I’ve always been a “people watcher” even when I was a kid. I tend to notice people and how they look. When I began to study paleontology I began to notice something. I began to compare the skulls and skeletons of our ancient hominin ancestors with modern people I saw and that is when I began to see similarities!
In some people I began to notice that they looked like Neanderthals. As I continued my anthropological studies I began to notice this more and more and I still notice it today. In some people you can see strong Neanderthal traits in them such as the shape of their skulls, the shape and size of their overall bodies, and in some of them you can even see the distinctive bun at the back of the skull that was so characteristic of Homo neanderthalensis. You can see these traits and more even in the way they walk and in some you can even see a brow ridge. Of course, they are not pure bred Neanderthals but you can clearly see the Neanderthal features in their morphology.
Some of these people are average size while others are very large. That’s to be expected with a species that has interbred with a larger species. In this case you’d get a large Neanderthal looking person and, in some cases, that is exactly what appears to be the case!
And then there are the very tall and robust types I see in modern people. I’ve seen some people that are 7 feet tall and robust and, frankly, they remind me of the Homo heidelbergensis, “Heidelberg Man,” type. Some of this species of ancient human ancestor were about 6 feet tall while others were 7 feet tall or even taller judging form fossil remains found in South Africa.
In my people watching I see some that are very close to the species of ancient human ancestor we call Homo erectus/ergaster. Some of these people even have a little sagittal ridge or crest on top of their skulls and if you know what you are looking for you can see it. They tend to be lean and long legged which was exactly the morphology we find in H. erectus remains. Some of them have protruding faces especially around the nose and mouth areas just like H. erectus!
One of the defining traits of modern humans, Homo sapiens, according to present anthropological theory is the chin. Homo sapiens have chins, supposedly, but in some “modern people” there is little to no chin! In fact, the base of their jaw and jaw shape look very much like ancient human ancestors and not like Homo sapiens are suppose to look at all.
And then there are other people who, frankly, look ape-like! Some have the features of “Handyman,” Homo habilis. Others have clear features of Australopithecines! They have the faces and features of apes with protruding faces! Another feature of modern humans is suppose to be that Homo sapiens have flat faces but some people don’t. These people sometimes even walk slightly bent with their arms hanging down and some of them have what I consider to be longer arms that usual just like we see in apes. And I also notice that when some of these people turn to look behind them that when they turn to look back they turn their head and shoulders just like apes do and NOT like modern humans do! That’s because the skull is located on the spine differently and apes can’t just turn their heads around to look back like modern humans. They turn their heads and shoulders to look back due to the positioning of the skull on the spinal column.
And THEN there is the matter of what some call EVOLUTIONARY THROWBACKS!
Vestigiality in human evolution refers to traits (such as organs and behaviors) that occur in humans that have lost all or most of their original function through evolution. However, some of the vestigial traits only appear functionless but they may retain lesser functions or develop minor new functions in modern humans today. In fact, in some cases structures once thought to be vestigial have been found to have functions that we previously failed to recognize. And here’s what is surprising. There are NUMEROUS examples in modern humans of vestigiality!! These include anatomical examples seen in the appendix, tailbone, wisdom teeth, inside corner of the human eye, etc. And vestigiality can also be seen in modern human behavior such as goose bumps, palmar grasp reflex, decreased olfaction, etc. Ironically, many human characteristics have been found to be vestigial in other primates and related animals!! I’ll post more in depth analysis pertaining to human vestigiality in future posts but for now I wanted to point this phenomena out because in some humans today this vestigiality does not exist as some have some structures that still function like our ancient human ancestors! Example: Near the top of your ear is a muscle and that muscle is also found in primates and monkeys. In most people today this muscle is vestigial (doesn’t function) but in others it does and those people can actually move their ears just like apes and monkeys to and it goes beyond one simply “wiggling” their ears!
Now let’s turn to tails and fur found in some modern humans!
Some modern human newborns are born with what appear to be small tails! The argument is the newborn didn’t fully develop in the womb and what appears to be a tail is really the spinal column and the condition will correct itself as the newborn grows. Which, in most cases, it does. We call these “tails” pseudotails and they are typically only a few centimeters long if that. But, then again, what about the newborn in China born this past May with a 5 inch tail? Well in that case the newborn was born with Spinal Bifida. But, what about the guy born with the very long tail and never had it cut off surgically?
And then there is the matter of Ambras Syndrome. Ambras Syndrome is a condition in which newborns are born with excessive hair on the face and/or body although this is very rare. Some lose the hair as they grow but others don’t and for those that don’t life can be very harsh for them as they are mocked and rejected by other children and even adults!
So what are we to make of all this? Before I move on let me tell you about a friend of mine……
One day I was with my friend who will remain nameless and I heard a story from his grandmother. We were talking and she commented about how “odd” my friend was when he was born. She said he was born with a small tail and reddish brown hair all over his body. She also said he had a protruding face “like a monkey” and “little pointed ears.” She concluded by telling me that my friend looked like a “little monkey” or “little pug dog.” I was astounded by this revelation! All I could say was, “So he was born with reddish brown fur all over him?” And the grandmother corrected me saying, “No! HAIR not fur! It was thick reddish brown HAIR.” My friend had his head down as if he were ashamed or something (we were teenagers at the time) and that’s when I gave him a nickname, “Hiker Monkey,” because we both like hiking and exploring. The tail was surgically removed and as he grew up he lost most of the hair. His ears rounded out although they are still a bit pointed today. But, they had to use braces to pull his mouth back so he’d look more human and less ape!
So what to make of all this? A friend born akin to something like an ape, Australopithecine, or Erectus….ancient human ancestor features clearly observable in some modern humans today….tails….fur/hair……sagittal crests……
Paleoanthropologists today know that human evolution never has been a straight line of progression. We also know that it has never been a “tree of evolution” but, in fact, has always been more akin to a TWISTED BUSH OF EVOLUTION. And a VERY twisted bush in fact. We also know that one ancient human ancestor species didn’t abruptly end as another began. In fact, the norm seems to be that many times in human prehistory there were several species of human hominins coexisting at the same time for varying lengths of time and sometimes for thousands of years! So we had different ancient human ancestors running around coexisting and we also know that some of them interbred such as Neanderthals and modern humans, Denisovans and modern humans, Denisovans and Neanderthals, and on and on. The interbreeding of different species of ancient human ancestors is now a known fact. The question is, How much interbreeding went on?
So, when I look at “modern humans” today I can see some very strong features in some of them from our ancient human ancestors. I see Neanderthals, Erectus, Habilis, Heidelbergensis, and even Australopithecus! And MY THEORY is that our ancient human ancestors were NOT replaced nor did they ever go extinct but, rather, they INTERBRED WITH MODERN HUMAN HOMO SAPIENS and, thus, they are STILL WITH US TODAY!!
Don’t believe me? Think I”m full of it? Try being a bit more of a people watcher and see for yourselves! Look for those features of Neanderthals, Erectus, Habilis, etc and see if you can see them still in people today. And, btw, if you come across what appears to be a pure bred ancient human ancestor I WANT TO KNOW ASAP!!
In future posts on this topic I’ll be posting some more info about vestigial oddities, evolutionary throwbacks,geofacts and out of place artifacts, etc. For now, let me say one other thing. In some ways when you consider everything about human evolution and the standard theories about how we evolved and where we evolved SOMETHING does NOT make sense! There are too many “oddities” or “out of place” phenomena that just don’t fit the mainstream theories! We tend to pass them off or ignore them but, frankly, that’s NOT what science is suppose to do! SCIENCE IS SUPPOSE TO INVESTIGATE AND SOLVE MYSTERIES and give ANSWERS! And that is what I’m going to attempt to do in this matter. Solve some mysteries and provide some answers about modern humans and our ancient human ancestors.