likely this ties into Mapuche sewn-plank boats and the Araucana chickens in Chile as well.

butchered mammoth places humans in Siberian Arctic 45,000 years ago

The remains of a newly discovered butchered mammoth places humans in the Siberian Arctic 45,000 years ago, which is 15,000 years earlier than previously estimated. The site is on Yensei Bay. That’s some seriously inhospitable territory, even 45,000 years ago I think. That’s a considerable distance from the Bering Strait, but if humans were traversing such terrain that early, that opens a lot of questions.