October 1, 2010

Evidence for New Guinea settlement 49,000 years ago


New findings in Papua Highlands reveal that people were already there at least as early as 49,000 years ago, living 2000 meters above sea level and using characteristic waisted axes (left), which they probably used to fell down trees and make convenient clearings. 

Previous research by the same team had located sites as old as 41,000 years near the coast.

Starch grains found on the axes are from yam (Dioscorea sp.), a tuber that does not grow at such high altitudes. Other vegetable remains found at the sites are charred nut shells from Pandamus sp., a high altitude tree that is used through Oceania for a variety of purposes: food, medicine, housing material, clothing, etc. Bones fragments from unidentified animals have also been found.

Lead researcher Glenn Summerhayes suggests that clearing was done on purpose, so medicinal plants could grow. He also suggests that some sort of clothing must have been used in order to ward off pneumonia (temperatures at such altitudes vary along the day between the nice 20 degrees Celsius at noon to freezing point at night).

Sources: Science News, DNA.

34 comments:

  1. ... and supposedly they were already carrying a bit of neanderthal DNA.

    I read that some stone tools were found in Japan and dated 120Ka:

    http://heritageofjapan.wordpress.com/pacing-the-paleolithic-path/stone-age-accessories/stone-tool-inventory/types-of-chipped-stone-artifacts/stone-age-news/did-japans-palaeolithic-era-begin-earlier-than-thought/

    If true, that'd mean Homo sapiens groups or other hominids were already in Japan by that age? Some anthropologists don't believe it. Other much older claims have been disproved.
    See this for example:

    http://www.archaeology.org/0101/newsbriefs/godshands.html

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  2. I mentioned those tools at Leherensuge in about the same date and also, what seemed to me potentially related, the finding of a lower jaw in China of similar date.

    What called then my attention was that the tools were described as "sharp", but I'm not sure about what affinities could be made with other industries. Similarly I don't know what species did the Guangxi jaw belongs to.

    But there are other (also controversial) indications of modern human presence in East Asia by c. 65,000 BP, specially Liujiang skull.

    But best documented is probably South Asia. While Petraglia is now bringing to light more stuff such as the MSA affinity, the Arabian Peninsula connection and such, something more was known earlier, but laid mostly ignored until genetic evidence put South Asia again in the limelight.

    The main problem of South Asia to become really accepted as critical is that no human remains are found before 38 Ka - of any species (excepting some H. erectus of 200 Ka ago). But the tool hoards are impressive, specially because they are often the avant-guard of stone technology.

    "... and supposedly they were already carrying a bit of neanderthal DNA"

    Most probably yes. And most probably they were already carrying some of the haplogroups that now define Papuan and Melanesian populations, or most of them.

    I am not sure if the lineages most closely related to West Eurasia such as Y-DNA K (MNOPS) and mtDNA R (P in the case of New Guinea) were already there. But the timeline fits in my opinion. Roughly at that same time the West Eurasian was happening too.

    If the Japanese tools are of H. sapiens creation, what at this time is totally speculative and probably wrong anyhow, they would be not yet belong to these lineages. But, anyhow, I'm more inclined at the moment (with all caution needed ) for an Eurasian expansion in very roughly this time frame:

    1. c. 120 Ka first excursions into West Asia, contact with Neanderthals

    2. c. 80 Ka (or maybe earlier) migration through Arabia into South Asia, including incorporation of some Neanderthal ancestry. Maybe first expansion into the East but without clear evidence so far.

    3. c. 70-60 Ka Most likely time of first expansion into Eastern Eurasia. Crossing into Sahul?

    4. c. 50-40 Ka Second expansive wave, largely associated with Y-DNA IJK-K-MNOPS and mtDNA R (and some other N and M subclades).

    So these axes are in my humble opinion something made already by the "second wave" people, which had a marked impact in New Guinea (but not in Australia).

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  3. "Most probably yes. And most probably they were already carrying some of the haplogroups that now define Papuan and Melanesian populations, or most of them. "

    In your opinion, what haplogroups were carrying modern humans who arrived in Europe by 40-50 Ka? There's much controversy and debate about this.

    "1. c. 120 Ka first excursions into West Asia, contact with Neanderthals.
    4. c. 50-40 Ka Second expansive wave, largely associated with Y-DNA IJK-K-MNOPS and mtDNA R (and some other N and M subclades)."

    So, it seems there was more than one out of Africa expansion. These modern humans who were living in the Middle East by 120Ka, maybe gone extinct? It appears that genetically, all non-Africans are descended from the second wave.

    There's some evidence (although controversial) of human presence in Americas by 50Ka. If true, this implies that these peoples arrived in the Middle East and in Americas at nearly the same time, which is hard to believe.

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  4. There are two possibilities (for New Guinea):

    1. There were two waves: the first one with Y-DNA C2 and the second one with MNOPS (mtDNA M and P respectively).

    2. A single migration with all those haplogroups (Terry would insist in C2 not yet but I think that if it's found in the highlands, it's a likely case of early arrival).

    Guess you can consider other scenarios like this first arrival being not yet proto-Melanesians but proto-Australians, who would later be wiped our/pushed out. But the genetic differences between the two populations are large and therefore suggestive of a separate episode for the settlement of Australia.

    My opinion anyhow.

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  5. As for the OoA, the migration could really have happened any time between 130 and 80 Ka. But the group of Palestine does not need to be central to it nor probably was. The fact that they adopted Mousterian is I believe a decisive evidence, because we know of no other populations of H. sapiens using Mousterian, excepting probably some Egyptians later on in that period.

    Instead what you see in India is MSA, a different technology, proper of Africa south the first cataract.

    One intriguing element is that there are some indications of blade tech in India dated to 103 Ka. Very limited and inside something else anyhow.

    But for the period around Toba, there is already a lot of evidence that points to human presence, H. sapiens of African ancestry with MSA tech and some more frequent use of blades (mode 4). I haven't read most of the papers and books anyhow. So you can do that yourself and judge on your own.

    The Palestinian group however could have been central in incorporation of Neanderthal genes. I am thinking that indeed they could have played a mediator role in that aspect. For instance, the main migrant population could well have incorporated some of them in the Persian Gulf area before arriving to South Asia. If further research shows that some populations in the Middle East have more Neanderthal fraction than the rest, that could give some clues. But it's too early yet.

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  6. "The Palestinian group however could have been central in incorporation of Neanderthal genes. I am thinking that indeed they could have played a mediator role in that aspect. For instance, the main migrant population could well have incorporated some of them in the Persian Gulf area before arriving to South Asia. If further research shows that some populations in the Middle East have more Neanderthal fraction than the rest, that could give some clues. But it's too early yet."

    Yes, I'd be very interesting to compare the neanderthal genome with one from the Middle East. Do you have any idea about why they chose, among non-Africans, the Chinese, Japanese, French, European American and Papuan? It could be because there are no more human genomes published yet or any other reason?

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  7. "Guess you can consider other scenarios like this first arrival being not yet proto-Melanesians but proto-Australians, who would later be wiped our/pushed out. But the genetic differences between the two populations are large and therefore suggestive of a separate episode for the settlement of Australia."

    Really? I thought Australians and Melanesians were quite closely related. I read this:

    http://www.cell.com/AJHG/retrieve/pii/S0002929710003642

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  8. "Do you have any idea about why they chose, among non-Africans, the Chinese, Japanese, French, European American and Papuan?"

    Probably because they were readily available samples. Surely they first picked some HapMap individuals (Utahns, Chinese, Japanese) and then decided to add some more for safety (Papuan and French). Similarly in Africa they began surely with HapMap Yorubans and then added the Bushmen.

    There are a lot of genetic papers that use these four HapMap samples (CEU, CHB, JPT and YRI), which very roughly do represent world diversity (CHB and JPT are redundant in this sense). But it's a much limited set anyhow and today the extended HapMap sample also includes Indians, Tuscans, East Africans... and there is some effort to expand it further.

    "Really? I thought Australians and Melanesians were quite closely related".

    The paper is pay-per-view (at least for me).

    Anyhow, Australian Aborigines and Melanesians are not particularly related. If you compare globally they have some affinity (autosomal DNA) but it is weak (very remote or product of minor admixture). Similarly some haploid lineages do overlap between the two regions but again weakly and most just do not.

    There have been flows between the two areas but there are also neat differences.

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  9. In this thread in Dienekes blog we have discussed about the evidence of the Ooa southern route (Corn of Africa-South Arabia-South Iran-India-SEA-Australia-New Guinea-EA):

    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2010/09/post-glacial-migrations-of-humans-into.html

    IMHO the Y-DNA and mt-DNA present distributions and Neanderthal admixture (if finally such a thing is definitively prooved) could be (better ?) explained by an alternative northern route:

    North Africa-levant (and there admixture with neands)-South Siberia to EA-SEA-New Guinea-Australia-India-Central Asia).

    In an unpublished (i suppose due to technical problems) comment i missed "neand admixture test" with north african-berebers (it would be nice an ancient pre-islamic), New Guineans and other peoples, as Maria Lluisa does...

    Any archeological evidence against this northern route ?

    Ps: Sorry if no answer, I really have no time to be involved in blog discussions right now. But i do not understand why in this field everybody takes for granted the Southern Out of Africa route.

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  10. Thanks for commenting, Carpetanuiq. However I understand that you are very wrong.

    Your proposal of a migration through the North Caucasus is not acceptable on light of the old Neanderthal presence in Mezmaiskaya and their replacement by H. sapiens (seemingly) only c. 40 Ka. ago (Golovanova 2010, my comment is here).

    In general the "northern route" was "blocked" by Neanderthal presence in Syria, Iraq, Iran, the Caucasus and Central Asia up to Altai and maybe even beyond. Additionally we know that Neanderthals later colonized also Palestine.

    We also have, as Petraglia has argued in the last years, presence of unmistakable MSA-style industry in India before 75 Ka. (maybe as early as 100 Ka. ago). And now it seems that there is also such thing in the Arabian Peninsula (though I'm unsure of the exact details).

    Instead in all the "north route" there's only Mousterian, which is a typically Neanderthal industry and in many cases associated with Neanderthal remains.

    Finally there is growing indications (not yet solid evidence however) of H. sapiens presence in SE Asia c. 70-60 Ka ago.

    This from the archaeological viewpoint. Now let's see the genetic aspect (next comment).

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  11. In the genetic aspect the Eastern-specific top tier haplogroups are Y-DNA C and D and mtDNA N, as I understand it. There are other lineages but they are derived from Y-DNA F and mtDNA M, which are surely of South Asian origin (per basal diversity).

    Y-DNA D's reference work is Hong Shi 2008 (open access). Hong, after researching as many as 75 different populations in mostly P.R. China (but also comparing with Andamanese and Japanese, as well as other less relevant populations) finds that the highest diversity of the haplogroup is in Tibet, followed by Daic, Japanese and Hmong-Mien (though error margins could change this order). None of these populations can easily be related to "the northern route" but to SE Asia.

    I do see that order however (fig. 3):

    - Tibetans participate of 3/4 clades (D*, D1 and D3) - but notice that their position in at least D* is clearly derived
    - Daic participate of 2/4 clades (D* and D1) with likelihood of being at the root of both (at least of D*)
    - Han and other TB peoples participate of 2/4 clades but clearly in derived position and direct relation with Tibetans. We can safely ignore them.
    - Hmong-Mien participate of only one clade (D1) but could be at the root of it.
    - Japanese only have one D clade (D2) but they monopolize it.

    So, IMO:

    - D*: SEA
    - D1: SEA-Tibet
    - D2: Japan
    - D3: Tibet

    Origin of the haplogroup then: SEA or Tibet. As Tibet was not colonized until c. 30 Ka. ago (lower fringes) we can safely assume a SEA orgin for D, specially considering that Indochina Peninsula has not been sampled yet.

    I'll continue with C and mtDNA N.

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  12. Y-DNA C has five or more subclades. I am going to work here only with the largest subclades, as C* is found in many regions at very low levels.

    - C1: Japan
    - C2: Wallacea, Melanesia and Polynesia (likely origin in Wallacea)
    - C3: NE Asia and North America, with some offshoots in West Eurasia and South Asia. Origin NE Asia.
    - C4: Australian Aborigines.
    - C5: South, Central and West Asia (though it has also been reported among Han, it seems).

    More or less arbitrarily I place the "dots" (approximate origins) for these clades in Nagasaki, Sulawesi, Manchuria, Delhi and Darwin (Northern Australia), which creates an irregular pentagon. You only have to estimate its center of gravity: that's the likely origin of haplogroup C, very very roughly.

    My estimation makes that center of gravity fall around Guangxi-Zhuang. Depending on your choice for the vortex dots, it may vary somewhat but in general it looks in SE Asia. You can use other approximation methods but they are going to go there all the time. You have to really make acrobacies in order to suggest some other origin, really.

    A similar case can be easily done for mtDNA N, which has 12 basal subclades: four in South or West Asia (R, N1'5, N2 and X), seven in SE Asia (3) or Australia (4) and only one in NE Asia (A). To simplify centroid estimation I divide the clade in four regional groups: West, East and Australia, each one with four basal sublineages, getting false centroids in Pakistan, Indochina/SE China and Australia, what gives me a triangle with a true centroid more or less in Bangkok.

    So basically all three haplogroups with a likely Eastern coalescence look centered in SE Asia between the Kraa Isthmus and South China.

    And that is probably their real origin, with the usual uncertainty.

    Cheers.

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  13. Conclusion: with all "Eastern" haplogroups coalescing in SE Asia most likely (and the other two in South Asia), with the "northern route" blocked by Neanderthals and likely too cold for our tropical species to find it desirable initially and with all the archaeological evidence pointing to the South of Asia in general, I find the "northern route" simply untenable.

    It was a tropical migration, coastal or riverine or whatever, but tropical, southern migration route beyond reasonable doubt.

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  14. PS- And do not forget the pigmentation (or rather depigmentation) clues, which say that West and East Eurasians followed two different adaptative patterns of depigmentation, again supportive of two northwards expansions: one in the East and another in the West.

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  15. Thanks for your long answer !

    Now i have to ponder your arguments in detail. After a first reading none of them (Neands presence, MSA industry in India 75 kybp, genetics, pigmentation...) rules out definitively the "northern route theory" (pls note that the concrete details of this theory that i described in previous post might be contingent; the only necessary is a continental route from West Asia to East Asia), but some of them make it less likely and forces me to refine the arguments.

    It is not that i think the southern / tropical route is wrong, but i do not consider the evidence completely convincing, so i think it is worth to consider alternatives.

    As i told, i have very short free time at present so my answer (that of course might be that i´m finaly convinced of the southern route) might take some time...

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  16. It's impossible to rule anything out 100% but the scientific principles of parsimony and Occam's Razor demand that when two options have very distinct likelihoods, the most likely is to be preferred and most probably the correct answer. The conventional "scientific truth", always open to change if new evidence comes forward, of course.

    In this case, I give the northern route a likelihood of 1-5%, more in the 1% zone than in the 5%. Nothing to take too seriously. In the E.T. UFO zone of likelihood more or less.

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  17. "I give the northern route a likelihood of 1-5%".

    Hmmm...i´m of those who thinks that we must assign probabilities only to such systems to which appropiate axioms (Kolmorov or equivalent) apply; to assign probabilities to propositions does not make any scientific sense to me. Propositions are true or false (at least in our usual bivalent logic).

    But, let´s go to the point: I do not see that experts in the Ooa models field consider this issue closed yet: everybody is still talking about a “southern route hypothesis (SRH)”. And indeed it is still an hypothesis (of course this fact does not make the nothern route more likely). Some comments:

    --Ooa Models: due to lack of access i could not read Oppenheimer 2008 which seems to summarize the state of the art. But i have his 2003 book which this paper seems to update.

    --Paleoarcheology of Arabia and SA: A key point in stablishing the southern route are Arabian and South Asian lithic and fossil data. This field is boiling now but many things remain wide open. The Petraglia results you point to (thanks, btw) seems impressive (unfortunately lacking access, i´ve not read the paper) but very new, not undisputed by experts in the field ( for instance http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11327442 ), and moreover against previous consensus (Ooa single event+47-60kybp+southern coastal route), and also previous to the very new “Neand Admixture revolution”. Some interesting papers i have found about paleoarcheology of this area: http://www.human-evol.cam.ac.uk/Projects/sdispersal/sdispersal.htm; http://anthropology.osu.edu/docs/faculty/2007_field_petraglia_lahr_jaa.pdf; http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/10261/1/RedSea_Bailey_Pre-Pub.pdf; http://bham.academia.edu/documents/0062/0066/Rose_PGO.pdf;
    http://www.markbeech.com/pdf/Wahida-et-al-2009-Petraglia-Rose-book.pdf
    Most of tehm looking for evidence of a southern route.

    (Cont.)

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  18. --Neands admixture hypothesis: One of the the points which made me doubt about the validity of a purely southern route was the recently discovery of a likely Neands admixture. This issue is adressed in one of your Leherensuge postshttp://leherensuge.blogspot.com/2010/05/exploring-neanderthal-admixture-episode.html. I agree that the levantine route and admixture event you propose. It adresses correctly the Neand admixture hypothesis, but it is also consistent with a later northern route. In any case a journey trough Levant of at least one of our ancestors group seems a necessary restriction to the equation we are solving and that´s an important piece of data.

    --Genetics: The other issue that rised my doubts was the distribution of some Y-DNA haplogroups and Mt-DNA haplogroups. Besides your arguments I would like to see what genetic evidence does Oppenheimer 2008 provides. My opinion about genetic evidence is greatly sumarized by this sentence from Bailey red sea paper: “However, the capacity of DNA models to specify the date of this dispersal event is questionable, even more so their ability to discriminate between alternative pathways of dispersal between Africa and southern Asia. In this regard, such models provide, at best, hypotheses in need of further exploration and testing against independent sources of evidence, and raise as many questions as they purport to answer”.

    (cont.)

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  19. To conclude, my view is that after more than 10 years of archeologic (lithic), paleoanthropologic (fossil), genetic (Y-DNA, Mt-DNA) and paleoclimatic the evidence for a southern coastal route (s) (AfricaàArabiaàSiranàSAàSEAàSAHULàEA or AfricaàLevantàSiranàSAàSEAàSAHULàEA or both) is still weak. If such a route ever existed, the exact dates and path are still unclear and under discussion by experts (two ranges have been proposed 120-75 kybp; 60-47 kybp).

    This justifies the consideration of alternative plausible Ooa eurasian dispersal routes. By the evidence at hand a route AfricaàLevantàCAàXinjiangàEAàSEAàSAHULàSA is still plausible and compatible with genetic, lithic ?, fossil ? and paleoenvironment. A more concrete model for this northern route specifying path and dates must be built. Some facts which could rule out this northern route is a sequence of the most anciently dated archeosites associated undisputedly to AMH fossils in the path EA-SEA-SAHUL-SA with decreasing dates from SA to EA. Does this exist ?

    Some other questions: Do you know what´s the Petraglia non-coastal suggested route ? Is it compatible with your Neands admixture model in Levant ? It seems that AMH adopted Musterian at some point in Levant, is this correct ? Is there any Musterian archeo-path from Levant to EA not associated with Neands ?

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  20. "Propositions are true or false"...

    ... or we don't know.

    In fact I'm of the opinion that propositions can be true and false. For instance someone recently proposed to me Heliocentrism as one of such true propositions but it's obvious to anyone familiar with General Relativity that Geocentrism is equally true in spite of Heliocentrism being surely more descriptive.

    But I digress. What I mean is that we don't know for sure because we have no time machine or divine omniscience to certify each of aspects implied. So it's after all an stochastic process of sorts, with odds. However it's also true that, unlike when we throw a dice, we will never know the answer for sure, so it's futile to bet.

    We can just in the end evaluate the evidence in favor of each scenario and I see zero evidence in favor of the northern route. Still that does not make it absolutely impossible because we cannot possibly observe the process as in laboratory experiment. This "experiment" happened long ago and is irreproducible, so...

    "I do not see that experts in the Ooa models field consider this issue closed yet"...

    Because there's always some other opinion, someone who is missing some aspects or someone who believes they have "evidence" derived from their particular interpretation of the molecular clock or whatever other conjecture that has been given an inflated value. It's not rocket science, really, it is more like History, which is after all how we tell ourselves about the past, rather than how the past was exactly.

    Of course you can be more or less honest, more or less objective, more or less biased also in History but consensus is never achieved to the precision and absoluteness you seem to wish.

    Anyhow, it seems to me that instead of discussing the facts as I described them or in whatever alternative way you understand it, you are now shielding behind appeal to authority, which is IMO scientific and philosophical cowardice. Appeal to authority as such never produced science but mere scholasticism. Doctrine, not research.

    All I ask is: look at the facts on your own and judge as dispassionately as you can.

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  21. "And indeed it is still an hypothesis"...

    This is a matter of judgment. For me it is a very solid theory, that is how far we can go in science. Another thing is for a theory, no matter how solid, to be accepted in general, to go mainstream. That is a matter that may take time, sometimes a generation or even more. Because people who have been educated in one paradigm tend to remain attached to it, even when the evidence is so strong against it.

    Sometimes there are also prejudices; in this case I have the strong feeling that there is an idealization of the northern latitudes, proper of some ethnocentric doctrines, doctrines that are generally favored in countries that are now rich and powerful (the European and Chinese cultural areas).

    But no doubt that 'scientia vincere tenebras'... at least in the long run.

    "i could not read Oppenheimer 2008 which seems to summarize the state of the art"...

    Oppenheimer is a man with an idea: Toba explosion caused "a bottleneck". A lot of people, including me dislike that idea. I have not read it either but I have read other stuff by Oppenheimer and really, I am anything but persuaded by his ideas.

    Anyhow I am critical of many people because I look at the data first and only then I draw conclusions. And my conclusions and theirs often do not match, sometimes it's just a matter of degree or interpretation but in other cases it's very different. Beware in any case of anything that is built on the molecular clock hypothesis, which is anything but evidence (speculation, erudite hunch...)

    "The Petraglia results you point to (thanks, btw) seems impressive (unfortunately lacking access, i´ve not read the paper)"...

    I'm in the same situation. Maybe one day I'll check in the public library. I've heard that, if they do not have a book, you are entitled to ask them to buy it (Spanish law, may vary elsewhere) but I have never exerted that right before, so unsure.

    "... not undisputed by experts in the field"...

    Molecular clock fanatics. Stinger is no archaeologist but geneticist. He's obviously wrong.

    I'll check the other links tomorrow because it's very late here.

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  22. "I agree that the levantine route and [Neanderthal] admixture event you propose. It adresses correctly the Neand admixture hypothesis, but it is also consistent with a later northern route."

    Yes. It's consistent with any scenario that proposes a single migration OoA via lands nearing Neanderthal areas.

    I have not used this as argument here, I believe. I have used it, in a separate discussion, as argument in favor of the coalescence of Y-DNA E (and probably DE) in Africa but that's another part of the Human Story.

    "In any case a journey trough Levant of at least one of our ancestors group seems a necessary restriction to the equation we are solving and that´s an important piece of data".

    For me it's pretty much irrelevant, because the contact could have happened at the Persian Gulf or elsewhere in West Asia. Or, as I suggested, by the absorption of an minor group that was admixed at higher frequencies.

    "Besides your arguments I would like to see what genetic evidence does Oppenheimer 2008 provides".

    Oppenheimer co-authored a paper by some other lead researcher (can't recall the name but I have read it several times), where they proposed that Toba killed all people in South Asia. Their arguments are all constructed on one version of the molecular clock hypothesis (MCH hereafter), where they average haplogroup ages not by whole haplogroups but by regions. I understand that the distortions introduced by this geographical grouping method are brutal and unacceptable, and that the weakness of the MCH makes anyhow any conclusions derived only or mostly from this hypothesis meaningless. MCH does not produce evidence, just estimates (which may be better or worse but conjectural in any case).

    Agreed with Bailey's statement in any case. I concede primacy to archaeology, however in some areas the archaeological data is very weak, and genetics, properly used (without any MCH hunches, just the phylogeny) provide a structured pattern that no doubt reflects the spread of Humankind with great detail.

    It does not produce dates, not with any credibility. There is no C-14 of genetics, just a tree (or more precisely two trees).

    The research on the southern route has just begun, before this past decade, and surely before the last four years, there was very little interest in archaeological research in the Indian Ocean arch in general (with very few exceptions). It was the genetic evidence in favor of such route (whichever its lacks) what caused greater interest in this area. Anyhow, besides the excellent work of Petraglia's team, there is very little more (some work in Philippines a re-evaluation of the Liujiang site in South China that left nobody persuaded but that in principle confirmed the 60 Ka age, little more). Excepting the former Soviet, Israel - and some in China maybe, there's been very little archaeological work in Asia in general. Now it is when the research is taking shape. Some day in the future Asia will be as well documented as is Europe archaeologically but not yet, not at all.

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  23. "Some facts which could rule out this northern route is a sequence of the most anciently dated archeosites associated undisputedly to AMH fossils in the path EA-SEA-SAHUL-SA with decreasing dates from SA to EA. Does this exist ?"

    There are conservation issues and also research issues. In many areas there are no skulls, have been lost or have not been properly documented upon finding (many decades ago). It's not reliable. In general it is understood that skeletal remains are more likely to be preserved in cold areas, also in non-acidic areas. But I think the problem is not really that one, but one of lack of systematic research along many decades as happened in Europe and Siberia. And even in East Africa too.

    In South Asia there's strong evidence for human presence for some 40 millennia with not a single skeletal remain. It may have also depended on customs, the Hadza for instance leave their dead to Mother Nature, which is unlikely to leave any remain, at least easy to find. Instead in UP Europe some cultures clearly buried their dead... in caves.

    "Do you know what´s the Petraglia non-coastal suggested route ?"

    I asked and explained myself but he remains cautious online. However he explained clearly he is considering a southern route Arabia-India-beyond but he disputes the coastal (beachcomber) route, as he has found many sites "inland". I insisted in the evidence of many sites in the Indian Western coast, suggestive of a coastal+Krishna river for the arrival to Jawalpuram (Narmada-Son-Ganges is the other route) but he dropped the conversation.

    "Is it compatible with your Neands admixture model in Levant ?"

    Why not? Anyhow I also consider other possible scenarios for this event, as happening in Iran or otherwise at the Persian Gulf area. Neanderthals were certainly in Iran at that time.

    "It seems that AMH adopted Musterian at some point in Levant, is this correct ?"

    Yes and this is one of the reasons I have to leave them somewhat apart in the migration process. I favor Arabia Peninsula, the Palestinian group would be a possibly related but also distinct group.

    "Is there any Musterian archeo-path from Levant to EA not associated with Neands ?"

    Besides Palestine, there's no Mousterian associated with AMHs. Of course there's a lot of Mousterian with no skeletal remains but there's also enough skeletal remains in West Asia speaking of a consolidated Neanderthal presence in all the Fertile Crescent. Also in Central Asia and of course in Europe.

    There's no Mousterian outside the Neanderthal area as far as I can tell, excepting maybe Egypt (not too sure of the details but so I have been told).

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  24. Hey, I just had a first quick read to your links and they are excellent materials. So thanks a lot for pointing me to them.

    The only one I had read before is Field's but I had lost the bookmark in some computer collapse.

    On first look I think they are all most important materials in relation with the migration OoA of Homo sapiens and that they do seem to support the coastal migration model, at least to some extent.

    I'm going to make a post with the links to these papers because I think they are really important materials. Thanks again.

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  25. Thanks again for your comments. I´m glad you liked the links. I think the Petraglia 2010 paper would be a nice complement of this list.

    1. Re your first and second coments: the methodological issues,

    --you said the "Propositions are true or false"...or we don't know"".
    That kind of logic exists as a subject of study and was called intuitionism in mathematics. Not in fashion anymore.
    --You also said, "In fact I'm of the opinion that propositions can be true and false".
    That logic also exists, it is called paraconsistency. Surprisingly enough, it has found some technological applications in computer science.
    Although i consider these models are worth of study, in real life and research i prefer to stick to the classical logic...

    --you said" So it's after all an stochastic process of sorts, with odds"
    I disagree on this. These peoples were sapiens, so they took decisions based or on some "paleo variant" of rational choice or deterministicaly forced by some climate or other kind of constraint. There is nothing random on this process. These deterministic constraints would have been the same, the Ooa process would had surelly hapened equally at every run.

    --Regarding historical sciences you said: “It's not rocket science, really, it is more like History, which is after all how we tell ourselves about the past, rather than how the past was exactly. Of course you can be more or less honest, more or less objective, more or less biased also in History but consensus is never achieved to the precision and absoluteness you seem to wish”.
    I consider History a science as any other, to which scientific methodology can be applied. The problem is that first, it studies singular processes of the past, second that frequently we lack of enough information so that to decide between competing theories, and third, some people consider that what hapened in the past is important for political decisions at present and therefore historical sciences are contamined by ideological issues. Nobody in politics cares (at present) if the orbits of the planets are elliptic or circular, but many historical issues make their entrance in politics. Sad, IMO

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  26. --you said, “We can just in the end evaluate the evidence in favor of each scenario” I agree completely with this methodological position. “and I see zero evidence in favor of the northern route” and “Anyhow, it seems to me that instead of discussing the facts as I described them or in whatever alternative way you understand it, you are now shielding behind appeal to authority, which is IMO scientific and philosophical cowardice”.

    It is perfectly possible that finaly, this northern scenario evaporates. At present my position is that i see the evidence for the southern route weak, so i think it is worth considering other alternatives. A northern one is plausible so i´m collecting evidence. So i´m not in the “discussion of the facts” phase yet. I´m just collecting facts. As i said i have no access to two important pieces (Oppenheimer 2009 and Patraglia 2010). The Oppenheimer paper i refer to is “The great arc of dispersal
    of modern humans: Africa to Australia”. I think he is a respectable scholar in this field,
    i like his approach (to take into account as much paleoclimatic, lithic, fossil, genetic evidence
    as possible) although his conclusions might not be always correct. Without reading this two late

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  27. papers it is impossible to discuss the facts.

    -- You said “All I ask is: look at the facts on your own and judge as dispassionately as you can”,I agree. I´m not of those who fall in love with their ideas: if the evidence for a southern route was overwhelming, i would recognise it without problems. As said, i´m collecting eveidence, and by the pieces i´ve read i still see it weak.

    Sorry for this methodological disgression but I consider methodological issues important in debates. As a rule i never engage in scientific discussions with people that does not accept that external evidence and inner coherence (under some logic system) are values, and that try to insert their religious (creationism) or political agendas (whatever) in scientific debates.

    2. Re your third comment, i found some incoherences. You can not think
    at the same time (pls note i´ve tried not to be demagogic in the selection, so that it reflects your real argument, if i´ve not been succesfull pls tell me):
    --"For me it is a very solid theory, that is how far we can go in science" and
    --"Agreed with Bailey's statement in any case. I concede primacy to archaeology, however in some areas the archaeological data is very weak, and genetics, properly used (without any MCH hunches, just the phylogeny) provide a structured pattern that no doubt reflects the spread of Humankind with great detail" but "It does not produce dates, not with any credibility". There is no C-14 of genetics, just a tree (or more precisely two trees). ". So genetic evidence alone is not enough. It is very dificult to distinguish recent from paleo movements.
    -- “The research on the southern route has just begun, before this past decade, and surely before the last four years” and “Some day in the future Asia will be as well documented as is Europe archaeologically but not yet, not at all”.
    How can it be rock solid if the reasearch of the most important piece of evidence, the archeological, has just started ? If solid enough, research would have stopped.

    3. Re your fourth comment. I find this the most valuable. I will answer about it as soon as i have time to study the whole evidence by myself. Btw, It is a pitty that Petraglia stoped conversation. Well, as i said my agenda is completely busy so answer will not come soon, and this time for good...

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  28. You seem to have a mathematical or classic logic formation, which is fine for those fields. But here we are dealing with much greater degrees of uncertainty. What's the solution of x+y=1? Lacking any other data, the only valid answer is we do not know.

    I do not care if it's fashionable or not: it is what happens when do not have enough information. Even artificial intelligence has to be configured with likelihood parameters instead of absolute black/white answers because this is real life and it's not just multicolor but there's a whole range of invisible light as well.

    When we talk prehistory we just cannot give absolutist answers but qualified opinions.

    "There is nothing random on this process".

    Of course it's random because you cannot measure each single decision, even if all were perfectly rational, what, knowing humans, surely was not the case often.

    But that was not my point: my point is that we cannot describe the events with the detail you seem to desire because, simply put, we do not have nor will probably ever have enough information. So there is uncertainty in evaluating what actually happened and you can estimate probabilities for each possible alternative history.

    In this sense I think that, based on the available archaeological and genetic data, the likelihood of the northern route is extremely low. So low that it's not really too distinct from zero but I acknowledge anyhow that there is a very small probability of it being true.

    If you prefer to call this a "false" it's up to you but that's not the way I think.

    For example I can estimate that the likelihood of an ill-known ancestor from mine being Basque or NW Iberian is maybe 40% and 50% respectively but I can estimate that the odds of that ancestor being Norwegian or Ethiopian are almost zero. Totally zero? No, I just do not have enough information about him to totally discard such possibility, even if most unlikely.

    "The problem is that (...) frequently we lack of enough information so that to decide between competing theories"...

    Exactly my caveat. We have to judge and, in order to do that as objectively as possible, we evaluate on light of the available data the likelihood of each option. We can then reasonably discard those options that have very low likelihoods but it becomes undetermined (multiple solutions) when the likelihoods are higher for more than one option.

    Another problem is our biases, which definitely weight, even when we try to be objective and purely rational. After all the likelihood we ultimately give to this or that option is a subjective evaluation - because it's real people doing the analysis (and would be a machine it'd also have biases in its program or memory bank anyhow). Only a supposedly perfect and omniscient being could discern with pure objectivity - but that is out of our reality, and we better assume our limitations.

    "... many historical issues make their entrance in politics. Sad, IMO".

    Agreed but it's a fact of life and the best we can do is to stay vigilant against such biases and be critical with others and ourselves in order to minimize this problem.

    I often find people who'd like things to be this or that way and put the cart before the horses (the conclusion before the analysis and the raw data), what is quite cumbersome but happens a lot. I try to be beyond such biases but I am human like everybody else so I cannot be totally certain of irrational biases and prejudices clouding my understanding. If I want to be able to denounce others for their biases, if I see them, I must also be open to receive such criticisms.

    People is not as rational as you seem to believe. Even those who try hard are sometimes mislead by their (our) preconceptions and partial ignorance.

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  29. "So, it seems there was more than one out of Africa expansion".

    Two migrations to New Guinea does not require two migrations from Africa.

    "we know of no other populations of H. sapiens using Mousterian"

    The author (Petraglia) of the link in your more recent post on the expansion into India suggests we be very cautious in making the connection between European-style Upper Paleolithic and the presence of H. sapiens. Tools do not indicate who made them, and in India the Upper Paleolithic tool kit does not appear until after H. sapiens must have been present for some time.

    "Any archeological evidence against this northern route ?"

    No. Although I know Maju will disagree.

    "Your proposal of a migration through the North Caucasus"

    I don't see any mention of the North Caucasus in his suggestion.

    "In general the 'northern route' was 'blocked' by Neanderthal presence in Syria, Iraq, Iran, the Caucasus and Central Asia up to Altai and maybe even beyond".

    But according to the Petraglia Indian link I mentioned above India too was 'blocked' by one (or more) non-sapiens species.

    "It is not that i think the southern / tropical route is wrong, but i do not consider the evidence completely convincing, so i think it is worth to consider alternatives".

    Agree. And both the male and female haplogroups divide into two groups. All four must have shared some geographic region with each other when they first emerged from Africa, and before they diverged.

    "people who have been educated in one paradigm tend to remain attached to it, even when the evidence is so strong against it".

    Also very true.

    "Anyhow I am critical of many people because I look at the data first and only then I draw conclusions".

    So do I.

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  30. Sorry. It's the Field et al link concerning India. Petraglia is co-author.

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  31. "The author (...) suggests we be very cautious in making the connection between European-style Upper Paleolithic and the presence of H. sapiens. Tools do not indicate who made them"...

    Of course we must be somewhat cautious but, as long as we lack of skeletal remains that can be identified we are bound to do some logical guesswork, assuming the inherent risks.

    "... and in India the Upper Paleolithic tool kit does not appear until after H. sapiens must have been present for some time".

    According to this Synopsis of the Paleolithic of India (2007), the earliest stone blades ever are dated to 103 Ka (100-150 Ka) in India, specifically at the site of Patpara, Middle Son Valley. AFAIK there is no older (dated) mode 4 tech anywhere on Earth. It might indicate presence of H. sapiens already or it might have been done by some other unknown hominin.

    I'm not sure how solid the connection may be but it is interesting that there seems to be already some geographical structure between a Northern blade tech area (Thar desert, Maharastra, Son valley) and a Southern flake/cobble tech one (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu) in the "Middle Paleolithic" of India, which reminds somewhat of the "Upper Paleolithic" techs we find in SE Asia (flakes & cobbles) and West Eurasia (blades). Very tentative but suggestive too (I had not realized before).

    "India too was 'blocked' by one (or more) non-sapiens species".

    I understand that H. erectus was not nearly as fearsome nor intelligent as Neanderthals. They would have been no big deal (not counting possible extinction triggered by Toba). Neanderthals instead surely posed a bigger problem (strong and intelligent).

    "And both the male and female haplogroups divide into two groups. All four must have shared some geographic region with each other when they first emerged from Africa, and before they diverged".

    MtDNA L3 lines evolving into M and N were already distinct since the L3 node, which is clearly located in Africa, even if probably near the Red Sea. Y-DNA CF surely emerged as such (not yet as C and F) from Africa. We have discussed Y-DNA DE (and D and E) extensively elsewhere.

    So this you say is unwarranted. And again sloppy in the characterization of the haplogroups as some sort of instantaneous switches off/on instead of somewhat long stems coalescing into a nodal point where an expansion (multifurcation) defines the new haplogroup as such GROUP of sublineages. There was no M before all three mutations leading to M accumulated, it was a minor branch of L3 (call it pre-M if you wish but not M).

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  32. “What's the solution of x+y=1?”.
    Not a good example to make your point. This is an indeterminate equation. Its solution depends on the system of numbers over which you want a solution. It has no solution over the naturals (without zero), infinite solutions over the integer or reals.

    I disagree with some of your ontological and epistemological positions.

    “So there is uncertainty in evaluating what actually happened and you can estimate probabilities for each possible alternative history”

    Ontologicaly wrong.

    What happened in the past happened in some unique way, due to some deterministic reason (environement constraint or whatever)or to some rational choice or some random choice. It is not that i deny that randomness has some role in human decisions, but only a subsidiary one, in order to break symmetry when symmetric options. I do not think past environment was so symmetric as to allow our ancestors to use this subsidiary method in many ocasions. Therefore the process of dispertion was not random, and it does not make any sense to “estimate probabilities for each possible alternative history”. But we can ponder the evidence for each route. But take confort, you are not alone misusing the concept of probabilities. I can count scientists that does the same by thousands...

    “People is not as rational as you seem to believe”.

    Ontologicaly wrong again.

    I do not wake up at a random hour, decide randomly if stay in bed or not, etc...do you ?. People acts according to reasons (therefore rationaly). Usually the process of reason include risks assesment, costs computation, logical consistency and consequences of action(benefits, responsability). Dumb individuals exist in each generation, but they follow the leader, more in past societies. Again it is not that i deny the existence of randomness or accident in science. But precisely, the purpose of science is to help us to tell apart the physical, biological, psicological or sociological invariant properties and events from the accidental or random.

    As for the epistemological issues, some singular past events let footprint so that we have some information (evidence) about them, and some not. Not enough footprints make much difficult to stablish what happened in the past but does not change it. In some cases this lack of footprints fuels fantasy, the origin of fiction. But fantasy is not the only option. My position in this cases is to say: until more evidence is avalaible, we can not decide which is the correct interpretation or model, and stop the discussion.

    Regarding all this matters, I suggest you the following book: “Chasing reality: strife over realism”, author, Bunge. I´m sorry that due of lack of time i could not advance in collecting evidence for our discussion, but I´m reading with interest your debate with TerryT (BTW, Hi terryT!)

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  33. "Not a good example to make your point. This is an indeterminate equation".

    Not sure if the example is ideal but what actually an indeterminate equation or system of equations describe is uncertainty in the solutions. In maths there may be infinite possible solutions but in prehistory there is surely only one real solution, even if the uncertainty is the same for us.

    "I disagree with some of your ontological and epistemological positions".

    Fair enough, we can agree to disagree.

    "What happened in the past happened in some unique way"...

    Yes.

    "... due to some deterministic reason"...

    No. What do you know of Chaos Theory? Uncertainty is a rule also in the macrocosm, determinism can only be reasoned a posteriori. Of course constrains exist but the solutions to such constraints are potentially many, including those solutions that are actually failures. Not all the gnus who wade the Mara river make it, some fail, often for absolutely irrational reasons such as panic. Humans may be somewhat more rational but not infinitely more for sure.

    "It is not that i deny that randomness has some role in human decisions, but only a subsidiary one, in order to break symmetry when symmetric options".

    No. Sometimes you choose the wrong option. Or more commonly it's not easy to evaluate the best option. Some people are more impulsive, others more prudent; some are more intelligent, others dumber. In any given problem, different people or groups of people will choose different options, and very few will indeed choose the optimal one provided sufficient complexity for the problem (realism) and that there is indeed an optimal solution.

    When you play a game first time you commit errors often, with experience you can replay and avoid some of those errors, surely not all. But in real life there are no replays.

    "Therefore the process of dispertion was not random, and it does not make any sense to “estimate probabilities for each possible alternative history”".

    I think you misunderstand me in this aspect. I did not evaluate probabilities before events (which of course existed but only in the past and is not for me to consider) I was evaluating probabilities of the likelihood of hypothetical past histories being real on light of the available data (present time).

    "I do not wake up at a random hour, decide randomly if stay in bed or not, etc...do you ?"

    Yes, I do. Sometimes I am compelled by external factors like social and economic obligations, but when these are not at play, for sure I let my body chose. Call it hedonism or whatever but randomness affects me and certainly affects my sleep patterns.

    I do not plan everything. Only as much as needed and often not as well as desired. And I am sure you do not either, even a robot would be subject to certain randomness, as it may be subject to a rigid program but cannot control its environment, which would randomly push the robot to do this or that according to whatever the program stipulates for each condition.

    "Usually the process of reason include risks assesment, costs computation, logical consistency and consequences of action(benefits, responsability)".

    This is simply laughable. You seem to know nothing about humankind, not even about yourself. Get real, observe people and try to find out if their behavior responds to your rationalist expectations, not now and them but all the time. It does not for sure.

    ...

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  34. ...

    "Not enough footprints make much difficult to stablish what happened in the past but does not change it".

    Agreed here. But you can describe the uncertainty of what really happened in terms of probabilities. Only one is the real past event but, as we do not know, it's a Schrodinger's cat case, where the cat is, so to say, dead and alive at the same time. Or more exactly there is 50% chance of it being dead or alive... and until you open the box, i.e. until you get the definitive evidence, you can't know.

    It's not that scientists use probabilities wrongly, it's that you have an unduly deterministic notion that rejects that concept. But that's your problem, you should first check with reality which should be the first thing to do when you are a hyper-rationalist who has a theory.

    "My position in this cases is to say: until more evidence is avalaible, we can not decide which is the correct interpretation or model, and stop the discussion".

    But in that case you cannot ever be reasonably certain of anything. There is always the chance, even if small, that something we "know" is wrong: evidence may have been falsified in a Piltdow Man case (which mislead some of the best minds on human origins for decades) or someone committed an error (yes, people commit silly errors all the time, though they tend to be canceled by introspective or socialized correction or, in the worst cases, total failure such as death).

    A friend of mine, a very clever guy, argued that all history before 1968 was false. That the universe was created magically at our birth. Ok, he was half-joking, but he had a point: how can we know that anything that happened earlier is true if we could not witness it? What they tell about Napoleon may have the same validity as what they say of Yaveh or Neptune. Of course, we have stronger evidence for Napoleon but still it requires some good critical evaluation.

    Another friend of mine similarly argued that if you did not know anyone from some place, like say Cochabamba, or had been there personally, that pace may not actually exist. Again it's a joke but illustrates serious limitations to what we may know and forces us to consider what weight has the evidence directing us to this or that certainty - and therefore the relativity of certainty, which can be measured in terms of likelihood.

    In the end it's the same as atheist logic: just because some people say so it does not need to be true. What do you know directly or solidly enough to support this or that belief/certainty?

    Question everything. That I know. And you have to question your own hyper-rationalist deterministic theory, as reality is not that way. This I write for instance, I am not rationalizing it in any way: it's quasi-instinctive, automatic, yet deeply rational because I have considered all that at some point somehow. But right now I just let my brain and fingers do it and yet I will re-read it later and will make perfect sense (ok, I may spot an error or inconsistency or think of better words maybe but still most of it will make total sense, surprisingly enough).

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