In northeastern Siberia near the Kolyma River south of Chersky in the Sakha Republic of Russia scientists are attempting to recreate a subarctic steppe grassland ecosystem that existed during the last ice age. Led by Dr Sergey Zimov the project aims to give support to the hypothesis that overhunting and not climate change was the main cause of wildlife extinction and the disappearance of grasslands at the end of the Pleistocene. An additional aim of the project is to research climate effects on the ecosystem with the hypothesis being that the change from tundra to grasslands will result in higher energy emissions and energy absorption in the area leading to less thawing of the permafrost and, thereby, less emission of greenhouse gases. Continue Reading
Is it possible that modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) or our forerunners archaic modern humans (Homo sapiens, Cro-magnons, et al) were living close to 1 mya? Generally, we’ve believed that modern humans came onto the scene about 100 kya then with new discoveries that was extended back to 200 kya and recently with new finds in Morocco the timeline for modern humans has been extended back to 300 kya.
Back in December of 1997 Discover Magazine ran an article about a controversial discovery. That discovery was made in Spain in 1995 in a cave called Gran Dolina in the Atapuerca region of Spain. This fossil suggested that modern humans were much older than believed, by far, in fact. The fossil was from an 11 year old boy who looked like a modern human yet it was dated at 800 kyr (hundred thousand years old). How is this possible if modern humankind is only 200-300 kyr?
This discovery, however, is not alone because in 1932 the famous Dr Louis Leakey made an astonishing find of his own! This discovery was made around Lake Victoria in Kenya, Africa. Leakey found numerous fossils belonging to the Middle Pleistocene that were really no different from modern man. Problem was that the Mid Pleistocene was about one million years ago!! (actually from about 781 to 126 thousand years ago). His discoveries were dismissed (as expected) but Leakey always maintained that the dating was CORRECT!
Returning to the 1995 discovery made in Spain, the find was so shocking that even the discoverers were shocked by it! Never in a million years did they expect to find any ancient human ancestor remains that looked like modern humans! The team was led by Dr Juan Luis Arsuaga Ferraras who said that he and his team expected something big and primitive but never modern looking. “What we found was a totally modern face,” he told the Discover magazine writers. “The most spectacular thing is finding something you thought belonged to the present, in the past….we were very surprised when we saw it.” Continue Reading
Likely this post will open up a hornet’s nest but so be it as the topic here is prehistoric man and the Bible. Let me begin by saying I read nowhere in the Bible where it says anything even remotely similar to, “and on the sixth day God created man a Homo sapien.” And, frankly I have never believed God created humans as Homo sapiens sapiens! In fact, I find plenty of biblical evidence of possible archaic humans! Consider Noah for instance. It’s said that Noah was born covered in a white down “like the angels” and his father questioned if Noah was even his son at the time. Consider Esau whom I’ve posted about before on this blog. Esau was a “man of the forest.” His body was covered in a reddish hair. He was a hunter and lived as a primitive man. Also, consider John the Baptist who wore skins and dwelt in the wilderness during the day of Jesus. He was somewhat unkept and primitive according to what we read in the New Testament. All of these examples could pass for being archaic humans and I can’t help but wonder if some of them didn’t have distinctive brow ridges and protruding jaws. Were they hybrids? Were they surviving examples of H. erectus, Neanderthals, or some other ancient human ancestor? Continue Reading
The Gravettians were the most successful human survivors of the last ice age. They provided most of the DNA for modern Europeans. They were nomads from the Black Sea region who made their homes mammoth skin tents held together by salvaged mammoth bones on the open treeless land. These people developed spear throwers to kill the large mammoths and they tamed wolves like dogs to protect their encampments from intruders and to help them hunt. Food was scarce in the last glacial maximum and survival depended on food, shelter, and intelligence as well as some innovation. Continue Reading
I got an email a while back and this post is in answer to that email but first here is the email with the name changed to protect the reader:
Dear Dr. Peron:
I realize you are an anthropologist and not a medical doctor but do you know anything about excessive body hair growth at birth? If so, can you put up a post about it? Here’s why I am asking you this question.
When I was born I had a reddish “fur” all over my newborn body. Probably it was hair but my grandparents described it as “fur” like that seen in a little monkey or puppy. I also had a projecting jaw that was corrected by orthodontics when I was about 13 years old, thankfully. I also had a somewhat flat nose and pointed ears. In fact, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. said I looked more like a ” baby ape” than a “human baby.” I lost the “fur” during the first few years of my life but retained a colorless hair type all over my body which kind of shines like a blond color when I am in the sun. I know this might all sound freaky but my family is reluctant to talk about this and my mother gets very angry and absolutely refuses to discuss it whenever I bring it up. Additionally, when my father arrived at the hospital (he was off somewhere and had to travel) he took one look at me and angrily said, “That’s not my son!” and stormed out of the hospital never to return. Needless to say he and I did not have a very good relationship when he was alive, unfortunately. I just want to know if you’ve ever heard of anything like this and if you can post a bit about it if you have.
Miguel I’m not claiming to be an expert in this subject but here are some things that might aid in your understanding of this phenomena. Also, note that things like this DO happen so you are NOT alone.
Before I begin let me define a few terms. First is the term “atavism.” An “atavism” is a term used in biology to describe an “evolutionary throwback.” Traits appear in a species or individual that have generally disappeared generations before. Atavisms can occur in several ways. One way, and the most common, is when genes for previously existing phenotypical features are preserved in DNA and they become expressed through a mutation that knocks out the overriding genes for the new traits OR makes the old traits override the new one(s). A number of traits can vary as a result of shortening of fetal development of a trait (neoteny) OR by prolonging of it (neoteny). In such a case a shift in the time a trait is allowed to develop before it is fixed can bring about an ancestral phenotype. I do not wish to insult you so please do not take what I’m writing that way. What you are describing comes closest to the ancient human ancestor species known as Homo habilis (aka: Tool Man, Handyman, et al) minus the heavy brow ridge. This species existed roughly between 2.1–1.5 mya. That in my mind is significant and if you have any pictures of you as a newborn with this condition I would be HIGHLY interested in taking a look at them. Continue Reading
WHAT A MESS!!!
That’s the Der Spiegel headline blasted out on the 19th of this month when they asserted that scientists do NOT know the real temp of planet Earth. The news agency said that the European Institute of Climate & Energy has warned that it is now clear that NO ONE REALLY KNOWS what the current average global temp is. And they also said that planet Earth is NOT WARMER and that scientific measurements do NOT make any sense!
In 1995 the average global temps was said to be 15.4 degrees Celsius but today global warming science says it is 14.8 degrees Celsius and this is a “new record.” A new record? So cooler now means warmer?? No these stats do NOT show global warming BUT what they do show (if accurate) is GLOBAL COOLING!!!
For decades now scientists assumed the average temp of our planet was 15 degrees Celsius but now suddenly they are saying it is a new record heat at 14.8 C for 2016. Continue Reading
As you know one of my favorite human species (or hybrids) are the Red Deer Cave People whose remains are found in two cave sites in China. These prehistoric human ancestors have been described as “highly unusual” due to some of their peculiar features and one of those odd features was their flaring cheek bones (zygomatic arches).
In Caucasian people these arches are extended outward the least while in Asians they are extended outward the most. In Africans the zygomatic arches are somewhere in between Africans and Caucasians. Returning to Asians, their cheek bones are extended outward the most and this is what we see in the Red Deer Cave People fossil remains. However, the extent to which these arches extend outward in the Red Deer Cave People are extended much farther outward than those we see in modern Asians. Also, extended zygomatic arches were also a feature of Homo erectus.
So what was the purpose for the great extension of the cheek bones? Some theorists have speculated that the highly extended cheek bones combined with heavy brow ridges were designed by nature to protect the eyes of the human ancestor especially during combat! The heavy brow ridges also helped shade the eyes from the sun so they may be on to something here. The Red Deer Cave People also had somewhat heavy brow ridges. Continue Reading
We’ve got a lot of 30-something males still living at home with mommy and daddy today. They don’t work and aren’t married and basically all they do is sit in the basement playing video games endlessly or engaging in some other recreational activity that one would expect to see a teenage boy doing. It’s as if these young men aren’t really men at all. Well….that is…mentally. They have the bodies of grown men but they have the minds of teenage boys and although they are sexually and physically mature they seem to still act like teen boys depending on their parents or grandparents (or someone else) to pay all of the bills, provide a roof over their heads, and supply massive amounts of food. This is a growing problem in America today especially among white males and although most are in their late 20s or early 30s there are growing numbers that are in their early to mid-40s!
There is a word for this “phenomena” and it is “Neoteny.” Neoteny refers to individual organisms who remain child-like even after they’ve reached sexual maturity. Although physically adults, mentally they retain their child-like mentality. These guys have the bodies of men but the minds and emotions of adolescents. “Children in adult bodies” is a good basic definition of Neoteny.
Biologically, an organism becomes sexually mature and an adult when it is capable of reproducing. When it enters into adulthood, then, the organism becomes physically mature. Human evolution has produced a variety of genetic changes in our species and one of the MOST IMPORTANT is neoteny. Humans are the most neotenic of all primates, in fact! Some have even gone so far as to characterize humans as “sexually mature fetuses.” And there are some reasons for this. For example, in most quadrupedal fetal animals the foramen magnum (where the spinal column connects to the brain) is near the center of the base of the skull as it is in modern humans. BUT, as that animal matures the foramen magnum moves to the rear of the skull. However, this doesn’t happen in modern humans! Our foramen magnum stays in the center….in the INFANT position!! Even in apes the young lose their neotenic features as they grow up and there are big changes in the way they look physically and act mentally. This is obvious in chimps, for example, as infants and the young look far different from adults. And they act far different from adults too. But, the position of the foramen magnum is not the only feature seen in modern humans that causes some researchers to characterize modern humans as “sexually mature fetuses.” Continue Reading