June 30, 2011

Asian Homo erectus in the spotlight

Two recent news conspire to claim that the affinity with us of Asian Homo erectus was less like us than we used to think.


Beijing brain

Sinathropus pekinensis
On one side the so-called Peking Man, Sinanthropus or Homo erectus pekinensis (right), one of the most representative fossils of the species, has seen its brain throughly researched and the researchers conclude that:
Compared with modern humans, Peking man’s brain casts have small brain size, low height and low position of the greatest breadth, flat frontal and parietal lobes, depressed Sylvian areas, strong posterior projection of the occipital lobes, anterior positioning of the cerebellar lobes relative to the occipital lobes, and relative simplicity of the meningeal vessels.
(...)
The anatomical structures of Peking man’s brain maybe differs from the modern human, suggesting that Peking man had no ability to communicate with each other in the form of language.

Open to interpretation, I guess. Remember that chimpanzees have to at least some extent a language-ready brain, it may not be as simple.

Source: PhysOrg (via Archaeology in Europe).


Java terrace's datings

On the other hand there are new datings of the river trench where the remnants of Homo erectus soloensis (aka Ngandong man) have been found.

Previous measures (Swisser 1996) produced dates of 25-57 Ka ago on bovid bones collected near the human specimens. However this new paper dates certain geological features (pumices) of the terraces that the authors consider a more reliable reference. These produce dates that are internally inconsistent (c. 546 Ka with the argon method and c. 143 Ka with the ESR/uranium one) but clearly older than the ones of Swisser.

Again open to interpretation and debate, I'd say.

E. Indriati, The Age of the 20 Meter Solo River Terrace, Java, Indonesia and the Survival of Homo erectus in Asia. PLoS ONE 2011. Open access.

Found via Dienekes.

Fig. 2, showing the H. erectus finding sites and the pumice now dated

60 comments:

  1. Greetings Maju!!

    I do not understand technical issues, but I believe that homo erectus was a good hunter and a highly intelligent human being not to have language, I can not believe this.

    I believe in the transmission of technology, strategies for hunting and fishing, as in the case of Gesher Benot, through some form of language.

    On the timing of the extinction of this species seems to me a very big difference in relation to what we knew before, it seems strange.

    thanks for the info!!

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  2. The redated Homo Erectus bones in the cites study are one of only three sets from the Middle Paleolithic in all of Asia according to Wikipedias (admittedly possibly flawed) list. (excluding Australia's Mungo man which is Homo Sapien).

    The other two are: "Ngandong 7 - 250kya Homo heidelbergensis or Homo erectus, 1931, Indonesia, C. ter Haar and G. H. R. von Koenigswald" and "Dali (fossil)- 209kya Homo heidelbergensis or Homo sapiens, 1978 China, Shuntang Liu"

    There are a number of Asian hominin fossils from before the Middle Paleolithic, all Homo Erectus. In addition to Peking Man, there are four Indonesian Homo Erectus from 700kya to more than 1,000kya, and one other Homo Erectus from China: "Hexian 500 - 400kya, Homo erectus 1980 China"

    There also aren't many Upper Paleolithic remains that aren't modern human in Asia. There is "LB 1 (Hobbit) 18k Homo floresiensis or Homo erectus or ? 2003 Indonesia, Peter Brown" and that is it.

    Dali, Peking Man, and Hexian are the only pre-Homo Sapien hominin fossils they note for all of mainland Asia for all time, and the other seven archaic human remains are in Indonesia (six at three sites on the island of Java and one on the island of Flores).

    Given that Denisovian DNA is disproportionately Melanesian, and that there are only three mainland Asian archaic humans, all three of which predate the most widely accepted dates for modern human arrival, two of which probably predate even Neanderthal emergence from Africa and the other of which might even be a very early modern human, one wonders if Homo Erectus might have been confined to relict populations on islands by the time that modern humans (and perhaps even Neanderthals) appeared with the Papuan relict group being admixed into the modern human popuation to the extent not killed off and ceasing to exist as a separate species.

    Also apparently, there have been no archaic human remains found anywhere in Asia (except Flores) since 1980. Two of the three Chinese finds were within a couple of years of each other, one of the Indonesian finds was 19th century, and all but one of the Java finds was pre-WWII (with the last one in 1969 being made at the same site as most of the other Indonesian finds).

    Maybe there is just far too little research being done and a lot of undiscovered archaic homo remains out there to be found in Asia.

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  3. @David: As you can probably infer from the tone I used I am somewhat skeptical of what the authors claim, yet it is interesting information.

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  4. I consider what the evidence that we do have suggests about the likelihood that there are other as yet undiscovered hominin populations that made major contributions to the modern human genome at my new science blog.

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  5. Glad about your new blog, however I think we lack of any evidence to claim that H. erectus went extinct in East Asia and was replaced by anything else. Between H. erectus and H. sapiens there is just nothing and everything else is speculations.

    Also Denisovan mtDNA quite clearly should belong to the first OoA of H. erectus/georgicus with chopper industries, because Neanderthal must have evolved from the second OoA peoples (H. ergaster/antecessor) with Acheulean.

    That is what we know and everything else is speculation unless proven somehow.

    The only thing that is not speculation is the Denisova fingers with their nuclear but not mitochondrial affinity with Neanderthals. A very distant affinity as may correspond to a hybrid.

    And interestingly the Hathnora hominid in South Asia. IMO it should be derived from H. ergaster and H. heidelbergensis as Neanderthals, in other words: a South Asian "Neanderthal" without Mousterian, with Acheulean all the time (see: Synopsis of Paleo-India)

    The Hathnora hominin is intriguing and offers a third way between Western Neanderthals and Eastern Erectus, there is where the room for speculation is... unless new evidence is found.

    Remember that H. floresiensis (probably a variant of H. erectus) survived in those islands until very recently in time.

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  6. "I believe that homo erectus was a good hunter and a highly intelligent human being not to have language, I can not believe this".

    It's not at all impossible that the Home genus lacked language when it first emerged from Africa. Language, like most things, would surely have evolved gradually as a series of mutations spread through the population. Perhaps the modern haplogroups represent not much more than the spread of more efficient language.

    "one wonders if Homo Erectus might have been confined to relict populations on islands by the time that modern humans"

    I suspect that could be so. And possibly some H. sapiens populations that eventually made it onto some SE Asian islands had become extinct on those islands by the time the next lot arrived.

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  7. Note that in 2004 David Reed from U of Florida published genetic data from head lice suggesting that Native Americans acquired a strain of lice from archaic humans in Asia. Most theories of the origin of Native Americans do not involve a passage through Indonesia or PNG. I suspect that archaic Homo was well distributed in Asia, although professional paleontologists may not be.

    Lousy Paper

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  8. We cannot discard that their ancestors went through Indonesia at some point, not Wallacea surely but maybe the Sundaland peninsula. This applies to both the dominant/mtDNA East Asian ancestry pool as for the secondary/Y-DNA West Asian one.

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  9. Maju, Certainly mitochondrial haplogroup B went into Sunda ... But, Reed did sample head lice from PNG and Philippines, and they were not the archaic type.

    (ok, maybe he didn't test the right valley in PNG, or the right guy's head)

    Still, I am thinking the ancestors of Native Americans picked up the archaic head lice maybe with the Q haplogroup Y lineage, or mitochondrial A.C,D, somewhere in central Siberia? That was where our Denisovan friend was after all.

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  10. It's possible but not at all certain. Do we have evidence from anywhere in Siberia? If we could find the same strain of lice in Eurasia, then we could speculate a bit more seriously about its origin.

    And let's not forget that the only people known to have any "Denisovan" admixture are so far Melanesians (both Papuans and island Melanesians). So, if anywhere, we'd expect to find "Denisovan" head lice in Melanesia, not America.

    I wouldn't jump to any conclusions with the data we have: it could well be Neanderthal, Hathnora or some other population's head lice.

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  11. "H. floresiensis (probably a variant of H. erectus) survived in those islands until very recently in time."

    Perhaps the Wallace line was a barrier to whatever or whomever killed H. erectus.

    Setting aside the lack of evidence possibly due to weak funding for archaeology in mainland Asia, the lack of any evidence for H. erectus in Java for several hundred thousand years before humans show up in a place where we know that they were there at some point and where we know that archaeologists who are funded have been looking around in earnest and not finding anything is really striking. Why are there 100,000 year old caves or riverbank strata in Java that reveal some hominin presence in that huge gap period?

    The Toba theory would make sense if there had been sporadic evidence of H. erectus from the fossil finds we have, until then, but there just aren't fossils in that gap, and lots of other large animals in the same locations that H. erectus should have been located in, which would have had similar effective populations, do appear sporadically in the fossil records of those places. The fossil footprint of archaic hominins wasn't that light in Africa, why should it be so light in Asia?

    If Toba killed of H. erectus, how did other Indonesian megafauna like big cats and monkeys and elephants survive that erruption?

    Was there something in the paleoclimate that hasn't been discovered yet that led to the start of the Middle Paleolithic that hit H. erectus extremely hard everywhere except Africa and a few Indonesian islands (or perhaps in Africa as well, but the hominin population was larger and more diverse in Africa so it could survive there)?

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  12. "... the lack of any evidence for H. erectus in Java for several hundred thousand years before humans show up"...

    We also lack of evidence of "human" (modern human) presence in Java (and all Indonesia AFAIK) until the Holocene.

    As for the rest, if you read the paper one of the issues that caused doubts on the earlier claimed age of "soloensis" was that it was found with archaic fauna like the stegodon (but stegodon survived in Flores again, so...)

    Something we might want to consider is that the pumice used to date the findings now imply a volcanic episode (pumice is a volcanic rock, and a cool one as it floats on water, btw). No idea of its dimensions but it is one before Toba in any case.

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  13. "Was there something in the paleoclimate that hasn't been discovered yet that led to the start of the Middle Paleolithic that hit H. erectus extremely hard everywhere except Africa and a few Indonesian islands"

    Much of Southeast Asia is tropical rainforest, which is far from desirable human habitat. Perhaps that is the explanation.

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  14. So is the case with Papua or the Congo basin and we all agree that it was inhabited. What you say is highly conjectural and, I understand, the mummified horse corpse you bring everywhere around with you for a good daily beating.

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  15. The Highlands of Papua were much more heavily populated than were the densely forested lowlands. And the Pygmies may be relatively recent arrivals in the Central African rainforest. Their languages are the same as those of neighbouring groups, either borrowed recently or the people themselves are recently descended from groups outside the rainforest.

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  16. While it's true that even today the Highlands are more populated than other areas, today Java is also extremely densely populated, much more than anywhere in Papua. So irrelevant because we will only have info on recent post-Neolithic data and in that Java will always be much more densely populated than Papua.

    "... the Pygmies may be relatively recent arrivals in the Central African rainforest".

    I am not of that opinion: they seem to be quite specialized even in phenotype and also the geography of their lineages is suggestive of early presence in the jungle.

    Their languages are irrelevant because languages are learned not inherited in the egg. Please!

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  17. "today Java is also extremely densely populated"

    By farming people. There is no evidence it was densely populated in the Paleolithic. Regarding the New Guinea highlands:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Guinea_Highlands

    Quote:

    "The PNG Highland provinces are: Eastern Highlands Province, the most heavily populated area of PNG ..."

    "Their languages are irrelevant because languages are learned not inherited in the egg. Please!"

    But it is extremely strange that there is no evidence of any substrate in any Pygmy languages.

    "I am not of that opinion: they seem to be quite specialized even in phenotype"

    As are the East Asians, yet you have argued that their phenotype is a recent development.

    "and also the geography of their lineages is suggestive of early presence in the jungle".

    Given the difficulties with mutation rates, on the contrary your own diagrams showed their oldest lineage, L1c, is shared with non-Pygmy populations until at least the 31 mutation level. That is quite some time after any OoA movement, which you placed at the 23 mutation level. It is extremely difficult to argue that humans are long-standing inhabitants of tropical jungle. Pygmies:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_peoples

    Quote:

    "no group lives deep in the forest without access to agricultural products"

    Sounds as though they don't live too far into the jungle. And your own blog on the subject:

    http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2010/11/eastern-pygmies-are-not-l1.html

    "Demographic inferences based on Bayesian coalescent simulations point to an early split among the maternal ancestors of Pygmies and those of Bantu-speaking farmers (∼70,000 ya, years ago)".

    But that statement in the abstract is not really supported by the evidence because they later add:

    "the effective population size of the ancestors of Pygmies remained constant over time and ∼27,000 ya, coincident with the Last Glacial Maximum, Eastern and Western Pygmies diverged"

    But earlier:

    "No sharing of maternal lineages was observed between the two Pygmy groups, with haplogroup L1c being characteristic of the Western group, but most of Eastern Pygmy lineages falling into sub-clades of L0a, L2a and L5".

    So the two groups do not have a common origin at all. The 27,000 year date is likely to be the time when the two groups moved independently into the jungle.

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  18. Re. Papua: I already told you that NOW in POST-NEOLITHIC TIMES it the Highlands are indeed more populated. But that's even more true for Java. So who cares about what happens NOW in POST-NEOLITHIC TIMES? Remember that today's Papuans are agriculturalists, just like Javanese.

    Re. Pygmy languages: how do you know that there is "no evidence of any substrate". I presume that before you opened your mouth on that matter you made some documentation effort. Care to share?

    "... you have argued that their phenotype is a recent development"...

    Not quite. But I do not want to divert the debate at this point. Phenotype or not phenotype, their genetics are quite different too, so they have been diverging on their own for a long long time, almost since the origins of Humankind.

    "they don't live too far into the jungle"...

    They do: map. The Twa and Cwa ethnicities are found at opposite extremes of the RD Congo for example, what means that they move(d) through the jungle a lot. Why don't you document before making claims? You make me waste a lot of time. If you think I am your secretary or something, you'd better start sending a salary here, ok?

    I am not going to debate molecular clock age speculations on Pygmies. IMO L1c is at least 90 Ka old. Granted that it's not 100% Pygmy but I estimate that it coalesced near Gabon and that West Pigmy specific lineages are from at least 45 Ka ago.

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  19. "They do: map. The Twa and Cwa ethnicities are found at opposite extremes of the RD Congo for example, what means that they move(d) through the jungle a lot. Why don't you document before making claims?"

    Why don't you check your facts before rushing into print? Here's a map of the forest in Central Africa:

    http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u238/biopact2/biopact_rainforest_central_africa.jpg?t=1181313412

    If you can be bothered comparing the map you linked to with this one you will see that the Pygmies (apart, perhaps, from some of the western populations) do tend to be found around the edge of the Congo Basin rainforest. So the comment in the Wiki link is correct:

    "no group lives deep in the forest without access to agricultural products"

    They certainly don't live in the lowland regions within the rainforest.

    "Remember that today's Papuans are agriculturalists, just like Javanese".

    To claim any sort of close similarity between Papuan and Javan agriculture exposes your lack of knowledge of the region.

    "Not quite. But I do not want to divert the debate at this point. Phenotype or not phenotype, their genetics are quite different too, so they have been diverging on their own for a long long time, almost since the origins of Humankind".

    The same claim, based on similar evidence, suggests that East Asians and Caucasians have been diverging for a similarly long, long time. Especially when we consider that virtually everyone who is prepared to concede regional varieties of human populations lumps all Africans together, yet they are universally preparedf to separate the remainder of humanity into Caucasian, Australoid and Mongolid. Some even claim a separate Dravidoid group. Personally I do see two African groups: a West African and a combined East and South African population. The Pygmy genetic evidence tends to support such a division, as the Pygmies appear to separate into two basic populations, each connected to one of the above divisions.

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  20. "no group lives deep in the forest without access to agricultural products"

    Where's that quote from? Indeed in the last many centuries, the various Pygmy groups were made dependent (even formally slaves in some cases) by the Bantus. These gave them alcohol and some treats in exchange for hard labor. But the center of the Pygmy economy was all the time the forest, where they live as hunter-gatherers.

    "To claim any sort of close similarity between Papuan and Javan agriculture exposes your lack of knowledge of the region".

    To make they appear essentially different highlights your lack of knowledge of what means being farmer and what means being hunter-gatherer: Pygmies and Negritos are traditionally hunter-gatherers, Papuans are traditionally farmers, like Javans or Europeans. Besides much of the Papuan jungle is a mere tree plantation: sago, sago and more sago, all incorporated by Papuans along the generations, the same that here has been done with the black pine and the eucalyptus.

    There is a key divide between these two ways of life: one is natural, the other artificial. In one, we are as we used to be, as Mother Nature made us, dwelling in it and using it as it is, without any substantial change. In the other, we proclaim biblically our alleged superiority over the Natural realm and we drive the World crazy by trying to make it serve us beyond what it can bear.

    It works for some time... but enslaving Mother Nature also has consequences, among others the burden of hard labor (causing slavery and exploitation), the burden of land property (causing accumulation and exploitation) and the burden of brutal demographic growth causing a environmental degradation in successive bursts until the point we suffer today.

    If you compare the violent machista superstitious Papuan society with the rather non-violent, rather egalitarian, pantheist non-superstitious Pygmy (or other HG) society, you can see the abyss that Neolithic implies for human dignity and well being. And I do not have to go to Pharaonic Egypt or to Monsanto's pesticides... Papuans are already enough warning, even if they are somewhat "primitive" within Neolithic parameters.

    "Some even claim a separate Dravidoid group. Personally I do see two African groups: a West African and a combined East and South African population".

    There may be something to that but I must warn about excessive conclusions from the use of autosomal clustering methods. These probably can only discern Holocene distinctions at the best. The depths must be explored via haploid structure: there's no other mean.

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  21. "Where's that quote from?"

    From the Wiki link concerning Pygmies I provided a few days ago:

    'http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_peoples

    "But the center of the Pygmy economy was all the time the forest, where they live as hunter-gatherers".

    But almost certainly part of their original habitat included regions that were not heavily forested. Presumably they lived on the particularly productive margin between savanah and forest, although perhaps primarily deeper in the forest than did neighbouring groups.

    "the various Pygmy groups were made dependent (even formally slaves in some cases) by the Bantus".

    Yet more evidence that they did not live particularly deep into the forest, otherwise the Bantu would never have made contact with them.

    "The Twa and Cwa ethnicities are found at opposite extremes of the RD Congo for example, what means that they move(d) through the jungle a lot".

    Doesn't really prove 'they move(d) through the jungle a lot'. In fact I'd bet that the Bantu expansion divided the Twa and Cwa into the two widely separated groups we see today.

    "To make they appear essentially different highlights your lack of knowledge of what means being farmer and what means being hunter-gatherer"

    The division between the two is nowhere near as abrupt as you imagine. Most Papuan groups are also hunter-gatherers as well as being farmers.

    "Besides much of the Papuan jungle is a mere tree plantation"

    Incorrect. Much of it is still uninhabited forest. in fact a suprising number of previously unknown species have been discovered in the last few years. I'd better add that many were unknown by the nearest Papuans also.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2011/jun/26/wwf-animal-research

    http://www.wwf.org.uk/wwf_articles.cfm?unewsid=5043

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  22. So according to you big Bantus do live in the jungle and Pygmies do not. That's a curious way of seeing things.

    The jungle of Papua was severely deforested for what I have read upon Neolithic... and then replaced largely by sago. Neither of your links says otherwise.

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  23. "The jungle of Papua was severely deforested for what I have read upon Neolithic... and then replaced largely by sago".

    Nothing I've ever read makes that claim.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sago

    Quote:

    "It is a major staple food for the lowland peoples of New Guinea"

    Note: 'lowland'. And:

    "The sago palm, metroxylon sagu, is found in tropical lowland forest and freshwater swamps across Southeast Asia and New Guinea and is the primary source of sago".

    Hardly likely to have been planted throughout New Guinea. And if New Guinea had been deforested in the Neolithic it is difficult to imagine how such creatures as tree kangaroos could have survived.

    "So according to you big Bantus do live in the jungle and Pygmies do not. That's a curious way of seeing things".

    Only for you because you are not thinking clearly. The Bantu are farming people, praticing slash and burn agriculture. They are able to move into any area of the forest readily burned off so cannot properly be called 'forest-dwelling'. The pygmies live in the forest but near the margin of more open country.

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  24. "There may be something to that but I must warn about excessive conclusions from the use of autosomal clustering methods. These probably can only discern Holocene distinctions at the best. The depths must be explored via haploid structure: there's no other mean".

    It's very interesting to do so, and I'd like to follow up on the Pygmy haplogroup evidence of two separate origins. It may illuminate the early human expansion.

    Granted the limited data from Africa and the shaky nature if the molecular clock your old, and still extremely useful, diagrams now make complete sense, especially if we accept the Pygmies' apparent dislike of the deepest regions of the Congo River Basin tropical rainforest.

    To me the L(xM,N) haplogroup evidence now shows that L0 and L1 simply developed at opposite ends of a cline. L0 spread south along the habitable forest margin of the Congo rainforest, L0d reaching southern Africa by 9 mutations. L1 spread west along the habitable forest margin north of the Congo rainforest, reaching as far west as Cameroon/Gabon. From there the Western Pygmy L1c clades eventually ventured deeper into the rainforest, but almost certainly not before M and N had emerged into Eurasia: at 23 mutations. Possibly much later: at 30 mutations.

    The middle of the cline had continued being a source for expansion as humans had also begun venturing deeper into the grasslands. L5 had ventured to Ethiopia and Egypt by 13 mutations. L6 also finished up somewhere around there, as did L4. But members of L2 look to have spread west along the forest margin all the way to the Atlantic by the time L3 expanded right through the African grassland, west central and south.

    The need, or the wish, for the eastern Pygmies' ancestors to venture deeper into the rainforest did not happen until long after M and N had departed Africa. At about 30 mutations for L2a2 and L0a2b, but not until 40 mutations in the case of L5a1c.

    So the human population that left Africa is unlikely to have been too keen to occupy deep forest, or adapted to easily do so.

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  25. "There is a key divide between these two ways of life: one is natural, the other artificial. In one, we are as we used to be, as Mother Nature made us, dwelling in it and using it as it is, without any substantial change. In the other, we proclaim biblically our alleged superiority over the Natural realm and we drive the World crazy by trying to make it serve us beyond what it can bear".

    I see why you are so opposed to the idea that pre-Neolithic people could have been resposible for any extinctions. You have an idealised view of the Paleolithic.

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  26. "You have an idealised view of the Paleolithic".

    I see the differences between hunter-gatherers and farmers, while for you the (unreal) divide is between "primitive" and "civilized". Hunter-gatherers, specially those less influenced by farmers, live in certain ways (primitive communism) that we can't but consider the natural way of life of Humankind.

    This primitive communism sometimes extend into certain Neolithic groups but normally not: property, patriarchy, war, etc. typically have already taken their toll.

    [Sago] "Hardly likely to have been planted throughout New Guinea".

    You may want to read this paper. New Guinea is and has been for millennia a plantation forest... a sustainable one however.

    "And if New Guinea had been deforested in the Neolithic..."

    I could not yet find documentation of the widespread deforestation I read about in the past - disregard, please.

    "L0 and L1 simply developed at opposite ends of a cline".

    My estimates are Uganda (Lake Victoria? Serengeti?) and Central Africa (Lake Chad?) respectively, with South Sudan/Ethiopia acting as pivot point and center for the coalescence of L2"6 and derivates.

    But there's always an element of blurriness, uncertainty.

    "So the human population that left Africa is unlikely to have been too keen to occupy deep forest, or adapted to easily do so".

    I think that you place unnecessary constraints on our species: look around you and see how humans adapt to so many different environments and ingeniously create new forms of exploiting in diverse environments... how could not they do the same 100,000 years ago? Sure they did! That's one of the reasons why we are here now: because we and our ancestors creatively adapted to so many different circumstances.

    Forest, coast, mountain and indeed savanna... all them and possibly other environments I have not even considered, were the lives of our ancestors.

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  27. Thanks for the link. Very interesting account of the development of agriculture.

    "I see the differences between hunter-gatherers and farmers, while for you the (unreal) divide is between 'primitive' and 'civilized'. Hunter-gatherers, specially those less influenced by farmers, live in certain ways (primitive communism) that we can't but consider the natural way of life of Humankind".

    Our disagreement is on the abruptness of that change. From the link:

    "The subsistence practices of many communities in the region that Van Steenis calls Malesia (the Celebes, Moluccas and New Guinea) cannot be positioned unambiguously along a typological spectrum between hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists".

    So, exactly as I said, 'The division between the two is nowhere near as abrupt as you imagine. Most Papuan groups are also hunter-gatherers as well as being farmers'.

    "New Guinea is and has been for millennia a plantation forest... a sustainable one however".

    The link specifically claims just the Sepik-Ramu coast for that distinction. Nowhere can I find any claim that sago was cultivated inland.

    "My estimates are Uganda (Lake Victoria? Serengeti?) and Central Africa (Lake Chad?) respectively, with South Sudan/Ethiopia acting as pivot point and center for the coalescence of L2"6 and derivates".

    Quite possible. But I see the expansion as originally occurring along the margin between forest and savannah. Just some groups eventually managed to move further into the forest and further onto the grassland.

    "I think that you place unnecessary constraints on our species: look around you and see how humans adapt to so many different environments and ingeniously create new forms of exploiting in diverse environments... how could not they do the same 100,000 years ago? Sure they did!"

    Unlikely. To me the Pygmy evidence, as now understood, indicates that expansion into the deeper forest in Africa is relatively recent.

    "That's one of the reasons why we are here now: because we and our ancestors creatively adapted to so many different circumstances".

    Usually once the technology developed that enabled them to do so. For example humans are unlikely to have left Africa already possessing the technology to exploit subarctic environments.

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  28. Japan (and any economy where fishing is important) is largely hunter-gatherer: they rely on foraging for shushi. Land foraging has lost relevance as farming and then industry have taken it, occupying the land with fences and property rights but farmers were always, specially at the beginning very much foragers - however their societies became larger, with private property and hierarchies, and slaves or second class members who labor for the elites. You do not see female slavery among hunter-gatherers but you see it among Papuans, for example.

    When you watch documentaries on Papuans once and again you realize they are not at all foragers and certainly not in their mindsets: they are farmers.

    Our cultures tend to idealize the "peaceful farmers" but farmer societies are not necessarily peaceful and they tend to become hierarchized along lines of violence and oppression.

    "I see the expansion as originally occurring along the margin between forest and savannah"...

    Don't you find this a bit too narrow. Why would we limit ourselves to that extremely thin line, when we could well spread in the second dimension as well? (And we actually did).

    You say "I see" but you do not say why. Without a supporting logic your opinion is worthless.

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  29. "Why would we limit ourselves to that extremely thin line, when we could well spread in the second dimension as well? (And we actually did). You say 'I see' but you do not say why. Without a supporting logic your opinion is worthless".

    Instinct runs deep in us. Most of us are very happy and comfortable walking around parks with trees scattered through grassland. In fact most parks in the world consist of exactly that. But most of us find deep rainforest 'spooky', and a but frightening. We are also not able to survive long on open grassland, and when we are surrounded by it again we feel rather uncomfortable.

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  30. Prejudices. It'd be like saying that the coastal migration is correct because there is nothing as emotionally inspiring and relaxing as the sea battering a beach (or otherwise coastline), a deep memory no doubt of our coastal-dweller past.

    Nonsense! Jungles are not spooky for people used to them. I have no experience with tropical jungles but temperate natural forests are very nice places that I enjoy a lot (and not find the least "spooky" - though maybe in the night?)

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  31. "I have no experience with tropical jungles but temperate natural forests are very nice places that I enjoy a lot (and not find the least 'spooky' - though maybe in the night?)"

    By your comment you've shown I was correct when I said, 'Most of us are very happy and comfortable walking around parks with trees scattered through grassland'. That is a typical temperate forest: grassland under trees. There is a world of difference between a temperate forest and a tropical rainforest.

    "It'd be like saying that the coastal migration is correct because there is nothing as emotionally inspiring and relaxing as the sea battering a beach (or otherwise coastline)"

    Totally different. One is extremely easy to move through, the other extremely difficult to move along.

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  32. This is a pointless discussion: you are projecting your phobias and prejudices into a debate that you have stirred only out of them.

    You say that Pygmies could only exploit the jungle when they got some magical technology from the gods that allowed them to do so. So which is this magical tech? Using their environment intelligently, simple "igloo" branch and leave huts? What's such a terrible threat that impedes human beings, the most dangerous animal out there (by far), from inhabiting the jungle and leaving off it? I can't think of any such barrier other than lack of air, freshwater or a nice warm temperature. But wait, jungles have all that, that's why they have such a huge biological diversity: they are warm and wet, what else do we need? Maybe the blessings of some god born of someone's imagination?

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  33. This is a pointless discussion: you are projecting your phobias and prejudices into a debate that you have stirred only out of them.
    Very nice! This actually reflects your own position regarding Basque.

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  34. "Very nice! This actually reflects your own position regarding Basque".

    And every other topic. However it is Maju's blog so he's entitled to such a perspective.

    "You say that Pygmies could only exploit the jungle when they got some magical technology from the gods that allowed them to do so. So which is this magical tech?"

    I'm saying that the evidence suggests they don't actually exploit the deepest jungle. However they have become genetically adapted over time to it to some extent.

    "jungles have all that, that's why they have such a huge biological diversity"

    Actually jungles do not have a huge biomass, although it is true they have much biodiversity. However most of that diversity is in the form of invertebrates.

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  35. "I'm saying that the evidence suggests they don't actually exploit the deepest jungle".

    You have not presented any such "evidence", you are just happily interpreting your own way data that says nothing about "the deepest jungle" but actually indicates that Pygmy ethnicities are scattered in such way that they must have crossed the jungle once and again.

    The Cwa (or Kwa) specially are located all around the "deepest jungle" (another map).

    You seem to think that because Pygmies do not live near the largely deforested areas of Kisangani anymore, they are not in the "deepest jungle". You are misreading the data shallowly as you, sadly, do so often.

    "However most of that diversity is in the form of invertebrates".

    There is still a lot of other diversity, not to mention that invertebrates are eaten anyhow (spiders, worms, locusts, caterpillars, ants). Monkeys, birds, reptiles and of course mammals are eaten as well.

    What do the Hadza hunt largely in the savanna? Monkeys (baboons to be precise), what do Pygmies hunt? I do not know (yet) but all forest peoples hunt largely monkeys for what I know (not only anyhow).

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  36. "You have not presented any such 'evidence', you are just happily interpreting your own way data that says nothing about 'the deepest jungle'".


    Have another look at the earlier map you were kind enough to link to. You will see that, in spite of your belief, that the OoA movement had boats no Pygmy population is found anywhere near the course of the lower Congo River. In fact the Congo basically splits the eastern and western Pygmy populations. A very surprising situation for a people supposedly well-adapted to life in the deep forest and having boats able to navigate calm stretches of waterways.

    "but actually indicates that Pygmy ethnicities are scattered in such way that they must have crossed the jungle once and again".

    Wrong again. A link concerning the Twa, the main group for which you could claim ' must have crossed the jungle once and again':

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twa_peoples

    Quote:

    "The term Twa is generally translated as 'Pygmy'. However, in the Western conception 'Pygmies' are short forest people, whereas southern Twa populations do not live in the forest and they may not be much shorter than the farming/village population, generally not reaching the anthropological definition of 'Pygmy' of males < 150 cm".

    And:

    "Outside of the rainforest, the the Twa may be taller than the classic Pygmy, and there may be less difference in physical appearance—in some cases none".

    Yet more:

    "The short stature of the "forest people" could have developed in the few millennia since the Bantu expansion, as also happened with Bantu domestic animals in the rainforest"

    So you see there is absolutely no need to postulate any movement through forest at all. This appears to be yet another example of your 'projecting your phobias and prejudices into a debate that you have stirred only out of them'. And it is you who is 'misreading the data shallowly as you, sadly, do so often.

    "all forest peoples hunt largely monkeys for what I know (not only anyhow)".

    And monkeys (in fact any tree-living mammals) are very difficult to hunt.

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  37. "You seem to think that because Pygmies do not live near the largely deforested areas of Kisangani anymore, they are not in the 'deepest jungle'".

    I happen to know a reasonable amount about the Congo. In the 1980s I became very interested in the music. On what grounds do you claim that the Pygmies have ever lived anywhere near the region of modern Kisangani? Certainly your link makes no such claim. You should actually read the links you provide. From your link:

    "Some of the many African ethnic groups in Kisangani are: Bamanga, Popoi, Boa, Lokele, Turumbu, Mbola, Kumu, Wagenia, Rega, Topoke, Lokele, Turumbu, Basoko, Lendu, Budu, Bangetu, Logo, Alur, Hema, Nande and Yira ethnic group also have a notable presence".

    You will no doubt notice the prominence of Pygmy ethnic groups in that list.

    "The Cwa (or Kwa) specially are located all around the 'deepest jungle' (another map)".

    'Deepest jungle'? Take a look at any other map of the geography and natural vegetation of the Congo and surroundings. The Baka and Aka live deepest into the jungle, but actually just inside the northern edge of the Congo jungle. The Mongo Cwa live near Lake Mai-Ndombe, and probably in the region of semi-savanah south of the lake. And the Kasai Cwa also live very near the southern margin of the Congo jungle, around the Sankuru River. Other Cwa are further south and certainly nowhere near any deepest jungle. So, again, no Pygmies in the deepest jungle.

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  38. Whatever.

    I said that Pygmies do not live anymore by Kisangani, which is a "urban" rather deforested area. Not that the do live...

    As for the Twa the article also says that they are scattered through all the tropical jungle area, plus some southern areas near the Kalahari where they get confused with the Bushmen.

    But whatever you prefer to think that there are taboo areas where people cannot enter, not because of cold (a real problem, two people just died in the Pyrenees this week... in the middle of the summer of hypothermia) but "just because".

    With your taboos on where people could live, Australia would have never been settled at all, because between Asia and Oceania there was and there is a belt of jungle and coasts, all areas that cannot be inhabited according to your narrow mindedness.

    You also make Pygmies non-existant, non-jungle dwellers and even non-Pygmies, comparing them to Bantu cattle. It's so insulting and you do not even notice... Very sad.

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  39. "As for the Twa the article also says that they are scattered through all the tropical jungle area"

    I've looked for that comment in the article and have failed to find it. The nearest I found was:

    "Twa live scattered throughout the Congo".

    That is a different claim. It is by no means true that all of the Congo is tropical jungle. A few more comments that I did find though:

    "Regardless of the environment, the Twa spend part of the year in the otherwise uninhabited region hunting game, and being provided with agricultural food while they do so"

    Implies they don't actually move very far from the farming groups.

    "As the Twa caste developed into full-time hunter-gatherers, the words were conflated, and the ritual role of the absorbed aboriginal peoples[4] was transferred to the Twa".

    So the Twa may have been pushed into the forest as farming groups expanded.
    In other words their arrival in the deeper jungle (such as it is) is a recent phenomenon.

    "With your taboos on where people could live, Australia would have never been settled at all, because between Asia and Oceania there was and there is a belt of jungle and coasts, all areas that cannot be inhabited according to your narrow mindedness".

    You know as well as I do that Australia was settled late in human history, and Oceania even later. Such settlement was not possible until the development of boats. That is what makes the region a rather fascinating study. Humans had developed a technology that allowed them to move beyond their original habitat.

    "comparing them to Bantu cattle. It's so insulting and you do not even notice... Very sad".

    How is comparing humans to other animals 'insulting'? Are you one of those who believes humans are somehow superior to all other life forms, and are in no way comparable? A product of your Christian upbringing? Or perhaps you're just ignoring the influence of ecology, presumably because you know very little about the subject.

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  40. "... they don't actually move very far from the farming groups".

    Who live all through the Congo. A characteristic of Bantu expansion was the colonization of the jungle thanks to steel tools.

    "... their arrival in the deeper jungle (such as it is) is a recent phenomenon".

    I thought you said they were NOT in the deeper jungle at all. It's circular logic: whatever the data says you'll find some detail that looks like it could support what you think a priori. A Jesuit theologian could not do better (in their wronging).

    "You know as well as I do that Australia was settled late in human history"...

    I know that Australia provides the first confirmed material evidence (excepting Galilee) of presence of our species outside of Africa. So not "late".

    Also all genetic data points to Australia (and its Papua peninsula, now an island) being colonized soon within the Eurasian expansion process, quite earlier than Europe or North Asia in any case.

    Basically you have people getting out of Africa, briefly pausing in India and then arriving to Australia. But all that happened in any case after the Pygmy-concentrated lineages coalesced in Africa.

    "Such settlement was not possible until the development of boats".

    What means that boats had to exist before it happened. Not just boats IMO because the crossing to Australia is very challenging but a whole "refined" boater culture.

    But notice the difference: you say that we must wait for Australia to be colonized until the knowledge of boats was magically brought from Olympus by some archaic Prometheus, which has an exact timing in your head (regardless of what reality says); instead I say that the rapid coastal colonization of Australia and New Guinea was possible because people necessarily had boats and a quite advanced familiarity with them when they crossed into Australia. For me they did not need to wait or at most just for the occasion for the crossing beyond the line of the horizon because they arrived with the technology fully developed, as they had been coasting and following the rivers since at least the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean coasts of Africa. This is coherent with the genetic data (and any other data I know of).

    For you instead they arrived to SE Asia, where they could not progress towards Wallacea because they did not know of boats nor they could even step in the spooooooky jungle at all. And there they remained stuck for millennia and millennia until somehow they developed the technology of boats. That would require a clear gap between the M star and the lineages that expand in Australia/New Guinea. Yet M29'Q is just one mutation downstream of M and M14 and M42 are two (and also M17 in Philippines). Etc.

    Basically they went straight away from India to New Guinea and with just a small pause to Australia. Y-DNA is consistent with this also.

    "How is comparing humans to other animals 'insulting'?"

    It is, notably domestic, slave animals that have lost their dignity: pig, dog, bitch, donkey, sheep... all those terms are insulting and for a reason: you are calling them mindless slaves, tools of someone else.

    Instead wild animal comparisons usually elicit much better feelings. Whatever the case your comparison is clearly demeaning and anyhow not in agreement with reality, as Pygmies have lived in the area long before Bantu arrived and degraded them with their corrupting trades.

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  41. "your comparison is clearly demeaning"

    Maju. Get your facts right before you start accusing anyone of anything. It was a quote from Wikipedia, not my statement. Although I have no problem with it.

    "Instead wild animal comparisons usually elicit much better feelings".

    What is the difference? Most wild animals in the deep forest are also smaller than are their relations in more open habitats anyway.

    "For you instead they arrived to SE Asia, where they could not progress towards Wallacea because they did not know of boats nor they could even step in the spooooooky jungle at all. And there they remained stuck for millennia and millennia until somehow they developed the technology of boats".

    That's pretty much how I see it.

    "That would require a clear gap between the M star and the lineages that expand in Australia/New Guinea".

    I've said at times that more work needs to be done concerning the relationship between the M haplogroups. I strongly suspect they will be shown to be related to SE Asian haplogroups, just as Australian M42 is now shown to be related to Chinese M74.

    "Yet M29'Q is just one mutation downstream of M and M14 and M42 are two (and also M17 in Philippines). Etc"

    We've seen recently that simple mutation numbers is not necessarily a representation of age.

    "they had been coasting and following the rivers since at least the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean coasts of Africa. This is coherent with the genetic data (and any other data I know of)".

    Sounds like the logic of 'a Jesuit theologian'. It is 'coherent with the genetic data' only if you have decided in advance that it happened that way. Other interpretations are certainly possible, and more likely.

    "I say that the rapid coastal colonization of Australia and New Guinea was possible because people necessarily had boats and a quite advanced familiarity with them when they crossed into Australia".

    I totally agree.

    "you say that we must wait for Australia to be colonized until the knowledge of boats was magically brought from Olympus by some archaic Prometheus"

    Someone obviously invented, or improved, boats in the islands of SE Asia before they could cross the open sea. Nothing magic about it. And we have the evidence of a really substantial back movement from SE Asia in the form of Y-hap P and mtDNA R. Some new development must have made such a huge expansion possible.

    "Basically you have people getting out of Africa, briefly pausing in India and then arriving to Australia".

    Rubbish. You claim, and I agree, that the OoA may have been close to 100,000 years ago, and humans arrived in India somewhere around that time. Yet humans reached Australia at most 60,000 years ago. Forty thousand years is hardly 'briefly pausing'.

    "But all that happened in any case after the Pygmy-concentrated lineages coalesced in Africa".

    But not before those lineages had become specifically 'Pygmy'. Even the Western Pygmy L1c lineages are shared with non-Pygmies (look back at your diagram of the L haplogroups). As for the Eastern Pygmies, their specific haplogroups don't appear until long after M and N formed.

    "I thought you said they were NOT in the deeper jungle at all".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_peoples

    Quote:

    "Most Pygmy communities are partially hunter-gatherers, living partially but not exclusively on the wild products of their environment. They trade with neighbouring farmers to acquire cultivated foods and other material items; no group lives deep in the forest without access to agricultural products".

    Note: 'no group lives deep in the forest without access to agricultural products'.

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  42. Ok, you are just dribbling the hard facts again because you have those preconceived ideas.

    I must tell you again also that I am not interested in what you think unless it is backed by hard data. Sadly you put much emphasis on the fact that you have a quite immutable opinion and no emphasis at all on the hard facts.

    If the mtDNA evidence, the skulls, the tools... contradict your beliefs, then too bad for the facts, it seems to me. You have a faith problem: you believe too much and too strongly and you doubt too little.

    "Someone obviously invented, or improved, boats in the islands of SE Asia before they could cross the open sea".

    They could not reach the islands without boats - and they could not even enter SE Asia almost at all because of your postulated jungle-phobia.

    My whole point is that, following your prejudices, nobody would ever have reached even the Malay Peninsula at all because they either had to go through the jungle or they had to coast (or both). Not to mention crossing to Wallacea!

    "You claim, and I agree, that the OoA may have been close to 100,000 years ago, and humans arrived in India somewhere around that time. Yet humans reached Australia at most 60,000 years ago".

    I do not "claim" either thing with any certainty. I am quite certain however that at least 80 Ka for the arrival to South Asia is pretty safe (cf. Petraglia), though we may want to delay the explosion to after Toba (c. 74 Ka). I'd say that, on such grounds, a SE Asian arrival of c. 70 Ka (foot bone of Philippines, Liujiang skull). That means probable arrival to New Guinea c. 70 Ka. and to Australia c. 66 Ka., assuming 4 Ka. per mutation.

    Whatever the case, I'd expect people to be in New Guinea almost at the same time as in South China.

    But the fossil record is not yet informative enough for Asia and Oceania. You claim "at most 60 Ka" in Australia based on wildfires, but people may have arrived earlier and only begun using fires thousands of years after that. Fossil evidence can only define the most recent possible date, not the oldest possible one.

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  43. "I'd expect people to be in New Guinea almost at the same time as in South China".

    I'd very very surprised if that was in fact the case.

    "people may have arrived earlier and only begun using fires thousands of years after that".

    That could certainly only be described as a 'belief'. The only reason you would concoct such a belief is becuase 'because you have those preconceived ideas'. 'You have a faith problem: you believe too much and too strongly and you doubt too little'.

    "My whole point is that, following your prejudices, nobody would ever have reached even the Malay Peninsula at all because they either had to go through the jungle or they had to coast (or both)".

    We know that the Pygmies of Africa are unrelated to the Pygmies of SE Asia, so it is more than just probable that adaptation to a jungle environmeny happened twice, independently.

    "If the mtDNA evidence, the skulls, the tools... contradict your beliefs, then too bad for the facts"

    The evidence does not contradict my beliefs. It fits perfectly.

    "Ok, you are just dribbling the hard facts again because you have those preconceived ideas".

    Maju. It is you who is ignoring the hard facts concerning the Pygmies, and insisting on your preconceived ideas. Wake up.

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  44. The fire proposal is not a belief, just a reasonable hypothesis, specially considering that using fires to modify the environment is a local Australian anomaly, which may have needed some time to evolve.

    "We know that the Pygmies of Africa are unrelated to the Pygmies of SE Asia, so it is more than just probable that adaptation to a jungle environmeny happened twice, independently".

    There are no Pygmies in Asia. Negritos are not Pygmies: they are not by far that short. The reduction in size of (some) Pygmies is unique (surely meaning a longer time of adaption).

    I agree that reduction in size happened in several locations independently (there are some "Maya" peoples that are also extremely small) but that was not my point at all.

    My point is that you claim that humans could not enter the jungle (spooky or whatever) and could no exploit the coast (no boats), so how could they even travel through SE Asia, specially Sundaland? How could they ever reach not to Australia but to Wallacea, Philippines or even what is now the Malay Peninsula? With your "rules" they could not.

    So your rules are wrong. Q.E.D.

    But you will avoid this central point and argue something asymptotically, right?

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  45. "My point is that you claim that humans could not enter the jungle (spooky or whatever) and could no exploit the coast (no boats), so how could they even travel through SE Asia, specially Sundaland?"

    There is actually no need for them to enter the spooky jungle in SE Asia on the way to Oz. I remember a paper someone linked to recently concerning the Pleistocene vegetation in Sunda. Much of it was open woodland during arid periods, as this paper also says:

    http://queenslandmuseum.academia.edu/JulienLouys/Papers/691178/Environment_preferred_habitats_and_potential_refugia_for_Pleistocene_Homo_in_Southeast_Asia

    It deals specifically with pre-modern humans but the author states:

    "What we have attempted to show here is the potential of Southeast Asia, and in particular the increased land area of Sundaland, to act as a refugium for savannah-adapted species, and particularly hominims, during the periods of lowered sea level and environmental changes that characterised so much of the Pleistocene".

    And there is more in the paper, which I'm sure you'll find interesting. Particularly section 4, 'Sundaland as a Hominim refugium', where they argue the genus Homo is sanannah-adapted. Of course I realise you know far more about the subject that they do.

    "So your rules are wrong. Q.E.D."

    You are obviously deliberately misinterpreting my rules.

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  46. "you say that we must wait for Australia to be colonized until the knowledge of boats was magically brought from Olympus by some archaic Prometheus"

    Do you really believe that the knowledge to build firearms, for example, 'was magically brought from Olympus by some archaic Prometheus'? How about automobiles? Aeroplanes? Space ships? From your comment it certainly looks very much as if you do believe it to be so. In fact it seems you believe that humans have made no technogical improvements since they first left Africa. Surely that's a ridiculous position to take.

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  47. It's an interesting paper but they are talking of H. erectus, a species with a much more limited intelligence than ours (closer to chimpanzee than to us). They were an intelligent animal and a close relative but not yet people like us.

    Instead H. sapiens since the very beginning c. 190 Ka ago are just like us in all things biological. And the so-called modern behavior is at least 130 Ka old (I mention just in case).

    I say because one thing is clear about us: that, whatever our original biological preferences, which is indeed for warm tropical environments, savanna of course but not only, we can adapt ourselves and our way of life to so many different conditions. If we can live in Siberia, we can definitely live in the tropical jungle, the tropical swamps and the tropical coastal environments of all sorts. Neither provides such a challenge as a freezing winter (or even year-round cold) does.

    Because we do not have fur nor are adapted to cold in any way whatsoever. Only our ingenuity can overcome that.

    Back to the issue of Sundaland. Ok, maybe there was some patches that were savanna in some undefined periods, however you still have the Kra isthmus and even all mainland SE Asia, which in all the paleoclimate maps I know of appears as jungle (example).

    Notice that the example includes the alleged savanna corridor but it is fully surrounded by jungle (dry tropical forest or tropical raiforest) or the sea, both or which are no-no for you.

    "You are obviously deliberately misinterpreting my rules".

    I am not: you insist a lot in both of them: no jungle, no coastal boating and of course no mangles, which are like a mixture of both. Instead the freezing cold of Siberia is "no problem" for your "Nordicist" way of thinking.

    C'mon!

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  48. "Do you really believe that the knowledge to build firearms, for example, 'was magically brought from Olympus by some archaic Prometheus'? How about automobiles? Aeroplanes? Space ships?"

    It's you who claims so. I say that we have a problem and we solve it. Maybe not the first day but eventually. So if we live by a river, lake or seashore we invent boats or equivalent. And we almost always live by a river, lake or seashore, so we have got boats or similar since always.

    There would have been no connections between East and Central Africa through the Nile River without knowing of boats for example. We know that this two regions show absolutely no indication of having been separated from each other. Homo sapiens would have been unable to travel between Ethiopia and Morocco and then back to Palestine or Southern Africa without knowing of boats. They had to cross the Nile, the Zambezi and other water bodies like the Ubangi, Niger, Congo, large lakes... They surely relied on them in many cases for fishing and transport.

    Boats or equivalent (rafts?) must have been with us since we first settled by a river, lake or sea.

    "... it seems you believe that humans have made no technogical improvements since they first left Africa".

    No, please. But since they left Africa till they arrived to Sahul there are 4-5 mutations only of a total of 50 or so (depending what line you measure), so if Homo sapiens has existed for 200,000 years, the leap between Africa and Australia was not more than 20 Ka., of which 75-80% corresponds to the migration between Africa and Pakistan (leaving 4-5 Ka, at most, for the journey between South Asia and Sahul).

    And you are denying this and insisting that in all those 200,000 years of (AMH) human history, boats were only invented in a narrow parenthesis within that narrow parenthesis of 4-5 Ka (at the most)! You are, with no evidence at all, claiming that boats were invented in almost a specific millennium: earlier would be too soon (for your narrow mind) and later would be too late (indeed, they would have needed to swim a lot).

    Instead all is a lot easier if boats were part of the quotidian experience of peoples through the world in at least much of the maybe 130 or 140 millennia before that epic migratory feat took place, feat that would have been largely helped if boats were available all the time.

    It is so extremely logical, what you do is like claiming that Columbus invented the sail and astronomy. No, he just used what was already available to him, albeit in a somewhat unique and daring way. And so did the anonymous sailors that crossed into Wallacea and beyond: they used tech they were carrying from Bengal, from Guajrat, from the Persian Gulf marshes, from the turquoise waters of the Red Sea and from even inland Africa because boats were surely first tried in a "pool" (lake, river, lagoon) and not the open sea.

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  49. "It's an interesting paper but they are talking of H. erectus, a species with a much more limited intelligence than ours"

    But the data on the vegetation changes during the Pleistocene is still relevant. And there you have provided no evidence that early modern humans were anything other than savannah-adapted.

    "we can adapt ourselves and our way of life to so many different conditions".

    When pushed to do so through population pressure.

    "you still have the Kra isthmus and even all mainland SE Asia, which in all the paleoclimate maps I know of appears as jungle"

    And both regions would have been surrounded by the greatest expanse of land during lowered sea level, so your jungle claim is irelevant.

    "There would have been no connections between East and Central Africa through the Nile River without knowing of boats for example".

    Rubbish. It's prefectly possible to move between East and Central Africa without going anywhere near the Nile, except the headwaters south of the Sudd.

    "We know that this two regions show absolutely no indication of having been separated from each other".

    As they wouldn't be, irrespective of boats.

    "Homo sapiens would have been unable to travel between Ethiopia and Morocco and then back to Palestine or Southern Africa without knowing of boats".

    All those regions are connected by land so boats are not at all necessary to move between them, except for your rather strange belief.

    "They had to cross the Nile, the Zambezi and other water bodies like the Ubangi, Niger, Congo, large lakes... ".

    The Pygmies certainly seem not to have crossed the Congo. That river marks the boundary between eastern and western Pygmy groups. As for the others: crossing the headwaters would not require boats of any sort.

    "the leap between Africa and Australia was not more than 20 Ka., of which 75-80% corresponds to the migration between Africa and Pakistan"

    Your recent blog showed that we cannot rely on mutation rate as a proxy for time. The parent/offspring haplogroup replacement rate depends on a whole range of factors.

    "You are, with no evidence at all, claiming that boats were invented in almost a specific millennium"

    And you are, with no evidence at all, claiming 'we have got boats or similar since always'.

    "feat that would have been largely helped if boats were available all the time".

    Only if you're going to insist that people crossed the Bab al Mandab and then moved all the way to Oz/NG along the coast, a most unlikely scenario.

    "boats were surely first tried in a 'pool' (lake, river, lagoon) and not the open sea".

    I agree. But there are plenty of pools in SE Asia. And to claim that 'they used tech they were carrying from Bengal, from Guajrat, from the Persian Gulf marshes, from the turquoise waters of the Red Sea and from even inland Africa' is to stretch credibility. It would have been most likely that if such was the case they would have reached all the islands in the Mediterranean long before they actually did so.

    "It is so extremely logical"

    No it isn't. It's all supposition on your part.

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  50. "however you still have the Kra isthmus and even all mainland SE Asia, which in all the paleoclimate maps I know of appears as jungle (example)".

    I've just looked at the link and you are completely wrong. Sunda is shown as mostly either 'monsoon or dry forest' or 'tropical grassland', neither of which pose any problem for human habitat. Jungle ('tropical rainforest') is shown only in what is now Borneo, Sulawesi and the Southern Philippines.

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  51. "Instead the freezing cold of Siberia is 'no problem' for your 'Nordicist' way of thinking".

    You obviouls didn't read all the paper, or didn't read it properly. Have a read of 5, 'Preferred Human Paleoenvironments during the early and Middle Pleistocene?' The argument is not whether on not humans lived in the north, it is only that occupation was unlikely to have been continuous. Again they're commenting on H. erectus but that species being, as you say, 'an intelligent animal and a close relative but not yet people like us' H. sapiens should have had no trouble surviving there at times either.

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  52. "... you have provided no evidence that early modern humans were anything other than savannah-adapted".

    So far I can think in the Eritrea site showing use of coastal resources, the fact that they used Mediterranean areas (not savanna), Persian Gulf oasis' swamps, South African Mediterranean coastal climate... At least they exploited Mediterranean and coastal areas (all before the OoA).

    As for the jungle, we have the Sangoan/Lupemban culture which may or not be modern human (H. sapiens) but it's human (Homo sp.) for sure in any case. See here.

    Whatever the case where you talk of biological adaption, I see socio-cultural adaption, which is an ability that our species has developed like no other. As long as it does not kill us, we adapt quickly. And the jungle may be spooky but it's not so deadly.

    You have talked about some mysterious tech that would have allowed people to use the jungle, but I can't think of one. I can think of techs that help but not one that is strictly necessary, unlike what happens with cold climates.

    "It's prefectly possible to move between East and Central Africa without going anywhere near the Nile, except the headwaters south of the Sudd".

    In the jungle of Burundi? Must I remind you that every tropical African river and even water spot has deadly crocodiles in them? You don't swim in those rivers unless your boat capsizes and you are fighting for your life.

    You need boats in Africa, you do nearly all the time in nearly all circumstances.

    With your prejudices the Nile and the jungle together divide Africa in two. This division is not apparent at all in genetics or, AFAIK, in archaeology. In fact islands of the Nile were used by pre-OoA peoples, who surely did not swim to them.

    ...

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  53. ...

    "Your recent blog showed that we cannot rely on mutation rate as a proxy for time".

    I still think that for mtDNA, mutation rate counted from the root gives an approximate notion. Enough for our discussion here. We can debate on many details and fine tunning but certain apportion is surely true.

    It's nearly impossible to argue that so many haplogroups have seen their "molecular clock" altered all at the same time, just because you prefer to think that people waited for long before crossing to Sahul.

    Whatever you choose to believe, the facts quite clearly point in a different direction.

    "Only if you're going to insist that people crossed the Bab al Mandab and then moved all the way to Oz/NG along the coast"...

    I'm not going to "insist" on that because I keep my mind as open as I can and there are also semi-inland/riverine plausible scenarios but the strictly coastal migration model is still perfectly valid, even if it may have sinned of excessively simplistic.

    In any case I am going to insist that had been people usins boats and exploiting water resources including sea shores since before ever crossing into Asia, probably across the Red Sea indeed.

    "It would have been most likely that if such was the case they would have reached all the islands in the Mediterranean long before they actually did so".

    Boating does not imply high seas capability. That is a very "Wallacean" innovation indeed, it seems to me. Crossing the Red Sea or the Sundarbans or... so many other interesting but narrow water bodies is not the same as adventuring for 40 or 80 km into the Ocean once and again in order to reach to Sahul.

    That feat was accomplished early on, it seems, but it's a feat at least a bit above human normal capabilities before the development of sails. Nobody denies the extraordinary navigation skills of the ancestors of pre-Austronesian Wallaceans, Filipino Negritos, Melanesians and Australian Aborigines. All them must have been quite good boaters and very brave people in any case.

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  54. Dry forest is jungle and not savanna. They are not the least easier than the jungle, posing the extra challenge of seasonality (food is not equally available all year round). The most famous dry forest (at least for me) is the Matto Grosso, which is part of the Amazon jungle.

    "You obviouls didn't read all the paper"...

    I obviously did. What's your problem?

    "The argument is not whether on not humans lived in the north, it is only that occupation was unlikely to have been continuous"...

    Eh, eh! Spooooky forest with scary nocturnal noises... Game Master Terry says you can't cross.

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  55. "Dry forest is jungle and not savanna".

    Idiotic statement. Of course dry forest is not jungle.

    "the strictly coastal migration model is still perfectly valid"

    I disagree completely. To demonstrate I'll go back to a statement you made several days ago. And I suggest that the Pygmies’ development may explain a great deal about our wider origins, even though the information from Africa may not be complete:

    "There are no Pygmies in Asia. Negritos are not Pygmies: they are not by far that short".

    Irrelevant. Both groups have made a ‘socio-cultural adaptation’ (as you call it) to living in tropical rainforest. And, what's more, they became independently adapted to it. The latest evidence suggests that even within Africa the Pygmies two groups may have made independent socio-cultural adaptations to living in rainforest, although members of Y-hap B2 are associated with both groups.

    Firstly, in the Cameroon/Congo/Central African Republic region northwest of the Congo River, the Baka, Aka and Bongo. Perhaps originally mtDNA L1c1a and Y-hap A1b.

    The second group, the Eastern Pygmies, are spread around the eastern and southern margins of the Congo River Basin tropical rainforest. In the headwaters of the Congo, at the northeastern edge of the tropical rainforest, we find the Mbuti and, along the tropical rainforest's southern margin, we find the Cwa and Twa. Did these two groups become separately adapted to the rainforest or are they the product of a single population that migrated around the edge of the jungle?

    Mitochondrial DNA L5a1c looks like a late arrival, but it would have come from the northeast. As well as being present in the eastern Pygmies L2a2 is spread from Chad, through the Sudan and south to the Khoisan. But as a whole L2a managed to spread further west than had L1. This may indicate the exploitation of more open habitats although the haplogroup is not actually widespread in Southern Africa. L0a2b also has close relations northeast of the Congo Basin, in Ethiopia and Kenya.

    So the Eastern Pygmies probably developed as part of a population that spread south along the eastern margin between the savannah and the Congo Basin tropical rainforest. But this population never used the Congo River itself for any form of travel. They never came close to it really. So in Africa the tropical rainforest of the Congo Basin was not useful human habitat until the development of slash and burn farming.

    (continued)

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  56. (continued)

    Spreading the net wider:

    But the more open savannah became a more useful habitat as humans adapted to living in it. Another ‘socio-cultural adaptation’. L3’s spread suggests a very successful adaptation to such an environment. It looks to have spread across the whole Sahel zone, even more so than did L2. Y-hap E looks also to have originally belonged to a Sahel population. Savannah opens a much more ideal habitat for rapid expansion than does the extremely narrow coastal zone, with all its hazards and obstructions. So to me it’s reasonable to assume that the people who left Africa at the same time as L3 was spreading through the Sahel would also have favoured a fairly open habitat. Not forest. Not coast. But they could only move as far from fresh water as any containers they possessed allowed them to.

    And Y-hap E, with its apparent association with the Sahel, at one time was part of a single population that included D (possibly only in the form of DE however). We have a huge geographic spread of the DE Y-hap, although it has largely died out in the region between where the two descendant haplogroups are found today. Possibly through increased aridity and consequent desert expansion. To me it is only possible to explain such a spread as being the product of a very rapid expansion. Such a rapid expansion can only occur when it is through a single ecological niche. There is insufficient time to allow specialization for a series of environments along the way.

    D is not coastal except for the two separate islands groups: the Andamans and Japan. The haplogroup looks to have entered the two island groups separately, from the mainland. It didn’t move from one island group to the other via the coast. D is also not a Negrito, or rainforest, haplogroup. So DE was originally an inland haplogroup, not a coastal one. Or a rainforest one.

    Savannah grassland is the only ecological niche that spreads from North Africa, through Southwest Asia, Northeast India, Central Asia, and as far as East Asia. Surviving the cold of Central Asia is no problem if you’re prepared to learn the required socio-cultural adaptation off the people who are already there.

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  57. "Crossing the Red Sea or the Sundarbans or... so many other interesting but narrow water bodies is not the same as adventuring for 40 or 80 km into the Ocean once and again in order to reach to Sahul".

    Many Mediterranean islands are nowhere near as remote from the mainland as 40 or 80 km, yet most were uninhabited until near the Neolithic.

    "So far I can think in the Eritrea site showing use of coastal resources, the fact that they used Mediterranean areas (not savanna), Persian Gulf oasis' swamps, South African Mediterranean coastal climate... At least they exploited Mediterranean and coastal areas (all before the OoA)".

    But the people were by no means confined to just the coast, and it is very unlikely that they simply walked all the way along it. They would have exploited inland regions as well as the coast, and inland would provide an easier expansion route.

    "As for the jungle, we have the Sangoan/Lupemban culture which may or not be modern human (H. sapiens) but it's human (Homo sp.) for sure in any case".

    I see no information concerning the surrounding environment at the time. Deep jungle? I doubt it.

    "Must I remind you that every tropical African river and even water spot has deadly crocodiles in them?"

    Trees often fall across rivers, and can make an easy method for crossing. And crocodiles are less of a problem in very shallow water or when the river dries out in places.

    "In fact islands of the Nile were used by pre-OoA peoples, who surely did not swim to them".

    And rivers change course. The particular 'islands' may not have been islands at the time.

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  58. "Dry forest is jungle and not savanna. They are not the least easier than the jungle, posing the extra challenge of seasonality (food is not equally available all year round)".

    You may find this wikipedia entry interesting then:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_and_subtropical_dry_broadleaf_forests

    Quote:

    "Though less biologically diverse than rainforests, tropical dry forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife including monkeys, deer, large cats, parrots, various rodents, and ground dwelling birds. Mammalian biomass tends to be higher in dry forests than in rain forests, especially in Asian and African dry forests".

    Note: 'Mammalian biomass tends to be higher in dry forests than in rain forests'. Given that they are easier to move through than are rainforests they are much more suitable as human habitat.

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  59. Look, Terry: I don't know for sure but I'm not going to judge the possible routes and habitats of humans in the past just because you have a theory of sorts on ecological constraints that sounds very much ad-hoc and implausible.

    I'll judge for what the hard data says.

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