Most fossil remains of ancient human ancestors have been found in East Africa in the Rift Valley and that area was once dotted by volcanoes. Volcanic ash killed these ancestors, buried them, and preserved them but that is not the case when it comes to Eurasia and that is ONE reason why we don’t find the amount of ancient human remains like that found in East Africa. That said, however, there have been some ancient remains found and I want to focus on those found in China in this post.
Artistic bust of Peking Man
Peking Man (aka: Beijing Man) was actually pieced together from fossil remains of several different individuals found at the Dragon Bone Hill site in Zhoukoudian near Beijing, China. It is an Eurasian H. erectus. It has prominent brow ridges, a saggital keel, an occipital bun, and a protruding upper jaw (prognathism) but no chin. These are all primitive features but its cranial capacity is about 1075 cc. The teeth and arm bones are almost indistinguishable from those of modern man! Also there is evidence of tool use was found nearby. Peking Man is estimated to be 500-300 kyr (thousand years old) which is older than Kabwe Man of Africa also known as “Broken Hill Man” and “Rhodesian Man.” The original skull of Peking Man was lost in WW2. There is also evidence of fire use at site as well as evidence of tool use and manufacturing. These were flaked stone tools and they also show he was right-handed. (according to Howells 1948, pg 49 et al). 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
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
A bit over 100 years ago anthropologists were searching for early man in SE Asia and specifically they were searching for the “missing link.” That common ancestor between ape and man! But what they were discovering is that the jungles of SE Asia were not conducive to fossil formation, so fossil finds were few and still are today. Then in 1891 Dutch paleoanthropologist and geologist Eugene Dubois stumbled on to something. On the island of Java he found the remains of what was first called Pithecanthropus erectus which would later be renamed Homo erectus and would commonly come to be known as Java Man. What Dubois found was a tooth, skullcap, and a thigh bone at a place called Trinil on the banks of the Solo River in East Java. Dubois was certain he’d found the “missing link”!! Dubois himself called the species Anthropopithecus erectus. Java Man was dated at between 1 mya and 700 kya.
Aboriginal rock art, Western Australia
But Dubois was not the only one looking for the “missing link.” Researchers in Europe and Africa were also looking for this elusive “missing link” between ape and man. Not long after Dubois unearthed Java Man startling news came from Europe. The “missing link” had been found in England!! Continue Reading
Back in January 2016 I posted about one of my favorite ancient human ancestors known as the Red Deer Cave People(aka “Enigma Man”) (see link below). These people lived in China up until about 70 kya and their fossil remains were discovered in 2012 in SW China. Then in December of 2015 it was announced that yet another bone of these people had been found which was described as being “highly unusual.” I’ll return to this a bit later……….
The Red Deer Cave People are somewhat of a mystery. They are believed to have been a pre-modern (pre-Homo sapiens) people and analysis shows they have some remarkable similarities in morphology to archaic H. sapiens DESPITE that they lived between 14-11 kya. 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
That’s what some researchers are hoping for as now two partial skulls from eastern China have emerged as prime candidates that may finally reveal what the Denisovans looked like.
A Chinese-US research team authored a paper appearing in “Science” showing 105-125 kyr fossils they call “archaic Homo” remains. They suggest these bones may be a new type of ancient human or an eastern variant of Neanderthals. The team seems to avoid suggesting the remains might be Denisovan, however.
Denisova Cave, Altai Mtns, Siberia
The new skulls seem to fit what we would expect to see in Denisovan skulls which is basically Neanderthals with an Asian flavor. No DNA has yet been extracted from these skulls. The skulls were found along with quartz stone tools by Dr Zhan Yang Li about 4000 kilometers from the famous Denisova Cave in Siberia in 2007. What he actually found was a yellowish rounded skull cap. The team returned later and found an additional 45 fossils that fit together into a partial crania. The skulls have no faces and no jaws but there is enough there to note a close resemblance to Neanderthal remains.
One of the cranium has a huge brain volume of 1800 cc which itself is rather astounding! That volume would put this skull on the higher end of modern human and Neanderthal skull volumes. There is also a Neanderthal-like hollow in a bone on the back of the skull and prominent brow ridges along with inner ear bones also found. All of these resemble what we find in Neanderthal remains.
These remains differ from European Neanderthal remains, however, and from those found in the Levant. For one they have thinner brow ridges and the skull bones are less robust which are similar to EARLY MODERN HUMANS and some other Asian remains! Thus they are not Neanderthal in the typical sense. Continue Reading