Artistic bust of Peking Man
Dragon Bone Hill overlooks the sprawling Chinese capital of Beijing (formerly Peking). It is a small limestone mountain visited by over 150,000 visitors each year. It was here in 1929 that the first specimen of Asian Homo Erectus was found known as “Peking Man.” The find consisted of a nearly complete skull dated between 680-780 kyr. The specimen was also one of the earliest ancient human ancestor fossil remains ever found but since that time the fame and importance of Peking Man has dwindled, sadly. Older fossils have been discovered in Africa where environmental conditions for fossil formation are more conducive. China and Southeast Asia tend not to be very good places for finding fossils due to the tropical climate and wet conditions in much of the region. Today Chinese paleoanthropologists wonder if H. erectus died out or contributed genes to modern Chinese people.
In the past decade China has stepped up efforts to uncover evidence of early human ancestors in the country and surrounding region. Old fossils are being reanalysed and old theories are being revised as new evidence comes to light. And the Chinese government has built a million dollar lab to extract and sequence ancient DNA!
More and more paleoanthropologists are beginning to finally pay attention to what is being found and what has been found in China and Asia in general. Discoveries in China and Asia clearly indicate that there was a variety of prehistoric human ancestors in the region and these finds are beginning to challenge some conventional ideas about just what our evolutionary history might really be!
Sadly, Western researchers tend to view fossils and artifacts in terms of those found in Africa and Europe due to the age of the fossils found there and because they are closer to major research facilities. However, what is becoming increasingly clear is that Asian fossils do NOT fit into the traditional narrative of human evolution
H/T to JR Bentley for sending us this research article………..
It would be an understatement to say that there are problems with the Out-of-Africa (OOA) theory and finally new research and reanalysis of prior research is attempting to correct some of those problems but what is being found is that the OOA may be absolutely WRONG to begin with. This becomes especially obvious when genetic evidence is looked at. In fact, WORLD science is now leaving the OOA theory behind and a Chinese research team is advancing an out-of-ASIA theory for modern human origins based on Y-DNA & mtDNA evidence and, thus, they are reviving the Multiregional Theory for human evolution based on autosomal evidence. The field of genetic research is becoming more precise and I think that is fantastic because it is now beginning to give us a new picture of human evolution and migration patterns!! Finally, we are getting some real concrete proof of what was and what was NOT.
The latest research by Chinese geneticists suggests that about 2 mya the first split occurred in modern human autosomes. Further, they’ve uncovered genetic evidence of Y and mtDNA having originated in East Asia and dispersing outward from East Asia via HYBRIDIZATION by archaic human ancestors!! This research strongly suggests a EURASIAN origin rather than an African origin for ancient human ancestors!! The primary research team is being led by Shi Huang who is a US educated and trained geneticist.
Huang’s research confirms genetic diversity is highest in Africans and lowest in Amerindians. His team also confirms Africans & Amerindians are genetically most divergent from each other. Africans are found to be closer to each other than they are to other groups and that New world sub-populations are more distinct from each other than other continental groups. Further, they’ve also found that Amerindians have the world’s highest values of intergroup diversity.
The findings of this research are currently under peer review and the team argues that African genetic diversity is NOT a function of greater age of African hominins but is a product of selection! This is supported by data showing increased African diversity in the study. Yuan uses autosomal molecular divergence dates as evidence for multiregional evolution. That date is derived from estimated molecular divergence between autosomes of major human groups to have taken place 1.96–1.91 mya which is consistent with paleobiological evidence for a Homo (human) migration out of Africa 2 myr. Continue Reading
Altai Mountains, SW Siberia, Russia
The First Fossil Evidence of the Denisovans
Several posts have been made on this blog regarding the Denisovans and what I want to do in this post is to begin to make some possible connections between the Denisovans and other hominids along with considering some possibilities. Denisova Cave is located in the Altai Mountains in Southwestern Siberia, Russia and this was the site where the first evidence of the Denisovans was discovered in 2010. This cave was originally investigated in the 1970’s by a Russian anthropologist by the name of Nikolai Ovodov looking for fossil remains of canids (dogs, wolves, jackals, dingoes, etc.). In 2008 the cave was once again investigated by the Russian Academy of Sciences. That exploration was led by Michael Shunkov and also involved other Russian scientists. It was this 2008 investigative team that found the first evidence of the Denisovans which consisted of a finger bone believed to be from a juvenile hominin that came to be known as the “X woman.” Associated artifacts found in the cave included a bracelet found at the same level as the finger bone which was dated at around 40 kyr (thousand years old) using radiocarbon dating and oxygen isotope dating. Since 2008 other investigations in the cave have established that hominins occupied the cave at various times as far back as 125 kya (thousand years ago) and possibly longer. Continue Reading
This post was originally posted on the San Pedro Institute site in November 2014 and is being reposted here.
By Dr. Rob L., San Pedro Institute
The origins of modern Europeans remains a matter of debate and speculation but this past week (Nov 2014) a scientific team published some new DNA findings that may shed light on European origins. Their findings were published in the noted journal Science.
Kostenki Man 30,000 year old skull reconstruction found in Western Russia
The team successfully sequenced DNA from Kostenki Man found in Western Russia and it was revealed that he lived between 38,700–36,200 years ago. This is one of the oldest fossils of anatomically modern humans from Europe ever found. The fossil is known as K14 and it was noted that he shares a close ancestry with the 24,000 year old Mal’ta Boy from central Siberia, European Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, some modern western Siberians, and many modern Europeans but not east Asians. Further, the fossil genome shows evidence of shared ancestry with all Eurasians including later Neolithic farmers.
From the genome sequencing the team has also concluded that Western Eurasians and Eastern Asians diverged from each other more than 36, 200 years ago and that the genomic structure of modern Europeans dates back to the Upper Paleolithic and derives from a meta-population that sometimes stretched from Europe to Central Asia. Continue Reading
This post was formerly entitled: “The Pericues: Proof of Homo erectus in Baja”—–
The Pericues also known as the Pericu, Cora, and Edues were the aboriginal inhabitants of the Cape Region which is the southernmost end of Baja California Sur, Mexico. Sine the late 18th century, sadly, they have been culturally and linguistically extinct.
Baja California Native American Tribes
Of special interest here is that these people had very distinctive hyperdolichocephic skulls. That is, they were known for their distinctive long headed skulls. Some researchers believe that the Pericu were either were trans-Pacific migrants or remnants of some of the oldest colonizers of the New World. Their burials feature remains painted with red ochre (Las Palmas burial complex) which sometimes were deposited in caves or under rock shelters. These people used the atlatl and darts along with the bow and arrow up through the 17th century. When the Spanish came to the Americas they enslaved the Pericu until they revolted in 1734. The revolt lasted for two years until the Spanish reasserted authority over them. Many of the Pericu died of diseases brought by the Spanish as well. Continue Reading
Did ancient Polynesians and Australian Aboriginals get to South America? Did they interbreed with some South American people? Did Native Americans not only arrive in the Americans via the Bering Land Bridge but also by sea? These are some of the questions that science is attempting to answer and the evidence that is being found is somewhat astonishing…..at least to some.
I have long studied the Olmec which I consider to be a fantastic ancient people. They were the first MAJOR civilization in Mexico and Guatemala following a progressive development Soconusco (a region in the SW corner of Chiapas, Mexico) and what is today the modern SW Pacific lowlands of Guatemala. These people lived in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico in what is today the Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco. There is speculation they came from the Mokaya or Mixe-Zoque people which some consider pre-Olmec people. But, note this is speculation.
The Olmec are best known for their carvings of colossal heads and other artworks. These people have broad noses, large lips, and some had large eyes. Some of their artwork depictions of themselves clearly look African or Polynesian and one must wonder if these people actually came from Africa or Polynesia! Yet, other artwork depictions look more Oriental such as that depicted in the artistic statue known as “The Wrestler.” Continue Reading
Maka woman in Pacific Northwest from 1900
In a recent post to his webpage Linguist Robert Lindsay makes two important observations (among others). In the final paragraph he notes how the Mozabite people in Algeria are Caucasoid but they are “some of the weirdest-looking Caucasoids I have ever seen. They don’t really look like any other race of humans..” He notes some look like people from India. He also notes that in papers about the genesis of the Caucasian race North Africa, the Middle East, and India are mentioned (frequently) as hubs for the development of this race 30-40 kya. He further notes that the Mozabite people are mentioned over and over when remains of ancient genetic groups are discussed along with the Uighur “for some odd reason.” I think this is because some researchers consider the Mozabites and Uighur to be some of the most ancient people on the planet.
This is subject matter for a future post I think but for now I want to focus on something else Lindsay said in this post. He notes, “There are also links between Orcadians (Scottish Islanders) and Siberians.” This is true and has been acknowledged by some researchers. Then Lindsay goes on to say this:
“Skulls from Europe from 21,000 YBP (years before present) look more like Amerindians than anything else. The closest match-up between those ancient European skulls is the Makah Amerindian tribe from Europe.”
Now the Makah are actually a Native American tribe currently dwelling in Washington State in the Pacific Northwest of the US. They are a federally recognized tribe. These people have hunted whales and seals for generations. So I’m not sure what Lindsay means by saying the Makah “tribe from Europe” because most anthropologist believe these people came via the Beringia Landbridge into North America and never were in Europe. However, skulls of SOME Europe from around 21 kya DO in fact resemble Amerindian skulls!
In 2007 there was a find and DNA analysis that undercut recent theories about Paleoamericans (the first people in the New World) having originally come from SE Asia or even Europe. That find was the “Cave Maiden.” These remains were of a teenage girl found in a Mexican cave who lived about 12 kya. The cave is the Outland Cave in the Yucatan. Her bones are believed to be one of the oldest and most complete skeletons ever found in the Americas. DNA analysis showed her ancestry was from a now vanished land between Siberia and Alaska. Continue Reading