Category Archives: Evolution

Hominid genetics get more complex

The human genetic story now goes back to times from which there is little or no archaeological record. It seems that some Neanderthals may well have had speech even if not any well developed language. The control of fire goes back some 400,000+ years ago. Stone tools were around from around 1.8 million years ago. Perhaps the beginnings of modern humans does not have to start so far back, but it does look like the story of homo sapiens now needs to be pushed backwards into time to at least the common hominin ancestor from around a million years ago. Continue reading

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Earliest common ancestors could not have been mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam

African AMH is thought to have first come into being around 200,000 years ago in Africa. But it is thought that the ancestors of the Neanderthals and the Denisovans left Africa about 500,000 years ago. This immediately means that mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam could not have been our earliest common ancestors. Continue reading

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Not so random animal sounds may show a stepping stone towards language

The sequence in humans – I speculate – could have been:
(300KYA) gestures>> sounds>> (smiles, laughter?)>> words>> ..(unknown steps)>> simple grammar>> context-free grammar>> language>> symbols>> abstract symbols>> writing (12KYA) Continue reading

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Archaeological evidence suggests Neanderthals and AMH overlapped for upto 250 generations

If the interactions at the various locations each spanned 100 to 250 generations – and approximately 2,000 generations ago – it is not difficult to imagine a gradual assimilation and subsequent disappearance of Neanderthals – especially if there was a fertility difference in favour of AMH. There would be no need then to assume catastrophic extinction or genocide of the Neanderthals. An AMH population expanding much more rapidly than a co-existing, socially compatible but declining population of Neanderthals would suffice to explain the 3% or so of Neanderthal genes left in the surviving population today after a further 2,000 generations. Continue reading

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Homo floresiensis (hobbit man) did not exist – probably just Down’s syndrome individual

The time-line is simultaneous with the existence of the Denisovans (perhaps a little further north?), with the expansion out of Africarabia and also includes the Toba eruption (74 kyears ago). Of course it is possible that an isolated species survived on an island. But at this time during the glacial period Flores was probably no island but was joined to the mainland.
So my inclination is to go with these conclusions that the Flores bones represent a separate population, but not a separate species, of humans. Continue reading

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“Natural” selection and genetic changes in Europe in the last 5,000 years

The suggestion is that while skin colour was clearly darker in Europe 5,000 years ago and the changes could be explained by sunlight deficiencies at northern latitudes, it does not explain changes in skin and eue colur. It could be that these have changed genetically due to the selection of partners based on “attractiveness”. Continue reading

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Humans are tropical animals

The January 2014 Arctic Frontiers Conference saw Professor Hannu Rintamäki of Finland’s University of Oulu and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health give a presentation on work and well-being in frigid temperatures. But humans evolved as tropical animals and our thermal … Continue reading

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Why the hunters moved down from the hills

But this was a period of great change – environmental and social. The northern hemisphere was coming out of a glacial age, nomadic hunter-gatherers were “settling down” and the age of agriculture was approaching. I can imagine that dwellings at lower altitude would have been more suitable for continuous occupation whereas the caves and grottos at high altitude were probably only occupied seasonally. Continue reading

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Promiscuity in the Pleistocene

At some point there must have been children who were 50% Neanderthal and 50% AMH. And some who were 50% Neanderthal and 50% Denisovan. How did they survive? What kind of society existed in these ancient times that would permit such offspring not only to survive but also to mate and produce offspring in their turn? But however it happened, our ancestors in the pleistocene were a promiscuous lot. Continue reading

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SE Asia rainforests shaped by humans for 11,000 years

A new study comes to the brave conclusion – based on ancient pollen samples which contain charcoal and and therefore suggest that land was cleared and planted – that the rain forests of SE Asia have been “managed” by humans since about 11,000 years ago! Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Evolution, Homo Sapiens, Hunter-gatherer, Peopling the world | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment