27 comments on “The Coexistence of H. naledi and Modern Humans in South Africa

  1. I fully support the hybrid theory, it just makes too much sense. And the timeline is very interesting. I wonder if any coprolites have been found? Apparently they can now get DNA results from coprolites and it would be interesting see what they might find with this dig.

    I understand the point about this being in Africa, But Roberto has also suggested it is possible that one of these very early species may have found it’s way to the new world during this timeline but we just haven’t found it yet.

    I have started a draft and research about how this very thing happened with early Polar Bear ancestors, Not just the hybridization but also very early migration. If Polar Bears did it why not the same with man?

    With the re-dating of the San Diego find we are getting closer though. 🙂

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    • I too think some early hominids made it into the Americas by various means or perhaps they were simply already here to begin with. I would be interested to see your draft/research on polar bear migrations. Ancient people followed their food source so if the food source crossed the land bridge or by some other means then of course these people would have followed them as far as I can see. It’s only logical and natural behavior of predator and prey. I find it thrilling that new finds are being made that actually support what Peron has been saying for a long time now. Thank you for your comment JR.

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      • I saw it yesterday on the other thread Rob but was just unable to muster thought. It deserves to be on it’s own thread Rob. Thanks!

        I have been researching the polar bear thing as time allows in between treasure hunts you guys end up sending me on with your thoughts here. 🙂 Their evolution history is quite interesting and very well can be compared to the hybridization theory Roberto has suggested in man.

        They are a living example of hybridization and more importantly very early migration to all continents and islands in the far north. And they are Mariners who FLOAT. If bears could float at such an early time, why not man?

        It’s taking me a bit because it covers several different correlation examples at once, but I will eventually make all the connections . 🙂

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            • It will be my pleasure Barb, thank you. The more I dig the more interesting it gets and I keep getting sidetracked into more detailed stuff and now even colorations with oral traditions and origin stories. 🙂

              So it’s like “OK now where am going to fit this into it? it needs to be there…”

              but more important things keep coming up.

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    • This is actually pretty amazing, honestly. But I tend to agree with the idea that H. naledi was likely some hybrid form of H. habilis. It certainly has some of those features but it also has H. sapien features too. It will be interesting to see what else they come up with at Rising Star. Berger and Hawks are great btw.

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    • Yes, the recent evidence of a hominid in San Diego 150,000 years is compelling and corroborates this idea that a robust hominid, perhaps Denisovan, travelled with the many herds across the Baringia grass land bridge from Asia that flourished most with life in that time more so than the last glacial maxim that brought the pre-Clovis people. These hominids not only were able to survive along side of very dangerous mega fauna predators of the time but it appears they actually exploited them by harvesting kill sites; splitting the bones of abandoned mastodon kills that were made by Short Faced Bears, Smilodon and American Lions. This is much like how their ancestors, Homo Erectus, lived off of hyena kills by using tools to split the bones.

      As far as cross breeding, I prefer to think it may be typical when a species forms, that it is the effect of a diversity of similar species that creates the selective pressure for each to exploit a unique niche and this gives rise to a divergent independent species that no longer cross-breeds.

      For the strategic abstract thinking story tellers, traders and gambler type, it appears to be that they exploited the niche of preserving stories and being able to reunite with long separated kin and share resources. All the hominids were subjected to radical climate change starting around 350,000 years ago and so they had to adapt to a rapid succession of arid cold deserts to uncrossable lakes and rivers as each of the many glacial to interglacial transition went through complex pulsing of melt cycles. This climate effect resulted in regular isolation and reduction of population sizes. They had to adapt to being isolated and adapt to a scarce food supply.

      The species that gave rise to the neanderthal and modern human common ancestor may have moved to the northern part of Africa into the live sustaining shadow of the Atlas mountains in Morroco and the Ethiopian Highlands that were rich with water suppling glacials. They may have been compelled to move away from the Homo naladi, Homo habilis and even Homo antecessor types, that became too different to mingle with or share habitat with.

      The Neanderthal/Denisovan/Heidelbergensis branch adapted to the cold and an ability to migrate great distances to find new resources while the modern human branch adapted more towards resource sharing through reuniting with their own kind near-by. This may be why Neanderthal made it out of Africa much sooner.

      According to recent findings about the 300,000 year old fully modern human archaic fossils found in Morocco, our ability to meet up with our own was key because the fossils showed that our facial structure, our ability to read intent and communicate through our unique facial-expression orientated communication style, the same one that dogs developed too, due to co-development with Modern Humans, predates our unique forebrain because our distinct forebrain laden cranium was much less developed, more archaic, in these fossils while the faces were fully developed to what they are now.

      When considering all the human-delusion based problems that hatched in our recent neolithic revolution, it is exciting and hopeful to consider that what makes modern humans unique is our ability to unite with one another, with our species, to overcome adversity.

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      • Thank you for the excellent comments Doug. I agree with you, in that, what makes modern humans unique is our ability to unite with one another (our species) to overcome adversity. We are truly a species that is a survivor. When you consider the massive climate changes of the past and what our ancient human ancestors must have endured to survive is is somewhat mindbogglingly. Weaker species disappeared and stronger species survived. We were among the later. And no matter what happens in the near future I think that our species will continue to survive in different circumstances, of course.

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        • I try not to bring politics over here, but I have to say that this one of the few problems with libertarians. Their anticollevtive individualism is not favorable for long term survival. Completely solo is just not realistic. Man would not have survived if they had not watched each others backs. Lol

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          • Yes, J.R. Bentley, it is wise to avoid politics here but I can’t help express my enthusiasm for what the success of the pre neolithic modern human cultures imply concerning anti collective individualism vs a more communistic model.

            Both the key to our later survival in the last ice age, the ice age that seems to have weeded out all the other hominids, and the key, the cause, of the selective pressure that shaped the characteristics that made us who we are, the forces that gradually distinguished us from the other Ergaster-like hominids of the time during the 3rd and 4th ice age back, were largely our advanced abstraction based strategic skills that allowed commerce, gambling, story telling and many other social behaviors such as being able to assess the level of deceit, intent and ability to trust thru facial expression. All of these uniquely modern human behaviors are squarely dependent upon our advanced ability to create an abstract construct of ourselves, an imaginary notion that we are entirely separate individuals. This complex and abstract construct of the ‘individual’ was necessary for us to engage in and play out advanced strategic games in our minds that create advantage for resource gain.

            You show a gorilla a mirror and she freaks out for a while before she figures it out. But wait an hour, give her the mirror again, she has the same initial freak out.

            We are unique in a very specific way concerning our perception of self and the language and social interaction development based upon ways that genetic markers show that even Neanderthal did not share. Referring here to the research by Joshua Vernat and Ben Akey titled “Ressurecting Surviving Neanderthal Lineages from Modern Human Genomes.” from the University of Washington. Here Akey showed that there were vast blank spots in certain places, which, despite his conclusion and theory that goes in a different direction, implies these areas were taken over by modern development after our break from our common ancestor with neanderthal. One of these blank areas was related to our FOXP2 gene that is responsible for how the language and abstraction based frontal lobe evolved.

            To make a long story short, too late, I know, the land could not support large groups which is part of why we and other hominids dispersed into smaller tribes and we, because of our supercharged strategic language based minds, into other cultures and languages. Our skill set advantage was based in allowing and tolerating radically different cultures and individuals from our same or nearly the same species.

            This notion of tolerance and individualism seems to be reflected in the Enlightenment based political theory of Voltaire and John Locke where the rights of the individuals is regarded as a natural right, the freedom to have your own beliefs is a natural right and the obligation to provide refuge to those tempest tossed huddled masses yearning to breathe free is an extension of those natural rights via a recognition and appreciation of those natural individual rights. For the US, it is the simple vision that inspired the sacrifice of the brave.

            This individualism and tolerance based natural rights is also the well spring of how wealth for an individual, collective of individuals or tribes and nation is achieved because it allows for the production of goods and services, the ownership of the means of production, from a vast diversity of innovative individual perspectives instead of centralized mass production where elites tend to dominate a low-paid working class. Individualism and tolerances is the basis of a strong middle class economy and the basis for how our sparse tribes united, survived and thrived.

            If we look at the anti-collective libertarian model, the communistic model, the capitalistic model and even the scientific perspective model through the Enlightenment lens we will see a beautiful hybrid emerging by seeing that our need for truth; the need for a certainty, a rigid incontrovertible authority to proclaim what is certain, is only a need for a sense of security, a need to quell a fear that our abstract construct sense of self; our story-based sense of self, will suddenly end and only continue in some eternal confining darkness or bright promised land if we conform, submit and obey. This fear didn’t dominate our collective choices prior to the neolithic revolution for some interesting reason worth understanding and discussing.

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            • I did want to add that this selective pressure event that did involve crossbreeding with similar Homo Ergaster-like species and caused the divergence from our common ancestor with neanderthal was a gradual event that occurred, in my opinion, in Africa roughly between 340 and 640 kya. I feel any cross-breeding in Asia and Europe may have occurred for Denisovans and Neanderthal types but not Modern Humans since there has been little to no change in our species for 300,000 years.

              I am excluding neanderthal as a species we could later remerge with because I read Svaant Paabo’s book and research from him and his group that suggested this was possible and feel his statistical analysis to be extremely flawed when computing convergence times.

              His gnome work seems accurate but they kept tweaking the programs until it produced the recent cross-breeding results they wanted. Benjamin Akey’s paper seems to indirectly confirm the reason neanderthal DNA is more prevalent in Europeans than in Africans because the blank spaces reveals all the shared DNA to be ancient, with broad swaths completely replaced.

              This fits the model showing there were many diverse groups of modern humans in Africa, with some more isolated groups having more ancestral DNA than groups less isolated and that had more regular reunification events.

              We have to be careful with genetic evidence because we have to rely on the authority of the researcher more. It is not as straight forward as visually demonstrating changes in fossil records. Unless we each become experts at how these complex statistical analysis are achieved, we need to be leery and skeptical of what genetic studies are proclaiming as certain if we are to gain valuable insight from what this research can offer.

              That is one of the most important lessons of Paabo’s work in retrospect.

              I apologize for my long windedness. I will try to shorten my responses.

              Also, I am new here and cannot press the like button on many of the great comments in this discussion until I finish some kind of registration process. I am really glad I found this and look forward to learning much.

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              • I appreciate every bit of it Doug and thank you for your time to share this. I would like to explore this more with you day after tomorrow if you are willing. Grandkids visiting and have to cart them home tomorrow.

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              • Doug you are very welcome to be long-winded (as I am LOL). We have no restrictions on post length so feel free to write as much as you wish. Glad you are here and welcome 🙂

                PS: You will notice the title of this blog includes the word “Rants.” Anyone can rant here not just me. JR rants every now and then and I love it LOL!! Also don’t worry about injecting politics, social issues, current affairs, etc. Our discussions here are open and we do get off subject now and then but have some great conversations. I only ask that everyone here be respectful of each other and that we have productive conversations. That’s all.

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              • I apologize for the delay in reply Doug, Emergencies and responsibilities seem to all happen in mass at the wrong time. 🙂

                I agree that to a point individualism and anti-collectivism was important and I lean Libertarian myself. But what I have found in hanging with libertarians the last 10 years is that it can be practiced to an extreme that harms the ideal it’s self. I see the individualism being so strong that they will sit by and allow a peer or clan member to get the crap beat out of them because “it is none of their business”. So even as peers they take the “I don’t want anyone in my business either” too far in extreme practice.

                So when relating this ideal to early man it would have been a failure to not have at least Clan or Tribal sized groups to watch and protect each others backs to some degree. Even animals, fish and birds practice this to survive. There would have been team work required in order to survive and continue on as a species. There would have been practical and productive coordinated labor sharing and assignments, and most importantly team work and group cooperation in pack hunting and food processing for continued survival.

                But as you say, it was probably just as important that there was also some individualism that helped these smaller clan and tribal groups to survive in different directions as splinter groups that lead them to better more advantageous hunting grounds thus raising their chances of survival in a different geographical location. But as completely solo individuals or just pairs it could have been detrimental and unproductive.

                And so you know I don’t like the “like” button issue either, lol WordPress forces you to register with them as a third party and log in to use this feature so they can email spam and track users. So I hope no one is offended, but this is why I don’t use it either. 🙂 Maybe at some point if traffic ever warrants it, I can talk Roberto into getting a Domain for the SPI and his own personal direct server hosting to eliminate the third party ads and problems. 🙂

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                • Another note on this… Ad revenue if any should be going into the pocket of the SPI and not to WordPress. 🙂

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                • Yes, it seems individualism and collectivism deserve some clarifying boundaries. I think I am equating the individual more with the family unit and small tribe in the ancient setting and similarly, in post neolithic times, equating the individual with a small producer, weather that be an individual, a family, an estate or a small business. By maintaining their own specific and genuine interests the collective of many individuals fairs better. This creates a friendly cooperative relationships based not in acceptance of one another, because they have many different preferences, upbringing and ideas that simply cannot mesh if each are to be genuine to themselves and their personal experience-based perspective so they are not sacrificing their happiness and freedom to appear proper in the larger group perspective, this basis for cooperation is based in tolerance which is distinctly different from a collective operating for a common good. The common good is a natural condition caused by people being genuine to themselves and engaging, producing and sharing with other groups from that foundation that says “You know, you are kind of whacky and irritating when I think about your personal choices, but we are friends in biz and I still respect you as best I can.” Individualism is specifically not imposing what is right or wrong onto a group that is outside of your personal dominion.

                  Collectivism can be thought of more of a communism/socialist tendency to impose an individual’s idea of what is righteous and proper for the whole of the larger group or society. It is commendable that equality is given great consideration as a guiding creed but maybe we don’t need a controlling institution to declare what is already obviously true. If individual choices and freedom are respected wealth is naturally distributed and the people own the means of production naturally.

                  I feel extreme libertarians do this authoritarian righteous decree bit by declaring the tenants of individualism as having authoritarian weight to decree what is righteous. Tolerance is a natural condition that we should encourage not because it is righteous and holy but because it allows different perspectives to coexist peacefully and productively. What is righteous, good, evil or wrong is subjective and relative to the one making the individual gamble, not to what all of society should accept as absolute for everyone. that the tenants of libertarianism is This resonates beyond the family or small business he may rule.

                  The division of labor is an advent of the neolith revolution that sets the stage for classism and elitism. That doesn’t have to be. We can enjoy the rewards, the greater wealth of individuals; the lessor amount of labor required to survive if we can learn from the pre-civilization cultures that united after sometimes hundred of years.

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                  • I agree… I think it is productive and advantageous to protect and nurture family clans and tribes but in turn protect these smaller units from other clans and tribes that might detract from the overall safety of the closer unit.

                    You are not going to get any arguments from me or Roberto about the failures of Collectivism. But I think it is very important to remember that there was a huge difference concerning tolerance when man was simply trying to profit in calories over calories spent to gather more calories and the condition we face now.

                    I think that it was practical for survival to have needed work getting done simultaneously during the limited hours every day to keep up with basic needs. To have someone stay at camp and work rock while others were out hunting might have made just enough difference to get by easier. Imagine needing to stop and make a new point everytime you missed and broke one while hunting. Hunting was absolutely nonstop, even small interruptions could make the difference between life and death.

                    Early man didn’t have the tendency to be gluttonous like modern man. This came later with the invention of the wheel and the cart. These gave man the ability to carry more than they could actually use personally. This is when it all started to go downhill. 🙂

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                    • And a t some point a Clan or tribe can indeed get too large in numbers with the sick, the weak and the unproductive. Therefore lowering the overall survival capabilities of the clan as a whole.

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                    • Thanks for your thoughts. Mostly agree but I feel the notion of ‘Tolerance’, so the ability to interact with strange, genetically different modern human groups to trade, appears to actually be the key, the very mechanism that describes how and why Modern Humans were able to form. A united but diverse and separate tribes seems to be the key to having spread out pockets of populations that can rely on each other when the going gets rough.

                      It appears that the behaviors contained in the notion of tolerance was the behavior and morphological shaping process that caused us to cross the line from a yet-to-be-found Homo Ergaster to Heidelberginsis related hominid, our common ancestor with Neanderthal, and also how we scraped together enough calories to not be snuffed out in those many bottle neck times that occurred dozens of times in each and every climb towards an interglacial peak. These dry events between the larger dry events were because of melt pulses, the vast lakes giving way in dozens of pulses because of the way the mountain glaciers melt in the Ethiopian highlands and the Atlas Mountains and caused repeated isolation followed by deprivation of resources due to arid conditions that also opened up travel pathways as the land shifted into deserts.

                      Our populations dropped to the brink, as it did with the other larger brain hominids, even larger brains than ours. These complimenting species coalesced into groups that gambled on more direct advantages; they were physically stronger, more cold adapted, more able to travel vast distances using visual cues, not stories, but more able identify, using genetic memory, land marks and edible plants (we may have both had only about 5%to 10 % meat in our diets according to studies of teeth residue I cannot reference now but they showed that Neanderthals cooked grains.)

                      It appears that, like the Blackfoot, we went thru cyclic patterns of following the herds, hunting, probably full dependents upon meat in dry cold times, to settling in lush valleys in the warm times. This cycle occurred thousands of times, dozens of times in each interglacial in the upper Pleistocene and was a driving condition that caused the formation and changes in all the recent fire-making hominids. Anyway, we travelled shorter distances and found other tribes like ours and traded and cross-breed with our own kind where as the Neanderthal types had to be more like one large tribe and survive on their own. When they ran across their own kind, it may have been awkward with a limited benefit because they could not trade because they lacked the abstraction skills to compare the value of beads with the value of baskets, an abstraction skill characterized by our frontal lobe communication skills and FOXP2 gene effect.

                      They took advantage of one skill set and morphological advantage and we the other. They were both good bets but the wimpy gracile form combined with a knack for story telling, commerce and gambling was slightly more advantageous than being stronger, more cold adapted and able to discern geographical land marks and plant species for food and medicine.

                      The skill set based in tolerance is what defines modern humans and was what formed our species and drew the distinction line between the complementing species that gave rise to Neanderthal and the like and this skill set came into play many times.

                      This skill set is also the refining process we see that marks the transition from the archaic fully modern humans found in Morocco (Jebel Irhound) and dated 300 kya to the Omo 1 & 2 which are far less archaic and almost 200 thousand years old, and the Homo Idaltu, which has more archaic features than Omo but much younger, which confirms diversity of modern human populations, some more isolated and so retained archaic DNA and the fading archaic features that goes with.

                      We see this effect also in the fully modern archaic humans that represent the Skool & Qafzeh fossils found in Israel and dated to about 128 kya. For many years, before accurate dating techniques, it was assumed these modern humans were younger than the neanderthal fossils found in the same caves and so gave credibility to the myth that we were descended from neanderthal. There appeared to be transitional features, the larger brow and such, but, like with Irhund fossils in Morroco, modern human skulls are distinctly different than neanderthal. You can fit an entire modern human jaw inside the mouth of a same-sized neanderthal with room to spare.

                      There was an incredibly important cross-breeding event, but that occurred around the time of our common ancestor and that created the distinction between our species and the neanderthal related species.

                      Our ability to reunite with long separated clans of our own kind, a skill based in a clear understanding of the advantages tolerance, is exactly why there are more archaic forms of modern Humans living well after less archaic forms in Egypt and North Africa. There were many kinds of fully modern humans spread out.

                      This is why the modern human populations in Europe have more Denisovan and Neanderthal DNA.

                      It seems very important to consider the possibility that, like the wild diversity of Naladi related homindis, there was a wild diversity of groups of modern humans in Africa prior to our migration, a migration that is firmly dated to around 43,500 years ago, no greater than 45,000 years ago, within the realm of accurate carbon dating.

                      The Modern human fossils in Israel was as far North as we got and those dates do not line up with Paabo’s every changing interbreeding time of 50 to 60 thousand years ago. There is no fossil evidence of modern humans in the Levant when Neanderthal was there. Modern Humans were there long before and appear to be long gone before the Neanderthal arrived.

                      The 1 % to 4 % DNA of Neanderthal in European populations of humans turns out to be common for some sub-saharan populations too but it was put forth as caused by a cross-breeding event in Europe because it was assumed that was the most likely explanation during the research.

                      Paabo wanted to confirm his theory he already drew fame for declaring was likely. Finding a convergence time of a slight cross-breeding contribution when there are many modern human lineages, some containing Neanderthal and some not, is too complex to provide anything reliable or meaningful. Paabo is well qualified to conduct genetic research but not qualified to make these interpretation of causes for shared DNA. It seemed logical at the time that cross-breeding in Europe would be the likely cause for there to be shared neanderthal DNA in Europeans but not in Africa but new dating showed that the Neanderthals could have died out from Europe 50,000 years ago and to say they survived longer is relying on interpretations of data that lies within the margins of error for carbon dating. PNAS paper in 2011 showed that the youngest Neanderthal fossil could have been as young as 42,300 to 45,600 but also said that other carbon dates of this time turned out to be much older because of carbon contamination and these dates were beyond the the limit of accurate carbon dating. After adjusting for other samples and making the correction for the error, this PNAS paper said “…which suggests ages in the range from 57 ± 4 y modeled to 68 ± 5 y modeled. ” The more ultra filtration they do, the older they get, so we have to consider the accuracy of these dates when measuring other things that can be cross-checked with other methods.

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    • I sort of agree with the Neutral Theory and I agree with the findings of Shi Huang and his team. Genetics is turning up things that we never suspected and sometimes in surprising ways. I believe that as more genetic work continues we will find more and more that we’ve made a lot of assumptions and wrong hypotheses about human evolution. This should be interesting to see what future genetic research shows.

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      • Me too Barb. And one of the most incredible advances is the recent ability to get DNA from Coprolites, This will be the Rosetta Stone of DNA tracing!

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          • Unfortunately this is going to take quite awhile for them to catch up on Rob. I just can’t imagine how many thousands of specimens have been documented, cataloged and stored away over the years that should be sequenced. I want new information right away! lol Maybe we will get lucky and they go after the most controversial “big fish” first! 🙂

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  2. First of all Rob this is a excellent post. Second this is one of the GREATEST discoveries of all times IMO! It is now PROVEN that an ancient human ancetor coexisted with modern humans in South Africa! This assures that our old dustty antiquated theories will now be revised which, frankly, they are BADLY in need of and long overdue!! And H. nahledi is NOT the only AHA to coexist with our kind I’m sure.

    I’m bumping up this post becasue it is VERY IMPORTANT!!

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  3. Pingback: Ancient Human Ancestors COEXISTED with Modern Humans…PROOF! | Peron Rants

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