Is Australopithecus sediba in fact Homo sediba? Both brain and hand (but also pelvis and ankle) make, in the opinion of some researchers, this australopithecine the best candidate for ancestor of our own principal ancestor: Homo erectus. Science Daily has a whole series on this theory and the facts that back it: 1, 2, 3 and 4 articles. Also at PhysOrg and some of the original papers at Science (pay per view of course): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
More on the Southern Iberian Neolithic idols (in Spanish but with many nice photos) at Neolítico de la Península Ibérica.
The oldest ‘pub’ of Scotland? Chalcolithic or Neolithic (c. 4600 years ago) building at Jarlshof (Shetland) was at least a beer brewery and bakery. It is possible that the site was also used as tavern of some sort ··> Daily Record.
|The Jarlshof brewery|
Ötzi, the Chalcolithic herder from La Lagozza culture, was also Y-DNA G2a according to a video reported by Dienekes. This is the second time that G2a (a relatively small haplogroup today of quite clear West Asian origins) has been reported in post-Cardial Neolithic peoples in Mediterranean Europe. Earlier this year it was reported in the majority of a related population of Occitania (SE French state), together with some I2a. It is notable that both populations were culturally related, not just because of their shared Cardium Pottery roots, but also because of the Chassey–La Lagozza cultural fusion, which I’d dare suggest as precursor of the historical Ligures.
Still it is hard to explain the apparent high frequency of the lineage back then and the low one today (c. 5% on average across Europe). As for high tier exceptions, nowadays G (usually G2a in Europe) reaches 12% in mainland Italy, 14% in Sardinia (reaching as much as 21% in some locations), 12% in Corsica, 7% in Austrian Tyrol, up to 14% in some locations of Croatia, up to 11% in some locations of Greece, 13% in Moldova, 12% in Portugal and 8% in Spain. It may be a fluke that 2/3 known lineages from the Chassey-La Lagozza cultural complex are in this category (it is statistically quite reasonable) but we can’t of course avoid rising an eyebrow.
Caucasian and European peoples are not really very much related. A new paper confirms that Caucasus peoples are on their own (maybe related to Anatolia, not sampled) within the West Eurasian macro-population, clustering better with West Asians than Europeans in any case, even North Caucasus populations like Chechens and such. The paper by B. Yunusbayev is also PPV, so I’ll refer to Dienekes again, who includes nice, rather informative, graphs like this one:
Amber-trapped feathers show light on the evolution of birds and dinosaurs ··> BBC.
Astronomy and cosmology:
- Preferred direction of spacetime challenges the Cosmological Principle which claimed that everything was equally boring ··> PhysOrg.
- Fifty new exoplanets discovered in a row ··> BBC.
- Star rips exoplanet to shreds with X rays ··> Discovery News.
And soon to come in this blog (in separate articles to be written later):
- Is West African skull from Late Upper Paleolithic ‘archaic’ (meaning another species than Homo sapiens) ··> PLoS ONE.
- Gene influences behavior but… culture influences the gene that influences behavior ··> Not Exactly Rocket Science.