Author Topic: Homo sapiens and Their Cousins  (Read 1701 times)

Recusant

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Re: Homo sapiens and Their Cousins
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2016, 12:20:48 AM »
I'm just a science pack rat, gathering up shiny objects for no particular reason and scurrying back here with them.  ;)

I can't say that I agree with the 'elevated' thing, but thank you for your kind words, anyway, Icarus. :computerwave:
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Re: Homo sapiens and Their Cousins
« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2016, 06:52:07 PM »
This one seems rather tentative to me, but may be borne out by further research.

"DNA data offer evidence of unknown extinct human relative" | ScienceNews

Quote
Traces of long-lost human cousins may be hiding in modern people’s DNA, a new computer analysis suggests.

People from Melanesia, a region in the South Pacific encompassing Papua New Guinea and surrounding islands, may carry genetic evidence of a previously unknown extinct hominid species, Ryan Bohlender reported October 20 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics. That species is probably not Neandertal or Denisovan, but a different, related hominid group, said Bohlender, a statistical geneticist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “We’re missing a population or we’re misunderstanding something about the relationships,” he said.

This mysterious relative was probably from a third branch of the hominid family tree that produced Neandertals and Denisovans, an extinct distant cousin of Neandertals. While many Neandertal fossils have been found in Europe and Asia, Denisovans are known only from DNA from a finger bone and a couple of teeth found in a Siberian cave.

[Continues . . .]

"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


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Re: Homo sapiens and Their Cousins
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2017, 07:49:44 PM »
A dear friend showed me this story about a study that investigated communication among orangutans and a possible relation to how language developed among our ancestors. The study specifically looks at consonant-like communications as opposed to vocalizations.

"Orangutan squeaks reveal language evolution, says study" | BBC

Quote
Scientists who spent years listening to the communication calls of one of our closest ape relatives say their eavesdropping has shed light on the origin of human language.

Dr Adriano Reis e Lameira from Durham University recorded and analysed almost 5,000 orangutan "kiss squeaks".

He found that the animals combined these purse-lipped, "consonant-like" calls to convey different messages.

This could be a glimpse of how our ancestors formed the earliest words.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

"Human language is extraordinarily advanced and complex - we can pretty much transmit any information we want into sound," said Dr Reis e Lameira.

"So we tend to think that maybe words evolved from some rudimentary precursor to transmit more complex messages.

"We were basically using the orangutan vocal behaviour as a time machine - back to a time when our ancestors were using what would become [those precursors] of consonants and vowels."

[Continues . . .]

The full paper is available free: "Proto-consonants were information-dense via identical bioacoustic tags to proto-vowels" | Nature Human Behavior
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Re: Homo sapiens and Their Cousins
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2017, 12:32:59 PM »
Denisovans, or . . . ?

"Ancient skulls may belong to elusive humans called Denisovans" | Science

Quote

Fossil fragments (yellow) were put together with their mirror-image pieces (purple)
to visualize the skull of an archaic human who lived in eastern China
.
Image Credit: Z. Li et al., Science

Since their discovery in 2010, the ex­tinct ice age humans called Deniso­vans have been known only from bits of DNA, taken from a sliver of bone in the Denisova Cave in Siberia, Russia. Now, two partial skulls from eastern China are emerging as prime candidates for showing what these shadowy people may have looked like.

In a paper published this week in Science, a Chinese-U.S. team presents 105,000- to 125,000-year-old fossils they call “archaic Homo.” They note that the bones could be a new type of human or an eastern variant of Neandertals. But although the team avoids the word, “everyone else would wonder whether these might be Denisovans,” which are close cousins to Neandertals, says paleo­anthropologist Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London.

The new skulls “definitely” fit what you’d expect from a Denisovan, adds paleoanthropologist María Martinón-Torres of the University College London—“something with an Asian flavor but closely related to Neandertals.” But because the investigators have not extracted DNA from the skulls, “the possibility remains a speculation.”

[Continues . . .]

Another pop-science article about the discovery: "Ancient skulls unearthed in China could belong to little-known extinct human species" | Christian Science Monitor

Quote
In 2007, researchers from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing were finishing up an archaeological dig in Lingjing, China, when a team member spotted some quartz tools poking out of the mud. After extending the dig, the tools were extracted, revealing an even more significant discovery: a small, ancient skull fragment approximately 100,000 to 130,000 years old.

Over the next few years, the researchers returned to the site multiple times, finding more cranium pieces until they were able to reconstruct two partial skulls from more than 40 separate fragments.

But when the team analyzed the skull fragments, they realized that the skulls neither fit the bill for Homo sapiens nor Neanderthals but that they shared characteristics of both human species. Ultimately, the researchers were unable to positively determine exactly what kind of human the skulls belong to, opening the door to a wide range of intriguing possibilities.

In an article published Friday in the journal Science, the researchers note that the skull fragments date to the Late Pleistocene epoch, a time marked by the expansion of H. sapiens and the extinction of other species in the genus Homo. During the early part of that epoch, Neanderthals roamed Europe and western Asia while humans began to journey out of Africa. But fossil records of human species in Eastern Asia from that time period are thin, muddying the picture of that era for a substantial region of the planet.

The skulls found in China were found to bear very close resemblances to those of Neanderthals, including a very similar inner ear bone and a prominent brow ridge. But the brow ridge was much less pronounced than one would expect from Neanderthals, with a considerably less dense cranium, as one might expect in an early H. sapiens. Researchers also found that the skulls were large by both modern and Neanderthal standards, with a whopping 1800 cubic centimeters of brain capacity.

[Continues . . .]

Even if these are specimens of a previously unknown variant of Neanderthal this is an interesting discovery, since to date no Neanderthals have been found this far east.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


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Re: Homo sapiens and Their Cousins
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2017, 12:56:56 PM »
Very interesting!
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Re: Homo sapiens and Their Cousins
« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2017, 02:53:53 PM »
An analysis of the skeletal morphology of known specimens of Homo florsiensis aka the "hobbits" found on the island Flores in Indonesia has produced evidence that they are a separate lineage rather than descended from Homo erectus. I think that the title of the article below overstates the case, but that's a common failing among pop-sci headline writers.

"Origins of Indonesian Hobbits finally revealed" | PhysOrg

Quote
The most comprehensive study on the bones of Homo floresiensis, a species of tiny human discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, has found that they most likely evolved from an ancestor in Africa and not from Homo erectus as has been widely believed.

The study by The Australian National University (ANU) found Homo floresiensis, dubbed "the hobbits" due to their small stature, were most likely a sister species of Homo habilis—one of the earliest known species of human found in Africa 1.75 million years ago.

Data from the study concluded there was no evidence for the popular theory that Homo floresiensis evolved from the much larger Homo erectus, the only other early hominid known to have lived in the region with fossils discovered on the Indonesian mainland of Java.

Study leader Dr Debbie Argue of the ANU School of Archaeology & Anthropology, said the results should help put to rest a debate that has been hotly contested ever since Homo floresiensis was discovered.

"The analyses show that on the family tree, Homo floresiensis was likely a sister species of Homo habilis. It means these two shared a common ancestor," Dr Argue said.

"It's possible that Homo floresiensis evolved in Africa and migrated, or the common ancestor moved from Africa then evolved into Homo floresiensis somewhere."

[Continues . . .]
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


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Re: Homo sapiens and Their Cousins
« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2017, 09:36:03 AM »
Aha, that's a very good article.

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Recusant

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Re: Homo sapiens and Their Cousins
« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2017, 05:41:56 PM »
Very interesting article, xSilverPhinx, thank you! Cool the way it ties in with the story above, too. I'm curious about how they managed to produce a date. I'm pretty sure there was at least one article about Homo naledi in amongst the missing threads; it's great that you've brought them back to HAF.  :)
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


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Re: Homo sapiens and Their Cousins
« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2017, 03:22:35 PM »
This one's a bit on the speculative side.

"Were humans in the Americas 100,000 years earlier than scientists thought?" | Science

Quote
What broke the 130,000-year-old mastodon bones in California? Most archaeologists would tell you it couldn’t have been humans, who didn’t leave conclusive evidence of their presence in the Americas until about 14,000 years ago. But a small group of experts now says that the fracture patterns on the bones, found during highway construction near San Diego, California, must have been left by humans pounding them with stones found nearby. If correct, the paper, published this week in Nature, would push back the presence of people in the Americas by more than 100,000 years—to a time when modern humans supposedly had not even expanded out of Africa to Europe or Asia.

“The claims made are extraordinary and the potential implications staggering,” says Jon Erlandson, an archaeologist at the University of Oregon in Eugene who studies the peopling of the Americas. “But broken bones and stones alone do not make a credible archaeological site in my view.” He and many other archaeologists say it will take much stronger evidence to convince them that the bones were fractured by ancient people.

[Continues . . .]

I read in another article that tool marks were found on the bones, but that may be down to faulty reporting.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken