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The Australopithecine and Early Hominin Thread

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  • Wibbs wrote: »
    Well processed and wore hides anyway. Clothes is a step more. It seem, so far anyway, that we were the first to have needles to more carefully tailor clothes to fit.

    They said the same about Neanderthals, didn´t they? I remember in one of our early discussions someone mentioned that they didn´t seem to wear clothes either but hell, you never know anymore with these guys...

    You know what would be cool? If we could have a post dedicated to hominins in which we wrote what is actually known about each species (Neanderthalensis, erectus, etc) and we could update it as more stuff is found. Much of what you've told us about them doesn´t show in Wikipedia... :P




  • A thread that was full of Wibbs posting his thoughts/knowledge with regards to hominins?



    That actually sounds like a fantastic idea as I love reading his posts on that topic. I have gone and read up on so many things (that I most likely would not have) because of his posts on here.




  • you wouldn't need needles - remember Bear Grylls in the seal suit ?

    Or you could make a nice hoodie out of a cave bear




  • Or maybe they/some archaic hominids could take more extremes of weather than we give credit for? For a start they may have been hairier, or at least selected for hairier at times through their history? They may have had a slightly thicker layer of adipose tissue on top of their muscles?

    Or like I say maybe they could get used to lower temps without fitted clothes. I have an old book somewhere in my gaff, written in the 1890's IIRC where the author describes natives of Tierra del Fuego who he observed as having little more than cloaks of rough furs on otherwise naked bodies. Here you'll see examples. Warning NSFW with some native boobies on show(PM's Galvasean the link..:D). The young ladies are standing stripped to the waist in a snowscape. IIRC Darwin notes this too. Now Tierra del Fuego has got to be in the running for "Worst area descriptive name ever". Up there with Greenland. Land of fire my arse. "Tierra de monos de bronce/Land of brass monkeys" more like. Yet these folks lived there quite happily. Their living arrangements weren't much cosier, mostly relying on glorified windbreaks.

    Recently enough there were tools of the Mousterian type found in eastern Europe at a latitude far more northerly and more recent than expected. That tool set is indicative(though not exclusively though usually in Europe AFAIK) to Neandertals, who weren't expected that far north, so maybe a little of the Tierra del Fuego folks going on? Plus whatever about Erectus, Neandertals were more cold adapted. Thickset very heavily muscled bodies which develop a lot of heat, so more able to take lower temps with not much more than ponchos. In summer I'd say they were likely wandering around in the nip like German nudists because of excess heat.

    Plus as the good Captain points out there is more than one way to skin a cat, or elk or bear or whatever to be better fitting. On top of that we come to tailoring itself. OK so far no needles for definite Neandertal sites, however they do find lots of scrapers for processing hides and even their non symmetric arm bone development didn't come from stabbing spears into large hairy things, but from said scraping. They also seemed to use their teeth as a third hand in such processing, so they were rattling out raw materials a fair bit. That tells me anyway, that they were going through this raw material pretty quickly. Wear and tear? OK, but a wrap or a poncho doesn't wear and tear nearly so quickly as something more fitted so maybe..? Though maybe they were using the hides like tents/teepees where they'd need lots of it? Maybe they discarded the hides soon after use? Doesn't compute. They lived in Europe for half a million years, so they weren't exactly crosseyed gobshítes.

    Now they also find burins, sharp pointed stone tools with lots of point wear. Sure they might and had been drilling wood or bone, but equally they might have been drilling holes in leather. Add in sinew to those holes and OK you're not getting Chanel tailoring, but you're doing OK. I reckon there's an element of "we use needles to cut holes and to thread...well thread :D, so that's how others would do it and if they didn't they didn't have tailoring". I haven't seen Erectus burins as far as I can recall(then again :s) so ponchos and wraps might have been all they had. Even so that extra layer might give you a few degrees more of cold tolerance. I know if I was stuck in the wicklow mountains in November given a choice between in the nip and in the nip with a bearskin, I'll take the latter please Carol. So long as I personally don't have to get the skin from the actual bear, who I'm quite sure would be pissed off at the suggestion. :D


    Odd late night aside; I hate that we will never know what they called themselves. Erectus, Neandertal, Denisovans etc is so removed from them and who they were, or might have been. A necessary, but dry description on a label. Did they think of and describe themselves by family or group name or area or did they have the concept of "Us" as a distinctive people? Especially if and when they encountered other humans like us? Maybe that came later? After all early Us, looked fairly close to Them at the time, so maybe such distinctions weren't that obvious? We got jiggy enough with each other for it to survive down to today, so maybe not, or maybe all of us got off on the exotic as we do today? I mean how many threads in AH and elsewhere across the world wide webbage do we see "foreign men/women are sexier"? www.PaleolithicBoards.ie might well have had similar threads. "Sapiens boys are sooooo scrawny. Give me a Neandertal boy any day. hubba hubba". :D

    Few enough were innocent in the past, few enough are innocent in the present, we just don’t know why yet.





  • Wibbs wrote: »
    I have an old book somewhere in my gaff, written in the 1890's IIRC where the author describes natives of Tierra del Fuego
    IIRC Some French researchers tried sleeping like they did, but kept waking. Looks like those natives could take wider changes in body core temperatures than we could.

    Either they adapted very quickly or was there a tiny off chance they were still adapted from crossing the Bearing Strait ?


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  • Wibbs wrote: »
    Now Tierra del Fuego has got to be in the running for "Worst area descriptive name ever". Up there with Greenland. Land of fire my arse. "Tierra de monos de bronce/Land of brass monkeys" more like. Yet these folks lived there quite happily.

    I read just days ago that they called it Tierra del Fuego because of the fires used by the natives to warm themselves which were seen as lights from ships... but I don´t know how true that is. I always found it rather odd a name for such a place, just like Greenland, too :>




  • Adam Khor wrote: »
    I read just days ago that they called it Tierra del Fuego because of the fires used by the natives to warm themselves which were seen as lights from ships... but I don´t know how true that is. I always found it rather odd a name for such a place, just like Greenland, too :>

    Yep, actually it was originally called the land of smoke, but changed it later to fire.

    I was in the Argie part only last month. It was the middle of summer and it was still miserable! I like Wibb's name :p




  • Adam Khor wrote: »
    I always found it rather odd a name for such a place, just like Greenland, too :>
    Well Greenland used to be green, or at least greener, though I suspect the name was more like advertising for settlers...

    Few enough were innocent in the past, few enough are innocent in the present, we just don’t know why yet.





  • Adam Khor wrote: »
    I read just days ago that they called it Tierra del Fuego because of the fires used by the natives to warm themselves which were seen as lights from ships... but I don´t know how true that is. I always found it rather odd a name for such a place, just like Greenland, too :>

    Green was the first thing european explorers saw when they pulled up to greenland so it got the name greenland!




  • The part that caught my eye the most: "Probably the pygmy-like people exterminated the larger bodied people and then migrated to other pastures including Africa".

    Regardless of whether its true, the idea of prehistoric pygmies exterminating big people is kinda cool.

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Kolkata/African-pygmies-may-have-roots-in-Narmada-valley-says-new-study/Article1-980375.aspx

    Beware of evil hobbits now...
    bilbo.jpg


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  • Isn't it more likely that the Indian Hamada valley pygmys ( and their proposed close relative the andaman islanders) originated in Africa rather than the other way around?




  • Isn't it more likely that the Indian Hamada valley pygmys ( and their proposed close relative the andaman islanders) originated in Africa rather than the other way around?

    Yes, that sounds more likely. Alternatively they could just be another population which adapted to their environment in the same way -- a case of convergent evolution.




  • Yeah, that's what I thought too. Guess for the Indian readers it is more satisfying to read that the origin of something was in India and not in Africa for a change :D




  • Turkana Boy found to be non pathological. I didn´t even know he was supossed to be pathological. Shows how much I know...

    http://news.yahoo.com/best-preserved-human-ancestor-didnt-bone-disorder-152318177.html

    Turkana-Boy-skeleton.jpg1363711350




  • Great points by yer man. My take would be that the spine is the important bit. It was constricted in a seemingly pathological way. It was about the first thing noted of the lad when first found. Still angles like this are brilliant to read, especially from such learned quarters. He's got a great face though. I always thought he had a great nobility to his features.

    Few enough were innocent in the past, few enough are innocent in the present, we just don’t know why yet.





  • New research seems to indicate that the "hobbit" is a new species and not a group of humans with laron's disease, cretinisim or microcephaly. It may have been likely when the first specimen was discovered but the discovery of subsequent specimens made this highly unlikely IMHO.

    Heres the article below and I bolded my favouraite bit. The bit which leaves some room in the debate as to whether the hobbit is a descendant of an australopithicus or homo habilis with more wander lust than we give them credit for or a dwarf like descendant of homo erectus. Myself I choose the small bodied ancestor over the erectus thoery but I would be happy to hear everyones opinions on this. Myself and Wibbs had a great debate about this previously!

    A joint Australian-Indonesian team of archaeologists unearthed partial
    skeletons of nine small-bodied hominins on the Indonesian island of Flores in
    2003. Among the specimens found were an 18,000-year-old almost complete skull
    (labeled LB1) and a partial skeleton, consisting of leg bones, parts of the
    pelvis, hands and feet, and some other fragments. The fossils have been
    attributed to a new human species, Homo floresiensis.


    LB1 was an adult of about 30, probably female. She was only about 3.3 feet (1
    m) in height with a very small brain size of 417 cc.


    Since the discovery, researchers have clashed over whether LB1 really does
    represent a species of its own, a descendant of Homo erectus or a
    pathological form of Homo sapiens.


    “The origin of hominins found on the remote Indonesian island of Flores
    remains highly contentious,” Dr Harvati and her colleagues wrote in a paper reporting the findings in the
    open-access journal PLoS ONE
    .


    “These specimens may represent a new hominin species, Homo
    floresiensis
    , descended from a local population of Homo erectus or
    from an earlier migration of a small-bodied and small-brained hominin out of
    Africa. Alternatively, some workers suggest that some or all of the specimens
    recovered from Liang Bua are pathological members of a small-bodied modern human
    population. Pathological conditions proposed to explain their documented
    anatomical features include microcephaly, cretinism and Laron syndrome.”


    Dr Harvati’s team compared the LB1 skull to skulls of healthy modern humans,
    humans with microcephaly and other pathological conditions, archaic
    Homo using methods of 3D geometric morphometrics. The methods use 3D
    coordinates of cranial surface anatomical landmarks, computer imaging and
    multivariate statistical analysis to achieve a detailed analysis of shape.


    “This is the most comprehensive study to date to simultaneously evaluate the
    two competing hypotheses about the status of Homo floresiensis.”


    The scientists found that the LB1 skull shows greater affinities to the
    fossil Homo sample than to pathological modern humans. Although some
    superficial similarities were found between LB1 and skulls of modern humans with
    pathologies, additional features linked LB1 exclusively with fossil
    Homo.


    Analyses of data show that LB1 is “clearly distinct from healthy modern
    humans and from those exhibiting hypothyroidism and Laron syndrome. Modern human
    microcephalic specimens converge, to some extent, on crania of extinct species
    of Homo. However in the features that distinguish these two groups, LB1
    consistently groups with fossil hominins and is most similar to H.
    erectus
    ,” the authors wrote.


    “Our study provides further support for recognizing the Flores hominins as a
    distinct species, H. floresiensis, whose affinities lie with archaic
    Homo.”


    Dr Harvati and colleagues said: “our findings provide the most comprehensive
    evidence to date linking the Homo floresiensis skull with extinct
    fossil human species rather than with pathological modern humans. Our study
    therefore refutes the hypothesis that this specimen represents a modern human
    with a pathological condition, such as microcephaly.”

    Also judging from the position of Flores is it unlikely that the small bodies hominid didnt occupy various other nearby islands such as Sumatra?




  • I never really bought the idea of it being a "diseased" human. I remember that when it was first found, there were also stone tools perfectly proportioned to the little guys (correct me if I'm wrong, plz).
    steddyeddy wrote: »

    Also judging from the position of Flores is it unlikely that the small bodies hominid didnt occupy various other nearby islands such as Sumatra?

    I remember reading that during part of the Pleistocene, Sumatra, Java and other nearby islands were all part of a larger continent called Sundaland, which would later become almost completely submerged. And apparently animals in Sundalands were huge (tigers, pangolins, elephants and tapirs, amongst others).
    I also think that Meganthropus would've been part of this fauna, although some say Meganthropus isn´t even valid now.

    What I don´t know is when exactly did Sundaland dissappear, or if Flores was a part of it originally.

    Maybe Wibbs can clear this up for us?




  • Adam Khor wrote: »
    I never really bought the idea of it being a "diseased" human. I remember that when it was first found, there were also stone tools perfectly proportioned to the little guys (correct me if I'm wrong, plz).
    IIRC the tools were "normal" enough in size. Even if they weren't lithic size isn't that great an indicator of the makers size. EG some Neandertal lithics can sometimes be very delicate and small and those lads were feckin bruisers.

    Actually the tools interest me. Their relative "modernity" in design is odd. NOt modern human level, but way beyond what would be expected of people of that great age. Indeed if it can be proven that the Hobbits made those tools(and the jury is still out) then for me that's as big a gamechanger as the little guys themselves. Dates seem to suggest they did, but it can be hard to pin down a maker unless you're sure there are no other potential makers in the area at the time.

    The idea that they're a possible even earlier migration out of africa is intriguing. My issue with that would be that the candidates we have for earlier African folks don't have a couple of the killer apps that allowed Erectus to go walkabout. Namely fire, bifacial(and other) stone toolset and a more meat based diet. Australopithecus was far more a herbivore and that restricts migrations into new territories. "Meat" is nearly everywhere you go on the planet, but vegetation varies a lot and much of it deadly.

    Now it's possible that another undiscovered new Homiind from that early time mae those leaps, enough to migrate and what we're seeing is the end point of those folks. That would be fantastic. Hopefully that's the case.

    MY take? The primitive wrist features et al are more a result of later features looking more ancient because of dwarfism adaptation that mimics the earlier hominids, rather than the the earlier folks themselves, if you know what I mean?

    AFAIK AK and from what I've read Flores has been an island for longer than humans were around in any form, so they would have had to make a sea voyage. Which raises even bigger questions. We're missing a fair bit of the jigsaw I reckon.

    Few enough were innocent in the past, few enough are innocent in the present, we just don’t know why yet.





  • Aliens, no doubt D:




  • Adam Khor wrote: »
    I never really bought the idea of it being a "diseased" human. I remember that when it was first found, there were also stone tools perfectly proportioned to the little guys (correct me if I'm wrong, plz).



    I remember reading that during part of the Pleistocene, Sumatra, Java and other nearby islands were all part of a larger continent called Sundaland, which would later become almost completely submerged. And apparently animals in Sundalands were huge (tigers, pangolins, elephants and tapirs, amongst others).
    I also think that Meganthropus would've been part of this fauna, although some say Meganthropus isn´t even valid now.

    What I don´t know is when exactly did Sundaland dissappear, or if Flores was a part of it originally.

    Maybe Wibbs can clear this up for us?


    Actually the newest controversy seems to be "Ok Flores man is a separate species but the tools are far too advanced to be made by them".


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  • steddyeddy wrote: »
    Actually the newest controversy seems to be "Ok Flores man is a separatespecies but the tools are far too advanced to be made by them".

    Even tho I guess thats a possibility, how do we know what is "too advanced" for floresiensis? Years ago we would've thought that many of the tools made by chimpanzees were too advanced for them, yet there you have them using hammers to crack nut shells, and stabbing bushbabies with spears...




  • Adam Khor wrote: »
    Even tho I guess thats a possibility, how do we know what is "too advanced" for floresiensis? Years ago we would've thought that many of the tools made by chimpanzees were too advanced for them, yet there you have them using hammers to crack nut shells, and stabbing bushbabies with spears...

    They said that the tools found at the Flores site surpassed their brain capacity by a large degree.




  • steddyeddy wrote: »
    They said that the tools found at the Flores site surpassed their brain capacity by a large degree.
    Very much so SE. Never mind the brain capacity, they appear to come from a much later lithic culture. It would be a shock to find them in situ with Eerctus who had a much larger brain capacity. If it is proven to be made by them that would be a real seachange in current thinking and we'd have to revisit the brain size rubicon. Maybe it is all about brain organisation rather than brain size? Still major rethink ahoy. IIRC some researchers reckoned the hobbits were diseased moderns because of this lithic incongruity.

    Few enough were innocent in the past, few enough are innocent in the present, we just don’t know why yet.





  • Wibbs wrote: »
    Very much so SE. Never mind the brain capacity, they appear to come from a much later lithic culture. It would be a shock to find them in situ with Eerctus who had a much larger brain capacity. If it is proven to be made by them that would be a real seachange in current thinking and we'd have to revisit the brain size rubicon. Maybe it is all about brain organisation rather than brain size? Still major rethink ahoy. IIRC some researchers reckoned the hobbits were diseased moderns because of this lithic incongruity.

    I haven't a notion as to the tool's creators in fairness Wibbs but I would say you are on to something with the brain organization thing. Using brain casing casts scientists seen that an area called Broca's area was over developed for a creature of that size. Broca's area is associated with communication and langauge. All the same we are also discovering that the brain is more "plastic" than it seems and even losses of brain tissue can result in a reformation of neural networks so brain size doesn't always equal capacity!




  • That's what I was going to say about brain size, but I thought I'd better shut up before I made it obvious how little I know on the subject :o
    And, wasn´t there a recent study precisely on the floresiensis brain, which said it was bigger than previously thought anyways?




  • Adam Khor wrote: »
    That's what I was going to say about brain size, but I thought I'd better shut up before I made it obvious how little I know on the subject :o
    And, wasn´t there a recent study precisely on the floresiensis brain, which said it was bigger than previously thought anyways?


    I think that's the same study Adam! Certain areas are proportionally bigger than our own which showed an increase in complexity without an increase in size.




  • Been looking at more and better pics of their stone tools and TBH I have to really backtrack and rescind my previous take on them. I have to say to my eye at least they don't look anything like modern human lithics (or Neandertal et al), so the idea that they're proof of diseased modern humans is well bogus for me. They're clearly not modern human stuff, even if you dumbed our stuff right down, they're much more like early Erectus stuff, minus the more complex bifaces. That fits the dates. They would be extremely anachronistic in a confirmed modern human site. Like finding a Greek water clock in a watchmakers window. It even fits a possible earlier non erectus migration out of Africa yet to be discovered as they're not far off older African lithic production(though like I reckoned above I've some issues with that for other reasons).

    On the brain size front, there's also the matter of their brain to body size ratio. They were tiny little feckers, barely 3 feet tall. Scale em up to the average erectus height and the brain/body ratio wouldn't be that much out, or at least not so shockingly small as just taking the skull in isolation would be..

    Few enough were innocent in the past, few enough are innocent in the present, we just don’t know why yet.





  • Just to update on the brain issue. Flores man was also found to have an area of the brain called Brodmanns area 10 which is the same size as the area found in modern humans despite their small brain size. This area is asociated with higher cognition and could explain how Flores man is asociated with more complex behaviours.


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  • Oh I'm sooo gonna search for a thread in here from way back and then go "I informed you thusly". :o:D

    I've long held this opinion that too many "species" of human have actually been down to individual variation in a population and called species for the simple reason of the dearth of enough specimens to make the call about a population to take averages from. Look at modern humans FFS. My closest mate is a good 6 inches(in old money) shorter than me, with more muscle bulk, rounder face, less of a lantern jaw and less forehead. Given I have an extra vertebra too, if we were dug up in a thousand years hence they might be asking WTF, clearly different species. Add in me or my mate with a lad from Liberia or a lad from Australia, or the Congo and the diversity would look like shítoads of different humans around at the time. Yet we know we'd all be so close genetically that we'd be in danger of inbreeding(I'll give the banjo a go, give the Congo lad the guitar and see where we go from there...).

    The Georgian fossils have shown this to be BS for quite a while. At first the disparity between the fossils they found was worried at and then considered sexual dimorphism as one explanation. The obvious idea that humans vary and vary a lot - and this is obvious today - seemed to be ignored by many outside the dig team(the local guys and gals to their credit were gung ho for the natural variability thang). One reason is likely down to researchers hoping to find their "missing link", the skull that will make them famous and that they can name. That approach has muddied things considerably IMHO.

    Few enough were innocent in the past, few enough are innocent in the present, we just don’t know why yet.



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