H/T to JR Bentley for the below link…………….
An article appearing in “Science” on 24 April 2018 reports on new evidence concerning just when early humans began taking to the sea. The article suggests that Stone Age people may have indeed voyaged the Mediterranean Sea long before we thought possible.
A decade ago researchers found stone tools on the Island of Crete that dated back to at least 130,000 years and most archaeologists at the time were nothing short of stunned! Many were skeptical and remain so even today. However, over the past decade researchers at the site have built a rather convincing case for ancient seafaring during the Stone Age! And that’s not all because that evidence strongly suggests the possibility that Neanderthals were the sailors!!
I’ve blogged about this subject before postulating that seafaring was even undertaken by Homo erectus which I still hold to. That evidence suggesting Neanderthals were also seafarers does NOT surprise me in the least. In fact, I would expect it to be so!
What this newest evidence suggests is that seafaring predates modern humans both on the cognitive level and the technology level. Prior to this evidence the earliest seafarers were assumed to be from the Bronze Age. The Bronze Age ran from around 3300 to 1200 BC in the Near East and South Asia, and from around 3222 to 300 BC in Europe and East Asia. In contrast, the Stone Age lasted about 3.4 million years ending sometime between 8700 BCE and 2000 BCE. Continue Reading
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
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
Recently I had a DNA analysis done and most of the ethnic results I expected except for one. I was surprised to learn that 5% of my ethnic DNA comes from the Caucasus region located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Traditionally, the Caucasus Mountains are the dividing line between Asia and Europe. This is a today a very diverse region in terms of religion, linguistics, culture, and ecologically and looking at some of the history of this region it has apparently always been such. Today it is home to over 50 ethnic groups and is one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots, that is, this region is home to a large number of diverse plants and animals which are threatened by human encroachment. The region also has a lot of history ranging from the Mongols to the Huns to Cyrus the Great and a host of other notable historical people and cultures.
Location of Dmanisi site in Georgia Republic
The Caucasus region is also home to the wonderful Dmanisi skulls and that is what fascinates me and, now, my personal connection to this area!! Around 45,000 years ago modern humans (Homo sapiens) entered into the Caucasus region and the surrounding area from somewhere in the Middle East. Farming was introduced and it spread throughout the region during the Neolithic Period. Evidence suggests that around 800 years ago the Mongols invaded the region and left behind descendants such as the Nogay people. Ironically, the Caucasus region seems to have rarely been the source of migrations out of the area. In other words, human populations came to the region and stayed. Continue Reading
As I’ve stated on this blog many times before I have no doubt that modern humans interbred with the Neanderthals more than we think. Recent studies have shown that some of the Neanderthal genes within us mods contribute to our immunity and to diseases. Now new studies are showing that Neanderthal genes contribute to other modern human characteristics such as our hair color, eye color, skin tone, sleep habits, mood, and even a person’s smoking status! In fact, what we are finding is that Neanderthal genes play a significant role in modern humans outside of Africa!
In terms of skin tone researchers have found that Neanderthal alleles contribute to light skin tone while other Neanderthal alleles contribute to darker skin tones and the same is true of skin colors. This find kind of shocked researchers because what the suggest is that Neanderthals varied in their hair color and skin tone. No they weren’t all red headed, sorry.
When modern humans arrived in Eurasia over 100 kya the Neanderthals were already well established there and had been for thousands of years or longer. They were most likely very well adapted to those climates and environments moreso than our newly arriving ancestors were. Continue Reading