Philosophy Suggests That Advanced Homo Is From Eurasia

The spark of a correct guess is often drowned into a sea of wrong guesses. I am going to give here an example of the philosophical method, the method of the artful guesses, used in paleontology, on human origins. The official story goes this way: man originated in Africa, nothing to see, let the professionals do their work. it’s probably wrong.

But a philosopher will say this to a specialist: how do you know that man evolved in Africa? Usual answer: because that’s where the fossils are from.  My counter-objection: conservation bias. And a philosopher would add: why did man evolve so fast? Usual answer: natural selection (as if there was another… even human selection is natural, Homo being part, a meta part, but still a part of nature!) My counter-objection: how to we know there was no accelerator of evolution?

At this point our friend the official paleontologist of the old school will become suspicious: accelerator? And the philosopher will point at technology, the companion and extension of Homo. To live in the most hospitable regions of East Africa, once one has found how to limit losses due to ferocious animals, one doesn’t need technology absolutely: one can just frolic in the buff.

Not the case in Europe, which, for most of the last 2.7 million years was too cold to live without clothing, fire, shelter, etc. And europe was probably Homo occupied for at least two million years (date at which varied Homo Ergaster fossils were found in the Caucasus, a place quite cold in winter in Dmanisi, Georgia. Hominid fossils as well as stone tools were found throughout the 1990s. The fossils looked similar to those of Homo erectus. But in 2000, an unusual jaw was found; its size and shape didn’t quite match H. erectus or any other known hominid that lived about 1.8 million years ago. So the team named Homo georgicus. Since then, more bones belonging to H. georgicus have been unearthed.

Homo Georgicus Female Looking At You Boy, 2 millions years across, and Saber Tooth Tigers Don’t Faze MeMore recently, a completely new Homo species was found in the Philippines, and some Australian researchers have started to claim the human occupation is at least 120,000 years old. Obviously, the hypothesis long-favored in China that human origins are from all over, is gaining ground.

And a philosopher will say: how come that was not obvious all along? Just look at a map, and think!

***

Out Of Africa? Not So Sure, Even If Anglo-Saxon Saint Darwin Proposed It:

Once an English gentleman passed by East Africa, found it quite old, and decreed that man came out of East Africa. n his 1871 book The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin suggested that the hominin group originated in Africa – an idea most anthropologists believe today, because beliefs are easier to remember. But Darwin also wrote that the group may have arisen in Europe because, at that time, fossils of large apes had already been uncovered there.

 

Now, indeed, the climate in East Africa; typical dry, high altitude, is prospitious for preserving fossils. So naturally very old hominin fossils were found there. It is a case of all the drunks finding all the keys below all the lamps.

 

Hominins are a group of primates that includes modern humans, more or less extinct humans like Neanderthals and Denisovans, our immediate ancestors, and more distant species such as the mysterious Homo Antecessor, Homo Erectus, Homo Habilis, and earlier species on extinct branches, including australopiths like the famous Lucy. It is harder to find their fossils in Europe, because the climate and soils there were harder for fossil conservation.

 

So what happens? Rare fossils are found in temperate areas, and many of them… don’t fit the “Out of Africa” story. For example one, just one, fossil found in Italy looks ancestral to some forms found in Africa. Fossils of a 7.2-million-year-old ape called Graecopithecus that once lived at Nikiti in Greece seems to have small canines, plus hominin-like “fused” roots to one of its premolars. In 2017, a team cautiously concluded that Graecopithecus might be a very early hominin.

Under this scenario, the 8 to 9-million-year-old Nikiti ape could represent a group of “proto-hominins” that gave rise to hominins in Europe, represented by Graecopithecus at 7.2 million years old. Hominins then would have migrated into Africa around 7 million years ago.

***

Conservation Bias Beware:

Conservation of things can introduce a “conservation bias”. An example: the Egyptian desert climate preserves old paint very well. However, Egyptians were not the only ones using paint in the past. The “Picts” of Scotland who confronted the Romans were called that way, the “Painted” (Picti) because they were covered with colors. Due to damp Scotland, those colors didn’t get preserved (although they beat the Romans)… Nor was the Picts’ writing. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t write… they wrote.

In general fossil are not conserved well in a wet, biologically active climate.

***

Impenetrable Africa:

Subtropical areas are one thing:  they typically have a wet season, are endowed with savannah park, and are easy to penetrate. Full tropical areas, though, are much less welcoming of human travel. A further problem is that most of the savannah park is crisscrossed by forest galleries, forests built around water ways. A simple forest gallery in Africa is more than a wall. It’s a chain of obstacles with obscurity, exuberant vegetation, tse tse flies, dangerous animals, snakes, spiders, crocs, ambushes… A forest gallery, with its profusion of trees and lianas, not to say leopards and giant carnivorous rats, can make hundreds of meters, and sometimes kilometers of nearly impassable jungle.

Forest galleries partition a lot of the tropics into small pockets which don’t communicate with each other.Hence the profusions of extremely varied languages in Africa. (In my quasi-native Senegal, six languages ruled, some tonal, others not; they are mixed, with pockets all over!)

***

Gigantic Eurasia, Garden of the Gods, Easy Travel:

But then look at a map: the regions of East Africa susceptible of maximum accelerated human evolution (temperate, high altitude reasonably wet) are a small fraction, no more than 5% of what Eurasia offered… Once enough technology to resist the cold had been invented. Then wet, temperate Eurasia, presented an enormous area in which human groups could evolve, trade, compete, exchange ideas. Moreover, as I said, to just subsist in Eurasia one was technologically spurred more than elsewhere… namely in the tropical areas.

Most of the world temperate area is located in Eurasia, and particularly in Europe. Very little is found in Africa.

Eurasia, instead is easy to travel across… if one is a Mongol, some would object. Indeed, there is a giant steppe from Hungary to Korea, and the Huns and Mongols used it, a lot. But they were not the first to do so. The Indo-Europeans did this, much earlier. From West of Mongolia, in the Altai, they could go west to Europe, south to India, and east to China. And they did. Not coincidentally, the first Denisovan was found at Denis’ cave, in the Altai.

It is known that many advances of Chinese civilization were launched by European types originating from the Altai, 5,000 years ago. I suggest the same mechanism of dissemination of people and ideas was at work already two million years ago. A hint is that Chinese scientists claim to have discovered human usage of fire, in China, 1.3 million years ago.

***

Conclusion: If one visited from another star system, one would find likely that humanity emerged in the largest continent, Eurasia. All the more as it was more challenging technologically, and the easiest to trade people, goods and ideas. Call that the anti-Tasmanian Effect. The Tasmanian effect is that an isolated society which has it all too easy, will devolve (Tasmania is temperate and got isolated after the last glaciation):

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/tasmanian-effect/

The anti-Tasmanian effect is that a maximally exposed mental maelstrom of a society will be most creative. But that carries over, with roughly the same mathematics to phenotypes: a maximally exposed phenotype maelstrom of an hominin population will be phenotypically most varied, enabling the evolution of most successful types, and thus becoming the main engine of evolutionary progress..  

Thus Neanderthals invented the burning of fossil fuels, 80,000 years ago in Europe (an interest of living in an extremely old continent rather than much younger continents or islands full of volcanoes). Europe was the best place to have a big debate on what were the best technologies, for two million years. Now, of course, citizens of nearly all countries can run air conditioning, talk and even see at a distance. But this is now. The most natural place for Homo species to evolve more was Eurasia. This is what philosophy says…

Science will follow and figure out the details, to be certain.

Darwin RIP…

Patrice Ayme

 

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4 Responses to “Philosophy Suggests That Advanced Homo Is From Eurasia”

  1. pshakkottai Says:

    Hi Patrice:

    by Premendra Priyadarshi

    with title “Lizaridis 2014 found that the European population had been nearly completely replaced by non-European People during the Holocene”
    Nature 2014 sept 10. 513(7518) 409-41 do: 1038nature 13673 PMCID: PMC4170574 NIHMSID: NIHM561360
    Iosif Lazaridi et al is an interesting paper on population migrations into Europe from the East in more “recent” times, essentially a Eurasian connection.
    Partha.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks, Partha! ;-)!
      Holocene is the last 12 K years or so. I will listen to it later. It’s known there were at least two large migrations, one from Middle east to Europe, bringing grains in, the other from west of Altai towards India to the south, Europe to the West… and later from there, to the east… That’s supported linguistically, genetically, archaeologically… But not all the knowledge is in, by a long shot!

      Like

  2. Gmax Says:

    European supremacy, hey? Just kidding. I know some Uigurs claim that their ancestors brought civilization to China. You know the famous European mummies in western China

    Like

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