June 17, 2011

Homo sapiens child's remains found in Morocco (108 Ka BP)

Artistic recreation of Bouchra (right)
The quite complete remnants of a child of our species, Homo sapiens, have been found in the site known as Smugglers' Cave (Dar es Soltan, Morocco) in Aterian context. The child has been nicknamed Bouchra, meaning Good News in Arabic.

No paper or image of the infant's skeleton are known, as the research is financed by the sensationalist media National Geographic, which aims to keep the exclusive. 

There are several older known members of our species in Africa (from Mozambique to Morocco) and Palestine but this one seems to be the first one dead at such a young age: approximately 8 years old. The remains have been dated to c. 108 Ka ago.

Sources: Philly.com[en] and Mundo Neandertal[es].

23 comments:

  1. it is very sad that some people think it's cool to give that early modern human a sub-saharan appearance. Now I wonder how they managed to realize that the soft features looked like that. So how did they know that that kid had big lips, or frizzy hair? It all goes back to the misleading idea that Homo Sapiens Sapiens originated in Eastern Africa they must have look like sub-saharan. Yet the recent out of Africa theory is far from a confirmed theory, as there are many Genetic inconsistencies, anyhow, if those humans lived in North Africa, and they have been living there for a while, I see no reason to think that they would have dark skin or big lips...

    Jebel Irhoud,Ifri n Ammar or Smuggler's cave...should have had a pseudo-Mongoloid look at least,because, we North Africans still retain our ancestral Atlasian phenotype....

    http://s1.zetaboards.com/anthroscape/topic/4303431/1/

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  2. It's a recreation but I'm 100% ok with early H. sapiens looking more or less like modern tropical Africans. This is very specially true for frizzy hair (a trait conserved among East Eurasian Negritos and Melanesians) and dark skin (a trait widely conserved through all the Tropics). Both are traits surely adaptive for the tropics, very specially the dark skin color.

    I'd dare propose that straight hair is actually a non-sapiens trait: an introgression from Eurasian hominins. However I have no further evidence but common sense (I don't think the genetics of hair shapes is yet known), so it will remain speculation by the moment.

    The reconstruction anyhow looks more like Australoid than Negroid to me. Not that it matters because it's just a reconstruction (which necessarily has a good deal of subjectivity) but this one seems plausible to me, specially the "white" elements in North Africans should have arrived later than this early colonization.

    "Jebel Irhoud,Ifri n Ammar or Smuggler's cave...should have had a pseudo-Mongoloid look at least,because, we North Africans still retain our ancestral Atlasian phenotype"....

    That's true but let's not forget that this pseudo-mongoloid look is actually more like pseudo-khoisanid, so the frizzy hair and the brown skin color are totally justified in any case.

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  3. Dalouh,

    I agree with Maju. The examples you show just prove how much input the region received historically from the Levant, Arabia, Greece, Italy, and even northern Europe, and before than most likely around and just after LGM. When you subtract all of that, you are left with something closer to what the south Sahara looks, today (minus remaining Caucasian features that penetrate quite far south like their genomes do).

    And "almond"-shaped eyes are not mongoloid - they are of Arabian or general SW Asian origin. And the high or otherwise prominent cheeks are present both in Khoisan and northern Europeans. Finally, if you want to see the appropriate, unmixed hair and skin color for that latitude and altitude, look at Egypt or Pakistan. Not black, but much darker than the average Mediterranean.

    Genetically, Europeans and Caucasians largely come from India/Pakistan - there is (for the most part) no closer link to North Africa then for any other ooA group. And the dark skin and hair, and frizzy hair persist just there (and in Australia) because that's what ooA people looked like.

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  4. "I see no reason to think that they would have dark skin or big lips..."

    I don't know about big lips, but many north africans living today have dark or brownish skin, or at least they're darker than Europeans and other populations living more in the north, plus many of them have frizzy hair.

    "Jebel Irhoud,Ifri n Ammar or Smuggler's cave...should have had a pseudo-Mongoloid look at least,because, we North Africans still retain our ancestral Atlasian phenotype...."

    These hominids lived many time ago. We just don't know in what ways present day N.As resemble them, but Jebel Irhoud don't look pseudo-mongoloid to me, nor do the Dar es Soltan specimens, who look rather archaic.

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  5. I must say, Eurologist, that North Africa does not seem to have any input from Greece nor Italy.

    In my understanding, the North African layers are as follow:

    1. Earliest ones: Jebel Irhoud and Aterian (pseudo-Khoisanid maybe), old L(xM,N) North African-specific clades.
    2. A weak Eurasian (West Asian) layer: Dabban Industries, mtDNA U6, with unclear NE African participation.
    3. A rather strong SW European layer: Oranian, mtDNA H and V.
    4. A final NE African layer of Afroasiatic language: Capsian culture, mtDNA U6a, some L(xM.N).
    5. Less important Neolithic inputs from diverse Mediterranean origins (mtDNA K probably).

    I see no Greek connection at all and only a very weak (if any) Italian one, which is probably in fact rather a minor flow to Italy (specially Sardinia) from Iberia.

    In this sense I must add to my previous comment that the prominent lower lip looks specifically Semitic to me and is rare among the North Africans I know. It is a typical Cypriot, Lebanese, Jewish, Palestinian or peninsular Arabic trait. So in this particular aspect the artist probably got it wrong.

    It might have also got some things better if he allowed himself to be inspired by the most specifically-North African phenotypes, such as the already discussed "pseudo-Khoisanid" one. Whatever Neanderthalerin thinks, I suspect it is in fact a look with extremely deep local and African-specific roots. Maybe not Irhoud but Aterian almost for sure.

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  6. Maju, what I'm trying to tell is:

    1-Do you know which are the traits associated with that pseudo-khoisanid look? As far as I know, it is not a recognized racial category. Some people even think it's pseudo-mongoloid or something else. How do you know they look pseudo-khoisanid, just only because you've seen a few faces with odd looks? They're quite admixed and it's very difficult to tell which are the pseudo-khoisan traits and which are not.
    2-How do you know that Aterians and/or Irhoud look khoisanid and/or resemble these N.As with odd looks? Is there any study comparing their skulls?
    3-What about DNA? We can only speculate with mtDNA lineages, because there has been no DNA study with Aterian nor Irhoud remains, to my knowledge. Molecular clocks aren't a reliable source either.

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  7. 1.-

    For example two of the three women of this photo (Silha/Chleuh Berbers from Southern Morocco) show them very clearly: flat face, small flat nose, marked cheeks, epicanthic fold. The trait is also apparent in the Royal Family and many other North Africans and it is very rare outside North Africa (except occasionally some Iberians or West Asians).

    Random photos of North Africans who appear to have these traits: Moroccan boy, scorpion tamer from Marrakesh, Algerian singer Khaled, Gadafi showing his most Fu-Man-Chu side (not quite but a very typically Libyan/Tuareg face in a sense), Berber nomad woman, Berber woman (this one may have some Black African admixture but still a good example), Pippi-like Berber girl, drawing of a Berber bride from Morocco (not a photo but still useful), Berber women from Morocco... and I think it should be enough.

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  8. "2-How do you know that Aterians and/or Irhoud look khoisanid and/or resemble these N.As with odd looks? Is there any study comparing their skulls?"

    No but I cannot think of any other origin. These two are the only waves that MUST have African origins, except the last one of Capsian culture, which is rooted in NE Africa. The phenotype cannot have any other origin but Africa, I understand.

    "3-What about DNA? We can only speculate with mtDNA lineages, because there has been no DNA study with Aterian nor Irhoud remains, to my knowledge. Molecular clocks aren't a reliable source either".

    My version of the molecular clock (only for mtDNA), which measures from root to branch (the opposite of the usual method) and does not average (assumes lack of downstream knowledge or even somewhat diverse mutation rhythm) suggests that some L(xM,N) lineages should have been in North Africa and Arabia peninsula roughly at the same time as the OoA, this is consistent with Aterian culture (very roughly c. 100 Ka ago) and an OoA that should have happened between 125 and 90 Ka ago (Armitage and Petraglia respectively). It is not consistent with Irhoud however, which is just too old.

    I do not have the means to persuade you or anyone else of this being correct (much less if you'd take a "hostile" attitude towards my theory) but myself I am quite persuaded that some North African genetics must be from Aterian times. The recent discovery of Y-DNA A1b and A1a among some Berbers reinforces this idea.

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  9. Btw, relevant link for the OoA "fleeces" in North Africa and Arabia is: http://leherensuge.blogspot.com/2010/03/are-we-overlooking-signature-of-out-of.html

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  10. "That's true but let's not forget that this pseudo-mongoloid look is actually more like pseudo-khoisanid, so the frizzy hair and the brown skin color are totally justified in any case. "

    I will hesitate to call it pseudo-khoisanid ,people will get the wrong idea that it originated in south Africa...it is Atlasid for me....pseudo-Mongoloid is at least a neutral term in this dispute..

    the reconstruction is clearly biased ,a tropical west-African child in a Mediterranean zone.....
    discounting the "white" input in North Africans, the natives will not have looked west Africans in any case , with all those huge lips ...lol

    take a look at these Mozabite people :

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_odjI7dH0ZFA/TEMe-FetLyI/AAAAAAAAAN8/_WSX951ldhs/s1600/DSC08702.JPG

    http://img.blogabond.com/UserPhotos/436/580/BenAoumeurNadir.jpg

    http://ffs1963.unblog.fr/files/2009/02/karouche1.jpg

    http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5066/5587265156_1857ba1fdb.jpg

    http://ic2.pbase.com/g3/00/599200/2/58622028.IMG_5617.jpg

    http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5006/5251242870_0b9ee8a5c9.jpg

    http://www.elwatan.com/images/2010/09/04/benbitour_76966.jpg

    as you know, these are Saharan folks who are exposed to fierce sun light, the data tell us that they have got a balanced equal amount of "white" and "negroid" admixture .....so, if they were originally tropical dark looking with strong negroid features as in that reconstruction, won't they need a huge "white" input to erase the tropical features like those big lips ?

    and remember that they have convinced almost everyone, including you,that the native Northwest African 'died out'....they have been proven wrong .

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  11. "I will hesitate to call it pseudo-khoisanid ,people will get the wrong idea that it originated in south Africa..."

    It is more directly connected to South Africa than to East Asia, I believe. Or at least equally so. It is an African and not Eurasian phenotype in any case, I'm almost 100% sure about that.

    "it is Atlasid for me..."

    First time I heard that term but fair enough if it's documented (or you just happen to like it).

    "discounting the "white" input in North Africans, the natives will not have looked west Africans in any case"...

    I don't think the reconstruction does: the skin is too "white" (light brown, a dark Mediterranean shade at most: light even for India), the face too irregular (reminds more of Australian Aborigines in that, this is forced by the skull too). The prognathism of the mouth is surely forced by the skull (this is not a creative aspect) but I agree that the lower lip may be too prominent, however I imagine that in this the artist has been at least as inspired by West Asian than West African types.

    "the data tell us that they have got a balanced equal amount of "white" and "negroid" admixture"...

    That's not true. Once the North African specific cluster shows up, Mozabites are almost pure in that component. The white/black disgression is just a mask, made up of lesser affinities. In any case they are obviously not 50-50 white/black like Obama (or so many other mulatto people you and I know), these people are mostly "white", clearly so (maybe #3 could be ambiguous but half of half the admixture of Obama). #1 and #7 do appear to have some of this "Atlasid" element.

    "won't they need a huge "white" input to erase the tropical features like those big lips ?"

    At this moment, by mtDNA, North Africans are 25% "African" (L(xM,N))and 75% "Eurasian" (N and M). This is a better indicator of overall deep ancestry than Y-DNA.

    But the African-specific component should be at least partly extremely old, from Aterian times. Even the rest should be mostly from Nubia, or otherwise in the Nile (Capsian and Afroasiatic origins), and not West African. AFAIK nobody has ever studied (beyond anecdotal or very generic scope) the potential relations of North African L(xM,N) mtDNA. But I hope someone some day takes to that effort because it's obviously not just the "Orientalist" legend of the trans-Saharan slave trade.

    So most of that L(xM,N) is not from West Africa but from North Africa itself (Aterian roots, loosely connected with all other humans but no one specifically) and from NE Africa (Capsian). At least that is what I understand it should be, prove me wrong.

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  12. Random photos of North Africans who appear to have these traits: Moroccan boy, scorpion tamer from Marrakesh, Algerian singer Khaled, "Gadafi showing his most Fu-Man-Chu side (not quite but a very typically Libyan/Tuareg face in a sense), Berber nomad woman, Berber woman (this one may have some Black African admixture but still a good example), Pippi-like Berber girl, drawing of a Berber bride from Morocco (not a photo but still useful), Berber women from Morocco... and I think it should be enough."

    The things I see these people share:

    -Slanted eyes
    -Brown-ish skin
    -Flat noses

    "I do not have the means to persuade you or anyone else of this being correct (much less if you'd take a "hostile" attitude towards my theory) but myself I am quite persuaded that some North African genetics must be from Aterian times. The recent discovery of Y-DNA A1b and A1a among some Berbers reinforces this idea."

    No, it's a very interesting and logical idea, really. I mostly agree with you, but without studies comparing skulls nor doing DNA analyses, we can't be sure, it's only speculation. You posted that link of the OOA signature, and there have been some articles such as that of Y-A1a that seem to support our ideas. I hope in the future more people would get interest in north Africa.

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  13. 'I'd dare propose that straight hair is actually a non-sapiens trait: an introgression from Eurasian hominins. However I have no further evidence but common sense"

    I realise it will come as a surprise, but I agree with you.

    "Do you know which are the traits associated with that pseudo-khoisanid look? As far as I know, it is not a recognized racial category".

    My feeling is that Khoisans look completley different from West Africans, so they should probably be placed in separate 'racial categories along with 'Caucasoids', 'Australoids' and 'Mongoloids'.

    "some L(xM,N) lineages should have been in North Africa and Arabia peninsula roughly at the same time as the OoA, this is consistent with Aterian culture (very roughly c. 100 Ka ago) and an OoA that should have happened between 125 and 90 Ka ago"

    I agree with Maju here.

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  14. My comment about an Italian source stems from the long occupation of large parts of North Africa by the Romans: this region was their largest source of grain to support their armies. Usually with such longstanding occupation comes genetic input. How much I don't know, I haven't even looked into Italy-specific y-haplogroups in North Africa.

    At any rate, the huge range and mix of facial features is quite bewildering.

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  15. "I haven't even looked into Italy-specific y-haplogroups in North Africa".

    Y or mtDNA. You should before making such claims out of the blue: I understand that there is not much that links Italy and North Africa (there's the occasional rare clade however, possibly mediated by Iberia/France or West Asis, where it usually appears as well). There's absolutely nothing that we could identify as specifically "Greek".

    "At any rate, the huge range and mix of facial features is quite bewildering".

    That's true and indicates, I believe, a varied number of ancestral sources: early North Africans, West Asians, SW Europeans, NE Africans and the occasional West African too.

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  16. The association of the Aterian context more closely with definitively modern humans alone has considerable scholarly value.

    The date is also notable for being close in time to the earliest known modern humans outside Africa.

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  17. Regarding the hair texture issue. I agree that it is possible that non-afro hair is a non-sapiens trait, acquired in some moderns by hybridization. However, if true, it happened twice.

    East Asian/Native American hair texture (coarse, circular in cross section) is due to increased signaling at the EDAR locus. Was studied in 2008 and even demonstrated in transgenic mice. I am unaware whether anyone has yet looked at the EDAR locus in the Denisovan genome. Eventually someone will, so the hypothesis that Asians have Denisovan hair type can be tested.

    The various straight to wavy to curly hair textures seen in Europeans must have different genetic causes, yet to be sorted out. However in 2007 the gene for red hair was found in Neanderthal DNA. it is certainly a reasonable speculation that Europeans acquired some hair textures and colours from Neanderthals.

    Straight hair is the norm in great apes. So kinky afro hair might be a unique innovation of H. sapiens. I would not be surprised at all if it is eventually demonstrated that Neanderthals and Denisovans had long straight hair.

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  18. "It is more directly connected to South Africa than to East Asia, I believe. Or at least equally so. It is an African and not Eurasian phenotype in any case, I'm almost 100% sure about that"

    I am glad to hear that..

    "First time I heard that term but fair enough if it's documented (or you just happen to like it)."

    you are right ha ha ha ....

    "So most of that L(xM,N) is not from West Africa but from North Africa itself (Aterian roots, loosely connected with all other humans but no one specifically) and from NE Africa (Capsian). At least that is what I understand it should be, prove me wrong. "
    I agree....I don't consider the Mozabites as the best example of the ancient native phenotype, however, if we compare them to Northern Sudanese or Egyptians , the Mozabites are less brown due mostly to the latitude rather than the West Eurasian admixture...

    here some example from the Moroccan Atlas..( people with weak West Eurasian admixture).

    http://aieseckielce.myaiesec.net/uploaded_images/100_1088-720558.JPG

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-t6KfFjWvos8/TffNcTVqunI/AAAAAAAAKE4/KL1bvdDOlQc/s1600/Front.jpg

    http://gallery.photo.net/photo/2981946-md.jpg

    "French" rapper La Fouine (Laouni Mouhid)..

    http://images.zap2it.com/images/celeb-566724/la-fouine-0.jpg

    the brown in Northwest Africa is not the same as the brown in Egypt, yemen or India...because it is a cold region with a hot sun and the skin color changes with seasons ...

    anyway, I have the same reservations on the reconstruction of the Mechta Afalou man by Elisabeth Daynes....Because it was Assumed that Northwest Africa was not occupied by its natives....the Afalou man was most likely a mix and not a West Asian looking one...

    http://s1.zetaboards.com/anthroscape/topic/2264152/1/

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  19. Joy: what you say about hair texture is interesting. The http://www.snpedia.com/index.php/Rs3827760 >rs3827760C it is a variant that is not only associated to hair thickness in East Asians but also to shovel shaped incisors. This means that it is probably one of the main "race-defining" SNPs (yet let's not forget that incisor shoveling also has some incidence in Northern Europe, probably because of diluted Siberian influences).

    It remains to be seen if this is the gene of straight hair or an extra modification on something even more basic, shared by East and West Eurasians (excepting Melanesians surely).

    I was "just saying"... in any case. Launching an idea around...

    "... the gene for red hair was found in Neanderthal DNA"...

    This is not true: a red hair color coding allele was found in an Iberian Neanderthal but this SNP is totally different to the ones coding for red color among modern humans. So in this particular case, it seems that we evolved convergently to Neanderthals and not that Neanderthal genes introgressed to us, not in this case of red hair. However we cannot exclude that Neanderthals or their relatives could have other genes also coding for red hair which have introgressed into us but I'm reluctant to accept that idea unless evidence comes up first.

    It is much more likely that both the pheomelanin and eumelanin depigmentation trends (red and blond) are just adaptions to low insolation conditions (vit. D generation). The tendencies to produce pheomelanin or not existed (and still exist) among people with dark hair. When the black hair (and related skin-tanning) genes are neutralized somehow, then you get the typical red-hair. Among people who produce little pheomelanin, then you get blonds.

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  20. @Dalouh:

    Very nice examples of archetypal "archaic" North Africans (pseudo-Mogoloid, pseudo-Khoisanid, "Atlasid").

    I can agree with what you say about Mechta Afalou but I would need to compare skulls rather that look once and again to that particular reconstruction. You say he looks West Asian but I'd say he actually looks more like European. This may be emphasized by her poor choice of skin color (too white even for Europe, as long as we think of people living mostly outside). Also no idea why he'd be so hairy... a caprice?

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  21. "This is not true: a red hair color coding allele was found in an Iberian Neanderthal but this SNP is totally different to the ones coding for red color among modern humans."

    Either I missed that detail or forgot it ... well it has been a few years since the publication. Hopefully not Alzheimers!

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  22. No big deal: it was for some time a popular hypothesis that modern red hair had been inherited from Neanderthals. How ironical it was that when it was confirmed that Neanderthals had indeed in some cases red hair, this was caused by a different allele than among moderns.

    Most red-hair related alleles are found in Africans, even if at low apportions. It is very possible that they play also a role in skin tone variations in Africa as well, even if they are more subtle. Similarly among black haired white people these genes surely also play some role in skin shades. You'd probably have noticed that some people have more yellowish and others more reddish skin tones, this must be caused, at least in part, by these alleles, even among black haired people.

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  23. At least some gorillas appear to have some wavy or curly hair. It seems like their hair frequently looks considerably wavy or curly when it is a bit wet.

    http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/200710/r190094_713838.jpg
    http://images.travelpod.com/users/ad_n_caz/ad_n_caz_rtw.1099084020.baby_gorilla.jpg

    You can see some more if you glance through some pages here:

    http://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&hl=en&source=hp&biw=1003&bih=543&q=gorilla+rwanda
    http://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&hl=en&source=hp&biw=1003&bih=543&q=gorilla+congo
    http://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&hl=en&source=hp&biw=1003&bih=543&q=gorilla+rwanda+volcanoes+national+park

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