Humanity's Origins - When Homo Sapiens and Neanderthal Met for the First The First Time
''....It is not in the stars that we hold our destiny, but in ourselves.''
Have you ever wondered what would it be like to live on another planet? Can you imagine how simple concepts like time would work? The length of a day would be different. If you lived on Mars, for instance, your day would be almost 25 hours. Every watch in the WORLD would instantly become obsolete. If you were among the very first, can you imagine how fearful you would be?
Everything is both wondrous and threatening. An overcast day might have created much confusion. Survival is on your mind each and every moment as you and your fellow members of your families hunt for the next meal. In our short lifetimes, what could we hope to accomplish that would leave an impact 100 years after you lived? How about 1000 years? 10,000 years?
Ten years ago, few could imagine the power of an I~Phone. Now we can harness a thousand times more technology in one hand than all of the Apollo missions to the moon. Using our imaginations, what everyday things that are in use today that we would be better off without in ten years? In order to address our inter-planetary future, it is imperative we understand our past.We have an astonishing amount of diversity.
Consider our human ancestry and how recently we came into our world. It's an amazing journey. And yet - our fragile constitution shows us how we have evolved specifically for earth, on earth, and by earth. And so content are we to live here, that we have overlooked how fragile we are. On our human pathway through time, we have taken an evolutionary voyage through the known and the unknown. Our textbooks on Anthropology from two decades ago made the most of scant information on our origins.
We had identified four different types of humans that strengthened the case for evolution. Thanks to new breakthroughs in Synthetic Biology, we are able to look backwards through thousands of generations and Mitochondrial DNA to study our unique evolution. Among the plethora of living things - we continue to evolve through accidental mutations. We have circumnavigated our globe with the curiosity inside each of us. But there are two things which we cannot overcome.
One of then is death, and the other is time. We are trapped within a 60-90 year timespan, barely a blip in geologic time.If you want to trace your own family history, you start in the present. Then you go back in generational time, and then again, and again until you hit a brick wall, No matter how good the research is, you will find it impossible to go any further.
Given a fraction of its known possibilities, we now can alter and change our genetic destiny. Augmenting the human body with new abilities has been a trait of mankind since our earliest beginnings. We have had periods of time where progress was slow; technology scarcely changed for a great deal of our existence.
But now we can treat and cure diseases, feed the parts of the world where habitation is growing but food supplies are scarce.OF all the humanity that has ever lived on this planet, Homo-Sapiens are the most likely to last the least amount of time. Technology has caused such a population boom in the past 200 years makes sustainability reach a tipping point before too long. We are moving so fast that it seems impossible for us to understand our roots.
I began understanding history as a series of chronological events that had both causes AND effects. I kept wanting to know, ''what happened before this event?'' Pretty soon, I found that I hit a dead-end. It is said that civilization sprung in four places on the planet at roughly the same time, 4500-5000 BC. Yet, I knew the human story was much older, much earlier than the written word. In a true sense, Pre-Historic.
I didn't know in 1986 that I was getting to do something that many people never get to do. I was living in Britain and decided to take a Spring Break to Tanzania and South Africa. Meeting a team of Paleo-Anthropologists in the lobby of my hotel during breakfast, I grew more and more interested in what they were sharing with me. ''Why don't you come out with is tomorrow, we're collecting samples of earliest humans, and you can take pictures.'' I got to do much more than this. Being able to learn how we derive at our own history inspired me to seek more, collect more, and use all five of my senses in a search for what makes us human.
When we find the tools and bones of our ancient past, they tell us a story in their words. The most important question is what do we learn from our past in general that makes us human? Imagine if one of these ancient humans came back and saw us today. Would they be proud of their legacy and what they began?
That is the question which inspired me to research, collect, and write this book.
That First Moment
Neanderthals and Humans Meet
IT IS REALLY EASIER THAN YOU THINK
EXPLAINING DNA FOR THE EVERYDAY PERSON
DNA is a molecule that tells our life story. It is your unique genetic book. The spiral staircase you see in your imagination whenever the mention of DNA occurs, is made up of four sub-units, which we call D,C,N, and A. And it is the unique sequence of those sub-units that pinpoint who we are.
HOW LONG IS DNA?
It's billions of sub-units long, times two. This is because we actually have two copies of all of our chromosomes. Each unit is called a 'nucleotide'' and if you added all of our nucleotides to one strand of DNA, the DNA in just one cell would reach six feet in length. If you took all of the DNA from ONE cell, it would reach the moon and back thousands of times.
You can imagine how difficult it must be to continue to replicate over and over again with no mistakes. Imagine having to copy - by hand - thousands of times - the Gutenberg Bible. And even with a lot of coffee, there would be some mistakes. In terms of our DNA, these are called ''Markers of Descent'' and if you share a marker with someone, then you have a common ancestor.
Every strand of DNA we look at has greater diversity within Africa than outside of Africa. Within the last 200,000 years we ALL share a common ancestor, a Mitochondrial Eve. Now, if we take the ''Y'' chromosome, Adam, lived just 62,000 years ago - which tells us that we didn't leave Africa until 62,000 years ago. And in a blink of an eye, the diversity of the human race simply blossomed. It also suggests that we nearly suffered a human extinction event, with the population of the entire world was scarcely 2,000 inhabitants.
BUT WHAT ABOUT NEANDERTHAL AND DENISOVANS?
Using modern genetics and our study of DNA, we can see that Africans have no Neanderthal DNA in their genetic makeup. Europeans and Eurasians DO have Neanderthal DNA, and this shows that they lived from the fertile crescent to the steppes of Asia and westward through Europe. In the Russian highlands, a newly discovered race of peoples, the Denisovans seem to overlap their Neanderthal counterparts and go all the way into Polynesia. Neanderthal DNA makes up .05% of European DNA. And the people of New Guinea and Polynesia have considerably more Denisovan DNA, at almost .5% with an additional .05% of Neanderthal. To this day, the only remnant of Denisovan peoples are the lone survivors.
HOW DO WE REALLY KNOW WHERE AND WHEN HUMANS MIGRATED?
To understand this, consider how many genes makes up our DNA. Each strand of DNA has as many as 30-Billion sets up of genes. As we go backward in time, we can see how our commonalities have arisen even on a numbers scale.
A Neanderthal sequence of DNA has its own an unique genetic map. A Homo-Sapiens Gene has its own map. Looked at side-by-side, the differences in sequence would happen once in every 15-million pairs of gene sequence. Chimpanzee DNA is different by 300-million pairs of DNA.
WERE THERE ANY PEOPLES WHO DIDN'T COME FROM AFRICA?
The most stunning discovery and the one that has changed our recent world view is the Genome Project done by Spencer Williams. Amazingly, the African people today have no evidence of Neanderthal OR Denisovan remnants in their own DNA. One supposition (as of now) is that while Homo-Sapiens derive their birth from Africa, perhaps it is not so for Neanderthal or Denisovans.
The commonly held view is that when our ancestors first migrated out of Africa around 60,000 years ago, they were not alone. At least two of our hominid cousins had made the same journey—Neanderthals and Denisovans. Neanderthals, the better known of the two species, left Africa about 300,000 years ago and settled in Europe and parts of western Asia.
The Denisovans are a much more recent addition to the human family tree. In 2008, paleoanthropologists digging in a cave in southern Siberia unearthed a 40,000-year-old adult tooth and an exquisitely preserved fossilized pinkie bone that had belonged to a young girl who was between five and seven years old when she died.
Surprisingly, the scientists found genetic overlap between the Denisovan genome and that of some present-day east Asians, and, in particular, a group of Pacific Islanders living in Papua New Guinea, known as the Melanesians.
Papua-New Guinea Natives - The Last Of The Denisovans
Indigenous Tribe Meets Civilization For The First Time....
A team of experts with the Institute for the Study of Human Origins, have even proposed a controversial theory that Neanderthals may have lived there continually for as long 8,000 years! During that time the climate in the Iberian peninsula had seen little change. There was no real impetus to move, that is, until Homo Sapiens came along. And with their arrival, a fierce competition of food, resources and ultimately reproduction with their women, the Neanderthals were no match. There are two different things we learn about Neanderthal when we examine the latest findings:
(1) Neanderthals were not able to reproduce very well. The infant mortality must have been exceedingly high in order to reduce their numbers so drastically and so quickly.
(2) Their demise was met quite quickly, and considering these hearty beings had survived two ice-ages and mass migrations, this was no easy feat. But, imagine if things had been different and there were Neanderthals living with us today. It very nearly happened. And this is the place where our collective imaginations run wild.
We want to know what our brethren looked like, sounded like and whether they were intelligent enough to cope with ever-changing conditions. Scientists recently took a good look at their vocal chords. They noticed that the opening in the throat was larger than that of their human counterparts. Knowing this, we needn’t guess about how Neanderthals sounded. It was certainly very unique.
The Physical Make-Up of Neanderthals
Neanderthals were exceptionally tough. Any bones that have been found suggest they broke just about everything. Much like rodeo performers, the abuses of large animals and the accidents that can happen just trying to hunt them are apparent for everyone to see. Built low and stocky, their bodies were meant to sustain during the sub-zero weather that would kill us today. They developed wide noses to breathe and cool off while working.
Incredibly, they adapted fast, losing much of their body hair and building sweat-glands with which to relegate heat. They cooled themselves off by an incredible series of adaptations designed to build a robust and highly advanced people.
The old story about Neanderthals has begun to erode as newer discoveries are being made. One thing is in the proof - Homo Sapiens won out while the Neanderthals did not. Yet their story is indeed somehow our story. In 2015, two bodies were discovered in the forest caverns in Romania. These would be uncovered as the oldest known remains of humans - anywhere.
In 2002, Portuguese archaeologist Joao Zilhoao and several cavers challenged themselves by going deeper and deeper into a cavern. The cave was a part underwater river and mud-pit. But the archaeologists began to find bones. They were cave-bears that clearly hibernated there. The temperature according to those who were there was 40-degrees Farenheit. It was humid, dank, and bog-like.
The cave bear bones were plentiful and everywhere. But after two weeks, the findings suddenly astonished Zilhoao and team, ''...And just like that, an occipital bone is right in front of me. And then a jaw bone showed up as well.'' At first it was assumed they were part of the same human, but after careful examination, they learned that the jaw bone belonged to a different individual. Both bones suggest that these two hunters were in their teenage years - perhaps they were brothers.
There were no signs that these two hunters lived in the cave, but there was no sign that they were dragged there by the cave bears either. It was clear that these two died elsewhere and were washed into the cavern by rushing waters. The jaw was in very good shape and suggest that he had a pretty good diet. At 40,000 years of age, this begins to challenge traditional thinking about malnutrition and the overall health of those who lived in this time period.
There were subtle anomalies in the skull and jaw bone. The forehead was sloped back at a steep angle compared to modern humans. Moreover, their teeth weren't exactly right either. The molars aren't in the right order. Stunned anthropologists did not know what to make of the strange new features. Had Neanderthal and Humans REALLY interbred? The evidence is very compelling. Up until now, no one had ever been able to prove that such a hybrid existed - perhaps until now.
With Neanderthals already well established in Europe, the arrival of humans must have come as a huge shock to them. The remains that were found in Romania tell a different story. They have the unexpected findings in modern humans. But you will find them in Neanderthals. In 2010, the Max Planck Institute cracked the genome of a Neanderthal. Now, with two distinctly different Human-Neanderthal bones there might be a way to see if there is to our Neanderthal brethren.
Note: Although rare, the only two great apes that co-exist are chimpanzees and gorillas, which sometimes cross one another in Central and West Africa. Due to intense competition for food, most great apes avoid one-another
The click languages spoken by the San people of southern Africa and the Hadzabe of East Africa could be our last links to the original languages spoken by humans in Africa some 40,000 years ago. Given the vocal limitations of Neanderthal Man it seems like a normal progression. The ‘’clicking’’ of their language allowed them to sneak up on their prey.
Another theory contemplates Neanderthal vocal capabilities based on recent findings in Bulgaria. A small bone from the throat area was uncovered in an area where previous Neanderthal bones had been found. This was quite revolutionary in so much as we weren't sure at all if neanderthal could even speak. Even still, language and communication are another adaptation altogether and required a certain level of sophistication which Neanderthal didn't seem to have.
The vocal tracks of the Neanderthal were squashed resulting in a higher pitched voice. Other factors are there too. As well as the vocal tracks, neanderthals strange shape would have affected his voice. They had a huge nasal cavity, a large rib cage which gives a lot of breath to their speaking capabilities, and a very heavy skull that sits heavily on the spine. Sound has to travel through those bones and we have to hear them as well as transmit them. It's not an easy thing to comprehend, even with all of our study, and all that we actually DO know.
As we will see later, the burial of Neanderthal revealed something quite unique. The corpse had a tiny bone called the hi-loid, which has a primary function of preserving speech. These Neanderthals were getting things done with careful planning. Behavior between Neanderthals and human-beings.
With a shrill and almost squeaky voice, Neanderthals sounded so high-pitched that it seems highly unlikely they could sneak up on any animal in order to hunt. There were also other subtle skeletal differences between Neanderthals and modern humans as well. The rib-cage expanded outwards in such a way that they did not have much of a waistline and even less in endurance.
With a body that was large and barrel-chested they still had shorter legs and a heavier-than-normal gait. Hunting would have had to be a close-range and in social packs. These early proto-people were not made for endurance and they proved to be no match for their first real competition from Homo-Sapiens.
Homo Sapiens migrated out of Africa and it seems they made their way into Europe, living mainly along the coast soon out-hunting the Neanderthals. In fact, the tools that Homo Sapiens used were further advanced than Neanderthal, and if we are to believe that modern humans were fighting for the same food sources, then it stands to reason that the Neanderthals numbers would begin to dwindle.
It is long thought that Homo Sapiens came from Homo Erectus, who migrated out of Africa. This turned out to be an incorrect assumption. The Ice-Age gave up its grip on the Middle-East and 130,000 years ago humans made their way out of birth-cradle of humanity. The New discoveries are revealing man was toolmaker, tamer of fire, creator of the first human societies, and how Homo Erectus gave way to Homo Sapiens.
It was the knowledge that gave Homo Sapiens the ultimate advantage. But, what if both lines of man came from two lines of hominoid? The new discoveries are complicating our lineage and suggesting that our DNA is far different than some of the earliest of upright man.
When we think about extinction events, we tend to look at the 4.6Billion years of this planet and we wind up thinking that evolutionary paths take such a long time. But in order for a species to go extinct, the deaths have to occur very quickly. It has to happen before too much of procreation can happen. This is essential in our understanding how a planetary extinction event such as the meteor that hit the earth 65 Million years ago could ultimately wipe an entire planet of dinosaurs in 12 months.
There were many evolutionary offshoots of the tree that humanity that didn’t work out. Either they could not adapt to rapidly changing climate changes or they couldn’t compete against other predators. Whatever the reason, our tree has many branches of dead-end humanity. Two Million years ago, homo-ergaster journeyed throughout the world and became Homo-Erectus. Regionally they adapted to according the situation.
But there was something not quite right. Thanks to modern genetics, our human story gets to be pieced together with a little more detail. It was believed that Erectus evolved separately into Homo-Sapiens. When scientists examined the genes of all these people, they were remarkably similar. How could members of the same species, separated by thousands of miles be genetically identical? There had to be one source for all of these genes where we all started.
The Mystery of the Khoisan
There are people in Southern Africa today who are tied to the original ancestors in their antiquity of human genes. This tribe is semi-nomadic and they are incredibly old. These are the Khoisan Peoples of South Africa and their story is hardly known to those outside the anthropological circles who study applied genetics. If it weren’t for modern science, its doubtful we would know them much at all.
A research team led by Professor Stephan Christoph Schuster, a geneticist from Nanyang Technological University, sequenced the genome of five living people from a tribe in Southern Africa.
They used advanced computer analysis of the Khoisan tribes-people and “420,000 genetic variants across 1,462 genomes from 48 ethnic groups,” Science Daily explained. Remarkably, there are some individuals in the Khoisan tribe whose ancestors never bred with any other ethnic groups for the last 150 thousand years. The researchers claim that until around 20,000 years ago, this ancient lineage made up the majority of all human beings. IT was seem that all of modern humanity springs forth from this one tribe of peoples.
Their genetic make-up are closely connected to an ancient gene-pool. They are skilled survivors given their geography. Our genes connect us together. Of all the people alive today, they have the most concentrated mix of ancient human genes in the world. This leads us to only one conclusion – we are all a member of one tribe. Of all the people alive today, the Khoisan have the most concentrated number of ancient human genes of any people that ever lived. This leads us to a startling conclusion.
Our European Neanderthal make-up includes 3%. But amongst the Khosian there is no Neanderthal DNA. These people are as close to the originals as you can get. As for the mystery- we are much closer in relationship than we think.
There were two major migrations out of Africa. Two-Million years ago, Homo-Ergaster left Africa and migrated outward. Then an ice-age hemmed humanity into a small geography. The cold-winds of ice blew over the continent. 30,000 years ago, humans followed. Like Darwin predicted, living things will learn to adapt.
We still haven’t found a complete Neanderthal skeleton. But their remains have been found all over Europe, especially along the Spanish and French Riviera. But their disappearance is about as mysterious as the rise of Homo Sapiens.
Getting back to the whole idea about geographic speciation, the shift in global movement continued to affect human movement. About 30% of the global land mass was all that was left, and all other species were disappearing rapidly. The pressures of Isolation worked in our advantage too. For we were able to develop and emerge as a unique and powerful species.
The second wave of migratory peoples came much later, 120,000 years ago. And in the rift valley in southern Egypt, we see that there are skeletons in the caves. In fact, this is the proof we needed to prove this theory. When the second wave of peoples left Africa, they made their way into Southern Europe – where suddenly, they came face-to-face with the ancestors in what HAD to be one of the most shocking moments of human history – The Neanderthals.
We still haven’t found a complete Neanderthal skeleton. But their remains have been found all over Europe, especially along the Spanish and French Riviera. But their disappearance is about as mysterious as the rise of Homo Sapiens.
In fact, some anthropologists believe this is not a coincidence. Homo Sapiens began to fan out all over the Middle-East and soon displaced the Neanderthals. Still unanswered was the question regarding lineage. It was long thought that Neanderthals were simply an earlier line of Homo Sapiens on the family-tree. But that all changed with a dramatic discovery in the year 2000.
New findings in forensic anthropology began to pervade the study of ancient humans. DNA samplings were thought to be impossible in bones that were so old and fossilized. But scientists Igor Ovchinnikov, Kisten Liden and William Goodwin managed to retrieve DNA from a young female Neanderthal found in the Caucus Mountains. The findings they uncovered would stun the world.
If Neanderthal came before Homo Sapiens, the DNA structure should look almost identical. The reason is that evolution is built upon a previous state of existence. The DNA should be predictive and similar to our own. There are sequences in which DNA is ordered, and the differences between one breed of dogs to another breed of dogs is almost non-existent.
When the scientists mapped out the DNA of Homo Sapien to Neanderthal was stark and surprising. The sequences were entirely different. The implications were amazing.
‘’Lucy’’ Turkana Boy Rising Star Hominin
Australopithicus Afarensis Homo-Erectus Homo-Naledi
3.2 Million Years Ago 1.6 Million Years Ago ?
Adult Female Pre-Adolescent Male Adult Male
3 ft 8 in 5’4’’ 4’10’’
70lbs 110-125lbs 110lbs
How Do We Explain Genetic Heredity?
The Tabun woman had a double-bridged row and receding chin, and was very different than the bones buried just a few hundred yards away. Who were these strangers and where did they come from?
At first glance, it looks like homo-Sapiens wouldn't stand a chance against an adversary that was better adapted for the cold weather and much more muscular.
In northern Spain, there were 800,000 years of development. Teeth found there indicate thy were a meat eaters, descendants of Ergaster. These cave dwelling people lived for close to half-a million years and were called Homo-Hiedelbegensis. Found in a deep shaft were 2500 skeletons in a small pit and has been excavated to this day only partially. We uncovered many causes for deaths amongst these people. Some of the people died of disease, others were murdered, still more starved to death. They are the direct ancestors to the Neanderthals.
Survival in a land gripped by a bleak ice-age called for knowledge of how to live in an icy world. Neanderthals were far from the brooding idiots that we initially thought to be the case. They were seen as Evolutionary failures. Standing side-by-side with a Neanderthal would be a daunting experience. Their skulls were nearly one-and-a-half times the size of our own. Their brows were strikingly different.
Their facial construction was adapted for the colder climate. The proportions of the middle part of the face are massive. There is no forehead to speak of and their powerful jaws and exceptionally large front teeth used for shredding and tearing. The thickness of their bones tell us they were capable of lifting great weight, capable of tearing a homo-sapiens apart. Large noses and nasal cavities helped to warm air that was inherently freezing. They used stone tools, used fire, and gathered food. But they were not tall, conserving heat through their build. It is adaptation that is key to survival, exactly as Darwin said it would be.
That First Meeting
Michael French Smith journeyed to Papua-New Guinea in 1973 and found himself staring into the eyes of the Toulambi Tribesmen. They had never seen anyone from the modern world and their reaction is one of fear, wonder, and finally acceptance.
The tribe believed him to be a ghost at first and even readied their arrows believing they would simply go through Smith. But he continued to speak to them, holding his hands out and making it obvious that he was nothing more than a real man. Untouched by modern civilization, there are tribes who simply have no idea a real world exists beyond their lands.
One wonders – was this what the first meeting between modern-humans and Neanderthals was like? Forensics of existing bones do not indicate that modern humans went on a murderous rampage as Raymond Dart had suggested in the early 1900s. Neanderthals lived alongside modern humans without apparent incident. Was it peaceful? Was the technology gap too great for Neanderthals to compete? We just do not know. But what a moment frozen in time that first contact must have been like. Modern human meets his own ancestor, and doesn’t have a clue as to what to make of it.
So the questions remains --- What did humans bring to the first meeting with Neanderthals?
The answer may be found in Kabara Cave on the Southern slopes of Mt. Carmel in Israel. This finding gave up an almost complete skeleton of a Neanderthal burial. And there is every indication that this was intentional. Carefully buried, this middle-aged man was laid with his hands folded upon his chest. The burial shows that Neanderthals thought of the afterlife. The skull is missing, indicating that it might have been used for a ceremonial purpose. The Neanderthals dug the hole, carefully laid the body, and extracted the skull – all by design.
In 1992, a Neanderthal child with clear designs of a burial by design. It was an exciting discovery. Once the mandible was exposed and it was clear that no chin was in existence with the child. The bones were laid out with the bones by her side, ostrich shells and other items were buried with her. Neanderthals and Humans lived side-by-side in the Middle East, parallel and similar – and yet they were not like us at all.
Humans and Neanderthals were vastly different for all of the things that made us seem alike. Verification of this fundamental difference comes from Germany. There are four times the genetic differences between humans and Neanderthals. A small sample of genetic material was taken from the bones of Neanderthals and they show something different entirely. It shows that Neanderthals evolved in Europe through Heidelbergensis, while early-humans emerged from Africa through Homo-Sapiens a mere 130,000 years ago.
Some 40,000 years ago, modern humans made their way into Europe and this proved to be a disaster for Neanderthals. Within 15,000 years, the original inhabitants would be extinct. The caves provided shelter for both. But humans had to move with the animals and their shelter was temporary, wherever they went. They survived and stayed close to the passing food, such as salmon and reindeer. It was a mobile existence that had a paramount importance. They were able to provide a constant food supply and generations began to expand. Grandparents were now able to watch the children and the population began to grow, even as they constantly migrated and adapted.
The early humans created new tools for the different animals they hunted. They mastered their tools with greater finesse and were made for changing conditions. Constant change encouraged innovation and flexibility. New and sophisticated hunting tools were being made so that humans could begin hunting from longer and longer distances. Using resin, sinew, and fiber, they added hunting points and maintained a constant food supply. Neanderthals simply had not figured any of this out.
Their numbers were growing steadily and nomadic life opened their view of the world. They learned about each new landscape and climates as they transversed the hills and valleys and mountains and plains. They adapted wherever they went. Evidence of their innovation are seen in caves further and further away from their native homeland in Africa. As they went further north, they adapted even more.
Their imagination brought forth a new and exciting technical mastery of the materials needed to improvise their hunting arsenals. In addition, modern humans traded with other migrating modern humans as well. They exchanged ideas and shared knowledge of areas that each had traveled. We humans organized our movements with strategy, cunning, and skill. Trading allowed us to form alliances and to grow peacefully while mixing the gene pools for greater strength.
In stark contrast, the Neanderthals were not nearly as adaptive. They preferred to stay in one place as they lost their critical edge. They were driven by routine and predictability with permanent landscapes and their tools barely changed over 150,000 years and the raw materials they used were rarely garnered too far from their homes. Their diets strayed little.
What Did These Ancient of Ancients Sound Like? Could They Talk?
Communication may have been difficult as the lower jaw and chin was not fully developed in Neanderthals. These are important muscles which allow for annunciation. A much greater portion of human communication is done through vocalizations. Humans have uniquely complex vocal chords, allowing us a great range of sounds, but preventing us from drinking and breathing simultaneously like chimpanzees can. Moreover, we have very muscular tongues and lips, allowing us accurate manipulations of our voices.
We find that early humans were fond of making art. They sculpted things from fertility symbols to children’s toys. They sculpted symbols that were found over a far and wide area of Europe. This reveals a network and commonality of purpose that Neanderthals simply never developed and never had. Common artwork indicates a common language as well. Whether it was the ‘click’ languages heard in ancient tribes of Africa today or something different altogether, there was clearly commonality between cultures and tools.
Neanderthals did not vary their hand-tools for hundreds of thousands of years. What they had worked well for what they did, to be sure, but it didn’t allow them to adapt. Humans had fishing hooks and small barbs that were added to spear-points. Neanderthal tools were quality and sharp, but it hardly allowed them to adapt to changing conditions. It is one of the most baffling mysteries of all time – why didn’t the Neanderthals innovate?
One possible answer is that perhaps they did not HAVE to innovate. With short lifespans and almost everything decided by the external forces of the environment, innovation wasn't the first thing necessary for their survival. We see that early migratory humans in southeast Asia didn't even have much in the way of tools. They used the plentiful bamboo for just about everything they needed to survive. Again, the answers of supply are often found in the demand.
Neanderthals linked two worlds; their other world was also present in this one. They seldom varied from their experience. The problem in human history is that experience teaches fear of change. Experience kills imagination. Experience has a tendency to make humanity conservative. Where are we evolving to and how will it affect us. What we are facing in terms of our own survival requires us to truly learn from the hominoids before us. Larger brains can only assess what are capabilities are today; they tell us little about tomorrow, and tomorrow requires the force of imagination, not wisdom from yesterday.
They hunted a now-extinct version of huge wild cattle called an Aurochs that appeared to fight them back. Evidence of bone fractures are commonplace. Their foraging never strayed too far and as a result, their diet never varied beyond their local ground clutter and occasional nuts. They most certainly developed food allergies due to the lack of variety, causing mass and rapid death in the event of famine or drought. Socially, they never showed signs of a trading network or a steady increase in population.
And then it happened. The roving bands of Homo-Sapiens met Neanderthals for the first time. We don’t know if there was a violent territorial conflict. But with fewer than 15,000 total in Europe this seems highly doubtful. More than likely, this first meeting, this first contact, was a peaceful one. It is likely here that we see a sudden change in Neanderthal weaponry, perhaps due to a harmonious exchange of information. Side-by-side, in a cave in the Middle-East, Neanderthals and Humans would have enjoyed their first meal together. Interbreeding was indeed a probability.
In Portugal, the careful burial of a four year old child shows a first-hand generational offspring with characteristics of both species. For a short while, Neanderthals suddenly flourished, indicating that the coexistence between the two species was peaceful and beneficial. But in order to really see if there was interbreeding, we would need to take a current sampling of a gene-pool and see if Neanderthal genes exist amongst our own.
The new analysis focuses on a jawbone from Oase 1, an early modern human found in Peștera cu Oase* ("Cave with Bones") in southwestern Romania in 2002. Anatomically modern humans populated Europe between 45,000 and 35,000 years ago. Oase 1 lived sometime between 42,000 and 37,000 years ago, making him one of Europe's earliest modern humans. Another jaw-bone found in the same area also has human-Neanderthal traits.
What Do We Make Of the ‘’Hobbit’’ People?
The Strange Story of Homo - Floresiensis
In 2003, a chance discovery was made of nine partial skeletons of ancient man was made on the island of Flores in the South Pacific, near Indonesia. It was barely over three feet tall and research has not been completed yet to determine if they represent a separate line of humans. They were at least intelligent enough to collaborate in hunting efforts. They were alive until just 12,000 years ago, making them the longest living non-human hominoid.
Many species confined to small islands become smaller themselves. Lack of resources has created an inability for species to grow large, which is why we have pygmy elephants and pygmy rhinoceros throughout these islands. This is called ‘’Insular Dwarfism’’ and is responsible for the malnutrition that occurs in tropical rainforests.
The People That Time Forgot
National Geographic's Account of the Discovery of The Hobbit People
We knew we had made a stunning discovery, but we didn't dare remove the bones for a closer look. The waterlogged skeleton was as fragile as wet blotting paper, so we left it in place for three days to dry, applied a hardener, then excavated the remains in whole blocks of deposit.
Cradled in our laps, the skeleton accompanied us on the flight back to Jakarta, Indonesia's capital. There Peter Brown, a paleoanthropologist from the University of New England in Australia, supervised cleaning, conservation, and analysis. The pelvic structure told him Hobbit was a female, and her tooth wear confirmed that she was an adult. Her sloping forehead, arched browridges, and nutcracker jaw resembled those of Homo erectus, but her size was unique.
It wasn't just her small stature and estimated weight—about 55 pounds (25 kilograms)—but a startlingly small brain as well. Brown calculated its volume at less than a third of a modern human's. Hobbit had by far the smallest brain of any member of the genus Homo. It was small even for a chimpanzee.
Why were the Flores humans so small? Biogeographer Mark Lomolino, who studies the phenomenon called island dwarfism, says, "We know that when evolutionary pressures change, some species respond by shrinking." Stegodons—extinct elephant ancestors—were especially prone to dwarfing, because they often colonized islands. "Elephants are strong swimmers," he says. Once there, with limited food and fewer predators, they shrank. On Sicily, Crete, and Malta, scientists have unearthed bones from primitive elephants as little as a twentieth the size of mainland forms.
But other species, such as rats, tend to grow larger in a place without competitors. Flores yielded remains of giant rats and lizards, as well as cow-size dwarf stegodons and diminutive human bones (shown above with stone tools and stegodon teeth). Peter Brown says the tiny Homo floresiensis may have evolved from a population of Homo erectus that reached Flores some 800,000 years ago. "The problem is we haven't found Homo erectus bones," says Brown. "All we have is these small-bodied people."
The last Neanderthal bones we have found are so close to our own, just 27,000 years ago. They shared the world with us, but their time was at hand. The enduring mystery however, is why.
In July of 2006, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany did a study with a large sampling of Europeans. The project took four years and detailed an initial draft of the Neanderthal genome based on the analysis of four billion base pairs of Neanderthal DNA. According to the findings, close to 99.7% of our genomes are identical. Humans and chimpanzees, thought to be close in such kinship, actually showed much less, at 93%.
The Genome Project offered tantalizing evidence of interbreeding. The landmark study answered the long-standing question of whether Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis interbred before humanity's closest relatives went extinct about 35,000 years ago. It showed that interbreeding was possible, with Neanderthals contributing roughly 1 to 4 percent of the genomes of all humans living today outside of sub-Saharan Africa. That said, the obvious different appearances would not have likely made early humans attractive to Neanderthals and certainly the reverse is true. It leaves open the possibility of Neanderthal rape of humans as being the only likely source of a genetic mixing of the two peoples.
You might expect to see multiple branches of the family tree throughout the world. The genetic experiment did reveal a remarkable and stunning conclusion. The survivors on this planet today come from one distinct handful of people who adventured out of Africa. The genetics may be convincing but the geography is a huge problem. For these small groups, the deserts and water would have been possible but exceedingly difficult.
It could have been over the Straits of Gibraltar. It could have been a migration over the Red Sea and Golan heights. 125,000 years ago there was a change in the climate that made Africa much greener. The world’s most impassable desert suddenly blossomed for just a few thousand years. At least one band of pioneers made it through the Sahara and into the rest of the known world.
But there are several important things to consider:
We are a young species. Consider the fact that we are around 200,000 years old and some of the hominoids covered in this chapter are five million years old and perhaps even older.
Neanderthals and Humans are drastic in their differences. Without a doubt, it is easy to tell the two apart.
Modern humans have such a huge intellectual edge over Neanderthals that it hardly seems possible that the two could have even communicated let-alone mated. We quickly surpassed Neanderthals in sheer numbers, biodiversity, limb-morphology, and even an increased brain size.
Given our young age, there is an unfortunate limit to the genome sampling we can do with regards to Neanderthals as a single comparison. They have a 700,000 year age advantage on modern humans and thus our sampling is a mere fraction of theirs.
There are so many questions yet to be answered with regards to our own humanity. We also have to address where we might be evolving to as well. Both physically and culturally, we have to look harder at the things that have prevented us from overcoming the surroundings.
Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. For those who dismiss evolution in the sake of their spirituality and belief in God, I would submit that the two are mutually compatible. Science is not only compatible with our spirituality, but it is a profound source of our spirituality. It has been an epic adventure of discovery of how the first hominoids became us. Looking at the history of Mankind from a historical point of view, we are faced with more and more evidence that demands a verdict.
Neanderthals were completely different from Homo Sapiens and were most certainly replaced/inbred or otherwise eliminated by modern humans in the hunt for wild game and the use of modern tools.
In 2008, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology further conducted a study of people from around Europe to see how closely related we might be to our Neanderthal brethren. This was made possible by a new technology that enabled scientists to scrape a DNA Genome from the large toe bone of a Neanderthal. DNA is a molecule that has a unique genetic code for every living thing. There are four building blocks in DNA and they are as follows: Guanine, Adenine, Thymine, and Cytosine. Collectively, they are known by the letters of their names.
To understand how DNA works, imagine a spiral staircase from here to the moon with four-different colors of stairs. Each stair corresponds to each of the letters, G,A,T,C and their unique order is what separates us not only from one another, but from other species. And the similarities between humans and your average everyday garden-slug tell us just how close all life is to one another.
Genes are the map of DNA. Each pair of genes correlates to a various part of the body. For instance, the genes that map directly to the eyes are the same in every living thing. To prove this point, a study at the Max Planck Institute took a fruit fly and for the first time saw and identified the band of gene that was responsible for eyesight. By interfering with the development of that particular gene, they were able to grow legs out of the eyes and multiple sets of wings.
At the same time, the scientists were looking for any type of fly that had a mutation. It would further prove their point. They soon discovered a single white-eyed male fly, which stood out from its normal, red-eyed peers. A cross between the mutant male and a red-eyed female produced only red-eyed offspring. White-eyed mutants reappeared in the following generation — the classic pattern of a recessive trait. However, the white-eyed trait was seen exclusively in males of the second generation. They concluded that being white-eyed is a sex-linked recessive trait. Thus, the gene for eye color must be physically located on the X-chromosome.
Within weeks, they had mapped out every gene and what they were responsible for. Next, the researchers took the genes for the eyes out of a field mouse and put them into a fruit fly. In a Nobel Award winning experiment, Walter Gehring pulled it off and proved that the complexities of evolution aren't so complex at all. We ALL have the same ingredients but each is arranged slightly differently.
Because DNA can decay over hundreds of thousands of years, there was an element of failure that was to be expected. However, the results were most surprising and it caught scientists completely off guard. A Chimpanzee and a human are 98.8% alike. But Neanderthals are 99.7% alike and the discovery of them indicated that we are indeed very close to Neanderthals.
The implications beyond the initial discovery were interesting. Humans had long been blamed for the demise of the Neanderthals. We weren’t bigger than they were. But aside from that one trait, we held all the cards over them. Humans were smarter and able to communicate better via language. Recently they found a jawbone of the Neanderthal that shows they were butchered – but we don’t know by who, and we don’t know why.
One distinct advantage we might have had was in our endurance. Our bodies were designed for endurance, balanced and lean. Comparatively, Neanderthals were built for high-impact at short distances. Humans could sustain a chase for prey over longer distances than the top-heavy Neanderthals did. But instead of killing the Neanderthals, perhaps we interbred with them. You would think there would be more commonalities in the DNA, but that is all subjected to time.
Advancements in the study of DNA are improving each year, and it is also becoming less expensive to provide DNA research. The great opportunity is ahead of us, where we can not only look at our DNA past, but predict the DNA future. It’s almost inconceivable to imagine, but by analyzing the amount of time and generations for adaptive traits to become a part of who we are, we can perhaps prevent diseases and treat and cure the ones in our DNA make-up throughout.
Almost every European alive today has around 3% Neanderthal DNA within. Although it is a scant amount, the very presence of Neanderthal DNA in our own makeup is is really quite impressive. Our ancestors were US. Now the challenge of our current time is to examine the DNA of perhaps our other ancestors in the ongoing chain of humanity.
The Neanderthals weren’t the only proto-man to walk on this planet. Donald Johanssen, from the Institute of Human Origins, discovered a finding in the Afar in Ethiopia. His partner was at it for eight long years, Zarai found an almost complete skeleton. Once they freed the skull from the limestone, there was almost a complete spine, shoulders, arms and hands. Never before had a child skeleton so ancient and so well preserved.
The finding suggested that this skeleton was from a familiar ancestor of ours – Australopithecus Afarensis and it was 3-4Million years old. It was the first to walk on two legs. To remove the limestone and sandstone took nearly a decade. Although her bones could fit into a shoebox, they told us volumes about who we are. He wouldn’t win a beauty pageants, but then again, what would he think of us??? They named her ‘’Salaam’’ which means ‘Peace.’’ By examining the teeth, we learned that Salaam was just three years old when she died. But her hip-bones were indicative of a being that walked upright.
And yet - her shoulder blades were designed for swinging and climbing. She was covered with hair and the fifth and final toe was elongated to the point of giving her balance when she walked. The way that I have come to understand this is that essentially Salaam was just like us from the waist down, but from the waist up, she was all ape. This is the first glimpse of us being home in two different worlds.
Australopithecus was the only human of its kind to be at home in two worlds. They lived in trees and they walked upright. How does climate change affect living organisms? Clearly, the earth has gone through a series of climate change. Even in the last one hundred years we have seen some parts of the earth warm and other parts actually become cooler. The Sahara Desert was once a thriving forest. Humans had to move with the animals, and the energy required to make these migrations work.
Monkeys would have had to expend a lot more energy than a Human. Even today, a chimpanzee cannot compete with a human in terms of energy conservation. Walking on all four limbs, a chimp will expend an enormously greater amount of energy. So despite the fact that we are close to Chimpanzees, our DNA shows changes in the grand design. Genetics are opening doors we never thought possible, measuring time in genetic cycles.
The Molecular Clock allows us to compare DNA from a related species to see how long ago they split from one another. Consider the implications regarding DNA. It changes itself at a surprisingly predictable rate. And, because we know the rate at which change occurs, we can scale backward with the Molecular Clock.* The results were stunning. Humans diverged from the apes much earlier – 5-7 Million years earlier. So, that opened up another great question. Where did we actually derive from?
A Piece of Time
The Molecular Clock and Estimating Species Divergence
By: Simon Ho, Ph.D. (Australia National University) 2008
Since its proposal in the 1960s, the molecular clock has become an essential tool in many areas of evolutionary biology, including systematics, molecular ecology, and conservation genetics. The molecular clock hypothesis states that DNA and protein sequences evolve at a rate that is relatively constant over time and among different organisms. A direct consequence of this constancy is that the genetic difference between any two species is proportional to the time since these species last shared a common ancestor. Therefore, if the molecular clock hypothesis holds true, this hypothesis serves as an extremely useful method for estimating evolutionary timescales. This is of particular value when studying organisms that have left few traces of their biological history in the fossil record, such as flatworms and viruses.
Each year, fossil hunters have combed through the Great Rift Valley in Ethiopia. It was now the time for someone to challenge the Western frontier of Africa. The barrier of the Sahara Desert stood in the way. Just 10,000 years ago, sudden natural changes in the earth turned a thriving ocean teaming with animals as diverse as Lobsters all the way up to whales.
In 1997, a French Anthologist named Michele Brunet made an important discovery. He thought that perhaps the bones found in the Rift Valley were already from migrating hominoids. . Despite being a fertile area, Brunet knew that mankind was on the move. What he did not know is from where. Brunet insisted on scouring the desert sands and in 2003 – he hit pay-dirt.
Staring at him like he was a long-lost friend was a skull, belonging to Sahelanthropus Tchadensis. The skull he found was an astounding four- MILLION years old – over 2 million years than Lucy and Salaam. Although the skull was deformed, Brunet could make a cast of it in order to determine whether it was an upright bi-pedal.
UPDATE FROM APRIL 2018 - NEW LIGHT ON DNA
Prof David Reich of Harvard Medical School is one of the leading lights in the field of ancient DNA. His team's work has cast a new perspective on human history, reconstructing the epic migrations and genetic exchanges that shaped the people of different regions worldwide. Here he explains how this revolution in our understanding unfolded.
If it seems as if there has been an avalanche of recent headlines revealing insights into the travails of our ancient ancestors, you'd be right. From the fate of the people who built Stonehenge to the surprising physical appearance of Cheddar Man, a 10,000-year-old Briton, the deluge of information has been overwhelming.
But this step change in the understanding of our past has been building for years now. It's been driven by new techniques and technological advancements in the study of ancient DNA - genetic information retrieved from the skeletal remains of our long-dead kin.
At the forefront of this revolution is David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston Massachusetts. I met Prof Reich recently at the BBC while he was in the UK to talk about his book Who We Are and How We Got Here, which draws together the most recent scientific results in this field of study.
The Harvard professor, who is 43, was recently highlighted by the journal Nature as one of 10 people who mattered in all of science for his role in transforming the field of ancient DNA from "niche pursuit to industrial process".
Reich was raised in Washington DC, by parents who were distinguished in their own fields. His mother Tova is a novelist and his father Walter is a professor of psychiatry who also served as the first director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
"In my family, there was a premium and a strong belief placed on creativity - doing something new and interesting and edgy. Science was seen as the highest thing someone could do," he says. "I had lots of interests, but the things I was most interested in were history and science."
Reich says that he "fell in love" with human evolutionary history at the beginning of his PhD in biochemistry, but then moved away from the subject towards medical genetics. He explained: "The technology at the time really wasn't very good for learning a lot about human history."
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, studies of ancient DNA from our own species were highly contentious because of observations that skeletal remains were easily contaminated by the DNA of living people. As such, there were always nagging doubts about whether a genetic sequence belonged to the long-dead individual being studied or to an archaeologist involved in excavating the remains, a museum curator who had handled them, or a visitor to the lab where they were being analyzed.
However, crucial progress in overcoming these obstacles began in the late 90s with the effort to sequence DNA from Neanderthals, which was led by Professor Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.