Thursday, December 29, 2005

Did Early Humans First Arise in Asia, Not Africa?

Two archaeologists are challenging what many experts consider to be the basic assumption of human migration—that humankind arose in Africa and spread over the globe from there.

The pair proposes an alternative explanation for human origins: arising in and spreading out of Asia.

Robin Dennell, of the University of Sheffield in England, and Wil Roebroeks, of Leiden University in the Netherlands, describe their ideas in the December 22 issue of Nature.

They believe that early-human fossil discoveries over the past ten years suggest very different conclusions about where humans, or humanlike beings, first walked the Earth.

New Asian finds are significant, they say, especially the 1.75 million-year-old small-brained early-human fossils found in Dmanisi, Georgia, and the 18,000-year-old "hobbit" fossils (Homo floresiensis) discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia.

Such finds suggest that Asia's earliest human ancestors may be older by hundreds of thousands of years than previously believed, the scientists say.

"What seems reasonably clear now," Dennell said, "is that the earliest hominins in Asia did not need large brains or bodies." These attributes are usually thought to be prerequisites for migration.

Read the rest here.

Actually, I have a bit of a dispute with the comments that hominids needed large brains to migrate out of Africa. It seems to fly in the face of the fact that a great many species migrated out of their home territories without developing vast brains: horses, camels, mammoths and numerous others all did without developing to into Homo erectus...(or their equine or other equivalents). It doesn't even seem to be true of other primates for that matter...monkeys are a post Cretaceous evolutionary development after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have always thought that humans came from Asia versus Africa. The Great Rift Valley, where most fossil humans were found, is very close to the coast. Northern India used to border the Great Rift Valley of Africa. The Himilaya mountains likely contain human fossils, but the area is too in hospitable for archeologists to study.

If true, most American Afro-Centric literature will need to be re-written.