Showing posts with label Neanderthal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Neanderthal. Show all posts

June 20, 2016

Venomous and Nonvenomous Links

In El Castillo cave, hand stencils join a red disk (not pictured)
that may be Earth's oldest cave art (Science/AAS)
Arizona wants to kill you. I thought the rattlesnakes were bad; now this: "Arizona Hiker Dies After Being Stung by 1,000 Bees."

Americans don't visit national parks anymore — that was the message a couple of years ago. (See the graph for early 2000s.) Now it's "The National Parks Have Never Been More Popular."  Free admission for the 100th anniversary helps, so does cheaper fuel. Or is this just one of those "fat is bad for you / fat is good for you" deals? Will M. and make it to Yellowstone this fall?

In case you missed it — although we are not talking about Chauvet-type art, still the evidence is that the Neanderthal people made art. And of course it's older than the Cro-Magnon stuff.

September 04, 2015

Dogs versus Neanderthals?

It has been suggested by Steve Bodio and others that modern humans' migration into the Americas across the Bering land bridge was dependent on an ally — the dog.

Until they had dogs, a continent with giant bears, giant wolves, and other toothy things was just too intimidating.

Meanwhile, back in Europe, did dogs help modern humans out-compete Neanderthal? (And did Neanderthals themselves have wolf-dogs? The evidence is ambiguous.)

National Geographic interviews anthropologist Pat Shipman, author of a new book on how dogs may have helped modern humans to out-compete Neanderthals:

"[Early wolf-dogs are] large, have big teeth and all those predatory, dog/wolf characteristics. You have to assume from the anatomy that they could track very well from the scent of an animal. They were built to be fast running, as wolves and most dogs are. Humans don't run terribly fast. We have a crappy sense of smell. We do cooperate with each other, which is helpful, and we had long-distance weapons, like spears and bows and arrows.

"Neanderthals seem to have specialized in stabbing an animal at close quarters with handheld weapons and wrestling it down. We had weapons we could launch from a distance, which is a very big advantage. There's a lot less risk of personal injury."

(The people today with comparable skeletal injuries to Neanderthals are rodeo riders.)

Maybe dogs helped modern humans to become better rabbit-hunters than their chunkier relatives.

But I have another scenario in mind:

Hunter 1: Hey, Little Hawk, look at White Dog! She thinks there is something in that cave.

Hunter 2: I bet one of those squat ugly bastards is lurking in there. Or his big ugly woman.

Hunter 1: White Dog, come here! Little Hawk, get the others! We'll smoke 'em out."

December 18, 2013

No Blog Stew, Please, We're Neanderthals

¶ Ongoing study of Neanderthal DNA genes in modern humans, including adaptation to UV light: 
Interestingly, the authors note, the geographic distribution of the Neanderthal genomic region suggests that UV-light mutations were shown to be lost during the exodus of modern human from Africa, and reintroduced to Eurasians from Neanderthals. “Overall, it is still very controversial whether there is more Neanderthal DNA contributions to Asians than Europeans, as we have evidence to argue against this,” said Lin. “Although in the case of the Hyal2 variant, it did indeed have a higher frequency in Asians.
¶  Another study suggesting that Neanderthal people did bury their dead, as opposed to the notion that modern archaeologists misinterpreted bone deposits:
The findings center on Neanderthal remains first discovered in 1908 at La Chapelle-aux-Saints in southwestern France. The well-preserved bones led its early 20th-century excavators to posit that the site marked a burial ground created by a predecessor to early modern humans. However, their conclusions have sparked controversy in the scientific community ever since, with skeptics maintaining that the discovery had been misinterpreted and that the burial may not have been intentional.

February 10, 2013

The Question of Neanderthal/Modern Coexistence Contnues

Lately we have been told that the tip of the Iberian peninsula was the last European home of Neanderthal people, even as modern humans were spreading everywhere else.

Anthropologists have speculated how the two groups might have interacted.

A new group of researchers, however, argue for an earlier end to Neanderthal occupation:
The scientists, by applying this new method, assure that the Neanderthal occupation of the sites did not last until as late as previously thought; instead it should be placed approximately 45,000 years ago.
Read more here at Heritage Daily.  How this affects the issue of Neanderthal DNA in our bodies is another question, apparently.

January 10, 2013

Canis Neanderthalensis

Last night I watched the Nova episode about Neanderthal people, with its focus on the genetic discoveries.

As I did so, the dogs sprawled on the rug in front of the wood stove, and something occurred to me.

Shelby, the collie-mix, is clearly a modern dog, like Homo sapiens sapiens — gracile and cunning.

Fisher the Chessie, on the other hand, is a Neanderthal — strong, hearty, with a high caloric need, possessed of (canine) language yet with a shorter attention span. Instinctual, in a word. And check out that heavy brow ridge.

Maybe that is what the dog psychic-in-training was getting at when she said his real name was Gunter. (But I apologize to all men named Gunter who possess advanced academic degrees.)

And now a Neanderthal trivia question (from Wikipedia, not from the show).

Q. The patterns of healed skeletal injuries in Neanderthal remains suggest a comparison with what contemporary occupational group?

A. Rodeo cowboys, another group that has frequent combative contact with large animals.

December 26, 2012

Must-Watch Neanderthal Television

Watch Decoding Neanderthals Preview on PBS. See more from NOVA.
Nova's January 9 episode will be devoted to the latest research on Neanderthal people, says anthropologist John Hawks.

That's his voice on the trailer, talking about the "mother of all image problems."

Rocky Mountain PBS actually has it scheduled on that date at 8 p.m., unless they suddenly decide to replace it with Antiques Roadshow or another John Denver special.

October 08, 2012

Blog Stew with Salt, All the Salt You Want

• Talk about a long dry spell. "The last sex between Neanderthals and modern humans likely occurred as recently as 47,000 years ago."

• You are not a hypertensive rat. And salt is not necessarily bad for you.
“You can say without any shadow of a doubt,” as I was told then by Drummond Rennie, an editor for The Journal of the American Medical Association, that the authorities pushing the eat-less-salt message had “made a commitment to salt education that goes way beyond the scientific facts.”
• Dry spell of the literary variety? Just write to your pal Robert Heinlein, and he will give you lots of ideas and advice. Oh, wait a minute . . .

July 20, 2012

Archaeology and Other Links

• Scraping builds strong muscles — a hypothesis for why Neanderthal men had powerful right arms. Either that or they were bowling with boulders.

• Multiple ancient cultures in America: the evidence from artifacts and DNA. Read more from Reid Farmer at Querencia.

• The Make-A-Wish Foundation won't let kids wish for a hunting trip.

• Bureaucratic finger-pointing keeps a sheriff's heli-tanker from fighting fires. 

June 14, 2012

Spanish Cave Paintings the Oldest Yet

New tests on prehistoric Spanish cave paintings are pushing them back into Neanderthal territory.
Testing the coating of paintings in 11 Spanish caves, researchers found that one is at least 40,800 years old, which is at least 15,000 years older than previously thought. That makes them older than the more famous French cave paintings by thousands of years.
That is thousands of years older than the paintings at Chauvet Cave, for example. Some researchers are starting to speculate that Neanderthal people, who are not thought as having "art," may have made them.

October 14, 2011

Various Thoughts on Bigfoot

I am not a Bigfoot hunter. Invisible partridge are challenge enough. So I am about two years late to the party when it comes to the Lumpkin County, Georgia (northeast of Atlanta) alleged Bigfoot sighting, captured by a deputy sheriff's dashboard video camera (YouTube) and witnessed by the deputy and his civilian passenger.

This video has been supplemented by analysis of the creature's apparent speed, reference to the terrain — the embedded GPS reading helps — and so, making for eight interesting minutes. (The Discovery Channel could get a hour-length program out of that, repeating everything six or eight times.)

I read about it in a recent issue of the venerable Fate magazine, "Bigfoot in Georgia," by Daniel Perez. (Georgia has some active hunters of "the Big Guy.")

Hmm, what about Colorado?

Back in the late 1980s, as a newspaper reporter, I interviewed a man who said two "creatures" had walked past his house and left footprints in the snow, which he photographed and showed me. The large tracks just ended abruptly in the fresh powder. Odd.

Having blogged once on the mystery of "Monkey Creek," with some trepidation I now typed "Colorado Bigfoot" into YouTube's search box. Here are the results.

The "Yellow Top Bigfoot" seems to move like a hunched-over human, if you ask me. So does this one. Several others all look like the same gorilla suit. One video's makers frankly call it a "mockumentary."

Meanwhile, in Central Asia

Central Asia and Siberia have a long history of big, shaggy bipeds. In fact, the same May-June 2011 issue of Fate that carried Daniel Perez's article mentioned above also reprinted one from its May 1961 issue, "Russia Seeks the Snowman," about a Dr. Alexander G. Pronin of the "Geographic Scientific Institute of Leningrad University" (no Google hits on that name, but there could be translation issues) seeing a "snowman" while on an International Geophysical Year expedition in the Pamir Mountains.

The hypothesis of a surviving population of Neanderthals, which has been explored in fiction, is brought out again:
Igor Burtsev, head of the International Center of Hominology in Moscow -- which investigates so-called snowmen -- told The Voice of Russia radio that "when Homo sapiens started populating the world, it viciously exterminated its closest relative in the hominid family, Homo neanderthalensis."

"Some of the Neanderthals, however, may have survived to this day in some mountainous wooded habitats that are more or less off limits to their arch foes. No clothing on them, no tools in hands and no fire in the household. Only round-the-clock watchfulness for a Homo sapiens around."
Hitting the Wall
One thing I notice with Bigfoot investigations (as with UFO investigations—and some say they are related) is that people get evidence and think that they are on the verge of the big discovery — and then it all stops. Nothing seems to be repeatable in a scientific way.

I have to say that sometimes I think that Bigfoot exists—but not in our world. Rather he/she/they are in a world that sometimes intersects with ours. Yep, like fairies, etc.

The late Grover Krantz, a physical anthropologist at Washington State University, published a book arguing for a physical Bigfoot that inhabited an ecological niche sort of like a nocturnal black bear—at least in the Pacific Northwest. Rather than Neanderthal, he suggested a surviving Gigantopithecus as a possibility.

But unless it had learned to hibernate, I do not see how such a creature could live in the Pamirs—or the Rockies. Black bears do not forage for food in the winter, and neither could an ape-man.

December 23, 2010

Extinct Humans' Genetic Legacy Leads to New Guinea

I have posted occasionally here about the back-and-forth over whether or not Homo sapiens sapiens (that would be you, reader, probably) interbred with Neanderthal people or not. Now the verdict seems to be yes, to some extent.

Complicating the issue is the discovery of another group of archaic people, the Denisovans, whose genetic legacy is found in New Guinea.

Since New Guinea is famous for its huge variety of native languages ... nah, that would be expecting too much.

(The kool kids now say "hominin" instead of "hominid," but it means about the same thing.)

April 25, 2010

Neanderthal Ancestors in the Family Tree After All?

Previous genetic research has indicated that Homo sapiens sapiens (that's us, readers) and Neanderthal people (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) had not interbred.

Now even newer research suggests that wait, maybe they did.
A genetic analysis of nearly 2,000 people from around the world indicates that such extinct species interbred with the ancestors of modern humans twice, leaving their genes within the DNA of people today.
Given our government's obsession with racial categories—witness the current census form—imagine where this might lead.

January 18, 2010

Neanderthal Body Paint

The headline says "make-up," but I suspect the paint was not to exaggerate beauty but to make the wearer look more scary, more divine, or more like something else.

But how would we know, really?

July 31, 2009

The Neanderthal Division of Labor & Other Speculations

Scientists are still trying to solve the mystery of our bull-like cousins' disappearance, and Scientific American rounds up more of the current thinking. One speculation:

Neandertals and moderns may have also differed in the way they divvied up the chores among group members. In a paper published in Current Anthropology in 2006, archaeologists Steven L. Kuhn and Mary C. Stiner, both at the University of Arizona, hypothesized that the varied diet of early modern Europeans would have favored a division of labor in which men hunted the larger game and women collected and prepared nuts, seeds and berries. In contrast, the Neandertal focus on large game probably meant that their women and children joined in the hunt, possibly helping to drive animals toward the waiting men. By creating both a more reliable food supply and a safer environment for rearing children, division of labor could have enabled modern human populations to expand at the expense of the Neandertals.

Are we now spelling it "Neandertal" to approximate the German pronunciation better? No doubt this impulse comes from the same people who brought you "Inka," which spelling I figured was designed to annoy Spanish-writers who rarely need the letter K.

May 18, 2009

Neanderthal? Yum!

Part of an ongoing series: a more culinary explanation for the disappearance of the Neanderthals.

"Cave bull," we called it then.

September 21, 2008

Don't Know Much about Neanderthals

But if you think you do know much, take the quiz before reading the National Geographic article about a group of skeletons found in a Spanish cave in 1994.

More on DNA research and, yes, cannibalism.

January 16, 2007

Another Neanderthal-modern skull?

I posted last September about research and theories on possible interbreeding and conflicts between Neanderthal people and our sort of Homo sapiens sapiens

A Romanian cave has produced a skull that has kept the question open.

The skull was found in Pestera cu Oase - the Cave with Bones - in southwestern Romania, along with other human remains. Radiocarbon dating indicates it is at least 35,000 years old and may be more than 40,000 years old.

The researchers said the skull had the same proportions as a modern human head and lacked the large brow ridge commonly associated with Neanderthals. However, there were also features that are unusual in modern humans, such as frontal flattening, a fairly large bone behind the ear and exceptionally large upper molars, which are seen among Neanderthals and other early hominids.

While you are thinking about Neanderthals, visit Virtually the Ice Age. (At least these Stone Age people are shown wearing sewn garments, not the cartoonish shaggy skins.)

Which reminds me of today's headine in the Pueblo, Colorado, Chieftain: "The Iceman Stayeth." If only.