THE EARLIEST SHOWN BY ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE AFRICAN MIGRANT INHABITANTS OF EUROPE (“EURASIA”)

The implications of the new fossil discovery of the “First Europeans” – the Earliest Black African Migrants to Europe (“Eurasia”) with verified African cranial-facial features:

“Everything that lived at the time of the Dmanisi was probably just Homo erectus,” said Prof Zollikofer. “We are not saying that palaeoanthropologists did things wrong in Africa, but they didn’t have the reference we have. Part of the community will like it, but for another part it will be shocking news.”

Reconstruction of Homo erectus                Reconstruction of the early human ancestor Homo erectus from the latest skull found at Dmanisi in Georgia. Illustration: J H Matternes

But while the skull itself is spectacular, it is the implications of the discovery that have caused scientists in the field to draw breath. Over decades excavating sites in Africa, researchers have named half a dozen different species of early human ancestor, but most, if not all, are now on shaky ground.

Homo erectus skull found in Georgia                The most recently unearthed individual had a long face and big teeth, but the smallest braincase of all five H erectus skulls found at the site. Photograph: Georgian National Museum

The remains at Dmanisi are thought to be early forms of Homo erectus, the first of our relatives to have body proportions like a modern human. The species arose in Africa around 1.8m years ago and may have been the first to harness fire and cook food. The Dmanisi fossils show that H erectus migrated as far as Asia soon after arising in Africa.

The latest skull discovered in Dmanisi belonged to an adult male and was the largest of the haul. It had a long face and big, chunky teeth. But at just under 550 cubic centimetres, it also had the smallest braincase of all the individuals found at the site. The dimensions were so strange that one scientist at the site joked that they should leave it in the ground.

The odd dimensions of the fossil prompted the team to look at normal skull variation, both in modern humans and chimps, to see how they compared. They found that while the Dmanisi skulls looked different to one another, the variations were no greater than those seen among modern people and among chimps.

The scientists went on to compare the Dmanisi remains with those of supposedly different species of human ancestor that lived in Africa at the time. They concluded that the variation among them was no greater than that seen at Dmanisi. Rather than being separate species, the human ancestors found in Africa from the same period may simply be normal variants of H erectus.

“Everything that lived at the time of the Dmanisi was probably just Homo erectus,” said Prof Zollikofer. “We are not saying that palaeoanthropologists did things wrong in Africa, but they didn’t have the reference we have. Part of the community will like it, but for another part it will be shocking news.”

Reconstruction of Homo erectus                Reconstruction of the early human ancestor Homo erectus from the latest skull found at Dmanisi in Georgia. Illustration: J H Matternes

David Lordkipanidze at the Georgian National Museum, who leads the Dmanisi excavations, said: “If you found the Dmanisi skulls at isolated sites in Africa, some people would give them different species names. But one population can have all this variation. We are using five or six names, but they could all be from one lineage.”

If the scientists are right, it would trim the base of the human evolutionary tree and spell the end for names such as H rudolfensis, H gautengensis, H ergaster and possibly H habilis.

The fossil is described in the latest issue of Science.

“Some palaeontologists see minor differences in fossils and give them labels, and that has resulted in the family tree accumulating a lot of branches,” said White. “The Dmanisi fossils give us a new yardstick, and when you apply that yardstick to the African fossils, a lot of that extra wood in the tree is dead wood. It’s arm-waving.”

Dr Christopher Stringer said:

“I think they will be proved right that some of those early African fossils can reasonably join a variable Homo erectus species,” said Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London. “But Africa is a huge continent with a deep record of the earliest stages of human evolution, and there certainly seems to have been species-level diversity there prior to two million years ago. So I still doubt that all of the ‘early Homo’ fossils can reasonably be lumped into an evolving Homo erectus lineage. We need similarly complete African fossils from two to 2.5m years ago to test that idea properly.”

The article continued:

The analysis by Lordkipanidze also casts doubt on claims that a creature called Australopithecus sediba that lived in what is now South Africa around 1.9m years ago was a direct ancestor of modern humans. The species was discovered by Lee Berger at the University of Witwatersrand.  Lee Berger argued that it was premature to dismiss his finding and criticised the authors for failing to compare their fossils with the remains of A sediba.

“This is a fantastic and important discovery, but I don’t think the evidence they have lives up to this broad claim they are making.

“They say this falsifies that Australopithecus sediba is the ancestor of Homo. The very simple response is, no it doesn’t.”

“What all this screams out for is more and better specimens. We need skeletons, more complete material, so we can look at them from head to toe,” he added. “Any time a scientist says ‘we’ve got this figured out’ they are probably wrong. It’s not the end of the story.”

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About Harold L Carter

Bachelor of Science, Columbia University Masters degree, Ohio State University Undergraduate National Officer, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Eastern Asst Vice President, when a student at Columbia University Profile Photograph: Mom & Me, when I was a graduate student
Aside | This entry was posted in "EUROPEANIZATION OF WORLD HISTORY, "THE FIRST EUROPEANS", A NEW WORLD HISTORY PARADIGM, AFRICAN HISTORY, AUTHENTIC WORLD HISTORY AND HUMAN BIOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY, HISTORY OF PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT, HUMAN BIOLOGICAL HISTORY, HUMAN HISTORY FROM PREHISTORIC TIMES AND THE EARLIEST CIVILIZATIONS TO THE 21ST CENTURY, THE EARLIEST AFRICAN MIGRANT INHABITANTS OF EUROPE ("EURASIA), Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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