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
Narmada Man skull cap
When it comes to South Asia the emergence of modern Homo sapiens is hotly contested due to gaps in the fossil record. One controversial fossil find from this region is a partial cranium from Hathnora in India. This solitary cranium has been dated at about 250 kyr and the debate centers around just exactly what are we looking at here. Some researchers believe this skull is from an evolved H. erectus while other believe it is from an archaic H. sapien or H. heidelbergensis.
Some researchers believe that this cranium along with other fossil remains known as the “Narmada fossils” support the presence of three hominins in the region long ago specifically one early modern and two archaic. In one find a femur and calvarium (skullcap) was found and these are believed to be from a large bodied species possibly similar to H. heidelbergensis or even a South Asian variation (hybrid) of H. heidelbergensis. Acheulian tools were also found with this specimen. Continue Reading
Today the average height for a male is around 5 ft 10 in (177 cm) and 5 ft 5 in for women (163-164 cm). Race can also affect height with the average for some races being taller and for others a bit shorter. Food intake and disease can also affect height as well as environment.
Humans have not always been these average heights. In paleoanthropology we use fossils to calculate the heights of some of our ancient human ancestors. The femur (thighbone) is the most useful bone for making such determinations as it typically composes about 1/4 of human height and is the longest bone in the human body.
Using femur bones and other bones we have been able to estimate height in some of our ancient ancestors. For instance, Homo heidelbergensis lived around 700-200 kya and we estmate males stood an average of 5 ft 9 in tall with females being slightly shorter standing on average 5 ft 2 in tall.
The “Hobbit” (aka: Homo Floresiensis) lived between 95-17 kya and were much shorter. A female skeleton from this species of ancient human ancestor reveals she stood slightly over 3 ft.
Neanderthals who lived between 200-28 kya had an average height of 5 ft 5 in for males and 5 ft 1 in for females. Most paleoanthropologists believe their short, stocky body type helped them stay warm and survive the harsh ice ages they lived through. 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
Artistic depiction of the 5 Dmanisi skulls
The majority consensus is that our ancient human ancestors came out of Africa and populated the world. And the consensus is also that human evolution took place in Africa as these newly evolved humans migrated out of Africa they replaced more archaic species along the way. This is the OOA/Replacement Theory. More recently there has been evidence found that, in fact, there were not only migrations out of Africa but also back into Africa. However, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting all of this is NOT the case at all and part of that growing evidence are the finds at the Dmanisi site in Georgia (Russia).
The finds at the Dmanisi site clearly challenge the conventional opinion and the more we find the more it is beginning to appear that Africa was NOT the sole “cradle of humankind.” For, what is being found at the Dmanisi site suggests STRONGLY that there was a “Eurasian chapter in the long evolutionary story of man.”
Location of Dmanisi site in Georgia Republic
The Dmanisi discoveries upset the conventional view that ancient human ancestors migrated out of Africa not so long ago in evolutionary terms. In fact, these discoveries strongly point to ancient human ancestors migrating out of Africa FAR earlier than the conventional view holds. Of course, some of this is being demeaned by the suggestion (speculation) that there was simply a long evolutionary interlude in Eurasia before moving back into Africa to complete our evolution. Frankly, I think that is an absolute CROCK! I think what was going on at Dmanisi was far MORE than simply an “evolutionary interlude.”
The Dmanisi fossilized bones have been dated at around 1.8 myr and they are the oldest remains discovered outside of Africa to date. The Dmanisi remains are far more primitive appearing than Homo erectus which is believed to have been the first hominid species to migrate out of Africa about 1 mya. How is this possible that we have a hominid species outside of Africa long before H. erectus migrated out of Africa and began their conquest of the world?
When we compare the Dmanisi remains to H. erectus remains we come up with some very interesting comparisons. The Dmanisi had brains about 40% SMALLER than the average H. erectus brain! We also find that the Dmanisi were significantly shorter than the average H. erectus. Further, the conventional view has been that when H. erectus came out of Africa they had sophisticated stone tools (Acheulean) and that their physical anatomy was “advanced” in terms of brain size and limb proportions. BUT what is found at Dmanisi is very DIFFERENT from this! Continue Reading