Modern Human Origins

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#1
Probably a good idea to have a separate thread for the emergence of our species as some of this has gone into the Neanderthal thread:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7154

And while some aspects fit in there fine the appearance of Homo sapiens seems like a different topic (I might fish out some stuff from that thread and drop it in here).

You might also want to check the Homo floresiensis thread:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18498

There is another thread running looking at earlier human evolution:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13908

and you might be interested in threads on the earliest art:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9527

and the earliest use of fire:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14337

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Anyway this is a fascinating date as the two fossils are very different and were thought to be of different ages but we also see this kind of thing with other finds in Jebel Irhoud and the modern humans from Israel:

Oldest humans just got older -- by 35,000 years

Wed Feb 16, 2005 01:11 PM ET



By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON (Reuters) - The oldest humans just got older -- by 35,000 years.

Two Homo sapiens skulls, originally dated as 130,000 years old when they were unearthed in Kibish, Ethiopia in 1967, then later put back to 160,000, have now been declared 195,000 years old based on geological evidence.

"It pushes back the beginning of the anatomically modern humans," said geologist Frank Brown, Dean of the University of Utah's College of Mines and Earth Sciences and co-author of a new study into the skulls known as Omo I and Omo II.

The results of a study with New York's Stony Brook University and the Australian National University were published in the science journal Nature.

After looking at the volcanic ash where the skulls were found along the Omo river, the researchers not only dated the remains as the same age but pushed back the date of their existence, making them by far the oldest humans.

"On this basis we suggest that hominid fossils Omo I and Omo II are relatively securely dated to 195 +/- 5 (thousand) years old ... making Omo I and Omo II the oldest anatomically modern human fossils yet recovered," the study concluded.

The new dating firmly underpins the "out of Africa" theory of the origin of modern humans.

Brown said the redating was important culturally because it pushed back the known dawn of mankind, the record of which in most cases only starts 50,000 years ago.

"Which would mean 150,000 years of Homo sapiens without cultural stuff such as evidence of eating fish, of harpoons, anything to do with music, needles, even tools," he said.

"This stuff all comes in very late except for stone knife blades, which appeared between 50,000 and 200,000 years ago, depending on whom you believe," he added in a commentary.

The skulls were first discovered just 200 metres apart on the shores of what was formerly a lake by a team led by renowned fossil hunter and wildlife expert Richard Leakey.

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They bear cut marks made by stone tools which have been taken as evidence of prehistoric mortuary practices.

Ever since the discovery of the fossil skulls, scientists have not only been locked in debate over the dating but also of the physical types because Omo I has more modern features than Omo II.

The new dating suggests that modern man and his older precursor existed side by side.

"It dates the fossil record almost exactly concordant with the dates suggested by genetic studies for the origin of our species," said Stony Brook anthropologist John Fleagle.

"Second, it places the first appearance of modern Homo sapiens in Africa many more thousands of years before our species appears on any other continent. It lengthens the gap," he added.
Source
 
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#2
The paper is:

McDougall, I., Brown, F.H. & Fleagle, J.G. (2005) Stratigraphic placement and age of modern humans from Kibish, Ethiopia. Nature. 433 (7027) 733 - 6.

First paragraph:

In 1967 the Kibish Formation in southern Ethiopia yielded hominid cranial remains identified as early anatomically modern humans, assigned to Homo sapiens. However, the provenance and age of the fossils have been much debated. Here we confirm that the Omo I and Omo II hominid fossils are from similar stratigraphic levels in Member I of the Kibish Formation, despite the view that Omo I is more modern in appearance than Omo II. 40Ar/39Ar ages on feldspar crystals from pumice clasts within a tuff in Member I below the hominid levels place an older limit of 198 plusminus 14 kyr (weighted mean age 196 plusminus 2 kyr) on the hominids. A younger age limit of 104 plusminus 7 kyr is provided by feldspars from pumice clasts in a Member III tuff. Geological evidence indicates rapid deposition of each member of the Kibish Formation. Isotopic ages on the Kibish Formation correspond to ages of Mediterranean sapropels, which reflect increased flow of the Nile River, and necessarily increased flow of the Omo River. Thus the 40Ar/39Ar age measurements, together with the sapropel correlations, indicate that the hominid fossils have an age close to the older limit. Our preferred estimate of the age of the Kibish hominids is 195 plusminus 5 kyr, making them the earliest well-dated anatomically modern humans yet described.
 

rjmrjmrjm

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#3
Completely pointless but my father was a good friend pf Richard Leakeys nephew - must have been in the 70's. Not sure if he ever met the esteemed fellow. I shall inquire.
 
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#5
Published online: 16 February 2005; | doi:10.1038/news050214-10

Ethiopia is top choice for cradle of Homo sapiens

Michael Hopkin
Radioactive dating finds that fossil skulls are 195,000 years old.


Two Ethiopian fossils have been crowned as the oldest known members of our species. An estimated 195,000 years old, the pair were witness to the earliest days of Homo sapiens.

The discovery adds yet more weight to the argument that Africa, and Ethiopia in particular, was the birthplace of humans. The dating sits well with genetic analyses of modern populations, which suggest that H. sapiens first appeared in Africa around 200,000 years ago.

The fossils, called Omo I and Omo II, were found in 1967 at Kibish, near Ethiopia's Omo River, by the famed fossil-hunter Richard Leakey. Although Leakey realized that Omo I, at least, was a H. sapiens, the dating of mollusc shells found with the bones suggested that the specimens were only 130,000 years old.

"In 1967, dating techniques weren't what they are now," says John Fleagle of Stony Brook University, New York, who took part in the latest analysis, published in Nature1. And besides, Leakey and his colleagues were more concerned with hunting for something millions of years older. "The fact of the matter is, they wanted early hominids; modern humans were like chump change," Fleagle says.

The finds confirm that East Africa was a key area in this story.

Chris Stringer
Natural History Museum in London
As a result, nobody attempted to date the fossils' burial site more accurately, despite its significance in helping to settle the debate over humanity's African roots. "When modern human origins became a big issue in the early 1980s, Ethiopia was closed," Fleagle says.

Argon dating

And when the researchers, led by Ian McDougall of the Australian National University in Canberra, attempted to visit Kibish on their latest expedition, it was far from plain sailing. "The logistics are a nightmare. We spent days and weeks waiting just to get a boat to go there," recalls Fleagle.

When they finally made it, McDougall's team collected samples of the rock where the Omo fossils were found. Using an improved dating method based on the rate of decay of radioactive argon, the researchers put the age of rock just below the fossils at 196,000 years.

The rock layers were formed in rapid bursts, corresponding to wet periods during which huge amounts of organic matter were dumped in the region by the overflowing River Nile, Fleagle says. This means that the fossils are likely to be only slightly younger than the rocks on which they were lying.

The age of the Omo fossils provides yet more support for the 'out of Africa' theory, which contends that humankind spent most of its life in Africa, before sweeping across the world during the past 40,000 years. "The finds confirm that east Africa was a key area in this story," says Chris Stringer, who studies human origins at the Natural History Museum in London.

Ethiopian hotspot

But it is still unclear whether Ethiopia can claim to be the sole crucible of humankind, or whether modern humans arose more widely and gradually across the continent. "Archaeological finds from southern Africa suggest that that region may have played an important part in the development of modern human behaviour, which is also part of what defines us as a species," Stringer says.

Nevertheless, the dating of the Omo fossils earmarks them as older than a set of ancient human skulls found in Herto, Ethiopia. These were unveiled in 2003 and hailed at the time as the oldest humans (see "Skulls reveal dawn of mankind"). The Herto hominids were christened as a new subspecies, H. sapiens idaltu, meaning 'elder'.

Such a move is unnecessary for the Omo specimens, Fleagle says. Omo I has always been viewed as thoroughly modern in appearance. And although Omo II, which consists of just a skull with no face, has more primitive features, Fleagle maintains that it is still best assigned to H. sapiens, particularly as both skeletons are now thought to be the same age.

"The only interpretation is that there was a lot of diversity at that time," Fleagle reflects. "There are no simple linear patterns, so I'd be reluctant to draw a line anywhere. And anyway, if you do that, how many subspecies are you going to end up with?"
Source
 
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#6
And the Herto finds are significant (pity that news link is now restricted to Premier customers):

White, T.D., Asfaw, B., DeGusta, D., Gilbert, H., Richards, G.D., Suwa, G. & Howell, F.C. (2003) Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia. Nature. 423 (6941). 742 –7.

First paragraph:

The origin of anatomically modern Homo sapiens and the fate of
Neanderthals have been fundamental questions in human evolutionary
studies for over a century1–4. A key barrier to the
resolution of these questions has been the lack of substantial
and accurately dated African hominid fossils from between
100,000 and 300,000 years ago5. Here we describe fossilized
hominid crania from Herto, Middle Awash, Ethiopia, that fill
this gap and provide crucial evidence on the location, timing and
contextual circumstances of the emergence of Homo sapiens.
Radioisotopically dated to between 160,000 and 154,000 years
ago6, these new fossils predate classic Neanderthals and lack their
derived features. The Herto hominids are morphologically and
chronologically intermediate between archaic African fossils and
later anatomically modern Late Pleistocene humans. They therefore
represent the probable immediate ancestors of anatomically
modern humans. Their anatomy and antiquity constitute strong
evidence of modern-human emergence in Africa.
[edit: Here is the BBC news story on it:

Oldest human skulls found

By Jonathan Amos
BBC News Online science staff

Three fossilised skulls unearthed in Ethiopia are said by scientists to be among the most important discoveries ever made in the search for the origin of humans.

The crania of two adults and a child, all dated to be around 160,000 years old, were pulled out of sediments near a village called Herto in the Afar region in the east of the country.

They are described as the oldest known fossils of modern humans, or Homo sapiens .

What excites scientists so much is that the specimens fit neatly with the genetic studies that have suggested this time and part of Africa for the emergence of mankind.

"All the genetics have pointed to a geologically recent origin for humans in Africa - and now we have the fossils," said Professor Tim White, one of the co-leaders on the research team that found the skulls.

"These specimens are critical because they bridge the gap between the earlier more archaic forms in Africa and the fully modern humans that we see 100,000 years ago," the University of California at Berkeley, US, paleoanthropologist told BBC News Online.

Out of Africa

The skulls are not an exact match to those of people living today; they are slightly larger, longer and have more pronounced brow ridges.

These minor but important differences have prompted the US/Ethiopian research team to assign the skulls to a new subspecies of humans called Homo sapiens idaltu (idaltu means "elder" in the local Afar language).

The Herto discoveries were hailed on Wednesday by those researchers who have championed the idea that all humans living today come from a population that emerged from Africa within the last 200,000 years.

The proponents of the so-called Out of Africa hypothesis think this late migration of humans supplanted all other human-like species alive around the world at the time - such as the Neanderthals in Europe.

If modern features already existed in Africa 160,000 years ago, they argued, we could not have descended from species like Neanderthals.

Sophisticated behaviour

"These skulls are fantastic evidence in support of the Out of Africa idea," Professor Chris Stringer, from London's Natural History Museum, told BBC News Online.

SEARCH FOR HUMAN ORIGINS
...this is definitively the answer to the question of whether Homo sapiens evolved from Africa
Dr Berhane Asfaw
"These people were living in the right place and at the right time to be possibly the ancestors of all of us."

The skulls were found in fragments, at a fossil-rich site first identified in 1997, in a dry and dusty valley.

Stone tools and the fossil skull of a butchered hippo were the first artefacts to be picked up. Buffalo fossils were later recovered indicating the ancient humans had a meat-rich diet.

The most complete of the adult skulls was seen protruding from the ancient sediment; it had been exposed by heavy rains and partially trampled by herds of cows.

The skull of the child - probably aged six or seven - had been shattered into more than 200 pieces and had to be painstakingly reconstructed.

All the skulls had cut marks indicating they had been de-fleshed in some kind of mortuary practice. The polishing on the skulls, however, suggests this was not simple cannibalism but more probably some kind of ritualistic behaviour.

This type of practice has been recorded in more modern societies, including some in New Guinea, in which the skulls of ancestors are preserved and worshipped.

The Herto skulls may therefore mark the earliest known example of conceptual thinking - the sophisticated behaviour that sets us apart from all other animals.

"This is very possibly the case," Professor White said.

The Ethiopian discoveries are reported in the journal Nature.

---------------------
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/s ... 978800.stm

Published: 2003/06/11 18:43:58 GMT

© BBC MMV
and a Q&A:

Q&A: The Herto skulls

Scientists have discovered three human skulls, all dated to be about 160,000 years old, in the Afar region of Ethiopia. BBC News Online explains why researchers regard the finds as so significant.

What precisely was found just outside the Herto village in the east of Ethiopia?

A US/Ethiopian team has been working on the site since 1997. The three skulls - from two adults and one child - represent the most complete crania so far recovered. The fossilised fragments of seven other individuals have also been unearthed but these, in some cases, are represented by just teeth. Hippo and buffalo remains were also found, as were more than 640 stone artefacts - tools made from volcanic rocks and glasses.

What do we know about the place where these individuals were living?

The evidence suggests these ancient Herto people lived near the shore of a shallow freshwater lake created when the Awash River temporarily dammed about 260,000 years ago. The lake contained abundant hippos, crocodiles and catfish, while buffalo roamed the land. Much of Europe was buried in ice at this time.

Why have the skulls caused so much excitement?

They are the oldest yet found of Homo sapiens - modern looking people who would not appear unusual today if you met them. The previous oldest H. sapiens skulls were from South Africa (Klasies River Mouth, circa 100,000 years) and Israel (Qafzeh and Skhul, circa 90,000-130,000 years). Scientists are sure of the greater antiquity of the Herto specimens because they were pulled from sediments sandwiched between volcanic rocks that have been well dated using a radioactive argon technique.

But the skulls are slightly different from modern humans today?

The largest of the skulls, probably from an adult male in his late 20s to early 30s, is a bit larger than the extremes seen in modern Homo sapiens ; the braincase is longer and the brow ridges are more pronounced. As a result, the researchers have given the fossils a subspecies name, Homo sapiens idaltu , to differentiate them from contemporary humans, Homo sapiens sapiens .

How do these skulls fit with what we know of other human-like creatures, or hominids?

The differences described above are hugely significant because they echo features seen in some older African hominid fossils, such as Homo heidelbergensis , whilst at the same time displaying a very modern look we would recognise today. In essence, the researchers argue, the Herto skulls fill a gap between the more archaic humans who went before and the very modern people who came after. The Herto people could be our direct and immediate ancestors.

And how does this fit with what we have learnt recently from genetic studies?

By looking at the genetic variation in all living populations today and in studying the errors that have arisen in our genome over time, molecular biologists have come to one conclusion: we diverged as a species less than 200,000 years ago in Africa. A recent study even narrowed the location down to Tanzania and Ethiopia. The Herto skulls therefore represent a confirmation of the genetic studies. They show the right features in the right place at the right time.

What can we now say about the origin of humans?

THE PRIDE OF ETHIOPIA
...this is definitively the answer to the question of whether Homo sapiens evolved from Africa
Dr Berhane Asfaw
There are two major schools of thought. One says Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa recently to supplant all the other human-like species around the world, such as Europe's Neanderthals; the "Multiregional" school says modern humans arose in many areas of Europe, Asia and Africa from other hominids who had migrated out of Africa at a much earlier time.

Because the Herto fossils show anatomically modern features that pre-date most Neanderthals, it seems inconceivable that we could have descended from them, as some scientists have proposed.

The Herto skulls support the first school, the so-called "Out of Africa" hypothesis.

---------------------
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/s ... 981756.stm

Published: 2003/06/11 14:20:36 GMT

© BBC MMV
 
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#7
Good one from the Beed with some nice photos showing the recontruction of Omo 1 (the most modern skull found) and the refitted humn bones that prove the stratigraphy:

Age of ancient humans reassessed

Two skulls originally found in 1967 have been shown to be about 195,000 years old, making them the oldest modern human remains known to science.

The age estimate comes from a re-dating of Ethiopian rock layers close to those that yielded the remarkable fossils.

The skulls, known as Omo I and II, push back the known presence of Homo sapiens in Africa by 40,000 years.

The latest dating work is reported in the science journal Nature.

It puts the specimens close to the time expected for the evolutionary emergence of our species. Genetic studies have indicated Homo sapiens arose in East Africa - possibly Ethiopia or Tanzania - just over 200,000 years ago.

"These are the earliest known examples of our own species and that suggests they lived earlier still," commented Nature senior editor Dr Henry Gee.

"But I am not sure how much further back you could go and still have Homo sapiens - before they graded into some other, earlier species," he told the BBC News website.

Dig return

The skulls were first brought to the attention of the world by the famous fossil hunter Richard Leakey, whose team unearthed the specimens in sediments along the Omo River in southernmost Ethiopia, near the town of Kibish.

They found the skull (minus the face) and partial skeleton (parts of arms, legs, feet and the pelvis) of Omo I, and the top and back of the skull of Omo II.

Now, a three-man Australian-US team - Ian McDougall, Frank Brown and John Fleagle - has re-evaluated the Leakey finds.

The team even returned to the original excavation area, using old scientific reports, photographs and film to identify the precise dig co-ordinates.

"Omo I actually has the better information on it," explained co-author Professor Brown, from the University of Utah's College of Mines and Earth Sciences.

"[The records and maps] are correct and we actually went back and found a few more pieces of the skeleton and some of them glue on to the pieces that were found in 1967."

Climate clincher

The original dating in 1967 found the fossils to be 130,000 years old.

This was based on the decay rate of radioactive uranium atoms contained in oyster shells found near the skulls - "but that date should always have been taken with a pinch of salt", Professor Brown told BBC News.

"Molluscs are not really very good for that kind of thing."

The new results, though, are regarded as far more robust. They depend on the known decay rate of radioactive atoms of potassium-40 into the gas argon-40 in feldspar mineral crystals.

These crystals were retrieved from chunks of pumice in volcanic ash layers above and below the skulls.

They suggested the specimens must be between 104,000 and 196,000 years old - but with some additional climate evidence on ancient flooding in the region, the team was able to show the Omo finds were actually very close to the 196,000-year mark.

Dr Chris Stringer, from London's Natural History Museum, worked on the skulls more than 20 years ago. He told BBC News: "I was of the opinion that Omo I was a modern human - Omo II seemed much more primitive. So, from my point of view I thought Omo II might be older than Omo I.

"But it seems that they are about the same age and that shows that the populations in Africa at that time were very variable. They show different mixtures of primitive and modern characteristics."

The previous oldest Homo sapiens skulls were uncovered in sediments near a village called Herto in the Afar region in the east of Ethiopia. These were dated to between 154,000 and 160,000 years old.

To be human

Although researchers are pushing at the evolutionary base of our species, they still have much to discover in terms of these early people's behaviour.

Professor Brown explains: "...the cultural aspects of humanity in most cases appear much later in the record - only 50,000 years ago - which would mean 150,000 years of Homo sapiens without cultural stuff, such as evidence of eating fish, of harpoons, anything to do with music (flutes and that sort of thing), needles, even tools.

"This stuff all comes in very late, except for stone knife blades, which appeared between 50,000 and 200,000 years ago, depending on whom you believe."

Professor John Fleagle, of New York state's Stony Brook University, adds: "There is a huge debate in the archaeological literature regarding the first appearance of modern aspects of behaviour such as bone carving for religious reasons, or tools, ornamentation (bead jewellery and such), drawn images, and arrowheads.

"They only appear as a coherent package about 50,000 years ago, and the first modern humans that left Africa between 50,000 and 40,000 years ago seem to have had the full set.

"As modern human anatomy is documented at earlier and earlier sites, it becomes evident that there was a great time gap between the appearance of the modern skeleton and 'modern behaviour'."

---------------------
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/s ... 269299.stm

Published: 2005/02/16 18:11:43 GMT

© BBC MMV
 
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#8
Its all coming thick and fast now:

Israeli expedition to unlock mystery of human origins

By Louise Shalev and Rava Eleasari February 20, 2005


Since the discovery of a 160,000-year old human-like skull in Ethiopia in 2002, scientists have been refocusing their interest on questions relating to the evolution of Homo sapiens. Where and when did modern humans first appear and what were their routes of dispersal?

The only way to solve this puzzle, say scientists, is to uncover human remains in archeological layers older than those found in Ethiopia - dating to between 150,000 to 250,000 years ago. However, no accurately dated well-preserved hominid fossils from this period have been discovered.

Now, through a grant given by the Dan David Foundation a project is underway in northern Israel to unearth the oldest remnants of Homo sapiens outside of Africa. The foundation was launched by Dan David, a Tel Aviv University honorary doctor and founder of the annual Dan David Prize administered by TAU.

The four-year excavation in the Misliya cave on Mount Carmel is being conducted by TAU paleoanthropologist Prof. Israel Hershkovitz together with Haifa University archeologist Prof. Mina Weinstein-Evron. Prof. Hershkovitz is the incumbent of the Tassia and Dr. Joseph Meychan Chair in the History and Philosophy of Medicine at TAU?s Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

Excavations on Mount Carmel conducted some 70 years ago already yielded human remains dating back 100,000 years. However, the Misliya cave, which has yet to be excavated, contains four-meter deep prehistoric layers dating back 500,000 years, says Hershkovitz. The now collapsed roof of the cave has protected the sediments from erosion during thousands of years.

Preliminary excavations at the site have already yielded animal bones and a fragment of an ancient human upper jaw (with teeth intact) and a finger bone.

Hershkovitz notes that the 160,000-year old Ethiopian skulls are on the verge of anatomical modernity, but are not yet fully modern and this why they were assigned to a new subspecies: Homo sapiens Idaltu. These skulls are very distinct from the anatomically modern Homo sapiens skulls found in Israel which are dated to 100,000 years ago.

Dan David became interested in the project when he toured the site together with Prof Hershkovitz and 2003 Dan David Prize laureate Prof. Michel Brunet of France. Brunet was awarded the prize for his 2002 discovery of the cranium of the oldest human ancestor to date, a nearly 7 million-year old hominid species.

For David the field of paleoanthropology is an intellectual passion and he is extremely knowledgeable on the subject, notes Hershkovitz. After learning about the cave's potential to reveal ancient human remains and the importance of paleoanthropological research in Israel, he offered the assistance of the Dan David Foundation in funding the project.

DNA analysis has indicated that the earliest form of Homo sapiens could date back 250,000 years, says Hershkovitz.

"If we find fragments that old at Misliya, it would provide historical depth for Homo sapiens, as well as crucial evolutionary, cultural and genetic information about the earliest form of the species and its migration routes. It will also put Israel on the map as a major center for research into paleontology," he says.
Source

They are possibly overstating their case (I suspect funding is better with very focused aims even if one never reaches them ;) ) as the appearance of modern humans in Israel is very much tied into the northerly migration of African fauna into the Levantine corridor during the warm OIS 5 and before and after that we find more northerly species and Neanderthals (in the later OIS 4).

It will answer some very important questions but I'll bet a nut they won't find 150-160,000 year old modern humans - although if they find hominids of this age or earlier it will shed more light on hominid evolution in general in that area and there is a lack of fossil evidence in that time period (I can only really think of Zuttiyeh).
 

KeyserXSoze

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#9
Source
New evidence challenges hypothesis of modern human origins

www.chinaview.cn 2005-04-27 17:00:01

WUHAN, April 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese archaeologists said newly found evidence proves that a valley of Qingjiang River, a tributary on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, might be one of the regions where Homo sapiens, or modern man, originated.

The finding challenges the "Out-of-Africa" hypothesis of modern human origins, according to which about 100,000 years ago modern humans originated in Africa, migrated to other continents, and replaced populations of archaic humans across the globe.

The finding comes from a large-scale excavation launched in the Qingjiang River Valley in 1980s when construction began on a rangeof hydropower stations on the Qingjiang River, a fellow researcher with the Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.

Archaeologists discovered three human tooth fossils in one mountain cave in Mazhaping Village, in the Gaoping Township of Jianshi County, western Hubei Province, and found pieces of lithictechnology and evidence of fire usage in Minor Cave in Banxia. There were similar findings in Nianyu Mountain and in Zhadong Cavein Banxia, all in Changyang Prefecture of the Qiangjiang River Valley.

A special research panel named the Jianshi Man research team has been set up to analyze the findings.

Zheng Shaohua, a member of the Jianshi man research team from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, confirmed the tooth fossils belonged to humans dating back between 2.15 and 1.95 million yearsago.

The archaeologists also found fossils of bone implements in thecultural strata at the ruins where the human tooth fossils were discovered.

The fossilized bone implements bear traces of human beating, testifying that humans, not apes, lived inside the mountain cave, said Qiu Zhanxiang, another member on the Jianshi Man research team.

The pieces of lithic technology and traces of human fire usage found in Minor Cave in Banxia were said to date back 130,000 years,the ruins of human fire usage in Nianyu Mountain were dated as 120,000 years or 90,000 years old, while pieces of lithic technology and traces of fire usage found in Zhadong Cave in Banxia, were dated as 27,000 years old, said Professor Zheng.

Before these latest archaeological findings, Chinese archaeologists had found fossils of what is now known as ChangyangMan in 1957 under the leadership of renowned Chinese paleoanthropologist Jia Lanpo. Changyang Man represents early Homosapiens dating back 200,000 years.

The latest archaeological findings together with the earlier discovery of Changyang Man all prove there was continuity in Homo sapiens' development in China, said Liu Qingzhu, head of the Archaeology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"They are also of great significance to research on Paleolithic era in China and East Asia, and theories regarding multiple origins of mankind," said Liu. Enditem
 

Mighty_Emperor

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#10
Its an interesting find but:

1. Changyang Man will probably dating to 200,000 years ago is only an eroded maxilla that has large teeth and most clsoely resembles the late erectus fossils like Jinnuishan and Chaohu.

2. It takes on board the arguements put forward by people for a late emergence of modern human intellect and their markers (see Steve Mithens book) when these markers (bone tools, fire use, blades, microlithic tools, art, structures, etc.) appear much earlier than claimed - most back to 500,000 years ago but fire may be proved back to 1.5 million years.

Picture of the find (this is also one of the best sites on the Chinese fossils -although I disagree with their interpretaiton of the evidence it is awfully detailled. They appear to be switching over to a new domain and there are quite a few broken links but you can still get around):

www.chineseprehistory.org/pics6.htm
 

krobone

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#11
All fascinating stuff, especially when taken with the find of the Flores 'hobbits'. Just what was going on in our murky pre-history?
 

Dessie32

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#13
All fascinating stuff, especially when taken with the find of the Flores 'hobbits'. Just what was going on in our murky pre-history?
Who were the more advanced technology and cultraly wise. Neandertals or Flores (hobbits). Both had advanced tools and used hunting strategies.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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#14
I've moved Jolly Jack's post about Flores over to the relevant thread:
www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.ph ... 534#533534

and we can continue the Flores related questions there.

Dessie said:
All fascinating stuff, especially when taken with the find of the Flores 'hobbits'. Just what was going on in our murky pre-history?
Who were the more advanced technology and cultraly wise. Neandertals or Flores (hobbits). Both had advanced tools and used hunting strategies.
I think we don't know enough about the Hobbits at this stage.

We know the Neaderthals (in fact their ancestors too) had fire, created art, built structures, worked both wood and bone into tools, hafted stone points, used a number of glues and mastics, looked after their infirm, etc.

Pinning down who is more advanced (if that term even works without a lot of definition) based on material remains as people can have advanced cultures and technology and leave virtually no trace in the archaeological record. A lot of the material output depends on the needs of the group and so it would be like saying who is more advanced an eskimo or a Bushman?
 

krobone

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#15
The whole thing makes me wonder what else they're going to find in our prehistoric genetic closet. Giants? Wings? Gills? :nonplus:
 

Dessie32

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#16
The Most Advanced Hobbit or Caveman?

Who was the most advanced species of man? Homo Flores or the Neandertal man? By that I mean tool use technology as well as closely related to us physically.
 
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#19
Not sure which thread this really fits in but Chris Stringer's work mainly focuses on modern human origins so......

If these bones could talk

The Homo floresiensis find proved how little we know about our species. Tim Radford meets Chris Stringer, who is piecing together the messy evidence of human evolution

Thursday May 19, 2005
The Guardian

To a palaeoanthropologist, the past is an open book, but one that fails to tell the whole story. The covers are missing. The first chapters may never be found. There are hardly any pages, and most are so smeared and crumpled, so foxed and faded, that the text could mean almost anything. The cast of characters is confusing and narrative thread anybody's guess. Its authorship is the subject of political debate in the United States, the beginning is the stuff of fantasies and even the latest chapters are entirely provisional. Is it a detective story, a cliffhanger, or a romance. Can there be a happy ending?

There is a story-so-far, but that potted version of events is forever being revised, and nobody knows that better than Chris Stringer, one of the authors of a book published today called The Complete World of Human Evolution. Complete? Stringer spent eight years on the text. In the course of it, he had to contemplate plot lines that incorporate unexpected characters, teasing bits of evidence and relics of ambiguous adventures from the sere soils of Africa and the limestone caves of Europe. Then, late last year, he had to sit down in one night and compose an entirely new chapter, to incorporate the discovery of Homo floresiensis, also known as the Hobbit.

Homo floresiensis was the mysterious survivor unearthed from a cave on the island of Flores, in Indonesia: a pygmy descendant, perhaps of Homo erectus, perhaps even connected to an earlier human species, but with this special feature: the bones were only 18,000 years old. So Homo sapiens, Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalis and Homo floresiensis must have all shared the planet at the same time, tantalisingly recently: within the last 100,000 years perhaps. Now only Homo sapiens survives.

What stories could those bones tell? And who could have dreamed, before their discovery, that some tree-climbing, pygmy-elephant-hunting human candidate could have survived on a tropical island while Homo sapiens moved into the Fertile Crescent, preparing to invent agriculture, civilisation and global terrorism?

Stringer, 57, is head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London. One of palaeoanthropology's big players, he has spent his career in pursuit of Homo neanderthalis and is also one of the great proselytisers of the Out-of-Africa theory, the one that says the human story begins on just one continent. Homo floresiensis, however, astonished him.

"Until that turned up, we had no idea that ancient humans had ever reached as far as Flores. We certainly had no idea that there was a completely new kind of human - or is it even human? That is still being argued about - living there, and the fact that it was still around there when modern people passed through the region. Each of those is astonishing and that shows how little we knew about human evolution in that part of the world. We are building up pieces of a huge, complex jigsaw, and we still have a lot of spaces to fill in," he says.

"Nature is constantly experimenting. I think a lot of people thought that humans were somehow different; that we had this all embracing culture and this unifying adaptation, that meant that human evolution progressed in a somewhat different way, because of our technology and the way we probably vainly think we are partly controlling the world, now. So people project backwards and think humans are somehow special. The evidence shows us that our evolution was as complex and as undirected, I suppose, as that of any other species we have studied."

Here is the orthodoxy, pieced together over a century or more by Darwin's disciples: primate creatures with a capacity for walking upright emerged perhaps 20m years ago. From these emerged the ancestors of all gorillas, all chimpanzees and all humans. There is no line of evolution: think, instead, of foliage, and the surviving humans and two species of chimpanzees are just nearby buds at the ends of twigs close together on the tree of life. Nobody knows with any real confidence where to put the other 20 or so extinct candidates - half of them found in the last 10 years - that can be classed as humans or proto-humans. Nobody knows much about what they were like or how they coped. Brain size expanded, perhaps because of increasing social interplay. Stone tools emerged. Fire was employed. Weapons and cooperative hunting became evident long before Homo sapiens.

Modern humans probably popped up within the last 200,000 years, but the things that make modern humans so distinctive in the fossil record - symbolic art, pottery, and jewellery - bloomed only about 50,000 years ago. Nobody in the world of palaeoanthropology considers modern humanity to be the flower of creation, either. A temporary bloom, maybe.

It's humbling, Stringer says. "We shouldn't see ourselves as the summit of the perfection of whatever evolution is trying to achieve. We seem to be very successful at the moment in terms of our numbers but, looking at it on a geological timescale, how successful will we look in 50,000 years, which is a very short time, geologically speaking?"

Genetic evidence suggests humans may have come close to extinction a number of times in the past. Modern humans shared the Middle East with Homo neanderthalis 120,000 years ago and as Cro-Magnons, became the sole tenants of Europe 30,000 years ago, a terrain held successfully by the Neanderthals for more than 100,000 years. Did they compete? Did they co-exist? Did they trade, or cohabit? Dr Stringer's devotion to the Neanderthals began with a primary school project and continued with a body of groundbreaking research that ultimately earned him a fellowship of the Royal Society.

"OK, why aren't they here now and why are we here?" And did we have a role in their extinction?" he asks. And how different were the Neanderthals anyway? Sixty years ago a US scientist said that if a Neanderthal, shaved and dressed, got on the New York subway, nobody would bat an eyelid. That, says Stringer, tells you more about New York than about the Neanderthals. He prefers an observation by the geneticist Steve Jones, of University College London, who said that if you were on the tube and a CroMagnon got on, you might move seats. If a Neanderthal got on, you might change carriages.

"Neanderthals were certainly human and evolved as us in their own way, but they were different. They had several hundred thousand years of evolving their own anatomy and behaviour. But when these people met in Europe would they have seen each other as people? Or as someone different?" he says.

"I still tend to the view that the primary message would have been: different. They would have had a different body language a completely different way of communication; they would have had different behaviours."

He thinks the Neanderthals perished at a moment of maximum stress in the stop-go, hot-cold pattern of climate during the last ice age. Though they left their mark in the Pyrenees, they never got to Britain at all. But then the human occupation of Britain is itself a bit of a riddle. Boxgrove man, whoever he was - Homo ergaster? Homo heidelbergensis? - got to Boxgrove near Chichester, hunted, chipped flints and butchered a rhino. They may not have killed the rhino - a very dangerous adventure - but even if they were just scavenging, it must have taken some degree of cooperation and organisation to have driven off the lions, or wolves, and secured the carcass for themselves. And then Boxgrove man and his tribe departed, leaving one human shin as evidence that they walked in, and walked out again. There was evidence, most of it indirect, of little pulses of human occupation, and then a gap of 100,000 years when no humans appeared to have visited Britain at all. At times, the country must have looked like the plains of Africa - hyenas, rhinos, lions, red deer and so on - and at others like the tundra, but although the animals came and went, humans did not. Modern humans finally moved in and stayed only 12,000 years ago.

He and his co-author Peter Andrews - a former head of human origins at the Natural History Museum, and an expert on the early part of the human story - tried to tell the story of human evolution not just through time, but through its context, Stringer says: how you set about excavating a site, what a piece of tooth or jaw can tell you about ancient human behaviour. In that, the title means what it says: complete. How much more is there to tell? The past will also reveal more. The future, paradoxically, might not.

Modern humans, after such a short time on Earth and so many adventures, could have nowhere to go.

"With our behaviour and global warming and so on, we could be writing ourselves a suicide note. But if humans do get through that crisis and carry on, evolution is continuing. And under the skin, in our genes, it is certainly continuing, and will continue," Stringer says. "So in the long term, of course we will evolve and change. That's the nature of evolution. Nothing stays the same in the long term. We may look the same, but under the surface the genes are evolving and changing. That will go on."

Life at a glance

Education: East Ham Grammar school; anthropology at University College London; PhD at Bristol University in 1974

Career: Joined Natural History Museum in 1973; author of 200 scientific papers and co-author of three books; director of the Leverhulme-funded Ancient Occupation of Britain project

Off-duty: Has a daughter and two sons; listens to Shostakovich, Vaughan Williams and Joy Division; enjoys astronomy and supporting West Ham

They say: "Stringer is the very antithesis of the drawling, lackadaisical, elegant, upper-class Englishman for whom appearing to work too hard is 'bad form'. To Stringer, bad form is doing sloppy science or being too lazy or mentally hidebound to get at the truth." Erik Trinkaus and Pat Shipman, The Neandertals (1993)

He says: "That's what science is about. You ask questions all the way along and you find out that the answers are wrong, and that's good because you can ask another question."
www.guardian.co.uk/life/interview/story ... 18,00.html

The book:

The Complete World of Human Evolution
Chris Stringer, Peter Andrews (2005)

www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/05000 ... ntmagaz-21
www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0500051 ... enantmc-20

As a counterpoint to this I can't recommend this too highly (I might not actually agree with his viewpoint but it is a huge slab of a book with a vast amount of information in it covering a large percentage of the available fossil material):

Paleoanthropology (second edition)
Milford H. Wolpoff (1996)

www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/00707 ... ntmagaz-21
www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0070716 ... enantmc-20

I hadn't heard of this which also sounds intriguing (although I can't find any details):

Human Origins: The Other View
Milford H. Wolpoff (2005)

www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/02023 ... ntmagaz-21
www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0202307 ... enantmc-20
 
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#20
Fits with the dates:

Humans turned south out of Africa

Judy Skatssoon
ABC Science Online


Friday, 13 May 2005



Aboriginal Australians are the descendants of a single, southern migration out of Africa and into Eurasia, according to the latest research on how modern humans colonised the world.

Two studies published in today's issue of the journal Science back the view that humans turned south as they left Africa by travelling across the Red Sea then down along the coast of the Indian Ocean.

Most scientists say that modern humans spread around the world from Africa, the so-called Out of Africa hypothesis.

But exactly what happened next is the subject of controversy, as is the question of whether there was one dispersal or a series.

One debate surrounds whether the dispersal took a northern route up along the Nile and across Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, or a southern route.

So the two sets of international researchers analysed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to reconstruct the possible road that modern humans took.

Mitochondrial DNA does not alter much from generation to generation and scientists can measure the rate of mutations.

This makes it a powerful tool to determine when populations split and allows researchers to track back ancestral lineage over thousands of generations.

The researchers looked at the mtDNA of what they call "relic populations" in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in the Bay of Bengal, and the Malaysian Peninsula.

Analysis of these dwindling indigenous populations, including Malaysia's native tribal people the Orang Asli ("original people"), links them back to the first Eurasians, who appear to have reached the coast of the Indian Ocean not long after leaving Africa.

An early southern dispersal

One team, including Dr David Bulbeck of the school of archaeology and anthropology at the Australian National University (ANU) and researchers from Malaysia and Europe, sampled DNA from 260 maternally related Orang Asli.

The researchers concluded that the main dispersal from Africa to Asia and Australasia occurred via a southern route through India about 65,000 years ago, a journey that probably only took a few thousand years.

They say the migration from Africa to Eurasia probably occurred at a rate of 0.7 to 4 kilometres a years.

The team also estimates the number of women who emigrated out of Africa, saying only around 600 of them took the trip.

The researchers say the suggestion of a southern dispersal has recently gained ground.

"Part of its rationale has been the presence of a number of relic populations in southern India and Southeast Asia," the researchers write.

"It has been suggested that these populations might be the descendants of such an earlier dispersal, along with Papuans and Aboriginal Australians."

This southern migration would be several thousands of years earlier than the traditional Out of Africa model suggests, the researchers write.

The other team, which includes researchers from India and Estonia, concentrated on the mtDNA of people from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The researchers found that ancient mtDNA lineages appear to have been isolated since modern humans first penetrated the northern coastal areas of the Indian Ocean 50,000 to 70,000 years ago.

Basically, humans arrived on the island and stayed there.

One cololonisation

Colin Groves, professor of biological anthropology at the ANU, says the two studies argue for essentially one colonisation event.

"Everybody outside Africa is descended from a single stream of people ... and the later events [including European and American colonisation] were just a subset of that," he says.

The studies also show that Aboriginal people are the original immigrants into Australia, he says, and suggest they are originally related to Papuan highlanders, southeast Asians and ultimately Malaysia's Orang Asli.

Groves also backs a commentary published alongside the two papers in Science, which suggests a southern migration, rather than a northern one, could answer why Europe was settled thousands of years after Australia.

But why did modern humans turn south, not north?

Groves says the northern route may have been occupied by Neanderthals.
Source
 

Mighty_Emperor

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#22
More early sites form Oz:

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT

LOCATION: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2005/s1403526.htm

Broadcast: 29/06/2005

Ancient Aboriginal site found in north-west Qld

Reporter: Genevieve Hussey

KERRY O'BRIEN: Aborigines and archaeologists have excavated an ancient artefact site in north-western Queensland, which they believe may be one of the oldest ever discovered in this country. The site was unearthed when the Queensland Government began construction of a bridge. The dig unearthed thousands of spear blades, axes, and tools. It may lead to findings that Aborigines must have penetrated the interior of Australia much earlier than is presently believed. Genevieve Hussey reports.

DR TOM LOY, SOCIAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND: Every time I went to the site and started digging, I just kept getting this feeling like people have been here for a very long time.

COLIN SALTMERE, TRADITIONAL OWNER: It's like the wider community keeping records of births and death and taxes and expenditure and all this sort of stuff - you get a receipt. Well, this is our receipt to say that we've been here a lot longer than what people anticipate.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: For thousands of years, the Aboriginal Injulandgee Dithannoi people have lived along the banks of the Georgina River near Camooweal in far-western Queensland.

RUBY SALTMERE, TRADITIONAL OWNER: It's a significant dreaming. So it's most important to traditional people. It was a scared meeting corroboree place. This is where they used to get us young girls to come over here and they'd paint us up with traditional paints and sing corroboree.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: It's an important spiritual place, tied to the dream time story of the rainbow serpent. Ancestors of present-day Aborigines left proof of their long occupation in the thousands of artefacts littered across the countryside.

SHIRLEY MACNAMARA, TRADITIONAL OWNER: Wherever you walk along the river, there's artefacts just wherever you walk.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: What have you got there?

SHIRLEY MACNAMARA: That's a little blade and the tip of that has actually broken.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Five years ago, when the Queensland Government began a new project to build a new bridge across the Georgina River and upgrade sections of the Barkly Highway, it faced a problem - what to do with the artefacts lying in the path of construction.

PAUL LUCAS, QUEENSLAND MINISTER FOR MAIN ROADS: Often you hear about Indigneous partnerships in terms of road building, but this is a concrete, definite example of why we have Indigenous partnerships and why it's important to involve traditional owners. I mean, they have found an amazing cultural find.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: 25,000 artefacts including scrapers, spear points, axes, wooden tools and eating implements were picked up and stored in a container nearby.

COLIN SALTMERE: That area in here is where your spear blade came out of. This piece of spinifex resin actually binds the implement to the tool, which is this stuff here, and that's your tool there.

DR TOM LOY: We've collected about 15 stone axes. They're big, they're thin, they've been flaked on both sides of the edges, and they've never been found anywhere else in Australia.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Twelve months ago, archaeologist Dr Tom Loy got involved when work was about to begin on a a new bridge over nearby Nowranie Creek, excavating the site chosen for the bridge pylons.

DR TOM LOY: I really didn't think there was going to be much under the surface because the assumption is that all of the archaeology of Australia is actually on the surface; very little of it is in stratified sites, deep stratified sites. I just kept being more and more amazed the deeper we got - we were still finding artefacts.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: These artefacts come from one of the few stratified or underground sites in Australia, and it may as ancient as the oldest sites in the Northern Territory - dated to 60,000 years ago. That would mean Aborigines penetrated the interior of Australia much earlier than is presently believed.

DR TOM LOY: We're still waiting for radio carbon dates and other kinds of methods of dating, but my suspicion is, based on the sediments, that it is very, very old indeed; that will show that Aboriginal people have been in the interior, not just up in Arnhem Land, been there for a very long time.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: While the two bridges have now been completed, continuing work on upgrading the highway is likely to uncover more artefacts and provide more employment.

PAUL LUCAS: Forty per cent of the labour on the project was by Indigenous workers, so it's more than just the cultural find, although that's tremendously important.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Work on the archaeological sites will also continue for years to come.

DR TOM LOY: We don't know how far it goes on either side of the pits. It could turn out to be a very, very large site, indeed.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: For the Aboriginal people who've taken part, the effort to preserve these artefacts is helping pass traditions down to the younger generation.

SHIRLEY MACNAMARA: Those artefacts and how we are involved with the collection of them and all of that, makes you realise exactly where your roots are and where you've come from.

RUBY SALTMERE: We bring them out here to help us work, eh, you know, to pick up the artefacts And yes, oh, they're pretty good at it. Yes, it's proof. It's important, though, that it has to be passed down.
www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2005/s1403526.htm
 

KeyserXSoze

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#23
Hohle Fels Phallus *Caution: contains Ice Age naughtiness*

Source
Ancient phallus unearthed in cave
By Jonathan Amos
BBC News science reporter

A sculpted and polished phallus found in a German cave is among the earliest representations of male sexuality ever uncovered, researchers say.
The 20cm-long, 3cm-wide stone object, which is dated to be about 28,000 years old, was buried in the famous Hohle Fels Cave near Ulm in the Swabian Jura.

The prehistoric "tool" was reassembled from 14 fragments of siltstone.

Its life size suggests it may well have been used as a sex aid by its Ice Age makers, scientists report.

"In addition to being a symbolic representation of male genitalia, it was also at times used for knapping flints," explained Professor Nicholas Conard, from the department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology, at Tübingen University.

"There are some areas where it has some very typical scars from that," he told the BBC News website.

Researchers believe the object's distinctive form and etched rings around one end mean there can be little doubt as to its symbolic nature.


"It's highly polished; it's clearly recognisable," said Professor Conard.
The Tübingen team working Hohle Fels already had 13 fractured parts of the phallus in storage, but it was only with the discovery of a 14th fragment last year that they were able finally to work out the "jigsaw".

The different stone sections were all recovered from a well-dated ash layer in the cave complex associated with the activities of modern humans (not their pre-historic "cousins", the Neanderthals).

The dig site is one of the most remarkable in central Europe. Hohle Fels stands more than 500m above sea level in the Ach River Valley and has produced thousands of Upper Palaeolithic artefacts.


Some have been truly exquisite in their sophistication and detail, such as a 30,000-year-old avian figurine crafted from mammoth ivory. It is believed to be one of the earliest representations of a bird in the archaeological record.
There are other stone objects known to science that are obviously phallic symbols and are slightly older - from France and Morocco, of particular note. But to have any representation of male genitalia from this time period is highly unusual.

"Female representations with highly accentuated sexual attributes are very well documented at many sites, but male representations are very, very rare," explained Professor Conard.

Current evidence indicates that the Swabian Jura of southwestern Germany was one of the central regions of cultural innovations after the arrival of modern humans in Europe some 40,000 years ago.

The Hohle Fels phallus will go on show at Blaubeuren prehistoric museum in an exhibition called Ice Art - Clearly Male.
:shock:
 

Heckler

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#25
Germans discover world's oldest dildo

Germans discover world's oldest dildo
By Lester Haines
Published Wednesday 27th July 2005 10:10 GMT

German scientists are tickled pink after unearthing one of the world's oldest sculpted phalluses - 20cm of polished siltstone lovingly created around 28,000 years ago.

The stone schlong was discovered in Hohle Fels Cave near Ulm, Swabia, by a Tübingen University team. Professor Nicholas Conard, from the university's snappily-named department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology, explained the excitment to the BBC thus: "Female representations with highly accentuated sexual attributes are very well documented at many sites, but male representations are very, very rare."

Indeed, although other examples of male genitalia - from France and Morrocco - predate the Ulm member, to have "any representation of male genitalia from this time period is highly unusual".

There may be a good reason for this - the German sausage bears the scars of having been used to knap flints, and was reassembled from 14 fragments. Despite this abuse, and in a delicious leap of imagination, professor Conard speculates that the life-size member may have been used as a prehistoric sex toy. As Conard suggestively notes: "It's highly polished."

Those interested in the sex lives of our distant ancestors will be able to cop an eyeful of the Hohle Fels phallus when it goes on show at a Blaubeuren prehistoric museum exhibition entitled "Ice Art - Clearly Male".
Source

:shock:
 
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#26
Modern Humans Arrival In South Asia May Have Led To Demise O

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source: University of Chicago Press Journals
Date: 2005-11-07
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 080321.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Modern Humans Arrival In South Asia May Have Led To Demise Of Indigenous Populations

In a major new development in human evolutionary studies, researchers from the University of Cambridge argue that the dispersal of modern humans from Africa to South Asia may have occurred as recently as 70,000 years ago. "Paleoanthropological projects must now be launched in South Asia if we hope to document the spread of our species and if we wish to explain how we became behaviorally modern," writes Michael Petraglia, author of a forthcoming article in Current Anthropology.

The expansion of modern humans into South Asia appears to be part of a complex--at times fatal--story. Once modern humans (Homo sapiens) arrived in regions like India, the researchers argue that they would have met indigenous archaic hominids (such as Homo heidelbergensis). "While the precise explanations for the demise of the archaic populations is not yet obvious, it is abundantly clear that they were driven to extinction, likely owing to competition with modern humans over the long term," Petraglia said.

However, Petraglia and his graduate student Hannah James were not able to find any sign of a sudden "revolution" in modern human behaviour 50,000 years ago, an idea advocated by some researchers working in Africa and Europe. Instead, James said: "The archaeological evidence from South Asia indicates a diversity of behavioral responses in which explicitly symbolic artifacts were sometimes, but not always, produced."



###
Sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Current Anthropology is a highly respected transnational journal devoted to research on humankind, encompassing the full range of anthropological scholarship on human cultures and on the human and other primate species. Communicating across the subfields, the journal features papers in a wide variety of areas, including social, cultural, and physical anthropology as well as ethnology and ethnohistory, archaeology and prehistory, folklore, and linguistics. For more information, please see the journal's Web site: www.journals.uchicago.edu/CA.

Petraglia, Michael; James, Hannah. "Modern Human Origins and the Evolution of Behavior in the Later Pleistocene Record of South Asia." Current Anthropology 46:5.
 
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#27
And the dates of humans in HK has been moved back:

UPDATED: 08:08, January 16, 2006

Discovery of ancient quarry rewrites HK's human history


As Asia's trade and finance hub born out of small fishing villages in less than 200 years, Hong Kong is far less attractive to archaeologists than it is to businessmen and bankers.

A newly-discovered ancient quarry at Sai Kung in eastern Hong Kong, however, has roused interests of anthropologists, who announced Saturday that the human history on the territory can be traced back to 30,000 years ago rather than the conventionally- believed 6,000 or 7,000 years ago.

SIGNIFICANT DISCOVERY BY ACCIDENT

Field excavation and sample studies showed that irregularly- shaped stones found at the site were actually manufactured products of human beings of the Paleolithic era, ranging from 35, 000 to 39,000 years before present, Steven Ng, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Archaeological Society, told reporters.

Thousands of lithics unearthed along a sea-facing slope of the Wong Tei Tung Hill and from the underneath pebble-covered beach also suggested that the 400-meter-long and 100-meter-wide site was a quarry of antiquity.

The significance of the discovery lies in the fact that, as the only discovery in Hong Kong from the Paleolithic era, it changes the traditional view that Hong Kong had no human activity until the Neolithic era, Professor Zhang Senshui told Xinhua.

Zhang is a prominent expert in Paleolithic stone tools and a Senior Advisor of the Archaeological Group of China's State Bureau of Cultural Relics.

The "oldest and most important archaeological site" in Hong Kong, however, was discovered by accident by Ng and his collage fellow Wong Fu, when fishing on the beach in the Sai Kung Country Park in the spring of 2003.

Though looked natural in laymen's eyes, the stones seemed special to Ng and Wong -- neither smooth waterworn pebbles nor coarse angular cobbles fallen from the hill. The stones also seemed to have been processed to some particular shape.

By professional acumen, Ng brought the stones to the neighboring Guangdong Province to seek advice from his mentor professor Zhang Zhenhong and thus unveiled the Wong Tei Tung site.

In the following two years, an initial investigation has unearthed over 7,000 lithics densely existing at the site.

According to preliminary examination of 156 pieces, the artifacts have been classified to nine categories, namely, short axe, scraper, point, hand-axe, chopper, arrow-like lithic, awl- like lithic, pick and burin.

"Such a scale of Paleolithic antiquity has never been seen not only in Hong Kong, but neither in the Pearl River Delta and even the whole southeastern coastal area of China," said Zhang Zhenhong.

PUTTING FORWARD NEW TOPICS

Judging from the scale and quality of the unearthed artifacts, archaeologists are expecting more to be unearthed from the Wong Tei Tung site, which might help to complete jigsaws of human activities in China's southeastern coastal area some 30,000 years ago.

A dozen sites of the Paleolithic era have been discovered over the past three decades around the southeastern coastal area spanning the Chinese provinces of Zhejiang, Taiwan, Fujian and Guangdong.

The discovery at Wong Tei Tung in Hong Kong once again reminds experts of studying early human history in this region from a comprehensive point of view.

"The large quantity and unique skills used at the site couldn't be a single phenomenon," said Zhang Senshui. "It put forward new topics to anthropologists to find links between the separate human activities around different sites (in the region) in terms of space and time."

Taking hand-axe found at Wong Tei Tung as an example, Zhang noted that the same stone tools have been found at various Paleolithic sites from Europe, India to China's southeastern coast.

Preliminary study already showed the hand-axes at Wong Tei Tung were different from those found in Europe and India, but more research has to be done to decide whether it is the same type of those discovered in other parts of China.

"Are they (hand-axes of Wong Tei Tung) results of exchange of human activities of different cultures or the continuation of a skill belonging to the same culture?" asked Zhang.

"We know too little of the region's natural history in the period of 30,000 years ago, and need do more sample tests to draw a conclusion," he said.

Meanwhile, many questions of Wang Tei Tung itself have yet to be answered, besides the fact that the quarry's age has been confirmed by the skill of optical luminescence dating.

Though a large number of lithics have been unearthed here, not a single piece of fossil has been found at the site. Thus, archaeologists still have no idea of what human activities looked like around the place in the Paleolithic era.

Was the place only a quarry far away from human's residence some 30,000 years ago, or had any clue of human inhabitancy here been washed away into the ocean thousands of years ago?

At a test pit dug out along a slope terrace, archaeologists discovered both 30,000-year-old lithics and those of only 6,000 years of history. Between the two layers of discovery, laid a blank of nothing.

What occurred between the two periods? And why human activities reappeared at the same site after any signs of them vanished here for tens of thousands of years?

On the current stage of investigation, if any answer was given to the above questions, they could be only bold guess, said Zhang.

Despite the professional prudence, the 75-year-old archaeologist admitted the importance of challenging conventional beliefs.

"The traditional belief that human history started 6,000 years ago in Hong Kong can partly explain the late discovery of Wong Tei Tung site in such a densely-populated city," he said.

-------------------
Source: Xinhua
http://english.people.com.cn/200601/16/ ... 35701.html
 
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#28
Did Early Humans First Arise in Asia, Not Africa?

Nicholas Bakalar
for National Geographic News
December 27, 2005

Two archaeologists are challenging what many experts consider to be the basic assumption of human migration—that humankind arose in Africa and spread over the globe from there.

The pair proposes an alternative explanation for human origins: arising in and spreading out of Asia.

Robin Dennell, of the University of Sheffield in England, and Wil Roebroeks, of Leiden University in the Netherlands, describe their ideas in the December 22 issue of Nature.

They believe that early-human fossil discoveries over the past ten years suggest very different conclusions about where humans, or humanlike beings, first walked the Earth.

New Asian finds are significant, they say, especially the 1.75 million-year-old small-brained early-human fossils found in Dmanisi, Georgia, and the 18,000-year-old "hobbit" fossils (Homo floresiensis) discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia.

Such finds suggest that Asia's earliest human ancestors may be older by hundreds of thousands of years than previously believed, the scientists say.

"What seems reasonably clear now," Dennell said, "is that the earliest hominins in Asia did not need large brains or bodies." These attributes are usually thought to be prerequisites for migration.

The authors maintain that, although there is no absolute proof, putting all the evidence together requires an open mind about other geographical origins of the first humans.

The First Asians?

The authors point out that there is very little solid information about the first early humans in Asia, and paleontologists are left with assumptions that are too often treated as historical facts.

There is no archaeological or fossil evidence to prove that early humans moved from southern Africa to the Nile Valley in the early Pleistocene (1.8 million years ago to 11,500 years ago), they say.

The earliest evidence of a human ancestor in Asia appears to be the 1.8-million-year-old cranium found in Mojokerto, Indonesia. But, the authors note, the fact that no older specimens have been found in Asia does not prove that they didn't exist.

Dennell and Roebroeks get support for their proposal from other experts.

"I think this is an interesting and constructively provocative paper," said Chris Stringer, a researcher in the department of palaeontology at London's Natural History Museum.

"Evidence of humans in the Caucasus [region of Asia], China, and Java more than 1.6 million years ago implies either a very rapid spread from Africa after about 1.8 millions years ago, or that such populations were established outside Africa earlier than present evidence suggests," he said.

"I certainly think we should keep an open mind about the big picture."

Best Guess

The earliest tools found in Asia are routinely attributed to Homo erectus, a species known to have come from Africa.

H. ergaster—an African species that many experts believe gave rise to H. erectus—is assumed to have been the only primate capable of migrating out of Africa.

Experts cite its body form—long limbs, humanlike proportions, and a brain capable of figuring out how to hunt for meat—as evidence that it was the only species suited to life in prehistoric Asian terrain.

This might be a persuasive argument—except for the fact that australopithecines, an older form of humanlike primates, had colonized the African savannah by 3.5 million years ago.

Similar grasslands extended across Asia at the time, suggesting that australopithecines could have survived quite well in the region, the authors say.

What's more, fossil evidence for H. ergaster in Asia in the early Pleistocene is weak.

No one yet knows where H. floresiensis first came from, but it may turn out that the diminutive species has its origins in Asia.

Stringer, of the Natural History Museum, sees this as a possibility.

"The unresolved status of the intriguing Flores finds attributed to H. floresiensis leaves open the possibility that this species is the end result and last survivor of an ancient migration of very primitive humans, or even prehumans, that formerly existed more widely across Asia."

So when did early humans first leave Africa? Could they have left as early as 2.6 million years ago, as soon as they started making stone tools?

"Hominins could easily have left Africa two million years ago," Dennell said. "After all, they certainly didn't need big brains or bodies to do so."

Maybe, he concluded, "the Dmanisi [Georgia] hominins are an extremely primitive version of H. erectus that is the ancestor of the H. erectus populations in both Java and those in East Africa.

"In other words, we might be looking at [human migration] 'out of Asia,' and not 'out of Africa.'"
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... ation.html
 
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#29
Its worht noting Alan Templeton has been making similar claims since the mid ninties now - it is interesting to see how you can get different answers out of similar data:

New Analysis Shows Three Human Migrations Out Of Africa - Replacement Theory 'demolished'

Main Category: Genetics News
Article Date: 09 Feb 2006 - 18:00pm (UK)

A new, more robust analysis of recently derived human gene trees by Alan R. Templeton, Ph.D, of Washington University in St Louis, shows three distinct major waves of human migration out of Africa instead of just two, and statistically refutes -strongly - the 'Out of Africa' replacement theory.

That theory holds that populations of Homo sapiens left Africa 100,000 years ago and wiped out existing populations of humans. Templeton has shown that the African populations interbred with the Eurasian populations - thus, making love, not war.

"The 'Out of Africa' replacement theory has always been a big controversy,," Templeton said. "I set up a null hypothesis and the program rejected that hypothesis using the new data with a probability level of 10 to the minus 17th. In science, you don't get any more conclusive than that. It says that the hypothesis of no interbreeding is so grossly incompatible with the data, that you can reject it."

Templeton's analysis is considered to be the only definitive statistical test to refute the theory, dominant in human evolution science for more than two decades.

"Not only does the new analysis reject the theory, it demolishes it," Templeton said.

Templeton published his results in the Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 2005.

He used a computer program called GEODIS, which he created in 1995 and later modified with the help of David Posada, Ph.D., and Keith Crandall, Ph.D. at Brigham Young University, to determine genetic relationships among and within populations based on an examination of specific haplotypes, clusters of genes that are inherited as a unit.

In 2002, Templeton analyzed ten different haplotype trees and performed phylogeographic analyses that reconstructed the history of the species through space and time.

Three years later, he had 25 regions to analyze and the data provided molecular evidence of a third migration, this one the oldest, back to 1.9 million years ago.

"This time frame corresponds extremely well with the fossil record, which shows Homo erectus expanding out of Africa then," Templeton said.

Another novel find is that populations of Homo erectus in Eurasia had recurrent genetic interchange with African populations 1.5 million years ago, much earlier than previously thought, and that these populations persisted instead of going extinct, which some human evolution researchers thought had occurred. The new data confirm an expansion out of Africa to 700,000 years ago that was detected in the 2002 analysis.

"Both (the 1.9 million and 700,000 year) expansions coincide with recent paleoclimatic data that indicate periods of very high rainfall in eastern Africa, making what is now the Sahara Desert a savannah," Templeton said. "That makes the timing very amenable for movements of large populations through the area. "

Templeton said that the fossil record indicates a significant change in brain size for modern humans at 700,000 years ago as well as the adaptation and expansion of a new stone tool culture first found in Africa and later at 700,000 years expanded throughout Eurasia.

"By the time you're done with this phase you can be 99 percent confident that there was recurrent genetic interchange between African and Eurasian populations," he said. "So the idea of pure, distinct races in humans does not exist. We humans don't have a tree relationship, rather a trellis. We 're intertwined."
www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=37483
 

sunsplash1

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#30
Mighty_Emperor said:
Its worht noting Alan Templeton has been making similar claims since the mid ninties now - it is interesting to see how you can get different answers out of similar data:

New Analysis Shows Three Human Migrations Out Of Africa - Replacement Theory 'demolished'

Main Category: Genetics News
Article Date: 09 Feb 2006 - 18:00pm (UK)

..."By the time you're done with this phase you can be 99 percent confident that there was recurrent genetic interchange between African and Eurasian populations," he said. "So the idea of pure, distinct races in humans does not exist. We humans don't have a tree relationship, rather a trellis. We 're intertwined."
Exactly... :!:
 
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