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Human fossils from SW China ~12,000 years BP with a mix of modern & archaic features

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  • 14-03-2012 7:14pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 962 ✭✭✭


    Saw this today in the Guardian describing research on a number of human fossils dubbed the 'Red Deer Cave people' spanning several thousand years from ~14,000 to ~11,500 BP from two sites in south-western China.

    The PLoS One paper referred to (free access here) describes a variety of morphometric measurements on a partial skull from one site, and skull fragments and mandibles from another, and puts them into context by comparing with modern humans, Neanderthals and Homo erectus.

    The fossils have features that distinguish them from modern humans, though are more like modern humans than Neanderthals. They fall between modern humans and H. erectus in analyses where enough erectus fossil data is available.

    A few alternative interpretations are given by scientists quoted in the Guardian article: genetic drift in a small population of modern humans, an early breakaway lineage before modern humans left Africa, or interbreeding between modern and archaic humans. No viable DNA was obtained, making it hard to get a clearer picture of these people's ancestry.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 27,564 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy


    darjeeling wrote: »
    Saw this today in the Guardian describing research on a number of human fossils dubbed the 'Red Deer Cave people' spanning several thousand years from ~14,000 to ~11,500 BP from two sites in south-western China.

    The PLoS One paper referred to (free access here) describes a variety of morphometric measurements on a partial skull from one site, and skull fragments and mandibles from another, and puts them into context by comparing with modern humans, Neanderthals and Homo erectus.

    The fossils have features that distinguish them from modern humans, though are more like modern humans than Neanderthals. They fall between modern humans and H. erectus in analyses where enough erectus fossil data is available.

    A few alternative interpretations are given by scientists quoted in the Guardian article: genetic drift in a small population of modern humans, an early breakaway lineage before modern humans left Africa, or interbreeding between modern and archaic humans. No viable DNA was obtained, making it hard to get a clearer picture of these people's ancestry.

    Dang you beat me too it! Again though this backs up the minority thinking that hominds other than humans lived up until much more recently than we think.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,276 ✭✭✭readyletsgo


    Sorry to highjack the thread, but after reading OP, I remembered seeing a docu on TV about 5 or so years ago about all the different 'versions' of humanoids over the many many thousands of years evolving, and showing how they may have died out and we survived or some such. Could have been a BBC doc.
    Anyone on here remember the name of it? Would love to see it again.

    Sorry to derail.

    Thanks!


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,564 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy


    Agian just to say the mix of archaic and modern features is very interesting. Hopefully it will be possible to sequence dna. We should also pay more attention to Asia in our searchs.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,564 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy


    Sorry to highjack the thread, but after reading OP, I remembered seeing a docu on TV about 5 or so years ago about all the different 'versions' of humanoids over the many many thousands of years evolving, and showing how they may have died out and we survived or some such. Could have been a BBC doc.
    Anyone on here remember the name of it? Would love to see it again.

    Sorry to derail.

    Thanks!

    It wasnt walking with caveman was it?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,276 ✭✭✭readyletsgo


    steddyeddy wrote: »
    It wasnt walking with caveman was it?

    I'm not 100% tbh, it just showed what the producers thought these 7 (or more) different versions of humanoids may have been like, I remember one being only a foot or two tall.
    I wouldnt be to up on all of this at all now to tell you the truth.
    Hope I didnt dream it lol. Just remember it being really interesting but was only an hour long, but could have been a full series.

    Edit: just read up on the Walking with Cavemen series on Amazon, I dont think it was that at all. The one I am talking/thinking about was based around different versions of apes nearly evolving I think and homosapiens win out due to us evolving faster or something.

    Sorry I can not be much clearer as it was so long ago now. Prob not the place top ask maybe for a tv show :-)


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭Adam Khor


    I'm not 100% tbh, it just showed what the producers thought these 7 (or more) different versions of humanoids may have been like, I remember one being only a foot or two tall.

    That sounds like it mentioned Homo floresiensis which was not in Walking with Cavemen. I don´t remember any shows like the one you describe, sorry :/ Maybe Wibbs will know about it :pac:

    Damn, I thought I would get to post these news first! XD Its very interesting that this new species was around at the same time that Homo sapiens and Homo floresiensis. Makes you wonder what other human species may have existed in different spots of the planet that we don´t know about...


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,564 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy


    Adam Khor wrote: »
    That sounds like it mentioned Homo floresiensis which was not in Walking with Cavemen. I don´t remember any shows like the one you describe, sorry :/ Maybe Wibbs will know about it :pac:

    Damn, I thought I would get to post these news first! XD Its very interesting that this new species was around at the same time that Homo sapiens and Homo floresiensis. Makes you wonder what other human species may have existed in different spots of the planet that we don´t know about...

    Im guessing there will be at least a lot more branches discovered that reach into modern times.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,126 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs


    steddyeddy wrote: »
    Im guessing there will be at least a lot more branches discovered that reach into modern times.
    +1 Crystal ball time... Neandertals survived a fair few thousand years beyond what we currently think. Erectus(of the various kinds) even more so. Mixes of both around until at least 20,000 years ago, more like 10 KYA. My wild theory? Animal husbandry(other than dogs) and agriculture is what "killed off" the archaic mixes to the point where they're just echoes in all our DNA* Flores is not the only later survival blip.




    *Inc African populations. Much is made of the Neandertal and other archaic DNA in non Africans and absent in them. I say, it's because we're not looking in the right spots and the preservation of archaic DNA in Africa is problematic. If as we think now Sapiens evolved in Nth east Africa and migrated outward, it seems daft they didn't migrate inward to areas where archaic African folks were already in situ and then get jiggy with them.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,126 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs


    This may make people look again at some of the Australian human fossils that show archaic features. Actually I'd compare these Chinese folks with the roughly contemporaneous Aussie folks and see are there any matches. Australia is a funny one. The earliest Aussies look more "modern" than a batch that show up around 15 KYA(IIRC). Maybe a new influx from Asia. Maybe rellies of these Chinese lads?

    My personal take has been that the first Aussies got there remarkably quickly from Africa hence look more modern. Ran along the coast(leaving African folks in their wake. IE Andaman Islanders) and directly into Australia. Then later migrations came in from populations that had gone more inland in the intervening time and got jiggy with much older populations. People from the extremes of East Asia have about the highest amounts of older DNA so far found, which might plug into this.

    This Chinese material is not the first to show odd features. There are fossils from around 100,000 years ago that go the opposite way and look more modern. There are also fossils that look uncannily like classic Neandertals, or what I would call within the range of Erectus 2.0.

    I sooo agree with steddyeddy when he says we should look more in Asia. The current basic theory is that erectus 1.0 goes all over teh world, but only in Africa and Europe does it evolve into sapiens and nendertal respectively(erectus 2.0). That in Asia it stays Erectus 1.0 until we come along and replace them. This make NO sense. Not when you consider the very diverse environments of that part of the world. They had major variations in climate too. We tend to think of Europe = Ice age, with a side order of the Americas, but Asia had the same ice ages at the same time. I'm am convinced they had their own Erectus 2.0, maybe more than one. Modern Sapiens for me is Erectus 2.1, the "upgrade" that came from the mix of all the others, culturally and genetically.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭Adam Khor


    Nat Geo's article on the subject. Of course, there's already people saying its "nothing extraordinary":

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/03/120314-new-human-species-chinese-plos-science-red-deer-cave/


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  • Registered Users Posts: 962 ✭✭✭darjeeling


    Another of those only-DNA-will-tell situations, but it's not the best part of the world for DNA preservation (too hot and humid) so I wouldn't be very hopeful.


  • Registered Users Posts: 962 ✭✭✭darjeeling


    Material World podcast from BBC Radio 4 has an interview with lead author Darren Curnoe. Link here, or you can get it from iTunes.

    Pretty much every time there's a big new hominin paper, they get one of the authors on to talk about it within a week, so it's always worth listening in.

    Edit:
    One possibility discussed is whether or not the new fossils could be descended wholly or partly from the Denisovan people known to be surviving in central Asia in around 40,000 BP, whose DNA has contributed to modern Melanesian people. There aren't any Denisovan skulls yet, but if one turns up then it would be interesting to see if it looks like the new SW China skull fossils.


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