Is it possible that Neanderthals were actually in the Americas? According to mainstream theory (OOA) the Neanderthals made it just about everywhere except into the Americas. However, genetic studies are challenging that assumption! My own personal view is that they were and so was H. erectus. I think there is evidence of both having been in the Americas at one time or another as evidenced by Oldowan stone tools found by myself and many others in the Americas. And, also, the famous anthropologist Louis Leakey left his work in Africa and came to the Americas (Calico Hills, CA) fully expecting to find hominin fossil remains here like he found in Africa. Why was Leakey so convinced that he would find them?
Last week I posted about H. heidelbergensis and my conclusion is that he was an archaic Neanderthal. My conclusion also is that Heidelberg Man is likely not a common ancestor for the Neanderthals and H. sapiens (modern humans). That common ancestor may well be some hominim species we have not discovered yet and possibly might even be the Denisovans. That said, mainstream theory (OOA) holds the assumption that Neanderthals and modern humans share Heidelberg Man as a common ancestor and according to that theory the Neanderthals split from us about 300 kya. Neanderthals came to occupy most of Southern Europe, the Levant, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Caucasus region. We know this is so because we find their fossil remains in these places. They did not live in Sub-Sahara Africa and eventually they were replaced by modern humans. However, I hold the view that more than replacement the Neanderthals interbred with modern humans and I think frequently.
Map showing distribution of the B006 haplotype based on global samples of the 6092X chromosomes.
Back in 2011 genetic research conducted by a team led by Vania Yotova published research showing an X-linked haplotype of Neanderthal origins that is present in all non-African populations today. This study specifically focused on a very small part in the X chromosome known as the B006 haplotype and came up with some interesting conclusions.
What they found is that modern humans outside Africa share the B006 with Neanderthals and, in fact, this haplotype is very common outside Africa but it is nonexistent in Sub-Sahara Africa! What this suggests is that the B006 haplotype comes from a gene pool other than H. sapiens that lived outside of Africa and at some point interbred with H. sapiens and passed that haplotype on to H. sapiens. The contributor of this haplotype was the Neanderthals and was done via interbreeding with our species. Continue Reading
Mount Carmel, Israel
Mt Carmel is located in northern Israel with a number of towns situated there namely the city of Haifa which is on the northern slope and is Israel’s third largest city. The name “Carmel” is the Hebrew word for “vineyard” and “fresh” (planted). It has intrigued humanity for thousands of years and it is an important archaeological and religious site.
The sloped side of the mountain is covered with laurel trees, oak, pine, and olive trees. It is nothing short of majestic! Atop the mountain stand the University of Haifa. Several caves dot the mountain along with many rock shelters. The remains of Neanderthals were first discovered on the mount by Dorothy Garrod between 1930-32. She also discovered the remains of H. sapiens on the mount during the same time. Garrod discovered the skeleton of a female Neanderthal which came to be known as Tabun I and it is now regarded as one of the most important human fossil remains ever found. The strata record of the mount spans 600.000 years of human activity so Mt Carmel has been important to humans for thousands of years, in fact.
Several well preserved Neanderthal burials have also been found on the mount along with those of H. sapiens. Evidence of the transition from hunter-gatherer societies to agricultural societies is also found here. In fact, Mt Carmel is sort of a microcosm of human history and evolution!
Mt Carmel at sunset
The ancient Canaanites considered high places such as mountains to be sacred and Mt Carmel was one of those places they considered as such. The Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III referred to a “holy headland” in the Canaanite territories and some researchers believe this to be a reference to Mt Carmel. In the Bible’s Book of Kings it says an altar was built on the mount which had become ruins by the time of Ahab so the Prophet Elijah built a new altar there. Pythagoras is said to have visited the mountain because it was considered a very sacred place. In fact, it was considered the most holy of all mountains! Access was forbidden to many people at that time, reportedly and Tacitus wrote that an oracle was once situated on the mountain. He also said that the Roman Emperor Vespasian would consult that oracle. Tacitus also said that there was an altar on the mount without any images engraved upon it and without a temple around it. Just a simple and plain crude altar. Continue Reading
Denisova Cave, Altai Mtns, Siberia
An interesting idea was presented to me today which I had not considered until now. It is the idea that the Denisovan who lived in the Altai Mountains at Denisova Cave could have been exiles. That’s an interesting idea to say the least because the modern humans living in the region have no Denisova DNA and you’d think they would since it appears at least some Denisovans lived in the region long ago.
Denisova Cave is located in the Bashelaksky Range of the Altai Mountains, Siberia, Russia. Denisova Cave is a major archaeological site when it comes to the Denisovans because it’s the first place where remains were found that we had no idea existed. The cave also contains evidence of habitation by H. sapiens and Neanderthals. These habitations were concurrent, meaning, at the SAME time!
Map showing location of Altai Mountains
As recent as 2016 a needle made of bone was discovered here dating back 50 kya and it turned out to be the oldest known needle ever found. Sediments inside the cave are rich in animal remains including animals that are now extinct. They include remains from cave lions, cave hyenas, and numerous small mammals. Remains of reptiles have also been found in the cave sediment along with 50 bird species. Continue Reading
Heidelberg Man (Homo heidelbergensis) recreation at Atapuerca
Homo heidelbergensis (aka: Heidelberg Man) was just an archaic Neanderthal and was NOT a common ancient ancestor for H. sapiens and Neanderthals even though some people still seem to think so.
The OOA (Out of Africa) theory holds the view that Heidelberg Man is an ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals, however. That theory claims this hominin species was present in Africa, Europe, and Asia 600-200 kya. Their skulls have features of both Homo erectus and Homo sapiens and their brain size is almost as large as H. sapiens. Yet, keep in mind that Neanderthals had slightly larger brains than modern humans do. This species was first discovered in 1907 near Heidelberg, Germany.
Further, mainstream theory (OOA) says that Neanderthals, Denisovans, and H. sapiens all descended from Heidelberg Man who appeared in Africa around 700 kya where it is known as Homo rhodesiensis. Fossils have been found in Ethiopia, Namibia, and South Africa and the theory holds that somewhere between 400-300 kya a group of this species migrated into Europe and western Asia by unknown routes and that they evolved into the Neanderthals in Europe. Another group migrated out of Africa and into Asia and they evolved into the mysterious Denisovans. Those who remained in Africa (H. rhodesiensis) evolved into anatomically modern humans sometime between 300-200 kya according to conventional OOA theory. They then migrated in a second wave into Europe and Asia between 125-60 kya. And so that is basically what the OOA says but is it so?
Artistic depiction of Homo erectus
Some paleoanthropologists and others believe H. heidelbergensis is nothing more than a variant of H. erectus! Others hold the view that it was an archaic Neanderthal but not a common ancestor of Neanderthals and archaic modern humans, H. sapiens. So, again, the waters are muddied and everything is uncertain and foggy!! That is, unless you consider the following FACTS! Continue Reading
Homo erectus is perhaps the most intriguing ancient human ancestor in my mind because there were so many “firsts” with this species. For instance, H. erectus likely was the first AHA to harness fire, to cook their food, and possibly to wear some sort of clothing or skins. Erectus was also the first AHA to have body proportions similar to modern humans. It’s thought that this AHA arose in Africa 1.8 million years ago according to the Out of Africa theory. We find remains of H. erectus not only in Africa but also in Eurasia, the Far East, Australia, Java, and the Levant. And some theorists believe H. erectus remains can also be found in the Americas which, frankly, would not surprise me at all.
Up until the dawn of Erectus AHA used ancient stone tools known as “Oldowan Stone Tools.” Basically, these were chipped stones and not very sophisticated that included things like Oldowan choppers and Oldowan scrapers. They were the “basic” stone tool kit. At first Erectus used these as well but he soon developed a much more sophisticated set of stone tools which came to be known today as Acheulean Stone Tools. These stone tools were a big improvement to the primitive Oldowan tools and had a wider variety.
Development of these new stone tools shows that Erectus had higher thinking than previous AHA such as H. habilis (aka: “Tool Man”). Erectus appears to have had the mental capacity to envision something and then to make it and that is a significant step in our evolution.
Erectus was nothing short of an adventurer. In fact, he was the first human adventurer because we find their skeletal remains just about everywhere. Erectus wasn’t content to sit on the Savannah because he wanted to know what laid beyond. Erectus was a hunter-gatherer and possibly even the first seafarers! He may have also constructed crude pit houses consisting of nothing more than a small pit dug into soft dirt and covered over by vegetation and, if so, that would make him the first human to construct dwellings. Most importantly Erectus was the first AHA to walk upright such as we do instead of bent over like an ape! Continue Reading
Upper jawbone found in the cave on Mt Carmel in Israel J
Earlier this month it was announced that a large international research team discovered the earliest known modern human fossil outside of Africa and they interpret the find to mean that modern humans left Africa at least 50k years earlier than previously thought which, frankly, may or may not be so.
The fossil is part of a left hemi-maxilla with teeth (upper jaw bone, simply). Researchers say that the find also indicates that modern humans may have been interacting over a longer period of time with other archaic humans such as Neanderthals et al. The jawbone was discovered at a site known as Misliya Cave in Israel which is one of several sites on Mt Carmel. Dating suggests the jawbone is 175-200 kya. It has been thought that modern humans first migrated out of Africa and into the Levant around 50 kya but this jawbone proves otherwise.
The jawbone itself has many features of Homo sapiens sapiens (modern humans) BUT it also has features of Neanderthals and “other human groups.” And what might those “other human groups” be I ask? Homo erectus most likely and combinations (hybrids) of all of the above!! Continue Reading
Archaeologists in Israel have discovered hundreds of hand-axes likely used by Homo erectus and dating to about 500 kya at Jaljulia northeast of Tel Aviv. The artifacts are made of knapped flint and were unearthed during a dig next to Highway Route 6 which is one of Israel’s busiest routes. They were found about 5 meters (about 16.5 feet) in the ground.
It appears that H. erectus was returning to the site frequently most likely due to a nearby water source. It appears they left behind these hand axes when they moved on. The site would have been a sort of “prehistoric paradise” for hunter-gatherers as it had a stream, lush vegetation, and many game animals.
The lithic (stone) industry in this area was highly developed, apparently, and produced a great number of stone tools including the flint hand axes. They are characteristic of Acheulean stone tools which late H. erectus developed after initially using primitive Oldowan stone tools they inherited from H. habilis (“Tool Man”). The Acheulean Culture existed in the Lower Paleolithic Era from around 1.5 million to 200 kya.
The development of Acheulean stone tools by H. erectus was revolutionary as they were not crude and were purposefully designed. They’ve been found from southern Africa to northern Europe to the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere. Homo erectus is an ancient human ancestor of modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens. The Acheulean stone tool industry was the longest lasting such industry (over 1 million years in use). The oldest Acheulean stone tools have been dated at the following:
Africa 1.6 mya
India 1.3 mya (or possibly the same age as those in Africa)
Europe 800 kya
Israel 500 kya
Many researchers believe H. erectus had a “geographic memory” much like that of modern humans because they kept occupying the site frequently over and over. This indicates that they kept returning as a part of some sort of seasonal cycle.
The site is well preserved and researchers are hoping to find more artifacts at the site in the near future. It enables us to trace the behavior of H. erectus who is our direct ancestor and helps us in reconstructing their lifestyles and routine behavior which, in turn, provides us with a better understanding of our ancient human ancestors.
For more see:
A paper that came out in September 2017 by Professor Ulfur Arnason calls for a new paradigm and it’s making some waves. Professor Arnason is a neuroscientist at the University of Lund in Sweden and in the paper he places the LAST COMMON ANCESTOR of Homo sapiens sapiens (modern humans) and the Neanderthals somewhere in EURASIA, not Africa. Professor Arnason argues that the ancesotrs of the African KhoeSan and Mbuti people formed the first exodus of modern humans INTO AFRICA out of ASIA AND EUROPE. If he’s right then his research calls the Out of Africa theory (OOA) into question, once again, as so much research is now doing but it’s all being ignored, summarily!
A simplified view of Hss migrations. The shaded area signifies an undefined Asian(Eurasian) area from which Hss dispersed. The red track shows the potential routes of KhoeSan, Mbuti and Yoruba outside the Hsnn range. KhoeSan and Mbuti may have diverged before their migration into Africa. The arrow-headed lines between Mbuti and Yoruba mark potential genetic exchange. The green track represents the common Asian origin of indigenous Australians, Papuans-New Guineans and the Andamanese (Mallick et al., 2016). Altai shows the location of the genetic contribution of Hss into Hsn (Kuhlwilm et al., 2016) and Daoxian Cave the location of the palaeontological Hss finds described by Liu et al. (2015). Image credit: Úlfur Árnason
Common belief is that the ancient human ancestors of modern humans lived somewhere in Africa and Homo sapiens evolved there first and migrated out of Africa to Europe and Asia. Most scientists hold the belief that the exact dating of this emergence out of Africa of our ancient ancestors remains to be resolved but they are ever so sure they will discover a date soon. However, the research of Professor Arnason suggests that the origination of Homo sapiens sapiens was in EURASIA NOT IN AFRICA!
Neanderthals and modern humans seem to have parted ways, at least genetically, sometime before 500 kya (thousand years ago). Arnason argues that this date places the first of our species somewhere in Eurasia and he adds this to what we know about the geographical range of Neanderthals.
Professor Arnason said, “The EXCLUSIVE occurrence of Neanderthals in EUROPE and ASIA and their ABSENCE from Africa restricts their origins to EURASIA,” and indeed it DOES! He went on to also say, “As a consequence, the origin of their sister-group (Homo sapiens sapiens; modern humans) should be placed in the SAME CONTINENT (ie: EURASIA).” He goes on saying that this hypothesis would then be in “compliance with the LCA (last common ancestor) understanding that the LCS of any two sister groups CANNOT be separated, neither in time nor space.” Amen to that!! Continue Reading