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Modern Human Origins
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Mighty_EmperorOffline
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PostPosted: 16-02-2005 19:14    Post subject: Modern Human Origins Reply with quote

Probably a good idea to have a separate thread for the emergence of our species as some of this has gone into the Neanderthal thread:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7154

And while some aspects fit in there fine the appearance of Homo sapiens seems like a different topic (I might fish out some stuff from that thread and drop it in here).

You might also want to check the Homo floresiensis thread:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18498

There is another thread running looking at earlier human evolution:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13908

and you might be interested in threads on the earliest art:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9527

and the earliest use of fire:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14337

---------------------
Anyway this is a fascinating date as the two fossils are very different and were thought to be of different ages but we also see this kind of thing with other finds in Jebel Irhoud and the modern humans from Israel:

Quote:
Oldest humans just got older -- by 35,000 years

Wed Feb 16, 2005 01:11 PM ET



By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON (Reuters) - The oldest humans just got older -- by 35,000 years.

Two Homo sapiens skulls, originally dated as 130,000 years old when they were unearthed in Kibish, Ethiopia in 1967, then later put back to 160,000, have now been declared 195,000 years old based on geological evidence.

"It pushes back the beginning of the anatomically modern humans," said geologist Frank Brown, Dean of the University of Utah's College of Mines and Earth Sciences and co-author of a new study into the skulls known as Omo I and Omo II.

The results of a study with New York's Stony Brook University and the Australian National University were published in the science journal Nature.

After looking at the volcanic ash where the skulls were found along the Omo river, the researchers not only dated the remains as the same age but pushed back the date of their existence, making them by far the oldest humans.

"On this basis we suggest that hominid fossils Omo I and Omo II are relatively securely dated to 195 +/- 5 (thousand) years old ... making Omo I and Omo II the oldest anatomically modern human fossils yet recovered," the study concluded.

The new dating firmly underpins the "out of Africa" theory of the origin of modern humans.

Brown said the redating was important culturally because it pushed back the known dawn of mankind, the record of which in most cases only starts 50,000 years ago.

"Which would mean 150,000 years of Homo sapiens without cultural stuff such as evidence of eating fish, of harpoons, anything to do with music, needles, even tools," he said.

"This stuff all comes in very late except for stone knife blades, which appeared between 50,000 and 200,000 years ago, depending on whom you believe," he added in a commentary.

The skulls were first discovered just 200 metres apart on the shores of what was formerly a lake by a team led by renowned fossil hunter and wildlife expert Richard Leakey.

------------
They bear cut marks made by stone tools which have been taken as evidence of prehistoric mortuary practices.

Ever since the discovery of the fossil skulls, scientists have not only been locked in debate over the dating but also of the physical types because Omo I has more modern features than Omo II.

The new dating suggests that modern man and his older precursor existed side by side.

"It dates the fossil record almost exactly concordant with the dates suggested by genetic studies for the origin of our species," said Stony Brook anthropologist John Fleagle.

"Second, it places the first appearance of modern Homo sapiens in Africa many more thousands of years before our species appears on any other continent. It lengthens the gap," he added.


Source


Last edited by Mighty_Emperor on 31-05-2005 13:54; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: 16-02-2005 19:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

The paper is:

McDougall, I., Brown, F.H. & Fleagle, J.G. (2005) Stratigraphic placement and age of modern humans from Kibish, Ethiopia. Nature. 433 (7027) 733 - 6.

First paragraph:

Quote:
In 1967 the Kibish Formation in southern Ethiopia yielded hominid cranial remains identified as early anatomically modern humans, assigned to Homo sapiens. However, the provenance and age of the fossils have been much debated. Here we confirm that the Omo I and Omo II hominid fossils are from similar stratigraphic levels in Member I of the Kibish Formation, despite the view that Omo I is more modern in appearance than Omo II. 40Ar/39Ar ages on feldspar crystals from pumice clasts within a tuff in Member I below the hominid levels place an older limit of 198 plusminus 14 kyr (weighted mean age 196 plusminus 2 kyr) on the hominids. A younger age limit of 104 plusminus 7 kyr is provided by feldspars from pumice clasts in a Member III tuff. Geological evidence indicates rapid deposition of each member of the Kibish Formation. Isotopic ages on the Kibish Formation correspond to ages of Mediterranean sapropels, which reflect increased flow of the Nile River, and necessarily increased flow of the Omo River. Thus the 40Ar/39Ar age measurements, together with the sapropel correlations, indicate that the hominid fossils have an age close to the older limit. Our preferred estimate of the age of the Kibish hominids is 195 plusminus 5 kyr, making them the earliest well-dated anatomically modern humans yet described.
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PostPosted: 16-02-2005 20:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

Completely pointless but my father was a good friend pf Richard Leakeys nephew - must have been in the 70's. Not sure if he ever met the esteemed fellow. I shall inquire.
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PostPosted: 18-02-2005 12:54    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's also an article on the National Geographic about the Eithiopian finds

Oldest Human Fossils Identified
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PostPosted: 18-02-2005 17:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Published online: 16 February 2005; | doi:10.1038/news050214-10

Ethiopia is top choice for cradle of Homo sapiens

Michael Hopkin
Radioactive dating finds that fossil skulls are 195,000 years old.


Two Ethiopian fossils have been crowned as the oldest known members of our species. An estimated 195,000 years old, the pair were witness to the earliest days of Homo sapiens.

The discovery adds yet more weight to the argument that Africa, and Ethiopia in particular, was the birthplace of humans. The dating sits well with genetic analyses of modern populations, which suggest that H. sapiens first appeared in Africa around 200,000 years ago.

The fossils, called Omo I and Omo II, were found in 1967 at Kibish, near Ethiopia's Omo River, by the famed fossil-hunter Richard Leakey. Although Leakey realized that Omo I, at least, was a H. sapiens, the dating of mollusc shells found with the bones suggested that the specimens were only 130,000 years old.

"In 1967, dating techniques weren't what they are now," says John Fleagle of Stony Brook University, New York, who took part in the latest analysis, published in Nature1. And besides, Leakey and his colleagues were more concerned with hunting for something millions of years older. "The fact of the matter is, they wanted early hominids; modern humans were like chump change," Fleagle says.

Quote:
The finds confirm that East Africa was a key area in this story.

Chris Stringer
Natural History Museum in London


As a result, nobody attempted to date the fossils' burial site more accurately, despite its significance in helping to settle the debate over humanity's African roots. "When modern human origins became a big issue in the early 1980s, Ethiopia was closed," Fleagle says.

Argon dating

And when the researchers, led by Ian McDougall of the Australian National University in Canberra, attempted to visit Kibish on their latest expedition, it was far from plain sailing. "The logistics are a nightmare. We spent days and weeks waiting just to get a boat to go there," recalls Fleagle.

When they finally made it, McDougall's team collected samples of the rock where the Omo fossils were found. Using an improved dating method based on the rate of decay of radioactive argon, the researchers put the age of rock just below the fossils at 196,000 years.

The rock layers were formed in rapid bursts, corresponding to wet periods during which huge amounts of organic matter were dumped in the region by the overflowing River Nile, Fleagle says. This means that the fossils are likely to be only slightly younger than the rocks on which they were lying.

The age of the Omo fossils provides yet more support for the 'out of Africa' theory, which contends that humankind spent most of its life in Africa, before sweeping across the world during the past 40,000 years. "The finds confirm that east Africa was a key area in this story," says Chris Stringer, who studies human origins at the Natural History Museum in London.

Ethiopian hotspot

But it is still unclear whether Ethiopia can claim to be the sole crucible of humankind, or whether modern humans arose more widely and gradually across the continent. "Archaeological finds from southern Africa suggest that that region may have played an important part in the development of modern human behaviour, which is also part of what defines us as a species," Stringer says.

Nevertheless, the dating of the Omo fossils earmarks them as older than a set of ancient human skulls found in Herto, Ethiopia. These were unveiled in 2003 and hailed at the time as the oldest humans (see "Skulls reveal dawn of mankind"). The Herto hominids were christened as a new subspecies, H. sapiens idaltu, meaning 'elder'.

Such a move is unnecessary for the Omo specimens, Fleagle says. Omo I has always been viewed as thoroughly modern in appearance. And although Omo II, which consists of just a skull with no face, has more primitive features, Fleagle maintains that it is still best assigned to H. sapiens, particularly as both skeletons are now thought to be the same age.

"The only interpretation is that there was a lot of diversity at that time," Fleagle reflects. "There are no simple linear patterns, so I'd be reluctant to draw a line anywhere. And anyway, if you do that, how many subspecies are you going to end up with?"


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PostPosted: 18-02-2005 17:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

And the Herto finds are significant (pity that news link is now restricted to Premier customers):

White, T.D., Asfaw, B., DeGusta, D., Gilbert, H., Richards, G.D., Suwa, G. & Howell, F.C. (2003) Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia. Nature. 423 (6941). 742 –7.

First paragraph:

Quote:
The origin of anatomically modern Homo sapiens and the fate of
Neanderthals have been fundamental questions in human evolutionary
studies for over a century1–4. A key barrier to the
resolution of these questions has been the lack of substantial
and accurately dated African hominid fossils from between
100,000 and 300,000 years ago5. Here we describe fossilized
hominid crania from Herto, Middle Awash, Ethiopia, that fill
this gap and provide crucial evidence on the location, timing and
contextual circumstances of the emergence of Homo sapiens.
Radioisotopically dated to between 160,000 and 154,000 years
ago6, these new fossils predate classic Neanderthals and lack their
derived features. The Herto hominids are morphologically and
chronologically intermediate between archaic African fossils and
later anatomically modern Late Pleistocene humans. They therefore
represent the probable immediate ancestors of anatomically
modern humans. Their anatomy and antiquity constitute strong
evidence of modern-human emergence in Africa.


[edit: Here is the BBC news story on it:

Quote:
Oldest human skulls found

By Jonathan Amos
BBC News Online science staff

Three fossilised skulls unearthed in Ethiopia are said by scientists to be among the most important discoveries ever made in the search for the origin of humans.

The crania of two adults and a child, all dated to be around 160,000 years old, were pulled out of sediments near a village called Herto in the Afar region in the east of the country.

They are described as the oldest known fossils of modern humans, or Homo sapiens .

What excites scientists so much is that the specimens fit neatly with the genetic studies that have suggested this time and part of Africa for the emergence of mankind.

"All the genetics have pointed to a geologically recent origin for humans in Africa - and now we have the fossils," said Professor Tim White, one of the co-leaders on the research team that found the skulls.

"These specimens are critical because they bridge the gap between the earlier more archaic forms in Africa and the fully modern humans that we see 100,000 years ago," the University of California at Berkeley, US, paleoanthropologist told BBC News Online.

Out of Africa

The skulls are not an exact match to those of people living today; they are slightly larger, longer and have more pronounced brow ridges.

These minor but important differences have prompted the US/Ethiopian research team to assign the skulls to a new subspecies of humans called Homo sapiens idaltu (idaltu means "elder" in the local Afar language).

The Herto discoveries were hailed on Wednesday by those researchers who have championed the idea that all humans living today come from a population that emerged from Africa within the last 200,000 years.

The proponents of the so-called Out of Africa hypothesis think this late migration of humans supplanted all other human-like species alive around the world at the time - such as the Neanderthals in Europe.

If modern features already existed in Africa 160,000 years ago, they argued, we could not have descended from species like Neanderthals.

Sophisticated behaviour

"These skulls are fantastic evidence in support of the Out of Africa idea," Professor Chris Stringer, from London's Natural History Museum, told BBC News Online.

Quote:
SEARCH FOR HUMAN ORIGINS
...this is definitively the answer to the question of whether Homo sapiens evolved from Africa
Dr Berhane Asfaw


"These people were living in the right place and at the right time to be possibly the ancestors of all of us."

The skulls were found in fragments, at a fossil-rich site first identified in 1997, in a dry and dusty valley.

Stone tools and the fossil skull of a butchered hippo were the first artefacts to be picked up. Buffalo fossils were later recovered indicating the ancient humans had a meat-rich diet.

The most complete of the adult skulls was seen protruding from the ancient sediment; it had been exposed by heavy rains and partially trampled by herds of cows.

The skull of the child - probably aged six or seven - had been shattered into more than 200 pieces and had to be painstakingly reconstructed.

All the skulls had cut marks indicating they had been de-fleshed in some kind of mortuary practice. The polishing on the skulls, however, suggests this was not simple cannibalism but more probably some kind of ritualistic behaviour.

This type of practice has been recorded in more modern societies, including some in New Guinea, in which the skulls of ancestors are preserved and worshipped.

The Herto skulls may therefore mark the earliest known example of conceptual thinking - the sophisticated behaviour that sets us apart from all other animals.

"This is very possibly the case," Professor White said.

The Ethiopian discoveries are reported in the journal Nature.

---------------------
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/sci/tech/2978800.stm

Published: 2003/06/11 18:43:58 GMT

© BBC MMV


and a Q&A:

Quote:
Q&A: The Herto skulls

Scientists have discovered three human skulls, all dated to be about 160,000 years old, in the Afar region of Ethiopia. BBC News Online explains why researchers regard the finds as so significant.

What precisely was found just outside the Herto village in the east of Ethiopia?

A US/Ethiopian team has been working on the site since 1997. The three skulls - from two adults and one child - represent the most complete crania so far recovered. The fossilised fragments of seven other individuals have also been unearthed but these, in some cases, are represented by just teeth. Hippo and buffalo remains were also found, as were more than 640 stone artefacts - tools made from volcanic rocks and glasses.

What do we know about the place where these individuals were living?

The evidence suggests these ancient Herto people lived near the shore of a shallow freshwater lake created when the Awash River temporarily dammed about 260,000 years ago. The lake contained abundant hippos, crocodiles and catfish, while buffalo roamed the land. Much of Europe was buried in ice at this time.

Why have the skulls caused so much excitement?

They are the oldest yet found of Homo sapiens - modern looking people who would not appear unusual today if you met them. The previous oldest H. sapiens skulls were from South Africa (Klasies River Mouth, circa 100,000 years) and Israel (Qafzeh and Skhul, circa 90,000-130,000 years). Scientists are sure of the greater antiquity of the Herto specimens because they were pulled from sediments sandwiched between volcanic rocks that have been well dated using a radioactive argon technique.

But the skulls are slightly different from modern humans today?

The largest of the skulls, probably from an adult male in his late 20s to early 30s, is a bit larger than the extremes seen in modern Homo sapiens ; the braincase is longer and the brow ridges are more pronounced. As a result, the researchers have given the fossils a subspecies name, Homo sapiens idaltu , to differentiate them from contemporary humans, Homo sapiens sapiens .

How do these skulls fit with what we know of other human-like creatures, or hominids?

The differences described above are hugely significant because they echo features seen in some older African hominid fossils, such as Homo heidelbergensis , whilst at the same time displaying a very modern look we would recognise today. In essence, the researchers argue, the Herto skulls fill a gap between the more archaic humans who went before and the very modern people who came after. The Herto people could be our direct and immediate ancestors.

And how does this fit with what we have learnt recently from genetic studies?

By looking at the genetic variation in all living populations today and in studying the errors that have arisen in our genome over time, molecular biologists have come to one conclusion: we diverged as a species less than 200,000 years ago in Africa. A recent study even narrowed the location down to Tanzania and Ethiopia. The Herto skulls therefore represent a confirmation of the genetic studies. They show the right features in the right place at the right time.

What can we now say about the origin of humans?

Quote:
THE PRIDE OF ETHIOPIA
...this is definitively the answer to the question of whether Homo sapiens evolved from Africa
Dr Berhane Asfaw


There are two major schools of thought. One says Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa recently to supplant all the other human-like species around the world, such as Europe's Neanderthals; the "Multiregional" school says modern humans arose in many areas of Europe, Asia and Africa from other hominids who had migrated out of Africa at a much earlier time.

Because the Herto fossils show anatomically modern features that pre-date most Neanderthals, it seems inconceivable that we could have descended from them, as some scientists have proposed.

The Herto skulls support the first school, the so-called "Out of Africa" hypothesis.

---------------------
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/sci/tech/2981756.stm

Published: 2003/06/11 14:20:36 GMT

© BBC MMV
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PostPosted: 21-02-2005 01:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good one from the Beed with some nice photos showing the recontruction of Omo 1 (the most modern skull found) and the refitted humn bones that prove the stratigraphy:

Quote:
Age of ancient humans reassessed

Two skulls originally found in 1967 have been shown to be about 195,000 years old, making them the oldest modern human remains known to science.

The age estimate comes from a re-dating of Ethiopian rock layers close to those that yielded the remarkable fossils.

The skulls, known as Omo I and II, push back the known presence of Homo sapiens in Africa by 40,000 years.

The latest dating work is reported in the science journal Nature.

It puts the specimens close to the time expected for the evolutionary emergence of our species. Genetic studies have indicated Homo sapiens arose in East Africa - possibly Ethiopia or Tanzania - just over 200,000 years ago.

"These are the earliest known examples of our own species and that suggests they lived earlier still," commented Nature senior editor Dr Henry Gee.

"But I am not sure how much further back you could go and still have Homo sapiens - before they graded into some other, earlier species," he told the BBC News website.

Dig return

The skulls were first brought to the attention of the world by the famous fossil hunter Richard Leakey, whose team unearthed the specimens in sediments along the Omo River in southernmost Ethiopia, near the town of Kibish.

They found the skull (minus the face) and partial skeleton (parts of arms, legs, feet and the pelvis) of Omo I, and the top and back of the skull of Omo II.

Now, a three-man Australian-US team - Ian McDougall, Frank Brown and John Fleagle - has re-evaluated the Leakey finds.

The team even returned to the original excavation area, using old scientific reports, photographs and film to identify the precise dig co-ordinates.

"Omo I actually has the better information on it," explained co-author Professor Brown, from the University of Utah's College of Mines and Earth Sciences.

"[The records and maps] are correct and we actually went back and found a few more pieces of the skeleton and some of them glue on to the pieces that were found in 1967."

Climate clincher

The original dating in 1967 found the fossils to be 130,000 years old.

This was based on the decay rate of radioactive uranium atoms contained in oyster shells found near the skulls - "but that date should always have been taken with a pinch of salt", Professor Brown told BBC News.

"Molluscs are not really very good for that kind of thing."

The new results, though, are regarded as far more robust. They depend on the known decay rate of radioactive atoms of potassium-40 into the gas argon-40 in feldspar mineral crystals.

These crystals were retrieved from chunks of pumice in volcanic ash layers above and below the skulls.

They suggested the specimens must be between 104,000 and 196,000 years old - but with some additional climate evidence on ancient flooding in the region, the team was able to show the Omo finds were actually very close to the 196,000-year mark.

Dr Chris Stringer, from London's Natural History Museum, worked on the skulls more than 20 years ago. He told BBC News: "I was of the opinion that Omo I was a modern human - Omo II seemed much more primitive. So, from my point of view I thought Omo II might be older than Omo I.

"But it seems that they are about the same age and that shows that the populations in Africa at that time were very variable. They show different mixtures of primitive and modern characteristics."

The previous oldest Homo sapiens skulls were uncovered in sediments near a village called Herto in the Afar region in the east of Ethiopia. These were dated to between 154,000 and 160,000 years old.

To be human

Although researchers are pushing at the evolutionary base of our species, they still have much to discover in terms of these early people's behaviour.

Professor Brown explains: "...the cultural aspects of humanity in most cases appear much later in the record - only 50,000 years ago - which would mean 150,000 years of Homo sapiens without cultural stuff, such as evidence of eating fish, of harpoons, anything to do with music (flutes and that sort of thing), needles, even tools.

"This stuff all comes in very late, except for stone knife blades, which appeared between 50,000 and 200,000 years ago, depending on whom you believe."

Professor John Fleagle, of New York state's Stony Brook University, adds: "There is a huge debate in the archaeological literature regarding the first appearance of modern aspects of behaviour such as bone carving for religious reasons, or tools, ornamentation (bead jewellery and such), drawn images, and arrowheads.

"They only appear as a coherent package about 50,000 years ago, and the first modern humans that left Africa between 50,000 and 40,000 years ago seem to have had the full set.

"As modern human anatomy is documented at earlier and earlier sites, it becomes evident that there was a great time gap between the appearance of the modern skeleton and 'modern behaviour'."

---------------------
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/sci/tech/4269299.stm

Published: 2005/02/16 18:11:43 GMT

© BBC MMV
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PostPosted: 21-02-2005 02:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its all coming thick and fast now:

Quote:
Israeli expedition to unlock mystery of human origins

By Louise Shalev and Rava Eleasari February 20, 2005


Since the discovery of a 160,000-year old human-like skull in Ethiopia in 2002, scientists have been refocusing their interest on questions relating to the evolution of Homo sapiens. Where and when did modern humans first appear and what were their routes of dispersal?

The only way to solve this puzzle, say scientists, is to uncover human remains in archeological layers older than those found in Ethiopia - dating to between 150,000 to 250,000 years ago. However, no accurately dated well-preserved hominid fossils from this period have been discovered.

Now, through a grant given by the Dan David Foundation a project is underway in northern Israel to unearth the oldest remnants of Homo sapiens outside of Africa. The foundation was launched by Dan David, a Tel Aviv University honorary doctor and founder of the annual Dan David Prize administered by TAU.

The four-year excavation in the Misliya cave on Mount Carmel is being conducted by TAU paleoanthropologist Prof. Israel Hershkovitz together with Haifa University archeologist Prof. Mina Weinstein-Evron. Prof. Hershkovitz is the incumbent of the Tassia and Dr. Joseph Meychan Chair in the History and Philosophy of Medicine at TAU?s Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

Excavations on Mount Carmel conducted some 70 years ago already yielded human remains dating back 100,000 years. However, the Misliya cave, which has yet to be excavated, contains four-meter deep prehistoric layers dating back 500,000 years, says Hershkovitz. The now collapsed roof of the cave has protected the sediments from erosion during thousands of years.

Preliminary excavations at the site have already yielded animal bones and a fragment of an ancient human upper jaw (with teeth intact) and a finger bone.

Hershkovitz notes that the 160,000-year old Ethiopian skulls are on the verge of anatomical modernity, but are not yet fully modern and this why they were assigned to a new subspecies: Homo sapiens Idaltu. These skulls are very distinct from the anatomically modern Homo sapiens skulls found in Israel which are dated to 100,000 years ago.

Dan David became interested in the project when he toured the site together with Prof Hershkovitz and 2003 Dan David Prize laureate Prof. Michel Brunet of France. Brunet was awarded the prize for his 2002 discovery of the cranium of the oldest human ancestor to date, a nearly 7 million-year old hominid species.

For David the field of paleoanthropology is an intellectual passion and he is extremely knowledgeable on the subject, notes Hershkovitz. After learning about the cave's potential to reveal ancient human remains and the importance of paleoanthropological research in Israel, he offered the assistance of the Dan David Foundation in funding the project.

DNA analysis has indicated that the earliest form of Homo sapiens could date back 250,000 years, says Hershkovitz.

"If we find fragments that old at Misliya, it would provide historical depth for Homo sapiens, as well as crucial evolutionary, cultural and genetic information about the earliest form of the species and its migration routes. It will also put Israel on the map as a major center for research into paleontology," he says.


Source

They are possibly overstating their case (I suspect funding is better with very focused aims even if one never reaches them Wink ) as the appearance of modern humans in Israel is very much tied into the northerly migration of African fauna into the Levantine corridor during the warm OIS 5 and before and after that we find more northerly species and Neanderthals (in the later OIS 4).

It will answer some very important questions but I'll bet a nut they won't find 150-160,000 year old modern humans - although if they find hominids of this age or earlier it will shed more light on hominid evolution in general in that area and there is a lack of fossil evidence in that time period (I can only really think of Zuttiyeh).
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PostPosted: 02-05-2005 07:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

Source
Quote:
New evidence challenges hypothesis of modern human origins

www.chinaview.cn 2005-04-27 17:00:01

WUHAN, April 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese archaeologists said newly found evidence proves that a valley of Qingjiang River, a tributary on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, might be one of the regions where Homo sapiens, or modern man, originated.

The finding challenges the "Out-of-Africa" hypothesis of modern human origins, according to which about 100,000 years ago modern humans originated in Africa, migrated to other continents, and replaced populations of archaic humans across the globe.

The finding comes from a large-scale excavation launched in the Qingjiang River Valley in 1980s when construction began on a rangeof hydropower stations on the Qingjiang River, a fellow researcher with the Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.

Archaeologists discovered three human tooth fossils in one mountain cave in Mazhaping Village, in the Gaoping Township of Jianshi County, western Hubei Province, and found pieces of lithictechnology and evidence of fire usage in Minor Cave in Banxia. There were similar findings in Nianyu Mountain and in Zhadong Cavein Banxia, all in Changyang Prefecture of the Qiangjiang River Valley.

A special research panel named the Jianshi Man research team has been set up to analyze the findings.

Zheng Shaohua, a member of the Jianshi man research team from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, confirmed the tooth fossils belonged to humans dating back between 2.15 and 1.95 million yearsago.

The archaeologists also found fossils of bone implements in thecultural strata at the ruins where the human tooth fossils were discovered.

The fossilized bone implements bear traces of human beating, testifying that humans, not apes, lived inside the mountain cave, said Qiu Zhanxiang, another member on the Jianshi Man research team.

The pieces of lithic technology and traces of human fire usage found in Minor Cave in Banxia were said to date back 130,000 years,the ruins of human fire usage in Nianyu Mountain were dated as 120,000 years or 90,000 years old, while pieces of lithic technology and traces of fire usage found in Zhadong Cave in Banxia, were dated as 27,000 years old, said Professor Zheng.

Before these latest archaeological findings, Chinese archaeologists had found fossils of what is now known as ChangyangMan in 1957 under the leadership of renowned Chinese paleoanthropologist Jia Lanpo. Changyang Man represents early Homosapiens dating back 200,000 years.

The latest archaeological findings together with the earlier discovery of Changyang Man all prove there was continuity in Homo sapiens' development in China, said Liu Qingzhu, head of the Archaeology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"They are also of great significance to research on Paleolithic era in China and East Asia, and theories regarding multiple origins of mankind," said Liu. Enditem
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Mighty_EmperorOffline
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PostPosted: 02-05-2005 13:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its an interesting find but:

1. Changyang Man will probably dating to 200,000 years ago is only an eroded maxilla that has large teeth and most clsoely resembles the late erectus fossils like Jinnuishan and Chaohu.

2. It takes on board the arguements put forward by people for a late emergence of modern human intellect and their markers (see Steve Mithens book) when these markers (bone tools, fire use, blades, microlithic tools, art, structures, etc.) appear much earlier than claimed - most back to 500,000 years ago but fire may be proved back to 1.5 million years.

Picture of the find (this is also one of the best sites on the Chinese fossils -although I disagree with their interpretaiton of the evidence it is awfully detailled. They appear to be switching over to a new domain and there are quite a few broken links but you can still get around):

www.chineseprehistory.org/pics6.htm
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kroboneOffline
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PostPosted: 03-05-2005 07:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

All fascinating stuff, especially when taken with the find of the Flores 'hobbits'. Just what was going on in our murky pre-history?
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sunsplash1Offline
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PostPosted: 03-05-2005 07:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite a lot, apparently! Very Happy
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Dessie32Offline
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PostPosted: 03-05-2005 10:54    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
All fascinating stuff, especially when taken with the find of the Flores 'hobbits'. Just what was going on in our murky pre-history?


Who were the more advanced technology and cultraly wise. Neandertals or Flores (hobbits). Both had advanced tools and used hunting strategies.
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Mighty_EmperorOffline
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PostPosted: 03-05-2005 12:34    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've moved Jolly Jack's post about Flores over to the relevant thread:
www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=533534#533534

and we can continue the Flores related questions there.

Dessie wrote:
Quote:
All fascinating stuff, especially when taken with the find of the Flores 'hobbits'. Just what was going on in our murky pre-history?


Who were the more advanced technology and cultraly wise. Neandertals or Flores (hobbits). Both had advanced tools and used hunting strategies.


I think we don't know enough about the Hobbits at this stage.

We know the Neaderthals (in fact their ancestors too) had fire, created art, built structures, worked both wood and bone into tools, hafted stone points, used a number of glues and mastics, looked after their infirm, etc.

Pinning down who is more advanced (if that term even works without a lot of definition) based on material remains as people can have advanced cultures and technology and leave virtually no trace in the archaeological record. A lot of the material output depends on the needs of the group and so it would be like saying who is more advanced an eskimo or a Bushman?
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kroboneOffline
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PostPosted: 04-05-2005 07:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

The whole thing makes me wonder what else they're going to find in our prehistoric genetic closet. Giants? Wings? Gills? nonplus
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