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Oldest human found in Israel - Challenges conventional out of Africa Theory.

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  • 12-01-2011 9:14pm
    #1
    Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 7,225 ✭✭✭


    This is an article from back in December, that seemed to slip us by, probably too busy thinking about Denisovian hanky panky ;)

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jYU4h8Hx0oKxhOJbe8LNQXlBsNNQ?docId=CNG.931a94a2c7ebe97a39cda7089b78517d.2f1
    JERUSALEM — Israeli archaeologists have discovered human remains dating from 400,000 years ago, challenging conventional wisdom that Homo sapiens originated in Africa, the leader of excavations in Israel said on Tuesday.
    Avi Gopher, of Tel Aviv University's Institute of Archaeology, said testing of stalagmites, stalactites and other material found in a cave east of Tel Aviv indicates that eight teeth uncovered there could be the earliest traces so far of our species.
    "Our cave was used for a period of about 250,000 years -- from about 400,000 years ago to about 200,000 years ago," he told AFP.
    "The teeth are scattered through the layers of the cave, some in the deeper part, that is to say from 400,000 years and through all kinds of other layers that can be up to 200,000 years. The oldest are 400,000 years old", he added."
    That calls into question the widely held view that Africa was the birthplace of modern man, said Gopher, who headed the dig at Qesem Cave.
    "It is accepted at the moment that the earliest Homo sapiens that we know is in east Africa and is 200,000 years old, or a little less. We don't know of anywhere else where anyone claims to have an earlier Homo sapiens," he said.
    Gopher said the first teeth were discovered in 2006 but he and his team waited until they had several samples, then conducted years of testing, using a variety of dating methods, before publishing their findings.
    Digging continues at the cave, the university said, with researchers hoping to "uncover additional finds that will enable them to confirm the findings published up to now and to enhance our understanding of the evolution of mankind, and especially the appearance of modern man."

    ShowImage.ashx?ID=155985

    Another more technical article here: http://www.jpost.com/Sci-Tech/Article.aspx?id=201076

    With this finding, and the other ones in Spain, Russia and China, serious doubt has been cast on the conventional Out of Africa theory of human evolution.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 962 ✭✭✭darjeeling


    yekahs wrote: »
    This is an article from back in December, that seemed to slip us by, probably too busy thinking about Denisovian hanky panky ;)

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jYU4h8Hx0oKxhOJbe8LNQXlBsNNQ?docId=CNG.931a94a2c7ebe97a39cda7089b78517d.2f1



    ShowImage.ashx?ID=155985

    Another more technical article here: http://www.jpost.com/Sci-Tech/Article.aspx?id=201076

    With this finding, and the other ones in Spain, Russia and China, serious doubt has been cast on the conventional Out of Africa theory of human evolution.

    This doesn't fit with the molecular data, though. We expect the region in which modern humans evolved to show the greatest genetic diversity today, and the greatest diversity is found in Africa. People throughout the rest of the world essentially represent a sub-sampling of that African diversity. We now know that there's been a small additional Neanderthal and Denisovan contribution to non-African genomes via inter-breeding, and we may well find evidence of more such events, but the broad picture is unchanged.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 7,225 ✭✭✭Yitzhak Rabin


    darjeeling wrote: »
    This doesn't fit with the molecular data, though. We expect the region in which modern humans evolved to show the greatest genetic diversity today, and the greatest diversity is found in Africa. People throughout the rest of the world essentially represent a sub-sampling of that African diversity. We now know that there's been a small additional Neanderthal and Denisovan contribution to non-African genomes via inter-breeding, and we may well find evidence of more such events, but the broad picture is unchanged.

    If these are sapien fossils, and they are as old as the study indicates, then it at the very least means sapiens left Africa way before we ever thought. Doesn't it also opens the possibility that erectus left Africa, and perhaps sapiens evolved in a place outside of Africa and recolonised Africa? Just because Africa shows the most genetic diversity today, doesn't necessarily mean that it is the birthplace of modern humans though does it? Sapiens could have colonised africa from, say, the middle east, and the group that was left in the middle east could have died out?


  • Registered Users Posts: 962 ✭✭✭darjeeling


    yekahs wrote: »
    Sapiens could have colonised africa from, say, the middle east, and the group that was left in the middle east could have died out?
    Which brings us in essence back to Out of Africa - modern humans today descending from a recent African exodus. But this is all an aside - I'll go on...
    Doesn't it also opens the possibility that erectus left Africa, and perhaps sapiens evolved in a place outside of Africa and recolonised Africa?
    Well we know that Homo erectus left Africa, as they've been found throughout Asia. We also know that other hominins left Africa much earlier than Homo sapiens. So this is a separate matter from early Homo sapiens evolution. I'll go on again...
    yekahs wrote: »
    If these are sapien fossils, and they are as old as the study indicates

    And this really is the heart of it. Looking at the paper, we see that many of the teeth - in particular the ones dated to more recently - could as well be locally-evolved Neanderthal as Homo sapiens. The oldest teeth may have a closer similarity to Homo sapiens (which would be paradoxical), [edit] but even if this were borne out by further research, it wouldn't rule out the teeth being from a yet unknown middle pleistocene Homo population, possibly one that spread out from Africa before the first true modern Homo sapiens. Given the large age difference between earliest and most recent teeth, there's also no guarantee that all the individuals belonged to a continuous population. [/edit]

    The media hype around this story certainly goes far beyond what can safely be stated from the data alone.

    .


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,400 ✭✭✭✭Skerries


    they probably left earlier looking for work and when the recession hit and the price of rocks dropped they all went back home


  • Registered Users Posts: 962 ✭✭✭darjeeling


    Just to flesh out my post above...
    There are three scenarios that might account for the morphological details in the Qesem teeth. The first one is of a local archaic Homo population occupying southwest Asia during the Middle Pleistocene, to which the Qesem specimens would be attributed. Perhaps relevant in this regard, the Qesem lithic assemblages studied to date indicate a local origin, with no evidence of African and or European cultural affinities (Barkai et al.,2005; Gopher et al.,2005; Barkai et al.,2009). [...]

    The second scenario is one of long-term in situ evolution of Neanderthals in southwest Asia. [...] Under this scenario, southwest Asia would represent one regional subpopulation within the wider geographic range of the evolving Neanderthal lineage. Nonetheless, the large and well dated samples of fossil humans from Skhul/Qafzeh that post date the Qesem specimens but predate most of the Neanderthal specimens from the region do not show an accentuation of Neanderthal features.

    The third scenario is that more than one Pleistocene human taxon is represented within the Qesem dental sample. [...]

    Resolution of these alternative scenarios must await further discoveries of additional and more complete Middle Pleistocene remains from southwest Asia. Nevertheless, the Qesem specimens represent an important contribution to the growing sample of Pleistocene human fossils from this circum-Mediterranean region of the Old World.

    Nowhere do they say that they think that modern homo sapiens evolved in the Middle East, yet this is how the paper has been spun in the media, to the annoyance of expert bloggers and other academics.

    Once again, a paper drawing some fairly modest conclusions is followed by media reports in which one or more authors are quoted going well beyond what they've written and making pretty extravagant claims. It happened recently with the fossil lemur dubbed 'Ida' and to a slightly lesser extent with Australopithecus sediba. Increasingly it's being left to informed bloggers to see through the hype and tell us the real significance - if any - of what's been reported.


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