November 24, 2011

Echoes from the Past (Nov 24)

Another long list of interesting news and stuff that I will probably have to neglect dealing with more in depth:

Archaic hominins

Mundo Neandertal: final dating for Australopithecus sediba[es] - who could be our direct ancestor has been dated as precisely as 1.977 ± 0.002 million years ago (that's very precise!) - see also the paper at Science magazine (ppv).

Smiling Sediba

Human tooth dated to 450,000 years ago found in a Moroccan cave[es] - ABC, the PDF report[fr] also documents remains of a rhinoceros and another more complete H. erectus jaw.

This jaw was found in the same site in 2008 and has a similar date

Update on the above: an academic narrative proposes that these H. erectus senso lato (or H. ergaster) of Morocco might be a last common ancestor between Neanderthals and our species, originating both. Quite controversially, on the same grounds they propose population continuity from these remains up to Aterian culture. The specific evidence is not there that I can see but it's always interesting to know that such opinion exists. ··> PDF (scroll down for English text), another decades-old ref. in French only by L. Balout.

El Neandertal tonto ¡qué timo!: Backbone curvature and bipedal locomotion in promates[es] - this is big deal instead because it adds to a lot of other anatomical differences between the two big-headed Homo species. See also the paper at AJPA (ppv).

Neanderthals Vanished Because of Their Own Success, Suggests Study | Popular Archaeology - exploring the past - I have read the paper and, honestly, I must disagree with it having any validity other than hypothesis exposition.

Upper paleolithic

The newly found engraving resembles closely others from the same site

Rock art from La Garma cave

Wales: The Kendrick’s Cave horse jawbone « The Heritage Journal. It's been holographed and a paper has been published for the occasion.

The Kendrick's Cave decorated horse jaw


The Coa penises: mine is bigger, haw haw!


- a very interesting looking paper that I hope to be able to read in full and comment soon.

Bones kill myth of happy Harappa -  complex story open to interpretation in fact.

Art rocks in Saudi Arabia | Past Horizon - another very interesting material I'd love to mention in a separate entry (date of the art is not know but I'm assuming Neolithic or even more recent from the looks).


Archaeological vandalism and other abuses (often institutional abuses)

Pileta de Prehistoria: Cueva del Tesoro: ten years of abandonment[es]. How the Andalusian authorities ignore important archaeological sites and let them decay and be vandalized.

Pileta de Prehistoria: Chamizo asks again for information on the Chalcolithic Center[es]... of Valencina de la Concepción. The town hall promised such actuations in defense of the megalithic patrimony and has totally just ignored their responsibility and public compromises.

Eliseo Gil
Ostraka euskalduna » Eliseo Gil on trial for three years already[eu] - the former director of the Iruña-Veleia Vasco-Roman site has been on trial for three years already, demanding since day one that physical tests be done in order to confirm the authenticity of the findings and with the chartered provincial government totally ignoring the matter in open disobedience to the court (low rank tribunals in Spain never dare to confront political authority).

Human genetics

PLoS ONE: Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup Background Affects LHON, but Not Suspected LHON, in Chinese Patients - what did I say about English and acronyms abuse? LHON stands for "Leber hereditary optic neuropathy", which is probably as extremely rare as not to matter at all in evolutionary terms.


"False-positive psychology" | john hawks weblog - interesting take on how (not) to deceive yourself when doing scientific research.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. many thx maju:)
    I know that Achueleans were Homo-Erectus distinct category called Anthropus Mauretanicus" Homo-Heidelbergensis type" mainly founded around western Europe to Northwest africa. Likely the best candidate or the one which was considered as the "ancestor of Neanderthals and Homo-Sapiens". anyway , according to many Moroccan-French studies Acheaulean give the birth of Mousterian culture in North Africa and Europe, fallowed by the Aterian one " many aterian skulls are regarded as mousterian one like Jebel Irhoud for example", then there was transition to the Azilian or Iberu-Maurusian Cultures, the Mechtoids are known to be Afro_Eurasiatics peoples with their OOA and back Eurasian Migrations until the capsian Era.
    Proto capsian culture is strongly related to Iberu-Maurusian cultures of Tunisia and Lybia.
    hence there was another transition of capsian culture to Bell-Beaker specially In morocco and to Proto_Kushitic and Proto_Nilo_saharan, proto_chadic cultures in the sahel and saharan area.
    while capsian culture still pre dominantly dominant in northren africa from egypt to central algeria and southern morocco to canary islands. known as berber culture.
    ANYHOW u can find all these details in this Link:

  3. Well, thanks to you. I had no reference before these suggesting a common Neanderthal-Sapiens ancestor precisely in Morocco. The generic common ancestor IMO is H. ergaster which is just generically African - however there are other theories.

    From the second paper (better link):

    Anthropologists are passionately interested in the Human fossils found in Morocco (29). Africa has for several million years been the demographic and evolutionary core of human lineage. Moroccan specimens form a fundamental unity for comparison with European series. These fossils document Homo sapiens specie’s emergence from more primitive forms. Human remains discovered in Casablanca, Salé (30) and Rabat are morphologically rather close and considered as the oldest representatives of Homo sapiens specie or as evolved representatives of the preceding specie, Homo erectus. No complete cranium of this age is known in Africa North of Sahara. As a matter of fact, on Africa’s scale, very few specimens are attributed to this great turning point of humanity’s evolution... We, thus, carried on a computer reconstruction of a potential cranium mixing preserved fragments from several individuals. The data processing allows to reconstruct missing parts by reproducing symmetrically better preserved regions. This potential reconstruction (31) is the first ever made on a human fossil. Human fossils discovered in Djebel Irhoud, near Safi (32 top), combine, indeed, some rather primitive features, such as heavy relieves above orbits and great robustness, and resolutely modern features (32 bottom). About 125 000 years old, they foretell modern morphology known in Near East 100 000 years ago. The comparison with Aterian fossils demonstrates the peopling continuity of the area. Population exchanges through Gibraltar Strait seem to have been very scarce. Aterian fossils from Dar es Soltane (33) demonstrate an “on the spot” evolution from Djebel Irhoud forms.

    It is an interesting narrative (and I'll be sure to add a link to this text) but I can only think that the hypothesis is far from proven, specially with such a brief text-only argumentation.

    I'll check your other paper as well, although the fact that is dated to c. 1950 does not look too good.

  4. well :) I will send to you some of these franco-German-British-Maghrebian studies
    the relationship of Homo Ergaster or Homo Heidlebergensis with Aterians and the Iberu Maurusian Evolution from the Aterian
    and other details about Nezlat Elkhater and Human migrations from North East Africa to Asia
    and of course other abstracts

    here , another ancient homo sapien called ifri n'ammar 175kya

    From the Science Podcast: an interview with Science's Michael Balter on the growing evidence that North Africa was the original home of the modern humans who first trekked out of the continent.

  5. I do not of course question that Aterian is very old (c. 130 Ka? Even older?) in North Africa. In fact I have now and then suggested that some of the modernly retained mtDNA lineages, of the L(xM,N) kind, in North Africa, maybe from that period. Furthermore, Y-DNA evidence also also includes very old distinct lineages, albeit from West and Central Africa most likely.

    However the overall DNA diversity clues tell us that North Africa does not look at all like the ancestral homeland of modern Humankind:

    (1) Autosomal DNA clearly points to Africa South of the Sahara, with a sharp decline in diversity as we cross the big desert in northwards direction.

    (2) Mitochondrial DNA is quite conclusive on East Africa (Ethiopia, maybe Sudan... but that area of the Upper Nile): my elaboration reaches similar results than Behar's, although I tend to emphasize less Ethiopia as such (admittedly I worked with his raw data but analyzed them independently).

    (3) The most supportive element could be Y-DNA (link above) but then it looks more like West African (A1a) or Pygmy (A1b, the oldest separate branch, shared only with Mozabites at the current state of knowledge).

    Would it be only for Y-DNA, then I'd be more open to your suggestion, but all the rest (and Y-DNA as well, even if less strongly so) suggest Africa South of the Sahara.

  6. I think that we have all to accept that North West Africa has suffered intermittent dessication in which kept its Paleolithic populations at rather low numbers (though I would not really imagine total extinction even in the worst case just because climatic reasons). Inversely in the Pluvial periods it surely incorporated immigrants from Tropical Africa, which have, it seems to me, erased the genetic signature of the earliest inhabitants (such as Jebel Irhoud), regardless that some less important ancestry from those origins might have been retained until today (?)

    Besides the unclear case of A1 old Y-DNA lineages, the oldest mtDNA signature I can discern is probably from the Abassia Pluvial and hence Aterian (assuming dates of c. 110 Ka, not 170 Ka!)

    This signature is thin (and so far unresearched, except for my blog suggestions, AFAIK) but I understand that it is a threat that can be followed (and also, different lineages, in Arabia Peninsula and maybe Egypt) to the period of the Out of Africa migration, which must be within that Abassia Pluvial time frame.

    Earlier continuity, if it exists, is not apparent in mtDNA at least and I doubt it can be identified easily in any kind of DNA.

  7. Another element I'd like to underline is that the Aterian, regardless of its undoubted sophistication, does not seem to produce any other techno-culture that I know of. What we see is Tropical and specially Southern African MSA ("Middle Stone Age", actually an all-covering Solutrean-like stone tech of Africa and India) participating in the OoA to India.

  8. The Harappan dig is suggestive to me of mercy killing of those who were already dying of a dreaded disease in one of the main homicide consistent injury sites.

  9. That's what the Harappa finding has: that it can be interpreted in so many ways...


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