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Out of Africa? Data fail to support language origin in Africa
PhysOrg ^ | February 15, 2012 | Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen

Posted on 02/20/2012 8:24:25 PM PST by SunkenCiv

Last year, a report claiming to support the idea that the origin of language can be traced to West Africa appeared in Science. The article caused quite a stir. Now linguist Michael Cysouw from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich has challenged its conclusions, in a commentary just published in Science...

Atkinson based his claim on a comparative analysis of the numbers of phonemes found in about 500 present-day languages. Phonemes are the most basic sound units -- consonants, vowels and tones -- that form the basis of semantic differentiation in all languages. The number of phonemes used in natural languages varies widely. Atkinson, who is a biologist and psychologist by training, found that the highest levels of phoneme diversity occurred in languages spoken in southwestern Africa. Furthermore, according to his statistical analysis, the size of the phoneme inventory in a language tends to decrease with distance from this hotspot. To interpret this finding Atkinson invoked a parallel from population genetics. Biologists have observed an analogous effect, insofar as human genetic diversity is found to decrease with distance from Africa, where our species originated. This is attributed to the so-called founder effect. As people migrated from the continent and small groups continued to disperse, each inevitably came to represent an ever-shrinking fraction of the total genetic diversity present in the African population as a whole.

(Excerpt) Read more at physorg.com ...


TOPICS: History; Science; Travel
KEYWORDS: dmanisi; epigraphyandlanguage; godsgravesglyphs; homoerectus; origin; origins
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To: SunkenCiv
Oh what the heck - let's go for the simplest explanation.

We look like we do because it pleased G_d to make us in his image. And we, like all other species, were planted here on Earth in G_d’s garden.

Arboreal or aquatic origin is just so some people can get grant money and continue to live the life style they would like to become accustom to.

And now let's get really radical. Every one is looking at this issue from the wrong viewpoint: our own.

Try looking at it from G-d’s point of view. Does He see physical form as the indicator of one species or another, or does He see species as the content of the spiritual essence?

If that were the case, it makes it possible to have had others on the Earth who looked like us, but were a different species.

This could also hold true in the present, which would explain liberals and conservatives, and so on.

Having raised the rabble, let the riot commence ...

51 posted on 02/22/2012 5:04:59 AM PST by PIF (They came for me and mine ... now it is your turn ...)
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To: Boogieman
Yes, they haven’t been looking as hard in Asia (and some other places) as they have in Africa, so it’s hardly surprising they keep finding things in Africa. Even so, they’ve found homo sapiens fossils in East Asia that they date to just about as old as the oldest they’ve found in Africa. Of course, that doesn’t fit their model, so they put an asterisk on it and never talk about it.

True, it doesn't go as far back as the fossils you were talking about, but what I find fascinating is that fossils of European type humans were found in South America, which date back (roughly) to when the Americas were colonized by Asians. I'd love to know what happened with them. If they interbred with the Asian settlers, there should still be some ancient European genetic markers in the populations in those areas.

52 posted on 02/22/2012 3:21:52 PM PST by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: PIF
The Toba eruption wiped out all by a handful - maybe only as few as one hundred or as many as several thousand humans survived - we are descended from those few.

Such a drastic loss from the gene pool would drastically alter any “pace” or direction of evolution, if there is such a thing.

One cannot postulate that a putative evolution of the human species was either static or dynamic prior to the super volcanic eruption of Toba, since there is no found surviving evidence either way.

I think that the effect of the Toba eruption is still debated.

I will, however, say that the rate of evolution of the human species has changed little. If I define the rate of evolution as being the rate at which mutations in the DNA enter the germline and become heritable, then the rate of evolution is more or less constant. I think that people perceive evolution as speeding up or slowing down at various times. In reality, those times coincide with events that affect selection pressures. A mutation that has been neutral or slightly deleterious in one environment might be advantageous in another, effects we would see if (for example) a volcanic eruption caused local weather patterns to change (e.g. by diverting the prevailing winds) and a dry climate became wet.

Further, for the survivors of Toba to be able to generate successful descendants, they would have had to be a single group, else there would have been too few for a successful gene pool - and we would not exist.

Hmm. I have no idea how many individuals of a population there must be in order for a species to survive. It probably has something to do with the genetic variation present in the population before most of them were killed off. Interesting questions.

What is certain is that we can make all kinds of hypotheses, but finding the evidence to support them is a real challenge. Well, if science were easy, people like me would have to find other professions!

53 posted on 02/22/2012 3:45:46 PM PST by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: PIF

Threadus Robustus.


54 posted on 02/22/2012 4:42:35 PM PST by SunkenCiv (FReep this FReepathon!)
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To: LoneRangerMassachusetts
Caucasians and Mongoloids live in the same latitude. Supposedly environment is the cause of evolutionary drift. Cold is supposed to lead to prominent (European) noses. Why don't the Asians have prominent noses. It snows there too. Their noses are more like African noses, the noses of a hot climate. Another problem I have with genetic (evolutionary) drift is pigmentation. Asians are darker than whites, yet they get about the same amount of sunlight, the supposed cause of melanin which colors the skin. Somehow I think the evolutionary process, genetic drift, and an out of Africa theory needs more work.

The drift between the major races is great. The apparent time span is equally great. The idea that the races were isolated for such a long time troubles me. I would expect that the nomadic life of early man would have led to greater intermingling among the races, especially in Eurasia, and a more blended result.

The answer to that is that evolution does not occur in response to a change in environment. Evolutionary changes are random. If a change confers an advantage in a particular environment, organisms with that new trait will have a survival advantage over organisms without it, and they will reproduce faster. If we see a trait that confers an advantage in one population, but not another that lives in a similar environment, we can assume the mutation only happened in one population. There is no reason separate populations would have the exact same mutations.

Early humans might have been nomadic, but they never traveled far from their birthplace. So, even groups a few hundred miles apart might have become genetically quite distinct from each other. With modern travel and intermarriage, some of those genetically distinct groups are disappearing. I read of one population in Japan that only has a couple of dozen members left, because everyone else married outside of the group.

55 posted on 02/22/2012 6:55:26 PM PST by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: exDemMom
Evolutionary changes are random. If a change confers an advantage in a particular environment, organisms with that new trait will have a survival advantage over organisms without it, and they will reproduce faster

I appreciate the thought. I still have some doubt. One is cultural. The Shakers held a belief not to procreate. They made themselves extinct in the same environment others thrived. In the same way, Europe may become a mid-east/African majority simply because white people refuse to procreate at the same high rate. Both live in the same environment. I see a cultural aspect to evolution which favors or punishes the tribe for its cultural beliefs.

How that works over long time periods is a mystery to me.

56 posted on 02/22/2012 7:16:45 PM PST by LoneRangerMassachusetts (The meek shall not inherit the Earth)
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To: exDemMom
There are some genetic markers that Europeans and Native Americans have in common, which are not generally in common between Asians and Native Americans, notably mitochondrial Haplogroup X. Scientists think that this was transmitted indirectly, though, through Central Asia caucasians similar to the Altay people, and not directly by European colonization. I've seen some people state that South Americans have some evidence of paleolithic European DNA, but I haven't found any reliable citations for that, just fringe-type websites.
57 posted on 02/22/2012 8:32:40 PM PST by Boogieman
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To: LoneRangerMassachusetts

When you get to cultural effects on evolution, you just add a new level of complexity. The behavior of individuals most certainly affects evolution, not just in humans but in many species.

Another complication are the traits which confer both advantages and disadvantages. For example, many female birds like to mate with brightly colored male birds. But brightly colored male birds cannot easily hide from predators. So there are two opposing forces affecting male bird color.


58 posted on 02/23/2012 3:12:30 AM PST by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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