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
A new study by the Uppsala University et. al. has pushed the emergence of modern humans back to at least 300 kya and possibly even to 350 kya. Funny how not so long ago we used to think our species emerged 100 kya, then 200 kya, and now 300-350 kya isn’t it? Frankly, I think even newer research will soon push our emergence back even further! You can read the whole story at the link below.
Artistic bust of Peking Man
So consider this in perspective………. Homo erectus is believed to have went extinct around 143 kya so if modern humans emerged 300-350 kya then that means that these two species COEXISTED for at least 100-150 thousand years! And there was a time when H. erectus, modern humans, Heidelbergensis, and Neanderthals coexisted! And you don’t think all of these human species interbred? Think again LOL!!
Regarding Neanderthals two new studies have emerged. One suggests Neanderthal-Denisovans almost disappeared after separating from modern humans and that find challenges the conventional theory about all three species! Another study has revealed diet may be the blame for the Neanderthals demise in contrast to the diet of modern humans which enabled us to survive. Perhaps. I’m sure diet was important just as it is today but, again, I assert that the Neanderthals didn’t go extinct at all. They interbred with modern humans and produced viable offspring hybrids! In my mind what appears to have happened is (borrowing a line from Star Trek) modern humans came along and for all other species resistance was futile! These other species didn’t go extinct. We had sex with them and produced hybrid offspring capable of breeding and producing more hybrids! And that’s how we mods became the Mutt People we are today!!! Sorry…no pure races left and no pure human species left (if there was ever) and there hasn’t been for a long time. Want personal proof? Research your own ancestry and it will become as clear as day to you. Continue Reading
The link below is to an excellent article well worth the read about the growing “mystery” concerning archaic humans with modern human features. It calls for the revamping of the Out of Africa theory and I wholeheartedly agree!
The norm has always been that more than one human species have coexisted at the same time and sometimes in the same place. Our nice little concept of an archaic human species giving way to a more modern human species now lies in tatters thanks to recent discoveries. That little Utopian idea no longer flies as the evidence says that there was MUCH interbreeding between human species and that HYBRIDS were produced and survived. In fact, they dominated and they (we) still dominate today!
In South Africa we have Homo naledi showing a mix of archaic and modern morphology. We have the same in Morocco. These finds are changing what we think in terms of human evolution because these specimens are NOT from archaic times but from MODERN TIMES! When I say modern times mean around 300 kya NOT millions of years ago. The “mystery” is really no mystery at all if we think in terms of hybrid offspring. What is being found in Morocco and South Africa and elsewhere is CLEAR EVIDENCE of hybridization! And not only that but we now know that there were many migrations out of Africa AND many migrations INTO Africa! So much for the OOA theory!! Continue Reading
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
Neanderthal-Modern Human comparison
New research conducted by Australian National University and the University of Sidney is providing a new window into the transition between Neanderthals to H. sapiens. Excavating in a cave in the Moravian region of the Czech Republic researchers have developed a timeline of evidence from 10 sediment layers spanning 28-50 kya. This is the period when it is generally believed that modern human ancestors first arrived in Europe.
20,000 animal bones have been recovered at the site along with stone tools, weapons, and an engraved bone bead believed to be the oldest of its kind every found in Central Europe. Dr. Duncan Wright (ANU) believes this project is highly important because it is providing some evidence for modern human activity in the area. During this time modern human ancestors were moving into the area and, I think, interbreeding with Neanderthals at least to some extent. Continue Reading
Artistic reconstruction of Neanderthal-Modern Human Hybrid
It is pretty much a well known fact now that non-African people outside of Africa have anywhere from 1% to 3% or more Neanderthal DNA in them. It’s also known that between 35-45 kya as modern humans were spreading through Europe the Neanderthals began to disappear. What is less known is the some researchers believe that 40 kya some modern human genomes may have had much more Neanderthal DNA perhaps to the tune of at least twice as much.
I myself contend that some people have much more Neanderthal DNA in them and that their ancestors had even more Neanderthal DNA in their genes and that is why today we can see some people who have clearly Neanderthal features. Continue Reading
Here is an interesting email I recently received:
Dear Dr. Peron:
I have read almost every post on your blog including those about “bigfoot.” Your writing skills are beyond approach and your knowledge is phenomenal. However, I fail to understand why someone of your expertise would actually believe in something like “bigfoot.” I consider this “creature” nothing more than urban myth and misidentified animals such as bears. You and Dr. Jeff Meldrum at the University of Idaho and Dr. Susan Martinez at Columbia University are the only anthropologists I know of who actually seem to believe that this creature is real. I find that shocking! How can three obviously intelligent academics like yourselves believe in in such a thing or even consider it possible?
There have been thousands of sightings of this alleged creature but not one shred of evidence. Unless you want to include the complete farce of Dr.Melba Ketchum and her absolutely preposterous “DNA evidence.” Dr. Ketchum is not a reputable source as far as I’m concerned as she has some questionable associations and ideas and, besides, is a veterinarian and not an anthropologist at all. Surely with all of the sightings of this “bigfoot” creature there would be plenty of evidence and, in fact, the evidence would abound but that is not the case. Continue Reading