Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Dispersal of Archaic Humans

As more human fossils are being found and studied, it is becoming apparent that archaic humans were widely dispersed more than 50,000 years ago. A recent report in Nature contained this map showing the location of Middle Pleistocene fossils in Northern Spain (shown in yellow), Denisovan finds (blue), and Late Pleistocene Neanderthal finds (red). Ancient DNA has been recovered from fossils at these sites.

Dr Juan-Luis Arsuaga teamed up with Max Planck scientists, who recently developed novel techniques for retrieving and sequencing highly degraded ancient DNA.

The team applied the new techniques to hominin remains from the Sima de los Huesos site to sequence their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and then compared the genome with that of Neandertals, Denisovans, present-day humans, and apes.

The results show that the Sima de los Huesos humans lived about 400,000 years ago and shared a common 700,000 year ancestor with Denisovans, a human species that lived in a vast range from Siberia to Southeast Asia at the same time as Neanderthals.

“The fact that the mtDNA of the Sima de los Huesos hominin shares a common ancestor with Denisovan rather than Neanderthal mtDNAs is unexpected since its skeletal remains carry Neanderthal-derived features,” said Dr Matthias Meyer, the lead author of a paper published online in Nature.

Read more here.

Other archaic humans lived in Africa near Lake Chad, Lake Turkana, Lake Baringo, and in Southern Africa. Paleoanthropologist John Hawks has written (here) about the Lake Turkana-Omo region, "Ancient people were using this area throughout, leaving stone artifacts. It is amazing walking along the exposures, noting the stones that are the marks of ancient human activity. These early modern humans were making fundamentally the same kinds of artifacts that we find across western Eurasia, made by the earliest Neandertals, and across most of the African continent at the same time. There were regional differences in the pattern of toolmaking, but there was a broad technological commonality. This was the cultural background of our ancestors."

Map of Africa showing major australopithecine sites

A. afarensis used polished bone tools, butchered animals for food, and controlled fire. Some of the earliest evidence of controlled use of fire by humans was found at Swartkrans. Other sites that indicate fire use include Chesowanja near Lake Baringo, Koobi Fora, and Olorgesailie in Kenya.

Using bones found at Pinnacle Point Cave in South Africa, archaeologist Corey O’Driscoll identified projectile impact marks which are between 91,000 and 98,000 years old, the oldest direct evidence for the use of projectile weapons.

Pinnacle Point cave
Human occupation of Pinnacle Point began about 162,000 years ago. The oldest level reveals a fairly sophisticated stone technology in which silcrete stone was heat-treated. Silcrete is a fine-grained stone brought from the South African coast. This is the oldest known example of such technology.

Large pieces of red ochre have been found at Pinnacle Point and at other sites in southern Africa. The pieces were either ground or scraped to produce a pigment for painting the body and for use in burials. The burial of rulers in red ochre was a universal practice among Late Stone Age peoples.

Related reading: Many Groups of Archaic HumansEarly Hominids in the Balkins by Nena Galanidou; Migrations Out of AfricaDenisovan Finds Create a StirFacts About Human Origins; The Rising Star Expedition Recovers Hundreds of Fossils; Africa is Archaeologically Rich


Anonymous said...

What do you think of john allegro . Terrence meckenna. Aleister crowley. Or the lady that founded the theological society. All suggest different histories as you do and how do they tie in

Alice C. Linsley said...

Allegro's thesis that Christianity emerges out of the fertility cults of the Ancient Near east is wrong. Christianity, in its core belief, is much older that these cults and can be traced to Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors.
I'm not very familiar with McKenna's work, but seem to remember something about hallucinogenic substances.

Crowley is into Kabbalistic mysticism, but that symbolism is not consistent with the binary worldview of the ancient Nilo-Saharans. I don't regard any of these writers to be scholars.

Anonymous said...

Allegro sugested that the language used by the sumerians and other near places had words that referred to things of the fertility cults and thier sacrements. The tendencies people have to debunk christianity is unfortante because the research that is being port forth is in aggrevation. So i have wondered what are the truths he imagine. How influenced were our ancestors by sacrements. I learned that because of the growth cycle of mushrooms it was seen as god manifested on earth not forgetting its mind bending powers. I read that there is a connections with the ancients the mushroom and the circumcised penis. And if there was obvious connections with these cults i cant see every religion included i do not agree with allegro either. But i do fill my curiosity on the subject has reason.
I mention terrence mnkenna because i discarded his theory of garden of eden because he felt adam represents man and not one man. He says that if we did evolve something increased our brain function exponently in the last 2of million years based on the scientific model. He says that the garden of eden is a place where we left the african swamps as ape man living in trees to gathers of what's available on the plain lands. Psilosybin mushroom being one food which caused such new thought. I think now his theory is more interesting since your suggesting pre adam. But old mythology says man created rather then evolved.
Mam i use a phone to do this typing and i hate it. Are you available for phone chat i have hours of questions and i think you have a neat perspective and i think you can help me with my research

Alice C. Linsley said...

Circumcision originated in the Sudan and had nothing to do with mushrooms.

The oldest human fossils date to 3.4 million years and though the brain cavity was small, it was proportional to the body size. Further, brain size does not indicate complexity of thought. Complexity of thought merely requires observation of the binary features in the order of creation and binary features in the human anatomy (bilateralism and bicamaral brain). Lucy and her community had both. See these two articles:

I encourage you to use the INDEX here at Just Genesis and the INDEX at Biblical Anthropology to pursue your research. You may email me also: aproeditor-at-gmail-dot-com with short questions and I will answer the best I can.

Best wishes!

Anonymous said...


You need to study these latest findings.


Alice C. Linsley said...

I am aware of the genetic testing of this African American whereby the Y chromosome of archaic humans is now set at over 300,000 years. However, I believe that Lucy and her community were fully human and that humans appeared suddenly and unheralded about 3.8 million years ago.

Manna said...

The scientist from Reasons to Believe assert that archaic humans were mere "animals" some type of species of an animal. What are your thoughts?

Alice C. Linsley said...


There is no physical or genetic evidence to support the view that archaic hominid fossils were proto-humans. Certainly they were not animals. The hunted, butchered and ate animals and controlled fire 3 million years ago.

Here are some articles that you may find helpful: