10 September 2009

Out of Africa? Out of Europe? Whence Came Homo?

Conventional theory of human origins shows homo sapiens evolving in Africa, and emerging to populate all other large landmasses except Antarctica. But evidence has been accumulating  that suggests that homo erectus evolved outside of Africa -- in the Eurasian landmass. From there, homo sapiens may have evolved from homo erectus either outside Africa, or back in Africa following an erectus migration south.
Received wisdom that modern humans emerged in Africa then dispersed across the rest of the globe is being challenged by skulls found in Dmanisi, a site in Georgia to the south of Russia.

Analysis of the skulls suggests that instead, small numbers of very early ancestors of modern-day humans may have migrated to Europe, where they evolved into Homo erectus, the immediate predecessor of modern Homo sapiens. _NewScientist
An even more extreme counter-point theory to "Out of Africa", is the theory laid out in the free online e-book Erectus Walks Among Us. According to Erectus Walks Among Us, not only did homo erectus evolve in Eurasia, homo sapiens and homo neanderthalis also evolved in Eurasia. Be aware that most anthropologists accept the conventional view of early human migrations, and consider most alternative theories to  be not only unfounded, but also racist.A word of caution: It is impossible to avoid charges of racism whenever one wanders onto this territory. If you are of a squeamish and fastidious sort when it comes to being accused of racism, you had best avoid this topic altogether. But do not bother to complain to the blog proprietors about your own hyper-sensitivity. They will not be moved.

But if you care more about understanding origins and how things became the way they are, than about the screeching censors of the PC Idiocracy, you may find some of the ideas at least marginally interesting. Perhaps even stimulating.  And probably wrong, for the most part.

Still, humans have an inbuilt compulsion to hold strong opinions -- even when they can not possibly know enough about the topic to know the facts, one way or the other. This is true about human origins and migrations, just as it is true about catastrophic climate religion, catastrophic peak oil religion, or any other fanatical belief whose foundations are more imagined than real.

As humans, we cannot help wondering and discussing our speculations.

Update:  Here is another look at the fossil findings from HBDBooks

More here
Here is an interesting look at the pre-historical peopling of Europe via Race / History / Evolution Notes blog

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meh. I'm good either way. The idea that a theory which might appeal to racists is by default a racist theory and therefore false is clasical Homo sapien reasoning. Maybe while we are waiting for human level artificial intelligence we could consider trying to develop software that can scan text and look for structures which resemble fallacies and sophistries and point them out like spelling and grammar checkers do. If red underlines are for potential spelling mistakes and green for grammar maybe purple could be for unsupported statements and irrational conclusions. Boy, my writings would be pretty.

At any rate, our ability to extract DNA from fossils has improved from almost impossible to pretty common in a short time and combined with widespread human DNA surveys and computational tools should provide a lot more to go on in the coming years.

Thursday, 10 September, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Interesting suggestion, Baron. A perfectly logical AI "logic checker" would no doubt find a lot of us out.

But in many cases it would only reveal the differences between human thought and machine logic as programmed. Human thought is quite slippery, of necessity.

If machines ever learn to think, they will need a very good inferential lubricant of their own.

Thursday, 10 September, 2009  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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