Skip to comments.American Neanderthal?
Posted on 01/21/2002 5:30:59 AM PST by blam
Unearthed Native American Could Help Solve Mystery
W A S H I N G T O N, Feb. 18 The baffling 9,300-year-old Kennewick Man, whose skeleton was unearthed in 1996 in Washington state, looks so European because he had Neanderthal roots, a scientist said today.
The National Park Service said earlier this month it would allow a genetic analysis of the skeleton, which some Native American groups claim as an ancestor and want buried. It has intrigued researchers because the features seem to suggest a more Caucasian than Asian origin. Others say he looks like an Ainu the aboriginal people of Japan who are often said to be physically closer to Europeans than Japanese.
Loring Brace, a specialist in bone measurements at the University of Michigan, says he has a simple explanation for this both Kennewick Man and the Ainu, along with the people of Europe, descended from Neanderthals.
I have long maintained that Neanderthals are obviously the ancestors of living Europeans, Brace told a news conference held at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
A Controversial Theory
To produce a modern European out of a Neanderthal, all you have to do is reduce the robustness, Brace said. Scale down the heavy teeth, jaws and brow of the Neanderthal and you have a European, he said.
It is a controversial theory because most scientists believe that Neanderthals were an evolutionary dead-end, people who lived side-by-side with the Cro-Magnons who were the earliest Homo sapiens but who did not interbreed with them.
But Loring said his measurements that compare the skulls of people all over the world suggest a resemblance among peoples living in Europe, along the coastlines of Asia and into ancient North America.
He also found two distinct groups among the Native Americans. It is clear there are two major groups and they are not closely related to each other at all, Brace said.
One group physically more resembles East Asians, especially modern Chinese, while the second looks a lot like the Ainu.
Some of the Plains Indians dont look Native American at all, Brace said.
He thinks they may have come from the same lineage as Kennewick Man did. Brace has not been allowed to examine the Kennewick remains, but thinks any measurements he could make would support his theories.
Studies May Back Up Theory
Some recent evidence tends to support Brace.
In October an international team of scientists tested Neanderthal bones found in Croatia in the 1970s and found they may be just 28,000 years old, which means they would have lived side-by-side with modern humans for several thousand years.
Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, led that study and another one that a few months earlier suggested that the 24,500-year-old bones of a child found in Portugal showed characteristics of both Neanderthals and of modern humans.
Trinkaus said he believed this suggested humans and Neanderthals interbred, but Brace said it just as easily could have been an intermediate form of human evolving from Neanderthal into modern Homo sapiens sapiens.
Although just a few years ago everyone agreed no humans lived in the New World until about 11,000 years ago, and that everyone trekked together over the Bering Strait into Alaska, more and more evidence suggests that people started coming over in successive waves as long as 30,000 years ago.
David Meltzer, an anthropologist at Southern Methodist University, noted that huge ice sheets would have blocked any passage from the Bering Strait down through Canada until 11,500 years ago.
A settlement in Monte Verde, Chile has been dated to 12,500 years ago, which suggests people must have come either a different way, or long before the ice sheets formed.
Theodore Schurr of the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical research in San Antonio, Texas did genetic studies that found four separate lineages in the Americas, and using a molecular clock that tracks the rate of mutations in DNA, dates some of them back as far as 25,000 or 30,000 years ago.
Some seem to originate in southeastern Siberia, while one seems to have links with a relatively rare lineage found in a few modern Europeans.
A Common Root
Johanna Nichols of the University of California-Berkeley, who compared the structures of Native American languages to languages found elsewhere in the world, said some of the similarities when dated using a kind of linguistic clock, could date back to a common ancestral language 30,000 years ago.
One thing is clear, Meltzer said when people did reach what is now the continental United States they spread fast, which meant they had to be astonishingly resourceful. In the space of 500 years they completely covered the continent, he said. These folk had no neighbors.
And most modern hunter-gatherers depend heavily on their neighbors for information about the landscape.
The early colonists of the Americas had no one to ask where to find water, food or herbs to cure their ills. And they had few sources of fresh genes. You can only marry your sister so many times, Meltzer said.
When the Taliban destroyed ancient sculpture there was international outrage. When "native Americans" do it it's social justice.
BY A CORRESPONDENT
RED hair may be the genetic legacy of Neanderthals, scientists believe.
Researchers at the John Radcliffe Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford say that the so-called ginger gene which gives people red hair, fair skin and freckles could be up to 100,000 years old.
They claim that their discovery points to the gene having originated in Neanderthal man who lived in Europe for 200,000 years before Homo sapien settlers, the ancestors of modern man, arrived from Africa about 40,000 years ago.
Rosalind Harding, the research team leader, said: The gene is certainly older than 50,000 years and it could be as old as 100,000 years.
An explanation is that it comes from Neanderthals. It is estimated that at least 10 per cent of Scots have red hair and a further 40 per cent carry the gene responsible, which could account for their once fearsome reputation as fighters.
Neanderthals have been characterised as migrant hunters and violent cannibals who probably ate most of their meat raw. They were taller and stockier than Homo sapiens, but with shorter limbs, bigger faces and noses, receding chins and low foreheads.
The two species overlapped for a period of time and the Oxford research appears to suggests that they must have successfully interbred for the ginger gene to survive. Neanderthals became extinct about 28,000 years ago, the last dying out in southern Spain and southwest France.
The thing that distinguished Adam and Eve was the ability for their blood to come up into their face, in other words the ability to blush. I am always amazed at the similarities between scriptures and science, like in this instance speaking of two different types of man, but drawing two totally different conclusions.
I agree. I can make them 'work' with each other. However, I never discuss religion on FR. (people always want to argue with me over evolution, I won't)
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There are some problems with radiocarbon dating. The system assumes the percentage of radioactive carbon isotopes in the atmosphere is constant and this has recently been proved to be incorrect. Volcanic eruptions effect radiocarbon dating.
However, the basic PREMISE of the system is correct. We only need to make certain corrections to account for these discrepancies.
There are other problems which appeared in a recent study of the "Shroud of Turin". Apparently some material of organic origins like cloths and tapestries can acquire, over a long time frame, a heavy coating of bioplastic produced by organisms living on the original organic substrate, which can then skew the results to indicate a more recent dating. The solution is to remove the bioplastic before initiating the radiocarbon testing.
The studies I have read indicate ALL early hominid fossils demonstrate a very SHORT life span as well as numerous bone fractures and other kinds of skeletal damage which indicated a very dangerous, rough type of life. I never saw anything to indicate any early hominids lived for "hundreds" of years.
The first Americans were descended from Australian aborigines, according to evidence in a new BBC documentary.
The skulls suggest faces like those of Australian aborigines
The programme, Ancient Voices, shows that the dimensions of prehistoric skulls found in Brazil match those of the aboriginal peoples of Australia and Melanesia. Other evidence suggests that these first Americans were later massacred by invaders from Asia.
Until now, native Americans were believed to have descended from Asian ancestors who arrived over a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska and then migrated across the whole of north and south America. The land bridge was formed 11,000 years ago during the ice age, when sea level dropped.
However, the new evidence shows that these people did not arrive in an empty wilderness. Stone tools and charcoal from the site in Brazil show evidence of human habitation as long ago as 50,000 years.
The site is at Serra Da Capivara in remote northeast Brazil. This area is now inhabited by the descendants of European settlers and African slaves who arrived just 500 years ago.
But cave paintings found here provided the first clue to the existence of a much older people.
The costumes and rituals shown in rock art survived in Terra del Fuego
Images of giant armadillos, which died out before the last ice age, show the artists who drew them lived before even the natives who greeted the Europeans.
These Asian people have facial features described as mongoloid. However, skulls dug from a depth equivalent to 9,000 to 12,000 years ago are very different.
Walter Neves, an archaeologist from the University of Sao Paolo, has taken extensive skull measurements from dozens of skulls, including the oldest, a young woman who has been named Lucia.
"The measurements show that Lucia was anything but mongoloid," he says.
Walter Neves has measured hundreds of skulls
The next step was to reconstruct a face from Lucia's skull. First, a CAT scan of the skull was done, to allow an accurate working model to be made.
Then a forensic artist, Richard Neave from the University of Manchester, UK, created a face for Lucia. The result was surprising: "It has all the features of a negroid face," says Dr Neave.
Lucia's skull is 12,000 years old The skull dimensions and facial features match most closely the native people of Australia and Melanesia. These people date back to about 60,000 years, and were themselves descended from the first humans, who left Africa about 100,000 years ago.
But how could the early Australians have travelled more than 13,500 kilometres (8,450 miles) at that time? The answer comes from more cave paintings, this time from the Kimberley, a region at the northern tip of Western Australia.
Here, Grahame Walsh, an expert on Australian rock art, found the oldest painting of a boat anywhere in the world. The style of the art means it is at least 17,000 years old, but it could be up to 50,000 years old.
And the crucial detail is the high prow of the boat. This would have been unnecessary for boats used in calm, inland waters. The design suggests it was used on the open ocean.
Archaeologists speculate that such an incredible sea voyage, from Australia to Brazil, would not have been undertaken knowingly but by accident.
Just three years ago, five African fishermen were caught in a storm and a few weeks later were washed up on the shores of South America. Two of the fishermen died, but three made it alive.
Walter Neves says the negroid people disappear 7,000 years ago
But if the first Americans had drifted from Australia, where are their descendants now? Again, the skulls suggest an answer.
The shape of the skulls changes between 9,000 and 7,000 years ago from being exclusively negroid to exclusively mongoloid. Combined with rock art evidence of increasing violence at this time, it appears that the mongoloid people from the north invaded and wiped out the original Americans.
Fuegean Cristina Calderon may be one of the few surviving descendants of the first Americans
The only evidence of any survivors comes from Terra del Fuego, the islands at the remotest southern tip of South America.
The pre-European Fuegeans, who lived stone age-style lives until this century, show hybrid skull features which could have resulted from intermarrying between mongoloid and negroid peoples. Their rituals and traditions also bear some resemblance to the ancient rock art in Brazil.
The identity of the first Americans is an emotive and controversial question. But the evidence from Brazil, and a handful of people who still live at the very tip of South America, suggests that the Americas have been home to a greater diversity of humans than previously thought - and for much longer.
The Neanderthal were almost certainly collectivists, like the British. This is strongly suggested by their inability to form large bands and tribal groups. Being collectivists, they would have had a hard time making efficient use of resources. This would translate into smaller bands; no more than a dozen individuals. A collectivist mindset would also explain the glacial pace of their stone tool development. Such a society would be more inclined to stifle innovation. Neanderthal tools remained nearly static in form for thousands of years.
Cro Magnon, on the other hand, was likely less burdened with these economic hadicaps. Their tool development was explosive compared to Neanderthal. They also were better at exploiting their environment and formed larger bands. This, in turn, would later allow individuals to pursue other forms of labor, such as metallurgy or the production of trade goods. Technical innovation was encouraged and further enriched the society as a whole.
The connection to modern Britain should be abundantly clear!