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Rethinking "Out of Africa" - Comments

billzfantazy's Avatar Comment 1 by billzfantazy

You know what, that's the clearest exposition I've ever heard of recent human evolution. If mr Stringer was better looking he could be another Professor Cox.

Sun, 22 Jan 2012 23:53:33 UTC | #910802

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 2 by QuestioningKat

An inspiring article. My imagination has been sparked.

(BTW Stringer is perfectly presentable.)

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 00:16:59 UTC | #910810

Tord M's Avatar Comment 3 by Tord M

Much more interesting than most tv science documentaries. Probably done on no budget, and without any computer animations. Just an eminent scientist speaking about science, for 45 minutes, without interruptions.

One particular thing he said, that caught my ear, was this:

Still unpublished are at least three more individuals, all from this one site. It looks like these individuals fell one after another into a death trap. They may have fallen into anoxic water, where there was very slow decay of the tissue, and they were mummified before they were fossilized, with even the possibility, according to Lee Berger, of soft tissue preservation.

(BTW I think Stringer looks a lot better than Professor Cox.)

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 00:41:48 UTC | #910818

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 4 by nancynancy

Fascinating.

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 03:34:48 UTC | #910840

AULhall's Avatar Comment 5 by AULhall

I wasn't able to watch the video at present, but I did read the entire transcript of Stringer's lecture which is posted below the video, and I have to say that it was absolutely enthralling. I first became interested in the various evolution scenarios of modern humans by watching Alice Roberts' five-episode series entitled "The Incredible Human Journey" which aired on the BBC in 2009.

I will certainly be saving a link for this talk to be watched later.

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 07:37:25 UTC | #910859

ARN's Avatar Comment 6 by ARN

If anyone wants more, I heartily recommend Chris Stringer's book, "The Origin of Our Species".

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 08:59:04 UTC | #910863

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 7 by rod-the-farmer

Great stuff. I recommend watching it all.

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 09:24:50 UTC | #910866

sbooder's Avatar Comment 8 by sbooder

I was glued to that. Not only was it a wonderful and clear analysis of the data so far, it would be a wonderful example to show people who do not understand how science works. It was littered with phrases like: ‘rethink’, ‘what we know so far’, ‘we were wrong’ and ‘new evidence shows us’.

I think some may be surprised by, how much scientists like being wrong, but then, realising the reason they do is that, getting to the truth is what matters.

Top stuff.

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 09:33:38 UTC | #910868

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 9 by Alan4discussion

We have had some earlier discussions on this where I linked this item relating ice-ages and sea-levels to human migrations. http://essayweb.net/history/ancient/prehistory.shtml

@OP - I think one of the most remarkable recent finds is the material from the site of Malapa in South Africa. This is material that's been found in the last few years, and we've seen a series of papers published in Science in the last few months. This is a species of Australopithecus called Australopithecus sediba, and it's clearly related to the previously known and possibly ancestral species Australopithecus africanus.

There is an interesting chart illustrating a view of skulls of related Homo species here:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/08/malapa-fossils/lineage-graphic

There are National Geographic articles on Australopithecus sediba, linked below :-

The skull of the young male Australopithecus sediba rests near the spot in Africa where he died. - http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/09/110908-apes-humans-evolution-australopithecus-sediba-lee-berger-science/

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/08/malapa-fossils/fischman-text

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/08/malapa-fossils/hominid-graphic

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 10:34:01 UTC | #910875

HuntingGoodWill's Avatar Comment 10 by HuntingGoodWill

This is extremely interesting. I was interested in astronomy and astrophysics since I was a little kid and this taught me to have a different perspective with regards to timescales. The ice ages and other important climatic changes (thus animals dying out/relocating because of the climate changes) may have been a huge factor in the evolution that led to the "modern human". My guess is that due to the 100s of thousands of years/millions of years that passed between the different stages, our ancestors were forced to travel throughout the continents more often than we assume; thus re-mixing the DNA pool constantly, or in distinctive periods of "high traffic". It seems quite possible that the same ancestor "tribe" split across the world, mixed with other ancestors and upon meeting with their "original" tribe, the ability to mix/produce offspring was reduced/grew, thus slowing down/accelerating the evolution and first and foremost, changing the balance between the different "dominant" strains of DNA. And we are dealing here with huge periods of time and many, many local (continental) or even global climate changes, so there was always some motivation to either stay in your niche, or find another one. Lets not forget bacteria and viruses, which could've been the "judge" of which strain/"tribe" survived and which not, even though the surviving one may have been actually less evolved/physically fit. It's a fascinating topic and from what I understand, it's been only 20+ years, since the methods that are in use today were even introduced/invented. I bet we will find out many more interesting things about out past. The past of the human kind is the science of the future. Fascinating! as Spok would say. :)

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 19:11:29 UTC | #910952

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 11 by Alan4discussion

Comment 10 by HuntingGoodWill

The ice ages and other important climatic changes (thus animals dying out/relocating because of the climate changes) may have been a huge factor in the evolution that led to the "modern human". My guess is that due to the 100s of thousands of years/millions of years that passed between the different stages, our ancestors were forced to travel throughout the continents more often than we assume; thus re-mixing the DNA pool constantly, or in distinctive periods of "high traffic".

The climate graphs of ice-ages on the essayweb. link @9, show the importance of ice-ages, not only because of the climatic changes, but because the changing sea levels associated with piling up many cubic miles of water in ice caps for thousands of years and then thawing it, opened and closed land-bridges (or even ice-bridges) between islands and continents, intermittently, starting and stopping migrations.

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 20:18:47 UTC | #910962

cbeckford's Avatar Comment 12 by cbeckford

The producers of BBC's 'Horizon' programme might want to pick this up for a future season (as it seems the very latest finds have yet to be investigated fully). Maybe a part one and two, as there's so much material. Fascinating! And Christopher Stringer would be the ideal presenter as he simply exudes the most addictive enthusiasm. Thanks for the posting.

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 21:22:42 UTC | #910976

Philoctetes                                        's Avatar Comment 13 by Philoctetes

I was fortunate enough to have been a student of Chris Stringer's co-author on his earlier book "In Search of the Neanderthals" written before all the DNA evidence emerged. Still well worth reading if for no other reason than to show the importance of the scientific method. The new evidence is small but significant and has lead to a fundamental re-think. The more simple certainties have been replaced by fiendishly complex uncertainties. Can't wait to get stuck into his "Origin of Our Species" , a christmas present from a daughter whom pays attention to my amazon wish list.

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 23:03:08 UTC | #910996

raytoman's Avatar Comment 14 by raytoman

The original Australians arrived (mainly by land bridges but were obviously good sailors) at least 40,000 years ago. Arguably they have lived longer on "their" land than any other modern humans. It's hard to keep track of all of the hominoids and I am most interested in when we invented religion.

Neandrathals had burial rites and no doubt other hominoids had before them. We came later.

What is the latest thinking on when religion was invented and by whom?

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 23:39:36 UTC | #911004

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 15 by Alan4discussion

Comment 14 by raytoman - What is the latest thinking on when religion was invented and by whom?

This is clearly more recent than origins, but is the earliest known major structure associated with large gatherings. -

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/gobekli-tepe/mann-text

The Birth of Religion
We used to think agriculture gave rise to cities and later to writing, art, and religion. Now the world’s oldest temple suggests the urge to worship sparked civilization.

I had some difficulty finding this on Google in the surrounding creationist claims.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 09:44:20 UTC | #911059

Reginald's Avatar Comment 16 by Reginald

" I first became interested in the various evolution scenarios of modern humans by watching Alice Roberts' ".

I just enjoyed watching Alice Roberts!

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 11:57:35 UTC | #911076

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 17 by aroundtown

Fascinating observations. I would love to see some research on the most likely trails out of Africa and look for fossil records in those locals. I can't imaging it was an easy journey out of the Continent and there would have been bottle necks and perilous crossings along the way or distances without adequate water since it was postulated that climate change was an initiator for Human migration at the time.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 21:01:02 UTC | #911189

raytoman's Avatar Comment 18 by raytoman

Comment 15 by Alan4discussion

Comment 14 by raytoman - What is the latest thinking on when religion was invented and by whom?

This is clearly more recent than origins, but is the earliest known major structure associated with large gatherings. -

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/gobekli-tepe/mann-text>>

Thanks for that Alan but but that is very recent indeed. The Jewish Religion (with over 3 billion followers in you include all the Christian and Muslim sects) whose superstitions include that the flat earth and the first man (made from clay) and the first woman (made from one of the first mans ribs) actually happened 5-6 thousand years later must have pissed off the Sumerians at the time.

As I understand it, the first religions (Shamanism) were 300-150, 000 years ago thouugh of course being within small populations left little trace. The dates relate to middens and burial sites where use of Red Ochre for body decoration and some belongings have been found with hominoid remains (including neandrathals).

The research must be even more difficult than finding early fossils (before 500 million years ago) for animals that had no "hard" parts to fossilise or were microscopic (typically unicellular).

Ancient Religions (myths and associated cultures designed to be believed and followed "religiously" under pain of punishment or death and including some form of afterlife) have all of the key aspects of the power and control that is religion, just not the current sophistication of the current forms of the meme. Some existing religions still have aspects of these ancient power and control mechanisms (Voodo).et the by sulowed ggesting

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 22:16:20 UTC | #911207

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 19 by Alan4discussion

Comment 18 by raytoman

Thanks for that Alan but that is very recent indeed.

Indeed - very recent in evolutionary terms, - but as far as we can tell it shows the earliest use of major high-quality architectural structures, which later became integrated into organised religion all over the world.

As you point out, there must have been simpler earlier religious memes for a long time prior to this. To that extent the title of the NG article is misleading.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 10:26:19 UTC | #911295