The majority consensus is that our ancient human ancestors came out of Africa and populated the world. And the consensus is also that human evolution took place in Africa as these newly evolved humans migrated out of Africa they replaced more archaic species along the way. This is the OOA/Replacement Theory. More recently there has been evidence found that, in fact, there were not only migrations out of Africa but also back into Africa. However, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting all of this is NOT the case at all and part of that growing evidence are the finds at the Dmanisi site in Georgia (Russia).
The finds at the Dmanisi site clearly challenge the conventional opinion and the more we find the more it is beginning to appear that Africa was NOT the sole “cradle of humankind.” For, what is being found at the Dmanisi site suggests STRONGLY that there was a “Eurasian chapter in the long evolutionary story of man.”
The Dmanisi discoveries upset the conventional view that ancient human ancestors migrated out of Africa not so long ago in evolutionary terms. In fact, these discoveries strongly point to ancient human ancestors migrating out of Africa FAR earlier than the conventional view holds. Of course, some of this is being demeaned by the suggestion (speculation) that there was simply a long evolutionary interlude in Eurasia before moving back into Africa to complete our evolution. Frankly, I think that is an absolute CROCK! I think what was going on at Dmanisi was far MORE than simply an “evolutionary interlude.”
The Dmanisi fossilized bones have been dated at around 1.8 myr and they are the oldest remains discovered outside of Africa to date. The Dmanisi remains are far more primitive appearing than Homo erectus which is believed to have been the first hominid species to migrate out of Africa about 1 mya. How is this possible that we have a hominid species outside of Africa long before H. erectus migrated out of Africa and began their conquest of the world?
When we compare the Dmanisi remains to H. erectus remains we come up with some very interesting comparisons. The Dmanisi had brains about 40% SMALLER than the average H. erectus brain! We also find that the Dmanisi were significantly shorter than the average H. erectus. Further, the conventional view has been that when H. erectus came out of Africa they had sophisticated stone tools (Acheulean) and that their physical anatomy was “advanced” in terms of brain size and limb proportions. BUT what is found at Dmanisi is very DIFFERENT from this!
The Dmanisi are the earliest known Homo (Man) ancestors outside of Africa and yet they were very primitive. Some researchers believe the Dmanisi are earlier archaic H. erectus and might be the ancestors of all later H. erectus. If this is so then it would suggest STRONGLY that H. erectus did NOT originate in Africa but in EURASIA!! H. erectus may have evolved in EURASIA from the primitive Dmanisi and then SOME may have migrated INTO Africa where, perhaps, they gave rise to H. sapiens (modern humans). Then, again, this may NOT have been the case at all. Perhaps H. ergaster in Africa gave rise to modern humans there while H. erectus in Eurasia gave rise to modern humans in Eurasia. Yes I’m talking parallel evolution happening in Africa and in Eurasia culminating in modern humans in BOTH places. OR perhaps we are simply looking at different breeds of archaic humans who interbred eventually culminating in what we call “modern humans.” Any of these scenarios is possible in my mind.
Of course in the conventional view it always has to be “either/or.” So the mainstream says H. erectus either originated in Africa or Eurasia and if Eurasia then there must have been a back-migration into Africa. Sorry but I don’t believe that and I do not believe the evidence supports this. From what I can see it appears H. erectus may well have originated in Eurasia while H. ergaster certainly evolved in Africa. And, yes, I’m sure there were likely migrations in and out of Africa for a long, long time by MANY hominin species.
The Dmanisi are identified by 5 skulls and a jawbone and it is clear from the skulls that the Dmanisi were small brained, about 1/3 the size of modern human brains. It is also clear that they were small and even though there lower limbs were very human their upper limbs were archaic and they used very primitive stone tools (Oldowan type). This according to Professor David Lordkipanidze, General Director of the Georgia National Museum. In fact, the brain size of Dmanisi is only about 600 cc which is around 1/2 the size of H. erectus and modern humans. Further, it is interesting to note that the only human fossil remains to predate the Dmanisi are those of H. habilis (Handyman) which has thus far only been found in Africa. H. habilis also used primitive stone tools (Oldowan) and lived from 2.5–1.6 mya.
Professor Lordkipanitze says that had we found Dmanisi 40 year ago the remains would have been assumed to be those of H. habilis due to their small brain size. Further, the brow ridges are NOT as thick as those of H. erectus or should I say LATER H. erectus as it is still a “mystery” as to why earlier H. erectus had smaller brow ridges than later H. erectus. Professor Lordkipanitze believes Georgia (Dmanisi) is the Cradle of the First Europeans” and I would agree!
In terms of height the Dmanisi are believed to have been between 1.44-1.5 meters tall (4.75 ft to 4.9 ft tall) whereas H. erectus averaged around 4.9-6.1 ft tall (145-185 cm) and weighed between 88-150 lbs (40-68 kg). Professor Lordkipanitze believes the Dmanisi were very good runners and walkers because their lower limbs (tibia bones) were very human-like. He also has suggested that body morphology and proportions may be MORE important than brain size! He may well be correct in my opinion.
The professor also points out that even though the Dmanisi had small brains their stone tools were actually more sophisticated than H. habilis’ Oldowan stone tools but not as sophisticated as those of H. erectus who developed Acheulean stones tools. He says this shows that the Dmanisi had “high social and cognitive skills.” Seems brain size didn’t really matter in the case of the Dmanisi, at least, not all that much.
One of the skulls at Dmanisi is from an individual who lost their teeth while still living yet it appears this individual survived toothless and Professor Lordkipanitze believes this shows some kind of social organization based on mutual care among the Dmanisi. In other words, they took care of their infirm and that is SIGNIFICANT in my opinion as it not only indicates social organization but compassion for each other and maybe even a sort of morality or value system!
Of course the finds at Dmanisi continue to create controversy because they DON’T fit into the conventional Out of Africa view. And, in fact, what they ARE suggesting is for Europeans it was an “Out of Eurasia” origin instead. And that is HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT because the powers that be have rammed the Out of Africa/Replacement THEORY down our throats until we are now literally gagging!!
The finds at Dmanisi especially Skull 5 (D4500) indicate that what we have thought to be different species of ancient human ancestors (H. erectus, H. habilis, H. rudolfensis) may NOT have been separate species at all but, rather, they may have been a SINGLE EVOLVING LINEAGE!! And this notion is supported by Professor Lordkipanitze among others.
Skull 5 has all of the characteristics of H. erectus but it has a brain size of a large Australopithecus male (546 cc). The braincase sizes of the other skulls range from 601 cc to 730 cc. Further, the face of Skull 5 is one of the largest of any ancient human ancestor found to date. The Zygomatic Arches (cheekbones) are massive with the right side showing traces of deformations like due to injuries of some kind. It is estimated the Dmanisi weighed between 47 kg to 50 kg (104-110 lbs).
So what is being suggested by several researchers including Professor Lordkipanitze is that Eurasia may be the cradle of Europeans and that the earliest of the homo genus were actually a subspecies of H. erectus. Further, what researchers have found is that the variations between the 5 skulls is NO MORE variant than variations we see today between 5 different humans or 5 different species of chimps!
For the most part I agree with Professor Lordkipanitze but I don’t think the Dmanisi were a mere “evolutionary interlude” and then they migrated back into Africa. I think they were always in Eurasia an stayed in Eurasia and evolved there NOT Africa! Human evolution was happening in Eurasia and in Africa and I’m sure it was happening elsewhere too. I do not believe all of our ancestors evolved in Africa and I believe we are finding more and more evidence that our ancestors were evolving just about everywhere!