Meet The New Oldest Homo Sapiens — Our Species Evolved Much Earlier Than Thought

By Gemma Tarlach | June 7, 2017 12:00 pm
The earliest member of Homo sapiens was this guy. The composite image, based on micro-CT scans of fossils from a site in Morocco, shows that the modern human face had already evolved by 300,000 years ago. (Credit PhilippGunz, MPI EVA Leipzig)

One of the earliest known members of Homo sapiens was this guy. The composite image, based on micro-CT scans of fossils from a site in Morocco, shows that the modern human face had already evolved by 300,000 years ago, smashing conventional thinking about our evolutionary timeframe. (Credit PhilippGunz, MPI EVA Leipzig)

For decades, based on both the fossil record and, more recently, paleogenomic modeling, researchers have generally put the start date for Homo sapiens around 200,000 years ago. A trove of fossil and artefact finds from Morocco, however, pushes the age of our species back — way back. The new findings have implications far beyond how many candles to put on our collective birthday cake.

In 2004, when researchers revisited the previously excavated early hominin site of Jebel Irhoud, about 60 miles outside of Marrakesh, it was a clean-up mission — at first. The mid-20th century mining operations that had turned up the first hominin bones had also destroyed much of the site, and the method in which some of those first finds had been collected made dating them with any confidence a difficult undertaking.

The hope in reopening the site was to turn up some undisturbed rock layers that might help researchers establish a more conclusive age for the previously discovered fossils.

But Jebel Irhoud was not finished sharing its secrets.

The researchers found an area of the site that had been preserved, and discovered more fossils — from at least five individuals — plus numerous stone tools and other artifacts, some of which appeared to have been heated in a controlled fire.

While the bones may get all the headlines, these bits of flint, apparently flaked off into the fire as tools were sharpened, are just as important: The material was perfect for dating using the thermoluminescence method.

The results were startling: Most of the fossils and tools are about 300,000 years old. That’s a date on the calendar about 100,000 years before any Homo sapiens should be out and about.

“The dates were a big wow,” said lead researcher Jean-Jacque Hublin, of the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, at a Tuesday press briefing. “Early in the process we realized the site was much older than anyone could have imagined.”

The researchers at Jebel Irhoud had unearthed multiple individuals forming the earliest known population of Homo sapiens, 100,000 years older and more than 3,000 miles from the site that yielded the previous winner in the Who’s Our Daddy? contest.

Or, as Hublin said of the Jebel Irhoud fossils, “This material represents the very root of our species.”

The findings, published as two papers — one on the fossils and the other on associated stone tools and the dating methods involved — and an accompanying News & Views article, appear today in Nature.

The Face of Us

The newly described Jebel Irhoud hominins — at least three adults, one adolescent and a child the researchers believe was about 8 years old at time of death — have an intriguing mix of traits. Their faces were essentially ours: “It’s the face of people you could cross in the street today,” says Hublin of the best preserved Jebel Irhoud partial skull. While some of the fossils had larger brow ridges, their facial feature measurements fall within the range of modern humans.

Seen in profile, however, a key difference is apparent: although it had a volume “in the range of modern humans,” according to Hublin, the Jebel Irhoud hominin braincase was lower and more elongated. Based on preserved features of the braincase (the part of the skull that encases, yep, the brain), the researchers believe the Moroccan hominins had a smaller cerebellum than modern humans, though not as small as that of Neanderthals.

The cerebellum has been linked to fine motor skills as well as creativity; while the Jebel Irhoud hominins might have gone unnoticed walking down a city street today, it’s likely that none of them would have had an Etsy shop.

More seriously, however, finding early Homo sapiens with modern faces and teeth but more primitive braincases refines our understanding of the actual process of human evolution.

“The story of our species in the last 300,000 years is the story of our brain’s evolution,” said Hublin, who added that mutations likely built up over that period, changing the brain’s functional abilities along with its shape and giving the species cognitive advantages in everything from creating better technology to managing social complexities.

Despite the modern facial structure of the 300,000-year-old Jebel Irhoud hominin, the braincase (in blue) was more primitive, suggesting that the shape of the brain, and possibly cognitive ability, continued to evolve in Homo sapiens after the species was established. (Credit Philipp Gunz, MPI EVA Leipzig)

Despite the modern facial structure of the 300,000-year-old Jebel Irhoud hominin, the braincase (in blue) was more primitive, suggesting that the shape of the brain, and possibly cognitive ability, continued to evolve in Homo sapiens after the species was established. (Credit Philipp Gunz, MPI EVA Leipzig)

Where The Zebra And The Antelope Play

While Jebel Irhoud today is surrounded by desert, about 300,000 years ago it would have been more hospitable to hominins and their prey, said Shannon McPherron, lead author of today’s paper dating the fossils and artifacts. When the hominins lived, the layer of the quarried hill in which their fossils were found would have been a cave providing shelter from the elements.

Within that same area of the site were the bones of gazelles, zebra, wildebeest and the antelope-like hartebeest. Paleoclimate data points to the area being more humid than today, while the animal bones found suggest, said McPherron, “a landscape that is mainly open, with clumps of trees.”

“The overall picture one gets is of a hunting encampment, as they were moving across the area in search of subsistence,” McPherron added. And there is strong evidence the hominins were indeed on the move. The flint they were using for their tools is not local. Analysis showed it came from a site more than 20 kilometers away, suggesting the hominins intentionally sought out quality tool-making material and carried it with them.

In addition to the hominin fossils, Jebel Irhoud is home to a number of stone tools. (Credit Mohammed Kamal, MPI EVA Leipzig)

In addition to the hominin fossils, Jebel Irhoud is home to a number of stone tools, many made from non-local material which suggests a higher degree of intention than more primitive hominin tool-makers. (Credit Mohammed Kamal, MPI EVA Leipzig)

“The thing that characterizes the Middle Stone Age from the time that came before is a shift from large, heavy-duty tools to an emphasis on producing lighter stone flakes that allowed increased efficiency in hunting. Along with an emphasis on pointed forms, there was an emphasis on quality materials,” McPherron explained, adding that the hominins’ apparent ease of using controlled fire also speaks to their fairly advanced cognitive abilities for the time.

The Jebel Irhoud site first yielded hominin fossils in the 1960s; the latest find, remains of at least five individuals, was discovered in YEAR. (Credit Shannon McPherron, MPI EVA Leipzig)

The Jebel Irhoud site first yielded hominin fossils in the 1960s; the latest find, remains of at least five individuals along with assorted artifacts, was reported today. (Credit Shannon McPherron, MPI EVA Leipzig)

Don’t Rock The Cradle

Finding Homo sapiens setting up shop in Morocco 100,000 years before the next-oldest member of our species (from what’s now Ethiopia) may excite our advanced cerebellums a little too much. So curb your imagination: Today’s studies update the conventional timeline for human evolution but they do not establish a new homeland for our species.

“We are not claiming that Morocco became the cradle of modern humankind,” Hublin said, adding that the broader conclusion from today’s papers is that, by 300,000 years ago, a very early form of Homo sapiens had dispersed across Africa. That’s across all of Africa. The partial skull and other fragments of a similar hominin, dated to about 259,000 years old, was previously found at the South African site of Florisbad.

The Florisbad and Jebel Irhoud hominins may represent isolated populations of early Homo sapiens that dispersed from an as-yet-unknown “cradle” but eventually died out; Hublin’s team believe that they are not likely to be directly ancestral to modern humans.

Pushing back the start date of our species by at least 100,000 years with today’s findings does, however, beg the question just how far back can we go?

Hublin put the cap on finding Homo sapiens at 600,000 years — the estimated time, based on genetic models, of a split in the Homo lineage. One branch led to Homo sapiens, and the other to Neanderthals and Denisovans.

“But what is happening between 400,000 and 600,000 years ago, we don’t know,” Hublin said.

You know what would be great? You know what would really help us sort it all out? Some ancient DNA from the Jebel Irhoud gang. After all, researchers successfully extracted and read genetic material from a much older Neanderthal ancestor found in Spain’s Sima de los Huesos cave.

Ah, but alas, Sima has natural climate control. The cooler, stable temperatures in the deep Pit of Bones protected ancient DNA from much of the degradation that typically destroys the fragile genetic code in a matter of millennia.

“We did try to extract DNA but to date there is none,” Hublin said of the Jebel Irhoud hominins. “It’s too old and too hot. This is very frustrating because I think there is little hope…we could have ancient DNA (in Africa).”

Never say never, Jean-Jacques. Just in the opening years of the 21st century, scientists have made extraordinary advances in understanding more about human evolution, from the ability to extract and sequence ancient DNA to the discovery of entirely new species, including Homo floresiensis and H. naledi. We’re slowly solving the puzzle of our family tree, one flint flake at a time.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
  • OWilson

    “Earlier than thought” is guaranteed to get my undivided attention.

    Same with “Scientists puzzled!” or “Scientists scratching their heads”.

    I have been waging a war on arrogant certitude in science, all my long life, and am fortunate to have lived long enough to see the cultural biases and politically correct conventional wisdom regularly blown out of the water!


    • Savoia Marchetti

      Just see Heyaltaco in Mexico and Cerutti in America, as example…

  • Annonamice

    It’s odd that based on a smaller braincase, even at this early time, that humans were still evolving their intellectual capacity, while at the same time, merely across the strait of Gibraltar, Neanderthals had considerably bigger brain volumes, and were already making art, and very likely, music.

    • RobertPPruitt

      It says they had bigger brains than Neanderthals.

      • Garland Holt

        ..” the researchers believe the Moroccan hominids had a smaller cerebellum than modern humans, though not as small as that of Neanderthals”.> Actually, Neanderthals had bigger brain case, but they are talking about just the cerebellum not the whole brain.

  • Uncle Al

    It’s the face of people you could cross in the street today” Sure, in the halls of Congress. Jebel Irhoud hominins should be judged against an indigene African braincase biometric baseline (or Bloods and Crips vs. Sureños in Los Angeles).

  • Mike Richardson

    Certainly proof that the book of humanity’s origins is still a work in progress. Though this really pushes back the timeline for “modern” humans, the research on the brain development does provide some possible answers for why civilization apparently took so long to develop. Then again, archeology is also subject to revision, so maybe at various times different groups of humans began the first steps towards what we would recognize as civilization, only to suffer catastrophic setbacks. Maybe we shouldn’t become too complacent in assuming our own civilization won’t also fall, only to become a subject of discovery for a future society. Always be prepared to accept that science involves revision and refinement, and sometimes complete paradigm shifts altogether. Makes it all the more interesting.

    • OWilson

      The “catastrophic set backs” to earlier civilization were primarily invasion driven (from without, and within)

      The Babylonians were invaded by the Persians.

      The Persians were invaded by the Greeks.

      The Greeks were invaded by the Romans

      The Romans were invaded by the Barbarians.

      The U.S.A. was invaded by the …………..(fill in the gap!)

      The lesson of history is clear. To remain free, you must stay stronger than your enemies, and not shrink from defending your borders!

      • Uncle Al

        “The only safe place is behind the trigger.” Good for artillery, not so much for rifles, debatable for land-based ICBMs re first strike.

        Salty, sweet, bitter, sour, umami – thus the US advertised its fall.

        • Kate K

          Good for rifles if your opponents have them or knives.

      • Mike Richardson

        The current civilization we have is global in nature, and more likely to suffer from reactionary nativist policies than any actual invasion. Also, environmental stresses such as climate change, which most sensible people would choose to address before allowing it to worsen in more extreme ways. We do at least have the advantage of science and technology in far greater abundance than any previous civilization, though as they no doubt had, we also have to contend with those who reject science in favor of unyielding religious or ideological doctrines. One can only hope scientific logic and reason, tools our earliest ancestors apparently lacked, will be applied with greater frequency.

        • OWilson

          “The current civilization we have” is NOT global in nature. That’s why we are at constant war!

          At any given time half the world want’s to kill the other half.

          From fascists to communists, to islamists, to imperialists to socialists.

          Even in your own country, you need patrolling gun totin’ cops (in pairs even) to keep you safe in your own neighborhood :)

          Those sickening pictures of savage islamists holding the severed heads of their victims, when copied by your socialists, holding the bloodied head of your President, it is just considered fun!

          You can “hope” for your own version of “logic and reason”, but other folks define these things differently.

          “Hope” never changed anything in this world, only action.

          • Mike Richardson

            “Snide asides?”. Thank you, but you’ve just proven in your rant the very point I was trying to make about unyielding ideology, in your case from the far right. At least there’s some cause for optimism, as our species is apparently capable of evolving better intelligence and reasoning capability over time, as long as we aren’t prevented from doing so by one group of extremists or the other. :)

          • OWilson

            I suggest you have a little problem with your own “ideology”, over there. Needs some work before you can start lecturing the world.

            Charity begins at home!

          • Mike Richardson

            Hmmm, now who jumped in to the conversation to interject politics, as usual? Seems like you did a little lecturing yourself there. But it’s only a problem if those you perceive to be evil socialists are doing it, right? LOL! You really are the gift that keeps on giving. 😉

          • Kate K

            There has been a political element to evolution for as long as we have had civilization. Technology will increase the political element in evolution.

          • Donna Skellchock

            Ah, the voice of reason!!! Thank goodness! May science prevail forever !!!!

          • Mike Richardson

            Thank you. I wasn’t aiming for my comment to lead into a debate over the value of science and reason vs ideological purity, but at least you’ve gotten both views on the subject. Happens a lot around here. :)

          • fed-up-Redhead

            Right now that could include some groups currently trying to run amok in Washington….and I refer to those duly elected, who only have their own interests in mind–and screw the rest of us. BTW–I’m an independent moderate.

          • Terri Foster-Hayes

            Has it been about religion from the beginning, the reason to kill and decimate

          • Lorie Franceschi

            But hope and change was supposed to be our policy for 8 years before current administration.

            When attending college in my mid to late 30’s, my views of the world did not jive with 99%of my instructors. Papers I wrote were given high grades, because I very carefully documented where I had found my information, but there was always comments that disagreed with the theme of the paper. The tone of what was written 20 years ago can still be seen in the actions of young college students today. They have no real sense of how the country works let alone the world. They have grown up inside the four walls of a classroom and will not really start to figure things out until they try to find a job, have a roof over their head, clothes on their backs, food in their stomaches and bills to pay without the help from any family members. When they realize these problems, then they just might grow,up and learn somethings on how the world works.

            One more thing, even if you take in to account graduate and phd candidate, most of the collage students today were very young when 9/11 happened. So, I do give them some leeway as to what they do and do not know how the country and world work.

        • Kate K

          The current civilization we have is global in nature, and more likely to suffer from reactionary nativist policies than any actual invasion.

          Or civilization is more separate than ever with more organic divisions ever, based on class. Moreover this is a natural phenomena arising from specialization.

          Those differences are about to be vastly accelerated and made larger and broader due to genetic technology and access to it.

          • Mike Richardson

            Well, I don’t think we’re quite headed down the path of H. G. Wells’ Eloi and Morlocks, but given enough inequality in access to emerging technologies (genetic, cybernetic, and extraterrestrial — in the sense of space resources and colonization, not aliens), we could see the emergence of separate civilizations and even species of humanity. What will “modern humans” mean in the centuries to come?

          • Kate K

            It is inequality that leads to evolution advances. Also consider that better medical care is itself causing reverse evolution. (eg Juvenile Diabetes 100 deeply harmful conditions that we are increasing in frequency in the human genome), it is not a bad thing. The human’s evolutionary path has always been specialization and adaptation to virtually any environment.

            Competition drives evolution. There will be class, regional competition against other homo sapien sapien, and then perhaps against AI (before it beats us soundly I think by 200 years from now)

            The thing is that DNA driven inequality will also be regional. There are already studies on attitudes toward technical eugenics in Europe (lowest acceptance) North America (higher acceptance) and E. Asia (highest acceptance).

            The technical path is not science fiction, it s a reality. A reality in the first stage, just not widely implemented, but with pressures insuring wide implementation fairly soon (read “The end of sex” by Greely out of Stadford. The second stage is pretty much going to be here in one to two decaces

            First stage is fertilizing a dozen eggs. Take case of the 30% of the population that has already known increased risk of genetic mental disability OK for US that is $2.25 million lifetime net cost per person with disability vs maybe $20k for procedure. Risk is 1%. That alone spells end of blunt instrument of letting faster sperm hit the egg. Instead fertilize a dozen eggs, test for all of the 200 abnormalities recognizable (and ever better understood) and implant the one without.

            Given that there are increasing better understood intellectual function, and physical attribute genes each year, using zygot selection to increase odds of 10 or 20 points higher IQ or other attributes will start to occur widely and those who don’t use it will increase risk their offispring will be less successful.

            Next will be direct gene editing and whatever follows that.

          • OWilson

            Kardashian, celeb worshipping progressives are lining up for “designer babies” and designer dogs, as we speak.

            Some 60 million unwanted babies have been thrown away to the abortionist’s forceps, since it was legalized.

            It’s just today’s form of “eugenics”!

            Eugenics, the science who’s name must never be spoken! :)

        • fed-up-Redhead

          Scientific logic and reason……..viewing that in a broader sense, I see the gradual development of tools, beginning possibly with stone flakes found by accident, or created when fire fractured a stone, led to what we call R&D. Trial and error are still abundant in the sciences and long ago it was even more so. I live in the western US and have seen the “objects” used for survival–and even for these groups to flourish. I know we are looking much farther back than 10,000 years but early humans have displayed some brilliant creativity. Thrown back to the same period after some calamity, would we be able to “figure” things out so well?

      • Donna Skellchock

        This is presented in an interesting way.

        • OWilson

          Thank you. I like to bring a little reality to the folks who live in a government bubble, who haven’t a clue how the vast world out there operates (or even his own country) but love to give their high minded left wing sermons anyway :)

          It drives them crazy!

          By the way his initial premise from which all his flawed logic flows, “The current civilization we have is global in nature” is silly and unrealistic and meaningless.

          The problem for the wold is just the opposite, “It is not”

          His country, and the world are divided, Perhaps more so recently!

          The severed head photos designed to incite, recruit, or resist, persist, from radical Islamists and domestic socialists alike are clear testimony to that!

          • Mike Richardson

            Wilson, you’re the last person one should turn to for a lesson in reality. The only person driven crazy here, as you’ve made quite clear with your unhinged rants and ironic criticisms of others’ “lecturing” and “sermons,” is yourself! Instead of sputtering and raving away about fake severed heads (certainly in poor taste, much like Ted Nugent’s comments regarding the former President, which nonetheless did not prevent an invitation to the Whitehouse from the current one), perhaps you should have a thorough examination of the one attached still attached to your body. There are plenty of qualified doctors out there looking for new challenges. :)

          • OWilson

            No need to, Mikey.

            I always get a detailed free diagnosis from you! :)

          • Mike Richardson

            Well, when you jump in to a discussion of early man’s development to troll the conversation into the swamp with partisan political comments, you have to expect people to question your judgment, if not sanity. Particularly when you criticize others for things you do on a regular basis, apparently unaware of the obvious hypocrisy. No, I and any one else reading your comments can wonder about your state of mind, but I’ll happily defer to experts for a detailed diagnosis. :)

          • OWilson

            There you go again, with your usual false assumptions of how others are reading my posts.

            Bad judgement and logic!

            (Checked you Disqus ratings lately?) LOL

          • Mike Richardson

            I assume a certain amount of rationality, which is more important than popularity, except to you, of course. It is nice you have a support group out there, but if they were really your friends, you’d probably see them correcting you more often. As the article demonstrates, we need to be open to new ideas and revisions, and not presume infallibility based on popularity. :)

          • OWilson

            You are rambling again.

            Bye for now!

          • Mike Richardson

            LOL! So pointing out a narcissistic obsession with popularity (which you brought up) is rambling, but actually derailing the conversation with a hyper partisan rant is not? To borrow Donna’s quote, you present irony in “an interesting way.” Bye Wilson. Look forward to more unintentionally humorous posts from you in the future! : )

          • nik

            If you think the severed heads are fake, have a chat with the relatives, if there are any remaining.

          • Mike Richardson

            I was referring to the infamous Kathy Griffin photo of the Trump head, which Wilson seemed to be equating with terrorist execution images — not the actual executions. I’ve no problem discerning reality – look to your friend for numerous examples of that unfortunate affliction. :)

          • nik

            I interpreted ”severed heads” [Plural] as referring to reality, rather than one, [singular] fake, which I was not aware of until now.
            However, given the plurality, rather than the singular, I still cannot see why you should interpret the comments as you have, but never mind, its of little importance.

      • Terri Foster-Hayes

        America invaded by Russia 2017

      • Lorie Franceschi

        You are correct with all of your facts about the different invasions, but the invaders had cities or at least villages. Our ancestors from 600,000 onward as far as we knowwe w did not as they are classified as hunter-gatherers. Small groups of people, maybe 20, moving where the food was located. Yes there were probably clashes when two groups met, but not as in our recent history shows.. Hunter-gatherers were just trying to survive.

      • Terri Foster-Hayes

        What do we do now that we have a leader more interested in his ego than our country? He is an embarrassment and we are losing our status in the world. Being a bully and calling names is not the way to assure we won’t start a war is my fear. We look weak now and as owilson wrote of invasions I wonder and fear those looking at our country with greedy eyes!

    • GemmaTarlach

      That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.” (Will Durant)

      • Kate K

        Except that is manifestly no longer the case.

        • nik

          Dont you believe it!
          Humans have been on Earth just a blink of an eye, in geological terms, and they can disappear just as quickly.

          • Dorthy S. Warthen

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    • Kate K

      We have a pretty food idea of the who, where, when and why of civilization. The finds are where Neaderthal/Denosovian gene carriers were in a communications axis from Anatolia to the Ganges, centered in upper Mesopotamia/Anatolia and transmitting E/W along that line. The why hypothesis has been around some time and has not been knocked off the perch, which is that areas of storable but non cultivated high carbohydrate foods (pistachio and other nuts) flourished, allowing year long persistence without remaining and relatively very large populations then saw a climate change which induced cultivation of grains already present in the wild.

      In short there was a place with a lot of pistachios, a population with a genetically driven higher number of high IQ outlers, and wild cereals. A change greatly and relatively suddenly pushed out the pistachios.

      There is evidence for similar processes are postulated for far later E. Asia and the America although less is known as to the exact set of variables.

      Stresses are a good thing if you have a large enough population, otherwise you never have any evolution. In the case humans though, at this point we are on the verge of both directed evolution (directed selection and informed gene editing) and global terrestrial terraforming that natural processes are irrelevant.

      • Mike Richardson

        Pistachios? Interesting. I’ve also read theories that the consumption of meat and animal data led to increased brain development (Not a popular train of thought with vegetarians, but certainly not inconsistent with the evidence of record). That of course, would predate any civilization and deliberate cultivation of crops, either in the traditional near East or Mesoamerica. As you noted, though, where we go from here will be a matter of much more deliberate evolution.

        • Kate K

          consumption of meat obviously did much earlier. And before that marrow. Of course. the upper mesopotamia/andeast anotolia had plenty of antelope at the time .

          carbohydrate in nuts also have a lot of the same high quality brain fats.

          Also the brains of Neanderthal/denosovian bearers tend to an elevated rate of high IQ outliers. That does not mean a given non Neanderthal gene bearer has a lower IQ or potenial IQ than a given Neaderthal gene bearer, but simply that a pool of 1,000 of each the neathertal gene bearing 1,000 is going to have a couple more +120 to +140. These are the outliers who drive innovation.

          but I am manly referring to externally stored calories which the region allowed in ways not seen elsewhere — at least in areas that were conducive to cultivation immediately after wild pistachio ended. the fact that pistachio (and oak acorn in the region) could be collected and stored. this allowed for

          1) storable calories surpluses that sustained life though many seasons
          2) central authority controlling surplus and directing labor.
          3) larger population concentrations
          4) surplus population allowing specialization (eg a) territorial defenders, ie young males able to use force to defend a territory b) females able to spend more time breeding and rearing c) segments able to spend more time making clothes, tradable goods, etc etc

          So when the storable forage crop starts to decrease in the younger dryas period , that decline may have mimicked earlier loss of tolerable forage in other places at other times, but in this case they were sitting on rivers, likely had been doing some proto-agriculture (directing some evolution of wild grains, perhaps some removal of weeds around wild grain patches and perhaps some rudimentary irrigation).

          So they are sitting in a place with wild carbohydrate surplus that will soon drop — but tis particular populaion is at a time and place where they have the natural resources and learned some things that will be conducive to lighting up actual grain agriculture.

          FYI acorn is also storable surplus. You just cut the shell and throw a wicker basket in a stream and collect it later, or better yet use salted water to draw out chemicals. You then store it.

          • OWilson

            “2) central authority controlling surplus and directing labor.”

            And all is well and good, until that “central authority” grows bigger than the producing population!

  • fed-up-Redhead

    At first I was intrigued by the devolvement of science of our earliest link, but things degenerated into political finger-pointing. I came for science, not a trip through a Washington swamp. What would early man think of us? Shut-up and do some flint-knapping?

    • OWilson

      A poster posited “catastrophic setbacks” to earlier civilization.

      I pointed out that they were human, politically inspired setbacks (invasions), not natural ones. The envy and expropriation of their neighbors perceived wealth, or an arrogance that they were superior to the others.

      Lest we forget, all these attitudes are still alive and well in this present day world which is currently on fire!

  • nik

    Its already been suggested that brain size probably has little to do with IQ, its the internal connections that count, in the same way that early commercial computers needed a building the size of a city block to house them, but had less capacity than a pocket calculator today. So why do people still try to use it to suggest relative IQ between hominid species, or even bother to mention it at all..

    • OWilson

      Most folks don’t like to be told the truth, that their leaders don’t know any more about the meaning of life, than they do.

      They are more comfortable with “consensus”, even certainty, however wrong.

      Hence the popularity of Kim il Sung and the assorted religions.

      • nik

        Yeah, its the old adage, ”People vs Sheeple.”

        The Japanese were well aware of it when they ran their POW camps. They just watched to see who the ”people” were, removed them to a safer place, and then the remaining ”sheeple” gave them no trouble.

        Another that illustrates the same, ”Laws are made for the guidance of wise men, and blind obedience, by idiots!”
        Plenty of idiots around!

  • Jordan Dickerson

    The hominids and the prototypes

    The ancestors of man

    In the tertiary period some races of anthropoids appeared in the lower Pliocene. These anthropoids, ancestors of man, and the ascendants of the apes that still exist in the world, had their evolution in convergent points, therefore, the serological kinship between the organism of man and the chimpanzee. There was not a “descent from the tree”, at the beginning of human evolution, because it was established, a definite lineage for all species. Fish, reptiles, mammals, had their fixed lineage of development and the man would not escape this general rule.

    The prototypes

    The cave anthropoids have walked, to the groups, from the surface of the globe, for centuries, suffering the middle influences and forming future races into their diversified types.
    The research about Neanderthal type recognizes a species of bestialized man, and other discoveries, about fossil man, are a certificate of biological experiments, until put in the primate the approximate characteristic of future man.

  • jonathanpulliam

    Fake news. Hominid tools have been previously carbon-dated to 2.5 million years’ old.

  • Erik Bosma

    Monkeys looking at mirrors….

  • Savoia Marchetti

    Oh, and meanwhile, anyone trying to show the pre-clovis in America are fouls eh? Cerutti Mastodon Site, Heyaltaco… ahaha, ‘impossible’ say the ‘experts’ or simply ignored them, like happened with Monte Verde.
    “The thing that characterizes the Middle Stone Age from the time that
    came before is a shift from large, heavy-duty tools to an emphasis on
    producing lighter stone flakes that allowed increased efficiency in
    hunting. Along with an emphasis on pointed forms, there was an emphasis
    on quality materials,” McPherron explained, adding that the hominins’
    apparent ease of using controlled fire also speaks to their fairly
    advanced cognitive abilities for the time.

    And then, we have the ‘clovis’ in Africa. And strangely enought, not being able to destroy the african megafauna in 300,000 years. Ah, a big LOL.

  • Sami Sfaxi

    Thanks for so nice science you write.

    In the last lines of your article
    There is an erratum that is due I think to a typo.:

    Homo floresiensis, H. sediba and H. naledi.

    ( Sediba, discovered by Lee Berger in 2010 in Malapa site in S. Africa is not a species of the genus Homo. It belongs to the Australopithecus genus.)

    Homo floresiensis, Australopithecus sediba and H. naledi.

  • ashman0071

    The frontal bossing and sloped forehead on that skull still indicates to me that there’s a tremendous amount of ‘evolution’ to be done in the next 200,000 years before we become Homo Sapiens……..does the possibility that this was accelerated by deliberate genetic manipulation have some probability?

  • iThinker2

    Protect the site and artifacts. It seems we have many who want that suppressed.

  • Pingback: Hominin Head-Scratcher: Who Butchered This Rhino 709,000 Years Ago? – KESIMPULAN()


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