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The Australopithecine and Early Hominin Thread

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  • So, the hominin with the big canines that was in Nat Geo magazine years ago... not a species of its own?




  • Hard to say AK. An individual could be a good representation of their species, or could be an outlier. Are the finds from a male or female or juvenile? If sexual dimorphism was in play at any stage a female skull could look like a different more gracile species. It's a hard one.

    Take Neandertals, of whom we've got a fair amount of finds. You often see the French La Ferrassie 1 bloke held as a standard for reconstruction, yet he seems to have had a very long face(the Sarah Jessica Parker of the ancient world) by comparison to others. Did all Neandertals have a long face? No. Or take one of the Shanidar guys from Iraq. IIRC one guy was tall, 5' 10" kinda height. If he was the only specimen we had we might assume they were all fairly tall.

    The Georgian sites(and the atapuerca site in Spain) where he have many individuals to compare are the only places we can be sure of what an average may have been, at one particular time and place anyway. As Georgia has shown they weren't so average, at least at that point.

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





  • http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/38718/title/The-Mating-Habits-of-Early-Hominins/
    A high-quality genome sequence obtained from a female Neanderthal toe bone reveals that the individual’s parents were close relatives and that such inbreeding was prevalent among her recent ancestors, according to a paper published today (December 18) in Nature. But the sequence also reveals that interbreeding occurred between Neanderthals and other hominin groups, including early modern humans.

    “Did humans evolve like a constantly branching tree? A lot of people think so,” said Milford Wolpoff, a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, who was not involved in the study. “But there’s also been this thread of thought, by some people like me, that humans evolved more like a network, where there are different populations and they split and sometimes they come back together and they mate.” The new toe bone sequence data, he said, is “really important because it’s giving us good evidence that there’s been constant interbreeding between different human groups all through prehistory.”




  • The network idea appeals to me too. Makes more sense. You see it in populations even today. Cultures/populations mostly date and mate inwards, but some date and mate outwards. Even in very multicultural societies you tend to see this. Go back to a time of much lower populations densities and this would make even more sense. You get some inbreeding yes, but then you also have outlier genes coming in and going out from time to time.

    The old idea still held on to dearly by some that we're all Africans, some left and we just outcompeted other humans always looked dodgy to me. We weren't migrating into virgin territory(except for the Americas/Australia), there were people already living there. In Africa too. I'm sure there were incidents of violence and xenophobia and you can see this among hunter gatherers today, but people being people you also see quite a bit of horizontal mambo goin on too. Exchanges of mates can often be a peace treaty vibe too. Chief's son marries other chiefs daughter kinda thing. Even Neandertals who seem to have been very xenophobic(in Europe anyway) got it on with moderns and vice versa.

    Plus go back in time a bit and we don't look that very different from each other. Early modern humans are slightly taller on average, less bulky, but still more bulky than we are today. They had often had stonking brow ridges, eyes wider apart than us and not that much of a chin.

    Let's take the Pepsi challenge :)
    Neanderthals-Ate-Plants-2.jpg
    Skhul.JPG
    Spot the African early modern dude versus the European Neandertal?

    Neandertal is the first guy, Early modern the second. Now unless you're really looking for certain features there's not that much between them. In life the biggest obvious diff would have been skin colour. The Neandertals were pale(though no doubt pretty tanned) and the Early modern were a dark people.

    Interestingly when you google for Neandertal skull, this guy comes up a lot;
    neanderthal.jpg
    And IMHO it's the same Early Modern Skhul V I posted above. Compare and contrast I reckon they're one and the same. That's how easy it is too mix them up. :)

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





  • Funny that you should post this, as just yesterday I was looking at this (rather creepy) video of a supossed Yeren-human hybrid from China (Yeren being the name for the local Bigfoot/wildman variant). The mother claims to have been raped by the Yeren, but refused to allow her son to be studied further. (He's dead now, apparently).
    Of course many say this was just someone afflicted with microcephaly or something, but there IS something eerily ape-like about him. Reminds me a lot of many Homo erectus reconstructions.

    Not trying to defend the hybrid idea- just thought it was interesting and worth seeing if you hadn´t already:



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  • Man that's freaky..

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





  • According to this study, the dentition of Homo floresiensis does not support the idea that it evolved from an archaic, Australopithecus-like ancestor but rather from Homo erectus as has been suggested before.

    journal.pone.0141614.g009




  • So it seems the primitive looking features were a result of dwarfism.

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





  • The Flores natives said that the Ebu Gogo were hairy all over, tho... even if it wasn´t that primitive, it probably looked the part :D


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  • Clever little hobbitses...to reach so far!




  • Has Homo floresiensis got anything to do with the pygmies, aborigenes or similar groups? As for "wee folk" in general, very ancient mythologies and legends from all over the world mention them as individuals which once flourished on the Earth's surface but have gone mostly underground...Could Homo floresiensis have inspired such myths?




  • They are not the ancestors of pygmies in any way; as the article stated, they're either closely related to Homo erectus or a miniaturized variety of it.

    The hobbits of Flores were seemingly limited to Flores and perhaps nearby islands, so they wouldn´t have inspired the worldwide myths about small humanoids, BUT, they did inspire the stories about the Ebu Gogo which are the local variety of "wee folk".
    Here's a very interesting piece of writing by Richard Roberts, one of the discoverers of Homo floresiensis, regarding Ebu Gogo:
    When I was back in Flores earlier this month we heard the most amazing tales of little, hairy people, whom they called Ebu Gogo - Ebu meaning grandmother and Gogo meaning 'he who eats anything'. The tales contained the most fabulous details - so detailed that you'd imagine there had to be a grain of truth in them.
    One of the village elders told us that the Ebu Gogo ate everything raw, including vegetables, fruits, meat and, if they got the chance, even human meat.
    When food was served to them they also ate the plates, made of pumpkin - the original guests from hell (or heaven, if you don't like washing up and don't mind replacing your dinner set every week).
    The villagers say that the Ebu Gogo raided their crops, which they tolerated, but decided to chase them away when the Ebu Gogo stole - and ate - one of their babies.
    They ran away with the baby to their cave which was at the foot of the local volcano, some tens of metres up a cliff face. The villagers offered them bales of dry grass as fodder, which they gratefully accepted.
    A few days later, the villagers went back with a burning bale of grass which they tossed into the cave. Out ran the Ebu Gogo, singed but not fried, and were last seen heading west, in the direction of Liang Bua, where we found the Hobbit, as it happens.
    When my colleague Gert van den Bergh first heard these stories a decade ago, which several of the villages around the volcano recount with only very minor changes in detail, he thought them no better than leprechaun tales until we unearthed the Hobbit. (I much prefer Ebu as the name of our find but my colleague Mike Morwood was insistent on Hobbit.)
    The anatomical details in the legends are equally fascinating. They are described as about a metre tall, with long hair, pot bellies, ears that slightly stick out, a slightly awkward gait, and longish arms and fingers - both confirmed by our further finds this year.
    They [the Ebu Gogo] murmured at each other and could repeat words [spoken by villagers] verbatim. For example, to 'here's some food', they would reply 'here's some food'. They could climb slender-girthed trees but, here's the rub, were never seen holding stone tools or anything similar, whereas we have lots of sophisticated artefacts in the H. floresiensis levels at Liang Bua. That's the only inconsistency with the Liang Bua evidence.
    The women Ebu Gogo had extremely pendulous breasts, so long that they would throw them over their shoulders, which must have been quite a sight in full flight.
    We did ask the villagers if they ever interbred with the Ebu Gogo. They vigorously denied this, but said that the women of Labuan Baju (a village at the far western end of Flores, better known as LBJ) had rather long breasts, so they must have done.
    Poor LBJ must be the butt of jokes in Flores, rather like the Irish and Tasmanians.
    A local eruption at Liang Bua (in western Flores) may have wiped out local hobbits around 12,000 years ago, but they could well have persisted much later in other parts of the island. The villagers said that the last hobbit was seen just before the village moved location, farther from the volcano, not long before the Dutch colonists settled in that part of central Flores, in the 19th century.
    Do the Ebu Gogo still exist? It would be a hoot to search the last pockets of rainforest on the island. Not many such pockets exist, but who knows. At the very least, searching again for that lava cave, or others like it, should be done, because remains of hair only a few hundred years old, would surely survive, snagged on the cave walls or incorporated in deposits, and would be ideal for ancient DNA analyses.
    Interestingly, we did find lumps of dirt with black hair in them this year in the Hobbit levels, but don't know yet if they're human or something else. We're getting DNA testing done, which we hope will be instructive.
    Richard "Bert" Roberts is a University of Wollongong professor and one of the team investigating the Hobbits.








  • Boskop man freaks me out to no end. But I think it's not considered a thing anymore. What a shame :(




  • Sadly so and hasn't been a thing since the 60's IIRC. Basically early 20th century researchers at the height of the missing link craze found a partial braincase that was at the upper limit of modern humans and got excited. As you would. Then they cherry picked any larger - but still within upper normal limits - as being a part of this "race", et voila the Boskops.

    This is quite common in hominid research. We see it with stone tools and actually I'd say IMH anyway, we're still seeing that today in that field to some degree. Take the "hand axe". When the antiquarians started to realise these were likely very ancient, they started to collect them using modern eyes and again cherry picked the finest and most symmetrical examples. The "pretty" ones. Today when we look at in situ assemblages we see that they varied in shape and levels of finish. A lot. There have been attempts to set different shapes into certain geographical areas and there's some meat on those bones, but again there's quite the bit of cherry picking going on there too. EG the Bout coupe hand axe. Considered locally strongly diagnostic for British Neandertals, yet I have a near letter perfect one in my personal stash found in southern France. Oops. Must have been on a gitte holiday back in the day. :D

    The Mousterian Levallois technique lithic culture itself as described currently I have some issues with too. Again there is serious cherry picking going on and only the examples that fit the theory are focused on. There are tables of "types" of "final outcome" tools of different but planned shapes. Though if you look at assemblages you're really trying to fit square pegs in round holes. The vast majority of such tools don't fit neatly into the imagined types. If you look at the stone cores left over, you'll be looking a long time indeed to find one that looks like the one in the wiki animation. Yes they did make Levallois points and clearly set out to make them(as evidenced by some with secondary retouch to refine the shape), but equally they used the method to just get usable cutting edges and "design" be damned.

    One more recent example of this was highlighted in that Brian Cox series on humanity and such a while back. A discovery in Africa of points and blades from a time way before they would be expected. Great, but if you read the original dig report and looked at the finds, the so called "blades" were a tiny proportion of the tools of all sorts of shapes actually found and were themselves variable in shape. You have a blade culture where you commonly find blades and they make up a large percentage of the finds, you don't have one where they're a minority.

    Don't get me started on every new skeletal find being a new human species...

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





  • Same happens with dinosaurs... so many good names wasted on measly fragments...

    What do you know about Homo tsaichangensis? Think it may be H. erectus or something else?




  • Going on a jawbone fragment dredged from the sea out of context and with no reliable dating means it's anybody's guess and anything more than a guess is "scientific" noodling over tiny details. Details that mean nada unless more specimens show up. If I was to guess and it is an archaic I'd say Erectus myself. They seemed to have been an extremely variable people. Check out the ones from Georgia all from the same place and contemporary with each other.

    131017112631-04-ancient-skulls-1017-horizontal-large-gallery.jpg

    Now if I was a betting man I'd bet that if they had been found in five different places there'd be at least two different "species" claimed. Check out the guys second and third from the left. One has a much flatter face than the other. One looks more hominid than ape and brow ridges are very variable across the board. The toothless dude looks to be an old individual, but look at the size of the brows. That's before we get to possible gender differences. In that line up 1,2 and 5 might be lads and 3 and 4 might be lasses.

    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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  • New hominin fossils from Flores have been found that date (using Argon & Uranium fission dating) to 700MYA. The fossils are several teeth and a mandible, and they have characteristics similar to the much more recently-living 'hobbit' fossils from Flores, and features that are lacking in earlier Australopithecines. The ancestors appear to have been even smaller than the recent fossils.

    This means it looks as if the Flores hobbits were descendents of a Homo erectus migration out of Africa into Asia that ended up on Flores and evolved through island dwarfism to be the size we've seen.

    Two papers, one on the fossils and the other on the site where they were found and the associated animals (including stegodonts) are out in Nature & free to view.




  • Damn, it's pay per view :(




  • Adam Khor wrote: »
    Damn, it's pay per view :(

    That's strange - the papers were open access an hour ago, under the label:
    'Online access to this article has been provided by the nature.com content sharing initiative.'
    Oh well, the story will get written up elsewhere at least.

    sciencenews.org has a piece giving some alternative hypotheses including multiple colonisation events and colonisation by an even earlier form of H. erectus or an ancestor.



    Edit:

    The links directly from the Guardian article work - there seems to be some kind of referrer token that grants access because when I copy & paste the URLs & they don't work. So go to the Guardian link above, scroll down ~half way & click the links under 'But the fossils, described in two papers in Nature...'




  • Homo naledi coexisted with Homo sapiens.

    Apparently, it lived 335.000 to 235.000 years ago or so, much younger than anticipated. 
    https://phys.org/news/2017-05-homo-naledi-surprisingly-young-age.html
    homonalediss.jpg




  • This is the most complete spine of any early hominin known.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170523083546.htm
    170523083546_1_540x360.jpg




  • I've been always slightly surprised that they didn't TBH AK. I recall reading and seeing a pic of a skull found in South America and it looked very primitive, like Homo Heidelbergensis primitive. Set against that is the long history of North American folks collecting flint tools and not a single verifiable example of a pre Sapiens one has come up.

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





  • Given the effectiveness of hominid.hunters and the local waves of extinctions that can be measured by their arrival in America, there should be lots of auxiallary evidence already to back that up if true.

    Slightly OT, but the writer Harry Turtledove wrote a book that postulated what would happen if such early hominids instead of Native Americans were present in the time of Columbus onwards - "A Different Flesh".




  • Wibbs wrote: »
    I've been always slightly surprised that they didn't TBH AK. I recall reading and seeing a pic of a skull found in South America and it looked very primitive, like Homo Heidelbergensis primitive. Set against that is the long history of North American folks collecting flint tools and not a single verifiable example of a pre Sapiens one has come up.
    Do you remember where it was found? 
    I remember reading about a brow ridge bone from Chapala, Mexico, that has been compared to H. erectus before:
    http://articles.latimes.com/2004/oct/03/news/adfg-bones3
    Manach wrote: »
    Given the effectiveness of hominid.hunters and the local waves of extinctions that can be measured by their arrival in America, there should be lots of auxiallary evidence already to back that up if true.

    Slightly OT, but the writer Harry Turtledove wrote a book that postulated what would happen if such early hominids instead of Native Americans were present in the time of Columbus onwards - "A Different Flesh".
    That is really interesting, I had wondered about it but didn´t know there was a book on it. I gotta read that one of these days!


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  • Adam Khor wrote: »
    Do you remember where it was found??
    Sadly not, but Chile rings a bell. This is the only pic I could find of that Mexican find.
    chapala-brow-ridge.jpg
    If it is from there and is human and it looks like it is, then it's way outside the range of anatomically modern humans, certainly outside the range of the currently held "first Americans". Erectus? Maybe, but it could also be Neandertal/Denisovan.
    Manach wrote: »
    Given the effectiveness of hominid.hunters and the local waves of extinctions that can be measured by their arrival in America, there should be lots of auxiallary evidence already to back that up if true.
    With anatomically modern humans certainly, with earlier species of humans not so much M. We stand out in that regard. EG Neandertals ranged across Eurasia for about 300,000 years and didn't cause any local extinctions. Same with Erectus. Like every other apex predator earlier humans reached a population equilibrium and balance with available prey/resources. Their populations stayed relatively static, ours don't. We appear in an area and rapidly grow in numbers and local fauna, particularly megafauna suffers and regularly goes extinct because of this pressure. Tracking us by extinctions is a great tool, tracking earlier humans it really isn't.

    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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