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Australian Aboriginal DNA Suggests 70,000-Year History

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the what-a-timeline dept.

Australia 228

brindafella writes with a link to an abstract at the journal Science that says "Scientists have obtained a DNA genomic sequence from a 100-year-old, voluntarily donated hair sample from a full-blood Australian Aboriginal man. [Analysis of the hair] shows 'Aboriginal Australians are descendants of an early human dispersal into eastern Asia, possibly 62,000 to 75,000 years ago. This dispersal is separate from the one that gave rise to modern Asians 25,000 to 38,000 years ago. ... [Their] findings support the hypothesis that present-day Aboriginal Australians descend from the earliest humans to occupy Australia, likely representing one of the oldest continuous populations outside Africa.' A news story gives more detail."

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first... (3, Funny)

chopsuei3 (517972) | about 3 years ago | (#37499778)

out of africa!

Re:first... (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#37500394)

out of africa!

That's a bummer. When do you think you'll have some in?

CORRECTION (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499780)

I sent this post over to some Creation Scientists and they corrected the obvious errors. Here's their story:

'Aboriginal Australians are descendants of an early human dispersal into eastern Asia, possibly 6,000 to 6,000 years ago. This dispersal is separate from the one that gave rise to modern Asians 6,000 to 6,000 years ago'

Re:CORRECTION (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 3 years ago | (#37500072)

Of course it's separate - one was from Cain, the other one from Seth. ~

Re:CORRECTION (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#37500420)

What are you smoting? I'm completely unabel to understand what you mean.

Wow... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499782)

You'd think in 70,000 years, they'd invent something more advanced than the woomera...

evolution (2)

serbanp (139486) | about 3 years ago | (#37499792)

It's interesting that 75ky is not enough time for a species to diverge into incompatible branches; successful mating between individuals from these branches creates perfectly normal offspring.

I wonder what would have happened if the above was not true; probably even worse extermination, just like the bushmeat thing in Africa.

Re:evolution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499894)

It wasn't enough time for this species in any case. But for other species faster splits have been observed. In this case long generations (compared to most other animals) and possibly environmental circumstances have made the genome change slowly enough.
Now, for someone who was taught in history class in 1996 or so that modern humans came to be 10.000 years ago, recent discoveries about human evolution have been simply amazing. Since then we've learned a whole lot and this bit is another revolution in biology. For starters, it means that the Great Leap Forward theory of behavioural modernity, which posits that technological and social development took off due to some fundamental change 50.000 years ago, is wrong.

The Main Problem As I See It (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499986)

Like Indians and Niggers, there are just more human effluent that think their inbreeding and ugliness entitles them to free money.

In today's economic belt tightening, it's time to cut freeloaders like these off. The free ride at state universities for these D students has to stop, and likewise it's time to jettison the "token ethnic".

These simpletons are suitable for some things like heavy labor and auto mechanics for the men, and domestic applications the women, but would you really want an "ethnic" doctor pushing his finger up your daughter's vagina?

This type of "study" only tells us that in 70,000 years, these aborigines where incapable of evolving into civilized and intelligent humans, they still wear worn and filthy animal skins and dance around fires chanting to imaginary "gods"...

Seriously, folks.

Re:The Main Problem As I See It (0, Flamebait)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500014)

I hope you get a particularly slow painful and incurable cancer.

Re:The Main Problem As I See It (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500362)

2hope you get a particularly slow painful and incurable cancer." ...and only 'ethnic' doctors.

Re:evolution (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500012)

Actually it was about 45-50k years of isolation before other moderns got into Asia and you start to see an inflow of genes from other modern populations.

Re:evolution (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500326)

I for one am willing to admit that I have not had a successful mating with an Australian.

It depends on what you mean (1)

F69631 (2421974) | about 3 years ago | (#37500418)

I'm not an evolutionary scientist but based on my understanding, the lines between different species aren't drawn at which ones can't mate with each other but rather at which ones don't mate with each other when interacting in natural environment. For example, I remember reading about a species of birds that are currently in the process of diverging: There are two major color patterns and the birds of each have began treating members of the other color pattern as members of a different species (chasing them away during nesting seasons, etc.).

If that's the case, it could well be argued that humans already evolved into incompatible species: Many cultures all around the world used to consider people from other ethnic groups as lesser humans and certainly something that no respectable human should mate with. I would be willing to bet that 17th century Europeans or Africans, when seeing an Aborginal, would not have stated "Ah, there is my fellow human!".

Of course, then came the age of enlightenment and humans decided "Wait a minute. We could try not basing our world views on our first instincts and what 'feels' right or wrong. While we're at it, we could dismiss the notion that just because someone is weaker or different, they should be shunned!". At that point, we effectively distanced ourselves from the kind of evolution and survival of the fittest that animals go through and chose to define humanity ourselves. We still have natural selection but for the most part, we define the criteria ourselves (i.e., we make conscious decisions such as "that man's verbal skills mean more to me than his tendency for certain genetic illnesses").

This thing - observing where natural evolution took us and saying "No, this will not do" - is IMHO the greatest accomplishment that humans have achieved. It's what, in the 18th century, made humans special instead of just being crafty animals. Of course, some people (usually fans of "Idiocracy") see this progress as undesirable and desperately hope that we would return to a state where humanity in itself held little value and those with highest chances of survival (be that due to intelligence or physical prowess) were the most desirable partners.

Re:evolution (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#37500534)

In all likelihood H. sapiens is adapted so well to different environments that there was simply not enough evolutionary pressure for speciation - we simply thrive everywhere as we are. Your speculation is interesting though, if real speciation happened there, how would we have handled it? Would make for a great SF story. If only I could write....

Wow (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 3 years ago | (#37499796)

60,000-75,000 years is well before when many anthropologists believe we started using language and symbolic thought. Either they're wrong, or these developments were made independently across different isolated populations.

Re:Wow (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 3 years ago | (#37499836)

60,000-75,000 years is well before when many anthropologists believe we started using language and symbolic thought. Either they're wrong, or these developments were made independently across different isolated populations.

Personally I find those arguments specious. First, I'm not so sure language depends on "symbolic thought" -- or whether the concept is even well defined. Second, people have been saying since forever that the Neandertals were incapable of symbolic thought because of a lack of artwork and ritualistic elements with their funerals, but stuff has been turning up here and there for the last few decades, so much so that I don't see how anyone can hold that view anymore.

I think there's a general tendency to see other species -- hominin or other animals -- as more different from us than they really are.

Re:Wow (1)

miahmiah (1325117) | about 3 years ago | (#37499852)

Yep, and some dogs have reportedly learned words like triangle on their own and can fetch triangle objects on request. If dogs are capable of "symbolic thought" and language why not Neanderthals?

Re:Wow (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 3 years ago | (#37499898)

If the people of this city can manage not to swallow their own tongues, I'm sure a Neanderthal had some measure of vocal communication.

Re:Wow (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 3 years ago | (#37500200)

Dogs are apparently capable of learning roughly 300 words (maybe "differentiating between" would be better).

Which, coincidentally, is about how many the average ape is able to learn. That's one of the reasons you don't hear much about chimps or other apes learning sign language anymore - it turns out they're more limited in that regard than was initially hoped.

Re:Wow (1)

miahmiah (1325117) | about 3 years ago | (#37500284)

At least they have hands similar to a human instead of paws!

Re:Wow (2)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 3 years ago | (#37499888)

Not any credible anthropologists. There's way too much data showing symbolic thought to be older than that (to the extent it is present in other species, and thus likely dates back to a common ancestor). As for language itself, there is no good data on when that started--some have tried to estimate it based on approximate rates of phonemic change and how far back you'd have to go for all known languages to coalesce, but that approach is based on extremely specious assumptions (among them that language was created only once, and that it's creation was a distinct event instead of a gradual evolution from the less sophisticated systems of communication we see in other species).

Re:Wow (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 3 years ago | (#37499908)

You can't fault the Anthropologists for being extremely conservative with their view of human development and diaspora -- the sheer lack of information allows too much room for wild speculation and crack-pottery. Just look at those "Ancient Aliens" shows on the History Channel for a prime example.

Re:Wow (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500018)

There's at least some limited evidence of modern behaviors in Africa something around 70,000 years ago. You're a few decades out of date here. In particular see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klasies_River_Caves [wikipedia.org]

I think timelines are still fuzzy enough to suggest that modern behaviors evolved in Africa itself.

Re:Wow (3, Funny)

gilleain (1310105) | about 3 years ago | (#37500430)

There's at least some limited evidence of modern behaviors in Africa something around 70,000 years ago. You're a few decades out of date here. In particular see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klasies_River_Caves [wikipedia.org]

I think timelines are still fuzzy enough to suggest that modern behaviors evolved in Africa itself.

Well surely you need _some_ kind of language to be able to say to a bunch of your friends : "Hey! Fancy going on a beach trip ... to Australia?".

Re:Wow (1)

a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) | about 3 years ago | (#37500658)

Actually I think they only need to say just one world and that word could take them to Austrialia.

The word being "Walkabout"

Re:Wow (3, Interesting)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 3 years ago | (#37500024)

60,000-75,000 years is well before when many anthropologists believe we started using language and symbolic thought. Either they're wrong, or these developments were made independently across different isolated populations.

They're probably wrong. The evolutionary tree of Homo sapiens has four major branches: Aborigines, Eurasians, Africans, and Khoisan. The Aborigines and Eurasians are each other's closest relatives, Africans are more distantly related, and the Khoisan (bushmen) are the most ancient branch of our evolutionary tree. All four groups have the mental hardware to do things like use language, create artwork, and make sophisticated stone tools. While it's concievable that they each evolved that capability independently, Occam's razor says it's simpler to assume that it evolved once, than to assume it happened four separate times. And since Aborigines were around 70,000 years ago, this hardware package- what we'd called the "behaviorally modern" human- would have appeared by that time.

Consistent with this idea, you get cave paintings in Australia around 50,000 years ago, as soon as the Aborigines show up there. And you get cave paintings and sophisticated stone tools in Europe around 30,000 years ago, when the Eurasians move out of Africa. In this scenario, the reason sophisticated stone tools and cave art don't show up earlier is that advanced humans were restricted to Africa. If so, then we would expect evidence for similar behavioral complexity- cave paintings, Neolithic-quality stone tools- in Africa prior to 70,000 years. My guess is that it almost certainly exists, but we just haven't looked in the right places (because it's a lot easier to do fieldwork in Europe than in Africa) or we've found it but haven't recognized it for what it is because the artifacts haven't been dated yet.

Re:Wow (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 3 years ago | (#37500088)

If so, then we would expect evidence for similar behavioral complexity- cave paintings, Neolithic-quality stone tools- in Africa prior to 70,000 years. My guess is that it almost certainly exists, but we just haven't looked in the right places (because it's a lot easier to do fieldwork in Europe than in Africa) or we've found it but haven't recognized it for what it is because the artifacts haven't been dated yet.

Makes me wonder if the stress resulting from migration out of Africa prompted humans to develop new ways of communicating their condition. Painting may have been invented along the way because populations which had been confined to a small area in Africa now found themselves spread across the world. In a similar way modern humans who have migrated away from their home countries use the Internet to communicate with people with whom they share their condition.

Re:Wow (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500146)

Except we see the beginnings of symbolic thinking and other aspects of modern cognition in Africa first.

Well, that was yesterday (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 3 years ago | (#37500356)

The simple fact is that human evolution and that of our near relatives is a science that is undergoing rapid development. A lot of changes are bound to occur as new evidence forces a rethink of existing theory. That is good, stick to the same theory for to long and you are no better then a religious person.

There are skeletons being discovered all the time that shows the old theories to be hopelessly wrong with a high probability that humans are not only much older but more cross linked then we thought.

A recent discovery showed what might be a mother son pair who had features that should belong to more modern man but the bones are older then the neanderthal. Where the hell do they fit on the old timeline? A seperate species?

As for your claims about cave art, well, the above pair was found only because what was once a closed cave (it is believed they somehow fell in and drowned) became exposed by erosion. But in reverse, how many open caves back then have become exposed? Or maybe people didn't like to draw in caves for a period of time. Or they didn't live on caves and carved on wood instead?

To many unknowns, the theory of human evolution itself is evolving and so far we are getting older and older and more complex all the time.

But if evolution is true, saying we had symbolic thought 50.000 years ago is bull, we would have evolved over time, SLOWLY getting better and better at it. And then only some individuals of the species who passed on their genes. Believing intelligence just burst on the scene and all of a sudden everyone was smart that is creationist thinking.

Re:Wow (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 3 years ago | (#37500080)

these developments were made independently across different isolated populations.

Given how frequently parallel evolution has occured [wikipedia.org] in other areas, even in species vastly more diverse, why would that be surprising?

Re:Wow (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500098)

Mainly because there's a reasonable amount of evidence that the first signs of "modern" cognition are in southern Africa, and then seems to have been moved elsewhere as modern populations began spreading. This does not suggest a kind of multi-regional modern cognition hypothesis, but rather a singular point of genesis of such behaviors.

Re:Wow (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 3 years ago | (#37500144)

Mainly because there's a reasonable amount of evidence that the first signs of "modern" cognition are in southern Africa

Wouldn't that, by its very nature, be simply evidence that shows signs of cognition and happens to be only found in southern Africa so far, rather than conclusively shown that cognition was only developed in Africa (and how would you even do that)? i.e. new evidence could easily disprove the theory -which may happen in this case, if other findings are correct?

Re:Wow (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500184)

There are other reasons that southern Africa is an attractive point of origin for modern H. sapiens. For one thing, it is the highest level of genetic diversity and certainly has the descendants of the oldest known modern H. sapiens populations. You are right that further discoveries could point to some other point of origin, and it's always possible that because there was always some gene flow that if the "modern cognition" genes evolved elsewhere, they could have made their way to southern Africa.

That being said, we can't even say what the "modern cognition" genes are with any certainty. It may in fact be possible that the mutations happened a substantial time before, perhaps originally evolving to fulfill some other need, and all it needed was some population to achieve the cultural aspects of the evolution. In other words, all moderns, right back to the earliest, might have had the neural machinery for modern cognition, but it required a trigger.

Re:Wow (1)

eyenot (102141) | about 3 years ago | (#37500674)

You should look into paleopathologists, and their take on the last 375,000 years, instead of anthros. It's a newer field with less establishment-authoritarian rule base on what's polite to say, and they offer more accurate science. As it stands, the anthropologists are getting to be about as accurate or scientific as the egyptologists, these days.

Lucky ancestors (1)

lucm (889690) | about 3 years ago | (#37499798)

those guys got to see jumping dinosaurs, that must have been awesome!

Re:Lucky ancestors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500596)

Sorry, the dinosaurs died 65 million years ago.

Lineage (3, Insightful)

Zaldarr (2469168) | about 3 years ago | (#37499800)

Great! Now if us Australians can stop treating them like second class citizens...

Re:Lineage (1, Troll)

Psychotria (953670) | about 3 years ago | (#37499826)

You might treat them as second class citizens. Your friends might. Your parents might. Our ancestors certainly did.

I do not. Stop speaking for all of "us"; you just might find yourself in the minority.

Re:Lineage (0)

Psychotria (953670) | about 3 years ago | (#37499830)

I should add that not all of our "ancestors" treated them as "second class" citizens. Many did in fact treat the indigenous peoples with respect And, for those who did not, I suspect their actions were maybe a response to fear (FUD) rather than any true dislike or feeling of superiority. Cheers

Re:Lineage (3)

Zaldarr (2469168) | about 3 years ago | (#37499854)

Point taken. However I refer to the appalling conditions in which they must exist. We're throwing money at the problem and it's not working; which is generally the way things go when you get out the money cannon.

Re:Lineage (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500616)

I should add that not all of our "ancestors" treated them as "second class" citizens. Many did in fact treat the indigenous peoples with respect And, for those who did not, I suspect their actions were maybe a response to fear (FUD) rather than any true dislike or feeling of superiority. Cheers

FUD???? White Australians treated killing aboriginals as a national sport well into the 1930s. In the history of Australia there have been dozens if not hundreds of massacres of Aboriginals, mass rapes and burnings where wounded people and babies were thrown onto body piles and roasted alive. Only once, after the Myall Creek massacre in 1838 were white Australians actually hanged for their crimes. As late as 1928 a white guy named Murray confessed to shooting 17 aboriginals in the Northern Territory, historians believe he actually killed at least 60 which was more or less confirmed when the guy bragged (in police custody to police officers) that he had killed more like 70 than 17. Needless to say his actions were found to be entirely justified by a board of inquiry. Aboriginals have regularly died in police custody under "questionable circumstances" into modern times so it's pretty safe to say they are still treated as second class citizens.

Re:Lineage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500530)

You might treat them as second class citizens. Your friends might. Your parents might. Our ancestors certainly did. I do not. Stop speaking for all of "us"; you just might find yourself in the minority.

Unfortunately it takes more than one or two generations to live down a history like this one:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_massacres_of_Indigenous_Australians [wikipedia.org]

Re:Lineage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499922)

Let me guess, you have a nice chilled glass of petrol next to you.

Re:Lineage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499974)

Great! Now if us Australians can stop treating them like second class citizens...

In what regard are they treated as a second class citizen?
Do they get lesser support through center link?
Are they limited in opportunity as per decent?
Name 3 areas that they deliberately disadvantaged.

Re:Lineage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499988)

Great! Now if us Australians can stop treating them like second class citizens...

They are second rate citizens.

We need to be helping them get their life on track instead of drinking alcohol and getting welfare payments.

Pretending that Aboriginals are great and not a drain on society is just going to make the problem worse.

Re:Lineage (-1, Offtopic)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 years ago | (#37500044)

You know, that condescending attitude that they need to be 'helped' in order to become 'normal' (i.e. just like you) is the worst sort of racism. If they want to drink, that's their choice and nobody can tell them otherwise. So-called welfare is their money, they deserve it 100% and they'll spend it however they please.

Re:Lineage (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500160)

How delightful. The Europeans come along, shove the Aborigines to the margins, systematically abuse them for decades, then, when many groups are now basically shadows of what they once were, blame them for what they are and insist the only solution is restart the old policies that lead them to where they are.

I know there are some decent, humane Australians, I've met them. But there sure seem to be a lot of bastards like you.

Re:Lineage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500268)

This is a culture that never discovered the wheel.

Re:Lineage (1)

Boronx (228853) | about 3 years ago | (#37500332)

Are you an Iraqi? Yours probably didn't either.

Re:Lineage (1)

kawabago (551139) | about 3 years ago | (#37500002)

They're citizens?

Re:Lineage (0)

LordLucless (582312) | about 3 years ago | (#37500056)

You mean by not providing extra welfare, lowering requirements for entry into tertiary education, or providing special privilege based on race? Hey, I'm all for that.

Re:Lineage (0)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 3 years ago | (#37500110)

At a cultural and biological level it is a failure to merge. Europeans and Aborigines diverged too far and they can't be merged back without overwriting one with the other. The sad, simple fact is that Aborigines are stone age people very different from Europeans.

Re:Lineage (1)

bug1 (96678) | about 3 years ago | (#37500364)

Do we have to merge, or could we just respect each others differences ?

Re:Lineage (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 3 years ago | (#37500450)

could we just respect each others differences ?

I think thats what we are trying now, but the interface between the two is too traumatic. Lets say that infant mortality in normal aboriginal culture is much higher than in western culture. Should we tolerate that in the name of respecting their differences?

Re:Lineage (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#37500648)

Come on - you can provide access to decent medical care without imposing cultural imperialism. You are making up a false dichotomy there.

Re:Lineage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500628)

What do you mean 2nd class citizens? That positions allready filled with you Aussies. Love the poms.

Re:Lineage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500666)

They were here for 70,000 years and invented a stick. They had their chance.

Re:Lineage (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500702)

Pffft! 70,000 years and what did they do with the place? Fuck-all.

Didn't even get out of the stone age - and it's not for lack of resources in Australia, that's for sure.

Now they're all, "respect our culture!". Sorry. Your culture was a dead-end and it was dead as a dodo as soon as Cook decided to claim Australia. I could possibly give some respect for their culture in the past tense, but the 'culture' I see day to day in my outback town - a never ending cycle of booze, disease and spouse/child abuse - is nothing to be proud of.

"Oh, but you have to give the poor sods a break! Their culture, you see, it doesn't mesh well with ours."

Boo-fucking-hoo. They've had plenty of breaks from our government over the last 80 years and all they do is piss it up the wall. I wager I could dna-test the entire population and find maybe a handful of pure-blooded aboriginals left.

I'll stop treating them like second-class citizens when they stop fighting and pissing in my front yard and decide to come join the rest of the world in the 21st century.

There! That's this week's racist rant done. (ticks box)

Australian Aboriginal origins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499828)

Yeah, they had much more intermarriage with the Neanderthals and Denisovans than the rest of us.

are they modern humans then? (1)

Maimun (631984) | about 3 years ago | (#37499844)

The Cro Magnon man, aka the modern human, is considered to have appeared abotu 35 000 years ago.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cro-Magnon [wikipedia.org]

Given the fact in the article, shouldn't we conclude the Australian aboriginals are, for instance, neanderthals by origin?

Re:are they modern humans then? (1)

Psychotria (953670) | about 3 years ago | (#37499856)

The Cro Magnon man, aka the modern human, is considered to have appeared abotu 35 000 years ago.

Given the fact in the article, shouldn't we conclude the Australian aboriginals are, for instance, neanderthals by origin?

Not really. The other option is to revise Cro-Magnon's "appearance".

Re:are they modern humans then? (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | about 3 years ago | (#37499930)

Neanderthals were a separate branch, not a preceding one.

Re:are they modern humans then? (5, Interesting)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 3 years ago | (#37499938)

No. The evolution of the hominid family is WAY more complex than that. Basically you have a set of inter-breeding semi-distinct populations from 4 million years ago all the way to circa 30,000 years ago (maybe even as late as 20,000 years ago based on some finds of neanderthal tools). All the way through most of the populations would have been genetically similar enough to interbreed successfully (especially after H. ergaster and H. erectus 2 million years ago). H. heidelbergensis, neanderthalensis, and sapiens likely all interbred. Neanderthals were Europeans descendants of an earlier H. ergaster or H. heidelbergensis exodus from Africa. Australian aboriginals, like all modern humans, would be predominantly H. sapiens, with differing traces from the interbreeding with earlier populations.

Moreover, you've misunderstood the data on the Cro Magnon man. Modern humans arrived in EUROPE (Cro-Magnon is the place in France where skeletons were found) 35,000 years ago (as best as we can tell). They appear in Africa almost 200,000 years ago, and in the Middle East before 60,000 years ago.

So did they interbreed with Neandertals? (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 3 years ago | (#37499956)

There's been a lot of recent news that modern humans in Europe and Asia interbred with Neandertals after they left Africa enough to show up in modern human genes (and some Asians interbred with other pre-modern humans over there), but that Africans who stayed in Africa didn't.

So did these genetic studies look for Neandertal markers, and if so, what did they find?

Re:So did they interbreed with Neandertals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500374)

The Neanderthals were probably smarter than the other humans. At least they got up off their asses and left Africa first, so they showed early initiative.

Re:are they modern humans then? (1)

voidphoenix (710468) | about 3 years ago | (#37500016)

Read your own link: "The Cro-Magnon were the first early modern humans (early Homo sapiens sapiens) of the European Upper Paleolithic." (emphasis mine)
and further down:
"Anatomically modern humans first emerged in East Africa, some 100 000 to 200 000 years ago."

Re:are they modern humans then? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500032)

Huh? No, they are morphologically modern humans. Anyone the least bit familiar with Neandertal and Modern skeletal structures can see where Aborigines fall.

+5 Funny (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499858)

Mods, please note that this comment is a mandatory plus 5 funny on any article mentioning substantial perios of time:

But the Earth is only 6,000 years old! Ha,ha, ha.

Thanks for usig your mod points in observing this great /. tradition.

Captcha: "parrot" (I swear this thing's turning sentient)

Head Start? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499866)

Why is it that the populations of humanity with the earliest head start (in terms of population establishment) ended up as the most primitive? I'm looking at you, Africa and now apparently Australia. This is absolutely not politically correct, but I'm sure you can agree that the Bantu and Aboriginal cultures shy in comparison to... well everyone else, who are at least capable of conquering their environment.

Re:Head Start? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499934)

Why is it that the populations of humanity with the earliest head start (in terms of population establishment) ended up as the most primitive? I'm looking at you, Africa and now apparently Australia. This is absolutely not politically correct, but I'm sure you can agree that the Bantu and Aboriginal cultures shy in comparison to... well everyone else, who are at least capable of conquering their environment.

It's not that you are not being "politically incorrect" as much as you are showing your ignorance. You've made a couple of mistakes:- you confuse a thought with thinking, you have done no research, and you're wrong. A little research would lead you to appreciate that Murrays, Koories, and Tasmanian aborigines made major changes to their environment. "Primitive" is a subjective, and in you case, ignorant description. A little history would tell you why Manly in Sydney got it's name. And you should at least read J. Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" before shooting your mouth.

dp

Re:Head Start? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499992)

You know what, you're absolutely right. Let's rate cultures from "best" to "worst." Terribly subjective, I know. No matter the metric, European, Asian, and Middle Eastern cultures will inevitable come out on top in terms of "things invented," whilst the people you defend are left playing with sticks and hunting game. How noble of them. Come on.

Re:Head Start? (2)

FunkSoulBrother (140893) | about 3 years ago | (#37500036)

Just read Guns, Germs and Steel and then shut the fuck up, please.

Re:Head Start? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500104)

That explains the historical lack of these cultures to thrive, but what about the here and now? They're not a cohesive culture, they don't give a shit, and it shows.

Re:Head Start? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500138)

The Aborigines suffered well over a century of institutionalized abuse and cultural destruction by the Australian government. That might explain the circumstances many live in now, and it is mirrored in other indigenous populations around the world, where governments essentially made it policy to wipe out the cultures. For reference, see other indigenous groups like the Ainu of Japan, the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, and New World Indians (in particular those who suffered the particular delights of the Spanish, but even American Indians and Canadian indigenous peoples). These populations were not left to their own devices. They were subject to systematic and culturally, socially and economically devastating policies.

Re:Head Start? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500108)

Given *tens of thousands* of years of isolation from the big bad european/asian meanies, the abbos accomplished.... what?

Re:Head Start? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500568)

A hollow stick that makes a funny noise when blown.

Re:Head Start? (1)

ladoga (931420) | about 3 years ago | (#37499946)

Why is it that the populations of humanity with the earliest head start (in terms of population establishment) ended up as the most primitive? I'm looking at you, Africa and now apparently Australia. This is absolutely not politically correct, but I'm sure you can agree that the Bantu and Aboriginal cultures shy in comparison to... well everyone else, who are at least capable of conquering their environment.

Is it less advanced to live in sustainable balance with your environment than to rape and conquer it (and other cultures)?

Let's see how our "advanced" culture looks 75.000 years from now.

Re:Head Start? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500000)

Yes. It most definitely is less advanced to have never invented: the wheel, evidence based medicine, engineering and construction, effective institutions for passing down knowledge and building on the work of those who came before you, etc. *Some* tribes of Africans managed to achieve various of these at certain points in history, but not those in Australia.

But hey, if you think that modern society is so degenerate, go sip petrol with the abbos. If it weren't for the British they'd still be sipping fermented feces though...

Re:Head Start? (4, Insightful)

Moridineas (213502) | about 3 years ago | (#37500048)

Is it less advanced to live in sustainable balance with your environment than to rape and conquer it (and other cultures)?

Let's see how our "advanced" culture looks 75.000 years from now.

What an utterly stupid comment. I've read a lot of dumb comments on slashdot, but ... wow, yours might just be the stupidest thing I've read on the Internet.

First, yes, a culture that never invented writing or the wheel is not advanced, and is markedly less advanced than ones that discovered electricity, writing, forms of societal representation beyond "tribe," compasses, sextants, printing presses, base 10, windmills, aqueducts, gunpowder (I'm trying to pick a wide range of innovations from around the globe here, in case it wasn't obvious) or ones that built pyramids, dams, palaces, walls, houses, etc. I honestly can't see how any remotely rational person would even try to claim otherwise.

Secondly, and what really makes your post stupid, what on earth makes you believe that the Australian aborigines "live[d] in sustainable balance with [their] enviromnent [and didn't] rape and conquered...other cultures"? It's widely believed that aborigines caused the extinction of many species! http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/990/aborigines-blamed-big-mammal-extinction [cosmosmagazine.com] ! So much for sustainability! Likewise, not only was warfare between aboriginal peoples very common, so was cannibalism.

But really, why let facts stand in the way of your Green Religion that makes being an allegedly noble savage with a small carbon footprint the ideal human life?

Re:Head Start? (2)

Boronx (228853) | about 3 years ago | (#37500386)

Let me guess: you are European, which means you come from a culture that never invented the wheel, writing, civilization, base 10, gunpowder. But European cultures were close enough to other massive cultures that were able to invent them. And you are going to use that fact to judge an isolated culture trapped in a desert the size of the US that even today with modern technology still only maintains a population of a few million. How many hunters and gatherers did it support. Less than 1 million? A hundred thousand?

And you find it surprising that they didn't match the accomplishments of a continent that spans half the globe and today supports 4 billion people.

Re:Head Start? (1, Interesting)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 3 years ago | (#37499966)

It may not be politically correct, but you also have to be a rather simple-minded fool to not be able to figure it out.

It's all about location, location, location.

Settled, agrarian, and technological civilizations arise in regions where farming is advantageous over hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Civilizations only progress as far as their environments encourage them to--if developing new technology costs more than the increase in production, it isn't done.

It's not a racial, or even a "head start" thing. Over history major civilizations crop up in the exact same places over, and over, and over. The Nile River Valley, the Tigris/Euphrates, the Indus, the Yangtze/Yellow River Valleys, etc. Virtually all major civilizations started along major rivers with extremely fertile land along their shores, and spread out from there. Europe only gained civilization because of the spread of technology and culture from the Middle-East (Nile/Tigris/Euphrates) regions into Europe. Africa didn't gain it (it did actually, but in a more limited way), because the Sahara made a hell one hell of a barrier to cultural exchange. Where there was exchange, however (along the East African coast in the Middle Ages in particu

Re:Head Start? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500020)

I once came across an interesting theory that hinges upon the environment forcing long-term planning. In colder latitudes, you either plan for winter or die. Much of the "primitive" world lives in a location that doesn't force this requirement upon its inhabitants. Who gives a shit about years from now, when you can harvest fruit year-round.

Re:Head Start? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500126)

Why is this theory necessary? And what does it explain. Urban civilizations developed first in temperate zones. The key factor seems to have been population density. Agriculture allowed humans to exist in far greater numbers in a geographical area, and in general could produce calories far in excess of basic nutritional requirements, meaning not everyone had to dedicate vast portions of their waking hours to the acquisition of calories. Out of that grows everything; urban civilization, specialization into various trades, a political class, large-scale infrastructure, literacy and so forth.

Re:Head Start? (1)

Moridineas (213502) | about 3 years ago | (#37500152)

The AC is probably referring to something like the "Hydraulic Empires" theory.

Mesopotamia. The Indus valley. Ancient Egypt. Andean civilizations.

These are places that aren't exactly temperate -- in fact, they're deserts!

Re:Head Start? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500170)

Well, Mesopotomia was considerable wetter when the first urban civilization developed, and at least in part the destruction of key agricultural areas in that region came about from very crappy farming techniques that caused salination of the soils. The early Indus River civilization seems to have also developed during a much wetter period, and I've read some theories that suggest that a climactic shift towards drying conditions saw that civilization collapse, or at least very much weakened, and perhaps the Indo-Europeans dealt it a death blow.

Re:Head Start? (1)

Moridineas (213502) | about 3 years ago | (#37500248)

Certainly possible that human agriculture helped lead to environmental shifts that made those areas less habitable... Having said that, all of those areas remain extremely fertile today. Sure, go 5 miles from the Nile and you'll be in the desert (in some places--some places it's a lot less than 5 miles!) but the banks are still very fertile and Egypt is very densely populated.

Salination of soil has been a problem as long as people have farmed, and will remain a problem as long people keep farming. It's a big problem, but one that is very possible to overcome! One relatively recent "macro" example I can think of is Zanj in Iraq (Zanj means "Black"). The Sassanid Empire had done a pretty good job of maintaining dams, large-scale irrigation structures, etc, and salination and general soil quality was kept under control. In the brief period of political void and chaos after the rise of Islam and the fall of the Sassanids, a lot of the infrastructure basically went to the crapper. Large parts of Iraq became highly salinated and unfarmable. So, the locals brought in huge numbers (think not tens, but hundreds of thousands) of black African slaves (the Zanj) to tend the land and clean up the topsoil. A big revolt ensued that last roughly a decade. Parallels have been formed between this and the American south!

Re:Head Start? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500028)

In every one of these supposedly "inferior geographies" that somehow stunted their native populations Europeans and Asians (including the middle east) have thrived.

Deal with it.

Re:Head Start? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500116)

You might have noticed they brought their technologies with them. Where there technologies weren't up to snuff, they died (the Franklin expedition to find the Northwest Passage, the early Roanoke colony). And guess what, the populations they overwhelmed can still use those technologies. It's not like your average American Indian can't use a fucking cell phone or your average Australian Aborigine can't drive a car.

Oh, and I'd like to see a racist piece of crap like you dropped into the Kalahari with a San toolkit and see how long you fucking last.

Re:Head Start? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 3 years ago | (#37500132)

In every one of these supposedly "inferior geographies" that somehow stunted their native populations Europeans and Asians (including the middle east) have thrived.

But only for a few hundred years, and sustained in the last hundred years by using fossil fuels.

Re:Head Start? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500086)

Actually Africa was ahead in some key respects. The Iron Age began in East Africa, for instance.

But ultimately it's pure geography. Good chunks of the land area of the planet simply are not capable of supporting dense populations, which are a basic requirement for kick starting advanced civilizations. Those technologies can certainly be imported to less desirable areas (ie. the Great Plains) but obviously have to be developed in more favorable areas first.

While I recommend Jered Diamond cautiously, Guns, Germs and Steel does really lay out precisely why some areas spawned civilizations and others didn't. Most importantly, for the Eurocentric racist crowd, all the key technological developments that put Europe at the top of the heap came from elsewhere. The basic staple crops and animal husbandry were developed in Asia, and writing was developed (probably independently) in the Middle East, Egypt and China. Early metallurgy flowed out of the East Mediterranean and the Iron Age burst out of East Africa. Urban civilization was also an import from elsewhere. Hell, even pottery was apparently invented in Japan something like 16,000 years ago.

While Europeans were basically still at the "savage" stage, Mesopotomia, the Nile, the Indian subcontinent and China were spawning the first literate urban societies with the basic features of what we would call civilizations.

Re:Head Start? (1)

Moridineas (213502) | about 3 years ago | (#37500218)

Actually Africa was ahead in some key respects. The Iron Age began in East Africa, for instance.

That's highly speculative. It does seem that parts of sub-Saharan Africa (for "civilizational" usages, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa are totally different) had iron smelting early on, but that's also an uncertain point. Secondly, when you say the "Iron Age began" I take it to mean that you belive iron technology spread from an initial invention in Africa to elsewhere? I don't think I've ever seen that claimed before? Where in East Africa are you talking about?

Most importantly, for the Eurocentric racist crowd, all the key technological developments that put Europe at the top of the heap came from elsewhere

I've always thought that the most important European technologies were forms of government and economics (specifically many of the banking innovations of the Italian traders and others such as the Dutch). It's not an accident that Venice and Genoa were at the center of so much action. The Printing Press was also of almost inestimable importance, and imho, a purely "indigenous" invention (if not purely indigenous, certainly purely indigenous in form and function--it's possible, though I believe highly unlikely, that the idea for movable type propagated from China). I also would put up the octant as one of the seminal inventions to come out of Europe. And clocks? All those things that made exploring the rest of the world possible (or at least, far more likely to succeed). And Calculus?

While Europeans were basically still at the "savage" stage, Mesopotomia, the Nile, the Indian subcontinent and China were spawning the first literate urban societies with the basic features of what we would call civilizations.

You're perhaps a bit out of date on your European historiography, but I would in essence agree with you.

Re:Head Start? (1)

Moridineas (213502) | about 3 years ago | (#37500136)

It's a very good theory (I assume you're alluding to the 19th century Hydraulic Empires theory?) and one that imho goes a long way to explaining things, but are you really saying that sub-Saharan Africa doesn't have any great rivers akin to the other "cradles"? Any suitable areas for large-scale agriculture? Any areas where agriculture isn't more affective than being a hunter-gatherer? I don't think that's true at all and it also doesn't jibe with African history.

We know, for instance, that say 7000+ years ago, much of the area today that is the Sahara was substantially wetter than it is today. We know there was agriculture there. We know than since then, and up to the present, there has been indigenous agriculture in West Africa and farther south. The Bantu peoples and population movement are known to have relied on agriculture. Madagascar has had large scale agriculture. Traders--since the days of the Egyptians, the Romans, Arab traders, and most recently Europeans--have been a constant factor in the west and the east. Granted the interior of the African continent was pretty isolated from the rest of the world until very recently.

Why no sub-Saharan people ever developed a written language? I don't know. I don't have an explanation. Africa is a big continent and had (has) highly varying civilizations. When the Europeans explorers started systematically mapping and categorizing, they found both stone age (ie, nothing more advanced than stone tools) peoples and peoples with advanced agriculture, iron, etc.

Scientists... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37499982)

Scientists proving again that they get paid for guesswork. Aboriginals have the facial structure of 'neanderthals'. Neanderthals mash have just been aboriginals! I don't believe we descended from apes, and I don't believe a lot of what the scientist come up with in their 'theories'. Read 'fingerprints of the gods' and you will realize how arrogant even Egyptologists are when confronted by irrefutable evidence that they are complete wrong!

Re:Scientists... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37500062)

Those features are at best described as pseudo-archaic, and Australian natives are certainly not the only ones to possess the heavier brows, and by no means are they as pronounced as they are in Neandertals, and what's more in most other respects, Aborigine skull structure is within the general confines of Modern skulls.

Boy, there's a lot of pure rubbish by some incredibly ignorant fucktards being posted tonight.

Re:Scientists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500692)

There is. What you wrote just there, would qualify. Well done. Nice language too. Must have taken a lot of thought. And you wrote it at 3:23am. Not really 'night' so much as morning is it?

Many aboriginals have VERY pronounced eyebrows, and one 'might' argue (as everyone is guessing including scientists) that they are far more closely related to Neanderthals then for example, European white people. Interestingly, they recently announced black Africans are not related and have no neanderthal DNA.

I find it all very interesting, and do not claim to be an anthropologist.

As science uncovers more layers, it realises it actually knows less and what it thought it knew was wrong.

This is supposed to be a site requiring a reasonable level of intellect, and your response to my remark is abuse a foul language, reply however you like, you are obviously not a very bright individual.

punctuation (1)

DSS11Q13 (1853164) | about 3 years ago | (#37500142)

What is 100 years old? The Aborigine? the hair sample?
The scientists were given a DNA genomic sequence from a 100-year-old...?

great history (-1, Offtopic)

Same2cool (1975858) | about 3 years ago | (#37500298)

great history; Technology forums [itechtu.com]

Abbo's (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500388)

From a scientific point of view, are Abbo's niggers or not?

they still look like 70000 years ago (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37500580)

i mean seriously, whats up with their faces? its like watching animal planet. if the brits had never gotten there they'd still be running around half naked hunting hyienas or whatever

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