Skip to comments.Super-Eruption: No Problem (Toba)
Posted on 07/06/2007 9:02:21 AM PDT by blam
Super-eruption: no problem?
Tools found before and after a massive eruption hint at a hardy population. Katharine Sanderson
Massive eruptions make it tough for life living under the ash cloud.
A stash of ancient tools in India hints that life carried on as usual for humans living in the fall-out of a massive volcanic eruption 74,000 years ago.
Michael Petraglia, from the University of Cambridge, UK, and his colleagues found the stone tools at a site called Jwalapuram, in Andhra Pradesh, southern India, above and below a thick layer of ash from the eruption of the Toba volcano in Indonesia an event known as the Youngest Toba Tuff eruption.
The tools from each layer were remarkably similar, and Petraglia says that this shows that the huge dust clouds from the eruption didn't wipe out the population of tool-using people. "Whoever was there seems to have persisted through the eruption," he says.
This is the first archaeological evidence associated with the Toba super eruption, says Petraglia, and it contradicts theories that the eruption had a catastrophic effect on the area that its ash blanketed.
Petraglia thinks that modern humans rather than Neanderthals or other hominins are the only species that would have been able to persist through an event as dramatic as the Toba eruption. This theory will spur much debate, he admits, because modern humans were not thought to have reached India, from Africa, so long ago. "It's controversial," says Petraglia, "but it makes a lot of sense."
Petraglia and his team compared the tools they found to others from Africa from different periods in this week's edition of Science1. The Indian tools look a lot like those from the African Middle Stone Age about 100,000 years ago, when modern humans were thought to have lived, he says. "Whoever was living in India was doing things identical to modern humans living in Africa." Neanderthal toolkits found in Europe are very different, he says. This is more evidence, he says, that the plucky ash-covered inhabitants of Jwalapuram were modern humans.
Stanley Ambrose, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, disagrees with Petraglia's conclusions. "It is highly speculative to say the eruption had no impact," he says. Ambrose argues that Petraglia's sample size is too small to make proper comparisons with other tools. And, he adds, "stone artifacts cannot be used to differentiate Neanderthals from African moderns."
Petraglia says he has plenty more stone tools to back up his suggestions, beyond the ones presented in Science. "We have reported only some of our assemblages," he says. He adds that much more work needs to be done on the Indian subcontinent, and much more needs to be learned from comparing archaeological evidence in Africa to that in India.
"The only way to definitively demonstrate the existence of modern humans before and after the eruption in India is by discovering human fossil skulls," says Ambrose. This is something that Petruglia will go some way to agreeing with: "It's true we have to look for fossils," he says. "The search is on."
"Yeah. A super-volcano. We handled it, OK?"
This is the first archaeological evidence associated with the Toba super eruption, says Petraglia, and it contradicts theories that the eruption had a catastrophic effect on the area that its ash blanketed... Petraglia thinks that modern humans -- rather than Neanderthals or other hominins -- are the only species that would have been able to persist through an event as dramatic as the Toba eruption. This theory will spur much debate, he admits, because modern humans were not thought to have reached India, from Africa, so long ago.
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The Neandertal EnigmaFrayer's own reading of the record reveals a number of overlooked traits that clearly and specifically link the Neandertals to the Cro-Magnons. One such trait is the shape of the opening of the nerve canal in the lower jaw, a spot where dentists often give a pain-blocking injection. In many Neandertal, the upper portion of the opening is covered by a broad bony ridge, a curious feature also carried by a significant number of Cro-Magnons. But none of the alleged 'ancestors of us all' fossils from Africa have it, and it is extremely rare in modern people outside Europe." [pp 126-127]
by James Shreeve
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One skeleton that has led some researchers to claim that it shared Neanderthal and Cro-magnon features has been found at Lagar Velho in Portugal; it is uncertain whether this is in fact a hybrid of the two species, or simply an extreme individual of one or the other. This may suggest the two species may have interbred. The child skeleton does seem to be more robust than what we would expect for modern humans. However, most researchers think that it represents extreme variation within modern humans. Moreover, the skeleton is dated to about 24,000 years BP. Until recently, this implied that a hybrid population survived in the region for thousands of years. However, a Neanderthal population in Gibraltar dated to about the same time has recently been found. The dating evidence for this claim is debated, though. Claims for Neanderthal sites that were advanced in the past have in the end all been revised to pre-30 kyr*. It has also been speculated that these hybrid individuals could have been sterile.
* kyr = kiloyear.
“It has also been speculated that these hybrid individuals could have been sterile.”
It’s just another manifestation (yet another) of the anti-Neandertal bias handed down from Virchow — “oh, well, no hybrids have ever been found that- what’s that? Hybrids have been found? Oh, well, they were probably sterile.” The same thing went on with Neander speech — first it was assumed they were mute and the lack of a hyoid bone given as the reason, then a Neandertal hyoid bone was identified so the reactionary response was that the presence of a hyoid bone wasn’t definitive... as Mad Magazine once opined, “You Just Can’t Win With A Bigot”.
No, I don’t think you’re a bigot, and thanks for posting that with the links!
Thanks for the ping, SunkenCiv.
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The Neanderthal Theory
(Modern Human-Neanderthal Hybrid)
:’) Ever tempted to ping with the message, “get ready to rummmmble!” ? ;’)
:’) There’s a new dentafrice which uses pumice from this eruption as a whitening agent...
Yes, it’s called Toba Toothpaste...
okay, so, that really wasn’t worth the wait...
Heh, I’ve seen some alleged “modern” humans shopping at the grocery store that make me believe the whole Neanderthal cross breeding... These guys I saw made the Geico cave men look like cro-mags.
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