Origins of Human Evolution

The science or study of primitive societies and the nature of man.

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Origins of Human Evolution

Postby Forum Monk » Fri Oct 12, 2007 7:03 am

This topic may be used to cover posts discussing the earliest origins of genus/species which may have preceeeded homo.

New controversial studies are pushing back the date of bipedalism, to 21 million years BP. This means the earliest ancestors of modern man may have walked upright much earlier than previously believed and knuckle walking apes may have adapted their style of locomotion after bipedalism had evolved.

http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/ ... early.html
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Postby Cognito » Fri Oct 12, 2007 7:24 pm

Image

In addition to the Live Science article posted by Monk, here is one with pictures for those who wish to visualize the changes in question:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 212545.htm

Here is the PLoS paper for those who love to read:

http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchArt ... ne.0001019

Needless to say, if this holds true it will drastically alter paradigms (again).
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Postby Forum Monk » Fri Oct 12, 2007 7:34 pm

The ScienceDaily link you posted is a good one Cogs. I missed it, though I previously found the original article on PLoS One which is not light reading.

I was expecting some reaction to the potential paradigm shift of this research. As you rightly point out, this could change our perception of human descent.
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Bipedalism

Postby Cognito » Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:22 pm

... this could change our perception of human descent.

FM, the earliest date I have found on bipedalism prior to this report is 6 million years ago. See the following National Geographic article from 2004:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... minid.html

Moving the bipedalism number from 6 million years ago to 21 million years ago would send the scientific community into "tilt" mode. It is so radical, it is hard to comprehend. Gotta love it! :D
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Postby Forum Monk » Wed Oct 17, 2007 11:26 am

The beginnings of modernity continue to be pushed back -
I guess they've found the easliest of ancestors of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/10 ... index.html

Similar "blips of rather precocious kinds of behaviors seem to be emerging at certain sites," said Kathy Schick, an Indiana University anthropologist and co-director of the Stone Age Institute. Schick and Brooks said Marean's work shows that anthropologists have to revise their previous belief in a steady "human revolution" about 40,000 to 70,000 years ago.
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Postby Beagle » Wed Oct 17, 2007 11:42 am

http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=143&art_id=nw20071017073334241C545814


Experts have long suspected that coastal migration must have occurred earlier than this.

The problem, though, has been finding proof to back this belief.

Turn the clock back to an era between 195,000 and 135,000 years ago, and you will find Earth in the grip of an Ice Age.

So much water was locked up in glaciers that the sea level was as much as 125 metres lower than today. When the glaciers eventually retreated, the sea rose once more, swamping coastlines and sweeping away the traces of habitation.

One remarkable location that survived, though, was a cave overlooking the Indian Ocean in coastal cliffs at Pinnacle Point, near South Africa's Mossel Bay.



FM, here is another article on the same story. Posted in Archaeologica News, it gives a little different smattering of information. I wish the actual scientists wrote these articles, as the media reporters often make small mistakes.

This one though, makes the point that early man is suspected of utilizing marine resources much, much earlier, but no definitive proof exists. Bednarik would make the point that if Erectus crossed open seawater 800,000 yrs. ago, he almost certainly ate fish.

But that's science. The actual proof extends only to this new report from S. Africa.
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Re: Bipedalism

Postby Beagle » Wed Oct 17, 2007 12:00 pm

Cognito wrote:
... this could change our perception of human descent.

FM, the earliest date I have found on bipedalism prior to this report is 6 million years ago. See the following National Geographic article from 2004:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... minid.html

Moving the bipedalism number from 6 million years ago to 21 million years ago would send the scientific community into "tilt" mode. It is so radical, it is hard to comprehend. Gotta love it! :D


I agree with the article that we shouldn't be surprised. After all, primates have all the right equipment. But I am surprised anyway. I never would have guessed 21 million years. That's a looong time ago. :shock:
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Postby Beagle » Wed Oct 17, 2007 1:57 pm

http://www.semioticon.com/frontline/bednarik.htm

Introduction

An archaeological issue that has been hotly debated in recent years, and that is of considerable relevance to semiotics, is the question of the origins of symbolism. There is no consensus in contemporary archaeology of how, where and, especially, when symbolism began. Broadly speaking, two schools of thought have emerged, which are best described as a short-range and a long-range model. Few if any researchers occupy the middle ground between them. According to the currently dominant short-range model, the earliest evidence we possess of human symbolism is in the forms of art and indications of language ability. No art-like productions are recognized of an age exceeding 32,000 or 35,000 years, and the earliest available language evidence is seen to be the first successful colonization of Australia, thought to have occurred perhaps 60,000 years ago. This school of thought is probably most coherently articulated in the work of two Australians, Davidson and Noble (1989, 1990, 1992; Noble and Davidson 1996; Davidson 1997). It categorically denies the possibility of human symboling abilities beyond, say, 100 ka (100,000 years) ago.

The long-range model, while favoured by most linguists who have considered this topic (Bickerton 1990, 1996; Aitchison 1996; Dunbar 1996), enjoys little support from archaeologists. It postulates a very significantly longer use of symbolism by hominids, at the very minimum in the order of several hundred millennia, but more probably one million years or more. Thus there is a significant difference between these two entirely incompatible paradigms. The short-range model attributes symbolism, and all it entails, solely to what has often been described as ‘anatomically modern humans’, or Homo sapiens sapiens, or simply ‘Moderns’ (Gamble 1994). It declares categorically that earlier hominids possessed neither language, art-like products, social systems, self-awareness, or even proper culture. These certainties are not based on what is often called the ‘archaeological record’, but on the very strong postulates of the ‘African Eve’ model (also called ‘Garden of Eden’ or ‘punctuated equilibrium’ model) that the Moderns evolved in genetic isolation in sub-Saharan Africa, some time between 200 and 100 ka ago. They then began a migration across Africa and out of Africa, reaching the Levant by 100 ka ago, and colonizing Asia and Australia by 60 ka BP (before the present time), and Europe some 20 ka later. In the process, they either out-competed or exterminated all resident human populations, wherever they went, and always without interbreeding with them. By about 28 ka BP, all other human populations had become extinct, by one means or another, and the genetically pure, victorious Moderns had taken over the world.



This paper is about "Beads and the Origins of Symbolism". And this is pure Bednarik. He is among the favorites in this forum (for many of us anyway). This paper is long and very instructive.

Bednarik discusses the human family from Habilis through HSS. I have never posted this paper before as he does not dwell specifically on Neanderthal. This topic thread seems to be an ideal place for it. For those who expressed an interest in early symbolism, cognition, and speech, here is Robert Bedanarik, an Australian.
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Postby Barracuda » Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:45 pm

and knuckle walking apes may have adapted their style of locomotion after bipedalism had evolved.



Yeah, reminds me of this guy I used to know named Quido....
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Postby john » Wed Oct 17, 2007 6:22 pm

Just when you thought das klub was safe ......... from Archeological News (yeah, that other button)........

Did seafood encourage 'Out of Africa' trips?

October 17 2007 at 10:28AM
By Richard Ingham

Paris - Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest known remains of human habitation by the coast, a finding that may explain how humans ventured beyond Africa at the start of their planetary odyssey.

Mussel shells, sharpened pieces of red ochre and stone micro-tools found in a sea cave in South Africa suggest that Homo sapiens headed for the beach quite soon after emerging from the savannah, they say.

By stumbling upon the rich harvest of the sea, Man found the means to explore beyond Africa, sustaining himself through maritime edibles by probing along the coast, they suggest.

Until now, the earliest evidence of human settlement by the coast dates from 120 000 years ago - about 80 000 years after the approximate time when, according to fossil evidence, H. sapiens arose in the grasslands of East Africa.

Experts have long suspected that coastal migration must have occurred earlier than this.

The problem, though, has been finding proof to back this belief.

Turn the clock back to an era between 195,000 and 135,000 years ago, and you will find Earth in the grip of an Ice Age.

So much water was locked up in glaciers that the sea level was as much as 125 metres lower than today. When the glaciers eventually retreated, the sea rose once more, swamping coastlines and sweeping away the traces of habitation.

One remarkable location that survived, though, was a cave overlooking the Indian Ocean in coastal cliffs at Pinnacle Point, near South Africa's Mossel Bay.

The cave is so high that, even now, it is 15 metres above the sea. At the time when it was inhabited, it was located within five to 10 kilometres of the coast.

Curtis Marean of Arizona State University led a team that sifted through the cave's walls and floor and found remains of hearths, of some two dozen shellfish, mainly brown mussels, as well as 57 pieces of ochre pigment, some of them brilliant red, and nearly three dozen "bladelets", or tiny tools made of chipped stone.

The find has been dated to around 164 000 years ago, give or take 12 000 years, according to their paper, which appears on Thursday in the British weekly journal Nature.

Marean believes the discovery opens a door to understanding the movements of our early forebears.

During the long glacial period, southern Africa was cooler and drier, and hunter-gatherers probably found it hard to get food from animals, fruits and berries, he says.

Moving to the coast thus opened up a whole new larder of food.

"Shellfish may have been a critical food source to the survival of human populations when they were faced with depressed terrestrial productivity during glacial stages... when much of southern Africa was more arid and populations were isolated and perhaps concentrated on now-submerged coastal platforms," the study says.

Seafood was the biggest shift in the human diet until animal farming began at the end of the last Ice Age, roughly 11 000 years ago, it contends.

Once humans realised the bounty of food that lay within their grasp, they could use it for sustenance as they moved out of Africa, along the coast of the Red Sea and northwards into the Middle East and beyond, as the species embarked on its trek around the world.

Humans expanded into southern Asia along the coast and also island-hopped their way to Australia and New Guinea using coastal food resources.

In a commentary, also published by Nature, anthropologist Sally McBrearty of the University of Connecticut and palaeontologist Chris Stringer of London's Natural History Museum say the pigment is an equally exciting find.

This substance, also called haematite, has some practical use as an adhesive.

However, the brilliant red colours that feature in the find suggest it was also used for decorating the body or objects, given that red has always played a key role in human rite and society.

"It suggests that early humans in Africa inhabited a cognitive world enriched by symbols before 160 000 years ago," the pair say. - Sapa-AFP

Eeeenteresting!

We got hematite (red ochre), we got blades, we got sushi. Also, I believe, though I can't remember where I read this, some very old seashells perforated for a necklace. S. Africa, circa 70,000 BP?

This article has some resonance over in the Neandertal thread, also.

And where you have people using the ocean as a food resource, you're gonna have boats.

I'll make my point once again: we have severely underestimated the intellectual and organizational abilities of early man.

This time its the 164,000 year question.

Gotta love it.


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Postby Minimalist » Wed Oct 17, 2007 7:41 pm

Red ochre, again.

That stuff is everywhere!
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Postby kbs2244 » Wed Oct 17, 2007 9:18 pm

OK...
This is new to me.
Red Ocher has “some practical use as an adhesive” in addition to it’s color.
Says who, and when? With what kind of evidence?
That is the first time I have seen any mention of red ocher as anything but a means for decoration.
Now comes the question;
Which use was more important? To whom. When and where?
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Postby Rokcet Scientist » Thu Oct 18, 2007 8:02 am

164,000 year old worked Red ochre was found – in relative abundance, as far as I understand – at Pinnacle Point, Cape Province, South Africa.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7049597.stm
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Red Ochre

Postby Cognito » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:51 am

Here's an interesting reference to red ochre as used by the Beothuck tribe prior to the European genocide:

The Beothucks were probably the Skraelings described by Viking explorers, and therefore the first American Indians ever to encounter Europeans. It's possible the Skraelings were Mi'kmaq or Innu instead; however, the Newfoundland Viking ruins were unearthed in territory known to belong to the Beothuck people. Also, the Norse description of natives obsessed with the color red matches the Beothucks, who decorated themselves so extensively with red ochre that the British called them Red Indians (a term that has found an unfortunate second life as a racist epithet.) Anything Beothuck oral history may have said about this encounter has been lost to time. The Beothucks and the second wave of European colonists never even learned to communicate with each other before the Beothuck people were wiped out completely, so they will always remain something of an enigma. Almost everything we know about their culture comes from the stories and drawings of two Beothuk women, Demasduit and Shanawdithit, who were captured by the British in the 19th century and learned a bit of English before dying of tuberculosis.


Source: http://www.native-languages.org/beothuk.htm

Yes, red ochre seems to be ubiquitous but it may have simply been the best thing available for decorating the members of the tribe (Occam's Razor). Red ochre and a little charcoal could make anyone look fierce ... even Min! :shock:
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Postby Digit » Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:26 am

My mother-in-law manages perfectly well without any help!
First people deny a thing, then they belittle it, then they say it was known all along! Von Humboldt
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