Browsing: Palaeoanthropology

Is the Recent Out of Africa model in crisis? A series of discoveries call into question the current understanding of how modern humans populated Eurasia, Australasia and the Americas. Indeed, the accrued anomalies are so numerous that the recent out of Africa theory paradigm is seemingly collapsing. Normal Science American physicist and author, Thomas Kuhn, is highly respected for his extrapolation of the nature of scientific paradigm displacements as described in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn describes a complex and five-step process involved starting with normal science, the adoption of a workable model which guides an investigation…

Ancestors of East Asians Carried Denisovan Genes from Interbreeding Event in Oceania and Second Encounter in Mainland Asia In March 2010 the analysis of bone fragments at the Denisova Cave site in Siberia revealed a new human species to the world, the Denisovans. Since then we have learned that the ancestors of the Denisovans and Neanderthals separated from those of modern humans around 750,000 years ago, the two close cousins of living humans then diverged from each other a few thousand years later. Genetic data suggests that Denisovans were once present in large numbers across the Asian region although very…

Whether Neanderthals had the same cognitive abilities as fully modern humans has long been a matter of debate with many suggesting our species displayed more mental prowess, one area where Neanderthals were considered lacking was in the production of cave art. New findings from cave sites in Spain suggest that Neanderthals had nothing to envy in respect to their close cousins, our direct ancestors. Archaeological research across Europe has convincingly established that the ancestors of modern Europeans reached the continent around 45,000 years ago, this date not only matched fossils and tools found but also coincided with the earliest examples…

There has been a constant stream of discoveries in the last twelve months which suggest a need to move back the dates for our early ancestor’s migration out of Africa. Modern human fossils uncovered in Asia, as well as new DNA studies, have pushed back the occupation of that continent from 60,000 to 120,000 years ago. Stone tools and hominin fossils discoveries suggest that archaic Homo sapiens inhabited parts of Eurasia well before 200,000 years ago, at least 300,000 to 400,000 years ago. These suggested revisions to the human story may sound quite major, but they are extremely conservative considering…

German archaeologists digging in the former riverbed of the Rhine have discovered fossil teeth which suggest our earliest human ancestors lived in Europe, not Africa. The 9.7-million-year-old fossils resemble those of hominin species only known to have appeared in Africa several million years later. The closest match to the teeth are associated with skeletons of Australopithecus afarensis (such as the famous skeleton of ‘Lucy’) and Ardipithecus ramidus (Ardi) – both species lived in East Africa around 4 to 5 million years ago. The new fossils, uncovered close to the town of Eppelsheim, predate fossils of hominins such as Lucy and…

A new paper published by Professor Úlfur Árnason, a neuroscientist at the University of Lund in Sweden, places the last common ancestor of Homo sapiens sapiens and Neanderthals somewhere in Eurasia. Árnason argues that the ancestors of the African KhoeSan and Mbuti populations formed the first exodus of Homo sapiens sapiens into Africa from Asia and Europe. It is commonly held that the original members of the Homo sapiens species, lived somewhere in Africa and that Homo sapiens sapiens emerged first on the same continent. The majority of scientists believe that only the exact dating of the emergence of our…

With the rise of permaculture farming practices based on ancient tribal wisdom, we have come to understand that jungles and rain forests can be extremely productive when managed effectively. Recent studies have indicated that our distant ancestors in Southeast Asia may have been well adapted to living from tropical environments 70,000 years ago – perhaps even 140,000 years ago. Early modern humans were incredibly adaptive, successfully colonising environments as diverse in their makeup as low-oxygen mountain plateaus, vast arid plains, ice covered coastlines and tropical forests. Humans are unlike other animals that enter new environments, rather than being limited to…

Ancient teeth from a Sumatran archaeological site have pushed back the colonisation of Southeast Asia by up to 20,000 years. The location of the cave site strongly suggests that the local human population was already well adapted to living in dense jungle environments by this period. In 2009, paleoanthropologists uncovered a partial skull, jaw fragments and teeth at the Tam Pa Ling cave site in Laos. The fossils were subsequently identified as Homo sapiens and dated to between 46,000 and 63,000 years ago. This material represented the earliest evidence of modern humans in mainland Southeast Asia. That is, until now.…

New DNA data has overturned the understanding that modern humans and Neanderthals diverged a little over 550,000 years ago. It is now apparent that Neanderthals and Denisovans diverged from their shared ancestor close to 744,000 years ago, only 300 generations after splitting from the line ancestral to modern humans. The size of the global Neanderthal population has also been recalculated, shifting from perhaps 1000 to tens of thousands. [This article explores the conclusions reached in a new study, and offers the opinion of this writer as to the possible interpretations of some of the associated scientific findings]. A team of…

Stanford Scientists have discovered that as humans migrated into regions with a colder climate, a single-letter DNA switch, from a G to an A, helped humans tolerate frigid temperatures. A deeper analysis of the Stanford University research data suggests that this happened first in Australasia – not during an Out of Africa migration as claimed by the researchers. [This article explores the conclusions reached in a new study, and offers the opinion of this writer as to the possible interpretations of some of the associated scientific findings]. In a paper published on July 3rd in the journal Nature Genetics, Terence…

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