Note: their unfounded insistence on most unlikely H. heidelbergensis shared origins of Neanderthals and us casts some doubt on elements of their reasoning however.
Category Archives: human evolution
AbstractIn this paper we review recent developments in the debate over the emergence of modern human behaviour (MHB) to show that despite considerable diversity among competing models, the identification of given material traits still underpins almost all current perspectives. This approach, however, allows assumptions over the biological relationship between archaic and modern humans to permeate the definitions of MHB and, as a result, has effectively stultified archaeology’s potential contribution to the issue. We suggest that the concept of MHB as currently defined is flawed. It must either be redefined in strictly behavioural terms before reincorporation into the debate over modern human origins or, more productively, discarded all together to avoid the harsh and unrealistic dichotomy it creates between a modern and non-modern archaeological record.
(…) the rapidly accumulating evidence for a mosaic pattern of behavioural change (…) and the evidence of behavioural advances appearing and rapidly disappearing in the MSA, make the harsh dichotomy model untenable. What it does suggest is a punctuated or saltation model that led to widespread adoption of more complex behavioural patterns once the demographic circumstances were appropriate (…).
A very curious story this one: a study performed on 398 visitors of Boston Museum of Science revealed that one of every thirteen people retain flexible characteristics in their feet, reminiscent of our ape cousins.
Most of us have very rigid feet, helpful for stability, with stiff ligaments holding the bones in the foot together.
When primates lift their heels off the ground, however, they have a floppy foot with nothing holding their bones together.
This is known as a midtarsal break and is similar to what the Boston team identified in some of their participants.
Joannes-Boyau, David Bishop, Dominic J. Hare, Philip Doble, Brenda
Eskenazi, Manish Arora. Barium distributions in teeth reveal early-life dietary transitions in primates. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nature12169
Some interesting news I cannot dedicate much effort to:
Human intelligence not really linked to frontal lobe.
New research highlights that the human frontal lobe is not oversized in comparison with other animals. Instead the human intelligence seems to be distributed through all the brain, being the network what really matters → Science Daily.
Ref. Robert A. Barton and
Chris Venditti. Human frontal lobes are not relatively large. PNAS, May 13, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1215723110
Early hominin ear bones found together in South Africa.
The three bones, dated to c. 1.9 Ma show intermediate features between modern humans and apes → PhysOrg.
New hominin site in Hunan (China).
The sediments of Fuyan cave, in which five human teeth (Homo erectus?) were found, along with plenty of animal ones, are dated to 141,700 (±12,100) years ago. → IVPP – Chinese Academy of Sciences.
|The five human teeth|
Neanderthal workshop found in Poland.
In Pietrowice Wielkie (Silesia), which is at the end of a major natural corridor from the Danubian basin → PAP.
Ancient Eastern Europeans ritually killed their pets to become warriors.
In the Bronze Age site of Krasnosamarkskoe (Volga region, Russia) more than 50 ritually pieced skulls of dogs have puzzled archaeologists, who have reached the conclusion, after researching Indoeuropean accounts from India, that the animals may have been killed in adulthood rituals: the boys who were to become warriors had to kill their most beloved pet in order to be accepted as such, and did so in a precise and macabre ritual → National Geographic.
Ancient log boat found in Ireland.
In the Boyne river, which was in the past a major artery of the island. Not yet dated: it could be from prehistoric times or the 18th century. → Irish Times.
|Ardi’s skull reconstructed
(CC by T. Michael Keesey)
By examining 79 skull bases of chimps, gorillas, modern humans and ancient hominids, Kimbel’s group identified relationships among anatomical landmarks that distinguish apes from people and hominids. The researchers estimated the total length of A. ramidus’ skull bottom and found that it fell within a range characteristic of hominids, not apes.
As in more recent members of the Australopithecus genus, such as the 3.2-million-year-old partial skeleton nicknamed Lucy, Ardipithecus ramidus displays a relatively short, humanlike skull base, Kimbel said.
A new 3-D analysis of Ardi’s previously reconstructed pelvis, also presented April 11 at the anthropology meeting, finds a mix of monkey, ape and hominid characteristics. Although not confirming a consistently upright gait, this version of Ardi’s hips doesn’t undermine her proposed hominid status, said Nicole Webb of City University of New York, who led the research.
As for Ardi’s disputed mode of travel, she probably had a two-legged gait “but didn’t use her hands much while upright,” said Caley Orr of Midwestern University in Downers Grove, Ill., who didn’t participate in the new research.
While Ardipithecus ramidus is dated to c. 4.4 Ma BP, there is another specimen of the same genus, Ardipithecus kadabba, dated to c. 5,7 Ma.
Ref. AAPA 2013 meeting (abstracts):
- W. Kimbel et al. Ardipithecus ramidus and the evolution of the human cranial base.
- N. Webb et al. An analysis of the Ardipithecus ramidus pelvis reconstruction using 3D geometric morphometric techniques.
The seven million years old Sahelanthropus tchadensis (i.e. Sahel man from Chad), nicknamed Toumaï, already had a hominin structure in its small brain:
… though Toumaï’s brain was apelike in its small size, it was apparently
homininlike in other ways. In a presentation given on April 2 at the
annual meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society, Bienvenu reported that
the endocast shows strongly posteriorly projecting occipital lobes, a
tilted brainstem, and a laterally expanded prefrontal cortex, among
other hominin brain characteristics.