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Respond to: Extinct Subfamily Homininae, Tribe Hominini (was Neanderthals)
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| New Message Posted!2013-05-20 16:04  |
Neanderthal culture: Old masters
The earliest known cave paintings fuel arguments about whether Neanderthals were the mental equals of modern humans.
In a damp Spanish cave, Alistair Pike applies a small grinder to the world's oldest known paintings. Every few minutes, the dentist-drill sound stops and Pike, an archaeologist from the University of Southampton, UK, stands aside so that a party of tourists can admire the simple artwork — hazy red disks, stencilled handprints, the outlines of bison — daubed on the cave wall tens of thousands of years ago. He hopes that the visitors won't notice the small scuff marks he has left.
In fact, Pike's grinder — and the scalpel that he wields to scrape off tiny samples — is doing no harm to the actual paintings, and he is working with the full approval of the Spanish authorities. Pike is after the crust of calcite that has built up over the millennia from groundwater dripping down the wall. The white flecks that he dislodges hold a smattering of uranium atoms, whose decay acts as a radioactive clock. A clock that has been ticking ever since the calcite formed on top of the art.
Hear more on Neanderthal art from archaeologist João Zilhão and writer Tim Appenzeller.
The results of an earlier round of sampling in El Castillo cave, published last June1, showed that the oldest of the paintings, a simple red spot, dates to at least 40,800 years ago, roughly when the first modern humans reached western Europe. Pike and his colleagues think that when they analyse the latest samples, the paintings may turn out to be older still, perhaps by thousands of years — too old to have been made by modern humans. If so, the artists must have been Neanderthals, the brawny, archaic people who were already living in Europe.
The answer won't be known for at least a year, but if it favours the Neanderthals, it could tip — if not resolve — a debate that has rumbled for decades: did the Neanderthals, once caricatured as brute cavemen, have minds like our own, capable of abstract thinking, symbolism and even art? It is one of the most haunting questions about the people who once shared a continent with us, then mysteriously vanished.
An early date for the paintings would also be a vindication for the slight, dark-haired man watching as Pike works: João Zilhão, who has emerged as the leading advocate for Neanderthals, relentlessly pressing the case that these ice-age Europeans were our cognitive equals. Zilhão, an archaeologist at the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies at the University of Barcelona in Spain, believes that other signs of sophisticated Neanderthal culture have already proved his point. But he is willing to debate on his opponents' terms. “To my mind, we don't need that evidence,” he says of the paintings. “But I guess for many of my colleagues this would be the smoking gun.”
The front line in the Neanderthal wars runs through another cave: Grotte du Renne, 1,000 kilometres away in central France. As early as the 1950s, excavations there unearthed a collection of puzzling artefacts. Among them were bone awls, distinctive stone blades and palaeolithic baubles — the teeth of animals such as foxes or marmots, grooved or pierced so that they could be worn on a string. They were buried beneath artefacts typical of the first modern humans in Europe, suggesting that these objects were older. A startling possibility loomed: that artefacts of this style, collectively known as the Châtelperronian industry, were made by Neanderthals.
INTERACTIVE: Minds at work
Disputes over whether Neanderthals were capable of symbolic thinking turn on a smattering of discoveries spanning more than 200,000 years.
050100150200250300Thousand years ago
First appearance of Neanderthal in Europe
First appearance of Neanderthals in Europe
Neanderthals are thought to have originated in western Eurasia and migrated into Europe some time after 300,000 years ago.
Natural History Museum/Mary Evans
Close cousins of modern humans, Neanderthals evolved in western Eurasia and had Europe to themselves for more than 200,000 years, enduring several ice ages. In spite of their survival skills and big brains — comparable to our own — they had never been linked to sophisticated tools of this kind, or to ornaments. Yet in 1980, archaeologists reported finding a Neanderthal skeleton among Châtelperronian tools at another site in France2. And in 1996, French palaeoanthropologist Jean-Jacques Hublin and his colleagues reported that a skull fragment from the ornament layer in the Grotte du Renne was unmistakably Neanderthal3.
Ever since then, the Grotte du Renne has been exhibit A in the case that Neanderthals, like ourselves, trafficked in symbols, using ornaments as badges of identity for individuals or groups.
Hublin himself did not go that far. He suggested that the Neanderthals had fallen under the spell of strange new neighbours: modern humans, who were thought to have reached Europe around the time of the Châtelperronian industry. Neanderthals might have acquired the ice-age bling from modern humans, or made the pendants themselves under the influence of the new arrivals.
That conclusion infuriated Zilhão, turning him into the passionate advocate he is today. He questioned the evidence that modern humans were already on the scene and detected a bias against our extinct cousins. “Why was the equally if not more legitimate hypothesis — that the Neanderthals themselves had been the authors of this stuff and made it for their own use — not even considered?” asks Zilhão.
On a visit to rock-art sites in Portugal, he discussed the paper with Francesco d'Errico, an archaeologist who is now at the University of Bordeaux in France. D'Errico had the same reaction, Zilhão recalls. “And he said: 'OK, let's do something about it.'” Since then, the pair has fought a two-front war, advancing evidence for Neanderthal capabilities while challenging studies that reserve symbolism and abstract thinking for modern humans.
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Palaeoanthropology: The earliest modern humans in Europe
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More than 15 years later, the Grotte du Renne continues to be a battleground. Since 2010, three papers have given duelling interpretations of the artefact-bearing layers. In the first, a group led by dating expert Thomas Higham of the University of Oxford, UK, used new carbon dates to argue that the layers were scrambled, mixing older remains with younger4. If that was correct, said Higham's team, the relics adjacent to the telltale skull fragment might not have belonged to Neanderthals after all.
Within months, Zilhão, d'Errico and their colleagues fired back with an analysis5 of how artefacts of different types were distributed in the Grotte du Renne, concluding that the layers were undisturbed and that the Neanderthal link could be trusted. A group led by Hublin (now at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany) presented its own dates last year, backing Zilhão's claim6. But Hublin still denied the Neanderthals full credit. Neanderthals did make the objects, now dated to between 45,000 and 40,000 years ago, he said — but only after they encountered modern humans. And this time he had fresh evidence to draw on.
Carbon dates measured by Higham and others at caves in Italy, Britain and Germany suggest that modern humans began expanding into Europe as early as 45,000 years ago, several thousand years earlier than was thought (see Nature 485, 27–29; 2012). Zilhão strenuously disputes those claims, doubting whether the shells or animal bones used for dating truly reflect the age of the human fossils at the sites, or whether the human remains are modern. “The evidence to show an early presence of modern humans in Europe is worse today than it was 20 years ago,” he declares.
Hublin, however, has no doubt that our ancestors had already entered the picture when Neanderthals in France began making bone awls and animal-tooth pendants. To assume that Neanderthals invented these technologies on their own is to accept “an incredible coincidence”, he says. “Just as modern humans arrive with these things in their pocket — bingo!”
Despite the stalemate, Zilhão says that the record of Neanderthal behaviour tens of thousands of years before modern humans arrived in Europe proves his point (see 'Minds at work'). Neanderthals are believed to have buried their dead, suggesting that they had some kind of spirituality. They made glue for securing spear points by heating birch sap while protecting it from the air, a feat that even modern experimental archaeologists have trouble replicating. Many Neanderthal sites include lumps of pigment — red ochre and black manganese — that sometimes seem to be worn down like stone-age crayons. Zilhão and others think that the Neanderthals painted themselves, creating striking patterns on their pale, northern skin that were every bit as symbolic as the art and ornaments of modern humans.
“You don't need to have shell beads, you don't need to have artefacts with graphical representation to have behaviour that can be defined archaeologically as symbolic,” he says. “Burying your dead is symbolic behaviour. Making sophisticated chemical compounds in order to haft your stone tools implies a capacity to think in abstract ways, a capacity to plan ahead, that's fundamentally similar to ours.”
Where Zilhão sees a clear pattern, sceptics see uncertainties. Harold Dibble, an anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, is re-examining supposed Neanderthal burial sites. At one, the French cave of Roc de Marsal, he says that what seemed to be a deliberately excavated grave is actually a natural pit. At another, La Ferrassie, he sees evidence that sediments swept into the cave by water — not grieving kin — could have buried Neanderthal remains.
As for the ochre crayons, Dibble is dismissive. “You see some wear on a piece of ochre and soon you've got Neanderthal body painting,” he says. “What a lot of logical leaps.” He and others say that the pigment has many possible uses: as an insect repellent, a preservative for food or animal skins, an ingredient in adhesives. Even Wil Roebroeks of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, who found evidence for ochre use as early as 250,000 years ago at a Dutch Neanderthal site7, says that Zilhão “jumps too fast from the presence of ochre to body decoration”.
Ask Dibble, Hublin and other sceptics what would persuade them that Neanderthals had minds like ours, and their answer is simple: a pattern of art or other sophisticated symbolic expression from a time when no modern humans could possibly have been around. “But I don't think it exists,” says Hublin.
Zilhão, however, points to a singular finding from a Neanderthal site in southern Spain that he reported three years ago8: three cockle shells each with holes near one edge, as if they had been worn as ornaments. One contains a trace of red pigment, and a fourth shell is stained with a mixture of colours, as if it had been used as a paint container. The shells, says Zilhão, imply symbolic thinking fully equivalent to that of the modern humans who left troves of beads in South Africa 75,000 years ago. And at roughly 50,000 years old, he says, the Spanish shells date from a time well before modern humans reached the region.
Critics are not satisfied. The perforations are natural, as Zilhão himself noted, which suggests to Hublin and Dibble that rather than systematically fashioning ornaments, Neanderthals might have picked up a few odd shells on a whim. “When you've got isolated occurrences, one-offs, that's not going to convince most of us,” says Dibble.
The paintings in El Castillo could help to establish a pattern. The research group was conservative with the ages it reported last June1, which put the earliest calcite at nearly 41,000 years old. Nervous about damaging the pigment, the team left several millimetres of the veneer intact at each sampled spot. Deeper, older layers might push back the paintings' minimum ages by several thousand years.
That prospect brought the team back to El Castillo last October. Grinding and scraping through a long day, the researchers concentrate on the red disks and hand stencils that had yielded the earliest dates last time around. The goal, says Zilhão, is “to date pigments in these paintings to an age that is clearly and to everyone's satisfaction beyond the range of modern humans in Europe”.
Yet an early date may not settle the long-running dispute. Hublin sets the bar high. “If Zilhão finds a date of earlier than 50,000 years ago, I'll be convinced!” he says. Any younger, and modern human influence would remain a possibility, he says, noting recent hints that our ancestors had advanced into Turkey or even central Europe by 50,000 years ago. And one example of crude painting — what Dibble calls “Neanderthal doodling” — might not be enough to win over the doubters. Zilhão's knockout blow may simply lead to more fighting.
Yet signs of a middle ground are emerging. Chris Stringer, a palaeoanthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London, says that 20 years ago, he believed that if the Neanderthals made the Châtelperronian ornaments, they were blindly imitating modern humans. “Our interpretation was that they were copying but that they didn't have the brainpower to give full value” to the objects. He wouldn't say so now. Two decades of discoveries of sophisticated Neanderthal tools and weapons have made him think that “the gulf was not as great”: that the difference between Neanderthals and ourselves was a matter more of culture than of ability.
“You can see the Neanderthals were held back by various factors that were not down to their brains,” he adds. The climate of ice-age Europe kept their population size “frighteningly small”, he says — at times just a few thousand people across a whole continent, most of them dead by the age of 30. How could such a sparse, beleaguered people develop and sustain a sophisticated culture?
That's not so different from what d'Errico, Zilhão's comrade-in-arms for almost 20 years, now says. He still thinks that the Neanderthals probably invented the Châtelperronian artefacts before modern humans were on the scene. But he is open to the idea that aspects of modern human culture preceded their wholesale arrival in Europe. “It's possible that some influence did spread,” says d'Errico. “I'm less militant than João.” That takes nothing away from the Neanderthals, he adds. “The fact that Neanderthals can absorb influences, can re-elaborate them, can make them part of their own culture, is very modern behaviour.”
But there is a final stretch of ground that neither side will concede. Were the Neanderthals truly the same as us, cognitively? No, says Stringer. The Neanderthal genome, decoded9 in 2010, differs from that of modern humans in some regions linked to brain function, he notes. And this year, he suggested that, compared with modern humans, larger volumes of Neanderthals' brains were devoted to vision and to controlling their heavier bodies10 (see ‘Two kinds of human’). That might have left them with less capacity for social awareness and interaction. “If you imagine a Neanderthal in modern society, there would still be differences,” says Stringer.
Zilhão rejects any distinctions. Emerging from the cave into a rainy evening, he muses that if he pushes back the age of the El Castillo paintings, his critics may argue that he has simply proved an earlier presence of modern humans in Europe. “To which I will say, 'Of course. Neanderthals were modern humans too.'”
from South Central Indiana, US
| New Message Posted!2013-05-17 07:30  |
[b]Fossilized teeth provide new insight into human ancestor[b/]
Submitted by coldrum -
A dental study of fossilized remains found in South Africa in 2008 provides new support that this species is one of the closest relatives to early humans.
The teeth of this species – called Australopithecus sediba – indicate that it is also a close relative to the previously identified Australopithecus africanus. Both of these species are clearly more closely related to humans than other australopiths from east Africa, according to the new research.
The study, published in the journal Science, revealed that both africanus and sediba shared about the same number of dental traits with the first undeniably human species.
"Our study provides further evidence that sediba is indeed a very close relative of early humans, but we can't definitively determine its position relative to africanus, said Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg, co-author of the study and professor of anthropology at The Ohio State University.
The research was led by Joel D. Irish, professor of natural sciences at Liverpool John Moores University.
The sediba fossils were found in South Africa in 2008 and first described in a series of articles published in Science in 2010. That study was led by Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, who is also a co-author of this new study.
In this study, Irish, Guatelli-Steinberg and their colleagues extended that work by examining the teeth from sediba and comparing them to eight other African hominin species, which include modern humans from Africa, and extinct species of Homo, Australopithecus, and Paranthropus. In all, the researchers examined more than 340 fossils and 4,571 recent specimens. They also examined teeth from 44 gorillas for comparison.
The focus was on 22 separate traits of tooth crowns and roots that can give clues as to the relationship between the different species studied.
For example, they measured how much one of the incisors was shovel-shaped. Depending on the species in this study, the incisor may have no depression in the back of the tooth, a faint shovel shape, or a trace of that shape.
Researchers use standardized measurements from the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System to compare the teeth on these 22 traits.
The researchers found that on 15 of these traits, sediba and africanus scored the same. Sediba shared 13 traits with Homo erectus, an early human species, which was comparable to how africanus scored.
Sediba and africanus shared five dental traits that weren't found in earlier australopiths, further showing their close relationship. Both also share five traits with early humans – Homo habilis/rudolfenis and Homo erectus—which weren't shared with earlier ancestors, demonstrating the close relationship between these two australopiths and the first humans.
Teeth are an excellent way to study relationships between different species, Guatelli-Steinberg said. They are well preserved in the fossil record, and researchers can compare large samples, at least for many ancient species.
In addition, most of the dental traits the researchers used in this analysis don't have a selective advantage that could help one species survive over another. That means if researchers see a similar trait in two species, they can be more confident that they shared a common ancestor and that the trait didn't evolve independently.
In many ways, these new dental data support the earlier research on sediba, which included analysis of the inside of the skull, hand, spine, pelvis, foot and ankle, Guatelli-Steinberg said.
"All of the research so far shows that sediba had a mosaic of primitive traits and newer traits that suggest it was a bridge between earlier australopiths and the first humans," she said.
Guatelli-Steinberg said their dental analysis showed that both africanus and sediba are more closely related to humans than the famous "Lucy" skeleton fossil found in East Africa in 1974. This fossil represented a species, Australopithecus afarensis, that was at one time was thought to be the closest relative of humans.
Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago. Sediba lived 1.977 million years ago, while africanus lived between 3.03 and 2.04 million years ago.
"Our research on teeth can't definitively settle if either sediba or africanus is more closely related to humans than the other species," Guatelli-Steinberg said. "But our findings do suggest that both are closely related to each other and are more closely related to humans than afarensis.
"We need to find more sediba remains to help fill in the missing pieces of this evolutionary puzzle."
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-04-fossilized-teeth-insight-human-ancestor.html#jCp
from Surrey, UK
| New Message Posted!2013-01-22 00:11  |
Great thread, thanks muchly Bat.
How about this one - Should we try to bring Neanderthals back from the dead?
Besides saying that the cloning of a live Neanderthal baby would be possible in our lifetime, synthetic biology expert Dr. George Church told Der Spiegel magazine (amongest other things) that using stem cells to create a Neanderthal could have significant benefits to society. "The first thing you have to do is to sequence the Neanderthal genome, and that has actually been done," Church said.
I've given this one a new thread as it's a 'mind blowing' proposition for prehistory enthusiasts that I think deserves some discussion.
Please comment over there rather than below...
from South Central Indiana, US
| New Message Posted!2013-01-21 05:22  |
Africa's Homo sapiens were the first techies
The search for the origin of modern human behaviour and technological advancement among our ancestors in southern Africa some 70 000 years ago, has taken a step closer to firmly establishing Africa, and especially South Africa, as the primary centre for the early development of human behaviour.
A new research paper by renowned Wits University archaeologist, Prof. Christopher Henshilwood, is the first detailed summary of the time periods he and a group of international researchers have been studying in South Africa: namely the Still Bay techno-traditions (c. 75 000 – 70 000 years) and the Howiesons Poort techno-tradition (c. 65 000 – 60 000 years).
The paper, entitled Late Pleistocene Techno-traditions in Southern Africa: A Review of the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort, c. 75 ka, has been published online in the Journal of World Prehistory on 6 November 2012.
Henshilwood says these periods were significant in the development of Homo sapiens behaviour in southern Africa. They were periods of many innovations including, for example, the first abstract art (engraved ochre and engraved ostrich eggshell); the first jewellery (shell beads); the first bone tools; the earliest use of the pressure flaking technique, that was used in combination with heating to make stone spear points and the first probable use of stone tipped arrows launched by bow.
"All of these innovations, plus many others we are just discovering, clearly show that Homo sapiens in southern Africa at that time were cognitively modern and behaving in many ways like ourselves. It is a good reason to be proud of our earliest, common ancestors who lived and evolved in South Africa and who later spread out into the rest of the world after about 60 000 years," says Henshilwood.
Thanks to coldrum for the link. For more, see
[ This message was edited by: bat400 on 2013-01-21 05:35 ]
from South Central Indiana, US
| New Message Posted!2013-01-18 18:59  |
Hominins already inhabited the Three Gorges region of South China in Pleistocene
Systematic archaeological survey and excavations in the Three Gorges region, South China over the past two decades has led to the discovery of a number of important hominin fossils and Paleolithic stone artifact assemblages. Dr. PEI Shuwen, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his collaborators reviewed the results of recent research from this region, and concluded that Middle to Late Pleistocene hominins already Inhabited the Three Gorges Region of South China and the Paleolithic technology is essentially an Oldowan-like industry. This study was published online in the journal of Quaternary International (2012).
The Three Gorges region is located in the transitional zone between the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River (Changjiang River). Systematic field surveys identified sixteen Paleolithic sites in caves and along the fluvial terraces of the Yangtze River. Geomorphology, biostratigraphy, and geochronology studies indicate that these sites were formed during the Middle to Late Pleistocene.
Three Gorges lithics are dominated by Mode 1 core and flake technologies. Lithic raw material exploited in the cave and open-air sites were primarily locally available river cobbles. All flaking is by hard hammer percussion without core preparation. Interestingly, some flakes display evidence that anvil flaking and throwing flaking techniques were also utilized. Core reduction was primarily by unifacial flaking. Unifacial flaking is also demonstrated very clearly from the cortex flakes and platforms.
The stone artifact assemblages from the region include cores, whole flakes, flake fragments and chunks, with a low percentage of retouched pieces. Unifacial choppers are the predominant core categories compared to the bifacial choppers, with sporadic discoids, polyhedrons and bifaces. Major blanks for retouched pieces are dominated by flakes and flake fragments. Retouched pieces appear to be retouched unifacially by direct hammer stone percussion on the dorsal surface of the blanks.
"Overall, the Three Gorges region stone toolkits can be characterized by a general lack of standardization of shape and an absence of formal tool categories. The heavy reliance on locally available, generally poor quality raw materials appears to have influenced the composition and morphology of the stone toolkits in the region", said PEI Shuwen, first author of the study.
"This study indicates that there has been a long history of hominin occupation in the Three Gorges region, said coauthor GAO Xing of the IVPP, "Archaic Homo sapiens and modern H. sapiens identified from some of the cave deposits are likely the hominins responsible for the production of the stone artifacts".
Thanks to coldrum fore the link. For more, see
from South Central Indiana, US
| New Message Posted!2013-01-17 16:12  |
A fragment from the skull of a prehistoric child provides the oldest-known evidence of anaemia caused by malnutrition – suggesting that hominids were regularly eating meat much earlier than previously thought, archaeologists say.
While it is known that early human ancestors did eat meat, it was not previously certain whether this was something consumed frequently, or only a sporadic part of their diet.
Now new research published in the open access journal PLOS ONE suggests that meat-eating was common enough 1.5million years ago that not consuming it could lead to anaemia.
The skull fragment, thought to belong to a child aged younger than two, was found during ongoing excavations at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, led by Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo from Complutense University, Madrid.
Close examination of the piece of bone revealed lesions that commonly result from a lack of B-vitamins in the diet – the first time that such lesions have been observed in a hominid fossil from the early Pleistocene record. Nutritional deficiencies such as anaemia are most common in children during weaning, when an infant’s diet changes significantly.
It is thought that the Olduvai Gorge child may have died when he or she was first starting to eat solid foods but had little access to meat, or if they were still breastfeeding, that their mother might have suffered from malnutrition due to lack of meat, which would have affected the B-vitamin content of her milk.
Either case would imply that ‘early humans were hunters, and had a physiology adapted to regular meat consumption at least 1.5million years ago,’ say the authors.
Thanks to coldrum for the link. For the source article and photos, see http://www.world-archaeology.com
from South Central Indiana, US
| New Message Posted!2013-01-17 13:11  |
On 2013-01-16 23:03, Feanor wrote:
Thanks for posting these, Bat-400, and for announcing the change of venue.
Though a silent lurker on the other thread, I was an avid reader.
You're welcome. The old thread was getting a little top heavy. More to come.
from Cape Cod Massachusetts, US
| New Message Posted!2013-01-16 23:03  |
Thanks for posting these, Bat-400, and for announcing the change of venue.
Though a silent lurker on the other thread, I was an avid reader.
from South Central Indiana, US
| New Message Posted!2013-01-16 19:34  |
Was Narmada valley the centre of human evolution?
Much is known about how the Harappan Civilization flourished on the banks of the Indus almost 5,000 years back. But now is the time to move 'before' the Indus Valley Civilization.
Through the largest exploration exercise ever undertaken, MS University's Department of Archaeology and Ancient History along with United States' Stone Age Institute will unearth evidence of our own ancestors.
MSU and Indiana-based Stone Age Institute have joined hands for the 'Narmada Basin Paleoanthropology Project (NBPA)' with the target to collect all the paleoanthropological evidence within the last two million years.
"This project may throw new light giving credence to the belief that the Narmada Valley could have been the centre of human evolution," says professor K Krishnan, head of MSU's Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.
The project for the period of five years has its roots in the discovery of a vertebrate fossil record including the only pre-modern human fossil known in South Asia from - the Narmada Basin.
In 1980s, former director of Geological Survey of India (paleontologist) Arun Sonakia had created a sensation surprising the world with his discovery of the "only human fossil in Asia" from near Hoshangabad in Central Narmada Valley Basin in Madhya Pradesh which he said was that of a homo erectus (predecessors of today's human). In recent times, however, archaeologists have argued that although the discovery has been variably attributed to different species of homo, its age remains uncertain.
"Study at Narmada Basin is important because of its geographical location which is very strategic for migration of animal population from North to South and East to West. It is not only rich in fossils and archaeological sites, but it has a long history of human occupation and this region is facing submergence due to dam construction," says Chauhan.
"Through the project we are trying to know whether the human evolution in Narmada Valley was the same as other regions - Africa, China or Europe or whether the origin of African and European stone age cultures was the Narmada Valley," he says.
After the team of researchers carries out a systematic survey, excavations will be mainly carried out at sites like Dhansi, Hathnora, Pilikarar, Surajkund, Amonda, Mahadeo-Piparia (most of them located in the area within the limits of Houshangabad region."The study will not only cover the sites that are reported but we are sure that we will come across more number of sites. Most suitable will be chosen for excavation," adds Krishnan.
Thanks to coldrum for the link. For more, see: articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. null
from South Central Indiana, US
| New Message Posted!2013-01-16 16:44  |
Scientists Research First Stone Tool Industries in Olduvai Gorge
An international team of researchers have returned to Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania to unravel the mystery of how humans transitioned from the first stone tool technology to a more sophisticated industry.
Olduvai Gorge, perhaps the most famous site for evidence of early humans, is again the subject of intense research on a decades-old question bearing on human origins: How, when and where did early humans evolve from using the first and simplest stone tool industry, that of Oldowan, to the second-oldest, and more sophisticated, stone tool technology known as the Acheulean?
Advances in archaeological investigative methods and the application of multidisciplinary approaches have made it possible to take another, more detailed and comprehensive look at both the old and the new among the world-famous exposed beds, the geological earthen layers or deposits that have historically produced some of the great ground-breaking discoveries related to early human evolution. Now, under the organizational umbrella of the Olduvai Geochronology Archaeology Project, an international team of scientists composed of a consortium of researchers and institutions is focusing on reconstructing the picture of the early human transition from the simple "chopper" stone tool technology of the Oldowan industry, the world's first technology discovered at Olduvai, to the Acheulean, the more sophisticated technology represented most by the well-known bifacial "handaxe", some of the first examples of which were found at Saint- Acheul in France, and later at Olduvai. The Oldowan is considered to have been made and used during the Lower Paleolithic, from 2.6 to 1.7 million years ago, whereas the Acheulean emerged about 1.76 million years ago and was used by early humans up to about 300,000 years ago or later.
To find answers, the team will be reappraising the chronological stratigraphy of Bed II, known to have yielded previous significant finds, and will be re-excavating some of the later beds of the best known fossil and stone tool sites. These beds reveal a record of a very important time period (1.79 - 1.15 million years ago), a record that contains evidence of critical changes in the area's fauna, stone tools and climate, such as the disappearance of Homo habilis, a very early hominin and possible human ancestor, and the emergence of Homo erectus, a later hominin considered to be the earliest human ancestor to exit Africa and spread across Eurasia. Scientists suggest that these same beds may include evidence of the long-sought transition from the more primitive Oldowan stone tools to the appearance of the more advanced Acheulean tools. Recent research at Olduvai has focused primarily on earlier beds, so research on these later beds will likely present new data to consider. Four key previously excavated sites will be investigated through full-scale excavation.
Additional information about the Olduvai Geochronology Archaeology Project can be obtained at the project website: Olduvai Geochronology Archaeology Project .
Thanks to coldrum for the link. For more, see popular-archaeology.com