Echoes from the Past (Nov 1)

01 Nov
Happy calaca day to all Mexicans. I have a bunch of interesting news items stored in the “to do” folder and it’s time to release them in bulk and, in a sense, get rid of them that way. Hope you find them interesting.
Prehistory and proto-history:

Abalone ochre container from Blombos
I already commented in the previous ‘Echoes’ edition but the 100,000 years-old paint containers made-out-of-shells found in Blombos (South Africa) have been echoing through various media, each with a  slightly different twist ··> The Heritage Journal, MSNBC, SD.
Nail in the coffin for ‘Clovis first’ theory: mammoth bone spear point in mammoth leg bone dated precisely to pre-Clovis times: 13,800 years ago (there are older dates out there anyhow) ··> BBC.
Jaw bone found near Kennewick Man’s site (and controversy on native insistence on reburial) ··> KPLU.

Cishan-Peligang pottery
Chinese Neolithic may be almost as old as West Asian one. Evidence of millet cultivation in Hebei (North China) dates to c. 10,000-8,700 years ago, within the Cishan culture (notice that Pengtoushan culture in South China overlaps with these dates and could be even quite older) ··> Xinhua
Bronze Age take-out windows found in Iran (Godin Tepe) ··> Unreported Heritage News, Live Science.
A new report on Iruña-Veleia Roman era graffiti supports their authenticity ··> Ostraka euskalduna[eu], where you can download the PDF in Spanish language by M. Thomson.
Also mentioned recently but still hitting the news, controversy on the reopening of Altamira cave, dubbed the Magdalenian Sistine Chapel, to the public ··> SD.

Replica of the Altamira ceiling (fragment)

Sardinian genetics point to pre-Neolithic origins according to new research (this I want to discuss in some greater detail but I’m sadly leaving for tomorrow again) ··> Daniela Contu et al. at PLoS ONE (open access). 
Researchers claim that mtDNA age estimates support pre-Neolithic dates for major East Asian population expansion ··> Hong-Xiang Zheng et al. at PLoS ONE (open access).
Fractal analysis of the human genome. You would think that putting together the words fractal and human genetics would appeal to my interest a lot. I must be getting old because it only does somewhat. A reason may be that while the methodology is intriguing and innovative no particular conclusion is proposed ··> Pedro A. Moreno et al. at BMC Genomics (open access).
Extra copies of SRGAP2 gene may be one reason behind human unique intelligence ··> Science News.
Human brains designed by the same fixated genes, regardless of race or individual differences. This is one of a list of novel findings on how the genome expresses in the brain along human life ··> SD.
Epigenetically modified nucleotide (“sixth letter” 5-hydroxymethylcytosine) in neuronal genomes is key to their behavior as such ··> SD.
Propensity for longer life inherited epi-genetically through generations. This so much coveted trait is inherited by lab roundworms even if the initial epigenetic modification has vanished ··> SD.
Other anthropology news:
Human children, but not chimpanzees, prefer to collaborate in order to solve tasks ··> Science Daily.
IQ is not totally fixed by genetics and can indeed change, specially in adolescence ··> BBC.
Other science news:
Comet storm detected in nearby stellar system (may increase chances of life by feeding planets like ours with water) ··> SD.
Nature laws may vary across the universe. At least electromagnetic constants seem to behave that way ··> PhysOrg.
Highly efficient (10x) hydrolysis catalyst found, helping to pave the way for easier production of hydrogen for fuel instead of dirty oil ··> SD.
Global warming is for real (in case you still had any doubt) ··> SD.


5 responses to “Echoes from the Past (Nov 1)

  1. terryt

    November 2, 2011 at 2:28 am

    "Chinese Neolithic may be almost as old as West Asian one. Evidence of millet cultivation in Hebei (North China) dates to c. 10,000-8,700 years ago, within the Cishan culture (notice that Pengtoushan culture in South China overlaps with these dates and could be even quite older)" Hmmm … Those dates are reasonably close to the ones Karafet suggests for the arrival of Y-hap O in SE Asia. And: "Researchers claim that mtDNA age estimates support pre-Neolithic dates for major East Asian population expansion" So that mtDNA expansion is not particulerly 'pre-Neolithic' after all. It seems the 'Neolithic' expansion in East Asia was quite ancient. And, further, from the title of the paper you cover in your more recent post: "Ancient DNA suggests the leading role played by men in the Neolithic dissemination". So it makes sense that the expansion of Y-hap O in East Asia is connected to what now appears to be an early expansion of the Neolithic in East Asia.

  2. Maju

    November 2, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Let's dance, terry:Twist, twist, twist… twist it all.Twist, twist, twist… who cares after all?When Pre-Neolithic becomes Post-Neolithic… why are you surprised: it's just a short word!And it's maybe Latin, it's dead is it not?Who knows… all is the same…5000 years up or down it does not matter at all to mebecause all I want is that Bellwood and Iget the upper hand in this chat, you'll see…Twist, twist, twist… twist it all…I know it's poor rythms and tempo but, meh, that's what you are doing. Btw, I could not fit in the "song" but the third quotation has nothing to do with East Asia…Twist, twist, twist…

  3. eurologist

    November 2, 2011 at 6:43 am

    As to the asymmetry in the universe, there are a number of observations that see a slight effect, for example in the rotational direction of galaxies, and in the cosmic background radiation (see, e.g., There are still a lot of uncertainties, but some of the studies seem to point to similar "dipole" axes. The Sardinian paper looks interesting – the dates all make sense (initial settling close to LGM, when Sardinia would have been easily reached via Elba and Capraia, and then expansion with better climatic conditions.A shame, though, that especially the R and G lines were not researched for further subgroups.

  4. Maju

    November 2, 2011 at 7:11 am

    I feel a bit guilty for not dealing more with the Sardinian paper indeed but it's like there's nothing to say, because it's just another molecular clock paper with little substance beyond that (other than providing a new list of Sardinian haplogroup frequencies). While it's a pity that the largest haplogroups have not been researched in greater depth indeed, co-author Morelli did deal with R1b in Sardinia last year:, producing some interesting haplotype structure. It is also interesting that in this paper at least the much cherished, "Sardinian" haplogroup R1b1c-V88 or its subclade M18 appear less common than I would have expected: even in Sorgono it's just 5/103: 5%.

  5. terryt

    November 4, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    "Let's dance, terry: Twist, twist, twist… twist it all.Twist, twist, twist…" I have twisted nothing Maju. I have merely quoted the data. "who cares after all?" Obviously you care nothing for working out what happened in SE and East Asia, so we might as well leave it.


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