Posts Tagged ‘neaderthal’

Earliest Humans Not So Different From Us, Research Suggests; All Humans the Same Genesis States

Church of Darwin, Science, Sophistication of Ancestors, Uncategorized | Posted by Chris Parker
May 23 2011

by Terra Daily Staff Writers
Chicago IL Feb 21, 2011
Submitted by Scott S.

That human evolution follows a progressive trajectory is one of the most deeply-entrenched assumptions about our species. This assumption is often expressed in popular media by showing cavemen speaking in grunts and monosyllables (the GEICO Cavemen being a notable exception). But is this assumption correct? Were the earliest humans significantly different from us?

In a paper published in the latest issue of Current Anthropology, archaeologist John Shea (Stony Brook University) shows they were not.

The problem, Shea argues, is that archaeologists have been focusing on the wrong measurement of early human behavior. Archaeologists have been searching for evidence of “behavioral modernity”, a quality supposedly unique to Homo sapiens, when they ought to have been investigating “behavioral variability,” a quantitative dimension to the behavior of all living things.

Human origins research began in Europe, and the European Upper Paleolithic archaeological record has long been the standard against which the behavior of earlier and non-European humans is compared.

During the Upper Paleolithic (45,000-12,000 years ago), Homo sapiens fossils first appear in Europe together with complex stone tool technology, carved bone tools, complex projectile weapons, advanced techniques for using fire, cave art, beads and other personal adornments.

Similar behaviors are either universal or very nearly so among recent humans, and thus, archaeologists cite evidence for these behaviors as proof of human behavioral modernity.

Yet, the oldest Homo sapiens fossils occur between 100,000-200,000 years ago in Africa and southern Asia and in contexts lacking clear and consistent evidence for such behavioral modernity.

For decades anthropologists contrasted these earlier “archaic” African and Asian humans with their “behaviorally-modern” Upper Paleolithic counterparts, explaining the differences between them in terms of a single “Human Revolution” that fundamentally changed human biology and behavior.

Archaeologists disagree about the causes, timing, pace, and characteristics of this revolution, but there is a consensus that the behavior of the earliest Homo sapiens was significantly that that of more-recent “modern” humans.

Shea tested the hypothesis that there were differences in behavioral variability between earlier and later Homo sapiens using stone tool evidence dating to between 250,000- 6000 years ago in eastern Africa.

This region features the longest continuous archaeological record of Homo sapiens behavior. A systematic comparison of variability in stone tool making strategies over the last quarter-million years shows no single behavioral revolution in our species’ evolutionary history. Instead, the evidence shows wide variability in Homo sapiens toolmaking strategies from the earliest times onwards.

Particular changes in stone tool technology can be explained in terms of the varying costs and benefits of different toolmaking strategies, such as greater needs for cutting edge or more efficiently-transportable and functionally-versatile tools. One does not need to invoke a “human revolution” to account for these changes, they are explicable in terms of well-understood principles of behavioral ecology.

This study has important implications for archaeological research on human origins. Shea argues that comparing the behavior of our most ancient ancestors to Upper Paleolithic Europeans holistically and ranking them in terms of their “behavioral modernity” is a waste of time.

There are no such things as modern humans, Shea argues, just Homo sapiens populations with a wide range of behavioral variability. Whether this range is significantly different from that of earlier and other hominin species remains to be discovered. However, the best way to advance our understanding of human behavior is by researching the sources of behavioral variability in particular adaptive strategies.

John Shea, “Homo sapiens is as Homo sapiens was: Behavioral variability vs. ‘behavioral modernity’ in Paleolithic archaeology.” Current Anthropology 54:1 (February 2011).

American Scientist

Neanderthal Illustrator Goes “Extinct”?

Amusing?, Church of Darwin, s8int.com, Science, Sophistication of Ancestors | Posted by Chris Parker
Sep 24 2008

Cecil Dallas: Good morning, Mr. E.W. Jones, I’m Cecil Dallas from KCOO Breaking News. When News Breaks, We Fix It!

Mr. E. W. Jones: Good morning. You’re half an hour late. As you can see, I’m in the middle of something right now.

Cecil Dallas: My apologies. I had a Live standup remote in front of the River City bank branch that was robbed two weeks ago. Had to coordinate with Live Copter 3.

Now, you’re known as the Father of “Neanderthal Man”, isn’t that right, Mr. Jones.

Mr. E. W. Jones: I have been called that, which is ironic because I never had any children of my own. Neanderthal is kind of my “baby” so to speak. Of course, my contribution has primarily been to picture Neanderthal for science and the general public. It’s my illustrations of him that have really set the tone, I suppose; strong, inhuman, humanish, hairy, primitive with an air of; I just might evolve into something important!

Cecil Dallas: How about the Neanderthal woman? What’s her signature look?

Mr. E. W. Jones: Smaller mustaches.

Cecil Dallas: I wasn’t aware that you use live models?

Mr. E. W. Jones: Not all the time, no. But having a live model helps me get things like musculature and facial expressions correct. You’d be surprised how that humanizes, no pun intended, my Neanderthal drawings and paintings, like this one here.

This gentleman for instance, really helps me get the Neanderthal scowl down in a realistic manner. And I’m very proud of my little, primitive touches that really convey “cave man”. Like the unibrow. And of course, copious body hair. I give them a slightly aware but confused expression which says; “why are you looking at me for”?

Cute story on the body hair; that idea came from a very hirsute gentleman who waited on me at a local restaurant when I was working on my first drawing! Parted his arm hair on the side. True story!

Cecil Dallas: How’d you come to be the preeminent Neanderthal illustrator/painter in the world, Mr. Jones. Did you have a special background for it?

Mr. E. W. Jones: I’m no one trick pony. I’m also known for my drawings of Cro Magnon, as well.. You know, he said wistfully, I came by this work honestly. My father and grandfathers were caveman illustrators for a time until tragedy struck, for both of them. My grandfather drew the most noteworthy and widely distributed version of “Nebraska Man” which took off like wildfire for a time and made his career. Then they found out that it was a pig’s tooth!

Then with my father, it was Piltdown man. Need I say more?

Cecil Dallas: Please do! So despite these tragedies, you followed your father and grandfather into the business?

Mr. E. W. Jones:. Well, I’ve always been interested in art and in science. Early on, I was doing drawings and paintings primarily of prehistoric insects like the spider and prehistoric ants and the like. I drew them for science magazines and newspapers; you know whenever someone found some new ones in amber etc. I got to know all the parties that way.

Cecil Dallas: Interesting! What do primitive spiders and ants look like?

Mr. E. W. Jones: Oh, well, first, picture in your mind a spider or an ant that you would see today.

Cecil Dallas: O.K. Then what?

Mr. E. W. Jones: Then nothing. That’s what they looked like.

Cecil Dallas: Oh!, Well, the reason we are here to today is that we understand that the preeminent Neanderthal illustrator in the world is retiring, is that true?

We’re Live!

Studio Model: Look, you two. I need to get back to my books. Those who waste my time are either ignorant, or dare I say it; wicked!

Mr. E. W. Jones: I’m not leaving Neanderthal, he’s leaving me! The Neanderthal man that I created, that has been the standard for so many years in science; the primitive, hulking caveman is going the way of the dinosaur. He has become extinct.

Cecil Dallas: Cecil Dallas, Breaking News, here Live! with caveman illustrator, E.W. Jones. You say that Neanderthal has become extinct? I thought he already was extinct.

Mr. E. W. Jones: Not him, my drawings! It’s all been really too much. In the last few years scientific discoveries have made him seem more and more like you and me. My illustrations of the more primitive Neanderthal man are no longer in vogue. I’ve been ruined first by forensic science, then by DNA analysis and now, even by anthropologists who have previously guided my creations! If it weren’t for Nova and certain other science programs I would have retired years ago!

They walked upright. They buried their dead. They maybe had language. They interacted with modern humans. Their DNA matches human DNA to 99.99%. They made tools as good or better than “modern humans”. They played soccer! Whatever! If they were stronger, had larger brains, and could kill mammoths, how come they didn’t wipe us out, some wonder?

And now, another blow. Did you read this latest piece in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.?

Cecil Dallas: Umm, no. I haven’t read mine through, yet.

Mr. E. W. Jones: Neanderthals ate seals and dolphins! Just like their “modern man” counterparts. This means that they could keep a calendar, because that prey was seasonal, it means that they could fish, use tools, possibly language. For years, the scientists I work with had said the ability to catch large seafood staples separated modern man from the more primitive Neanderthal!

Some of these guys are perplexed because they had listed all these reasons why superior modern man eliminated Neanderthal and one by one they’ve all been knocked down. Worst of all, forensic science indicates that they looked “like us”.

Cecil Dallas: So, I take it that this here is one of your last, primitive Neanderthal type paintings?

Mr. E. W. Jones: No! Why do people keep saying that? This is one of my new, modern looking Neanderthals!

I’m getting out of this business!

Cecil Dallas: What will you do now?

Mr. E. W. Jones: I’m going to do portraits at fairs and carnivals. Also, I’m going to become a wedding photographer. Here’s my card. Of course I expect to still get the occasional commission from Nova. They are slow to make changes on some of these things, you know? Their Ancient Egyptians are still white! If wedding photography doesn’t work out I’ll try my hand at Hobbits.

Studio Model: If I don’t get up off of this chair in a very few minutes I’m going to have to evolve a thicker keister!!!!

Mr. E. W. Jones: Look Dawk! I don’t know why you’re in such a bad mood? I’m out of business here and you just signed a lucrative endorsement deal with “Selfish Jeans”.

Neanderthal Ate Seals and Dolphins