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China's Earliest Modern Human Found

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the what-is-old-is-new dept.

Science 163

The remains of one of the earliest modern humans to inhabit eastern Asia have been unearthed in China. The find could shed light on how our ancestors colonized the East. Researchers found 34 bone fragments belonging to a single individual at the Tianyuan Cave, near Beijing.

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More evidence... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18617791)

fabricated by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Such gullible people.

Re:More evidence... (2, Funny)

FyRE666 (263011) | more than 7 years ago | (#18617901)

I dispute this nonsense, since as we all know, the Earth is only a few thousand years old, not the 42,000 years old that this skellington is supposed to be!

Actually it is that old. (3, Funny)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618021)

> I dispute this nonsense, since as we all know, the Earth is only a few thousand years old, not the 42,000 years old that this skellington is supposed to be!

It really is that old. On the 8th day, god created a 40,000 year old skeleton and then buried it somewhere he knew we would find it. he does this to test our faith. god can do anything. Even impossible things or things that make no logical sense.

Re:Actually it is that old. (-1, Offtopic)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618149)

Could God set a puzzle that was so difficult that even God couldn't solve it?

Re:Actually it is that old. (1, Funny)

pzs (857406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618201)

You're mistaking "God" for "Gödel".

Peter

Re:Actually it is that old. (-1, Offtopic)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618225)

That's equivalent to "is there something a being that can do everything cannot do?" or, abstracting a little bit more, "is there any A that implies (and is implied) by not A?". "A ~A" is a logical contradiction, thus, leads to no valid conclusion. There are "n" ways to question the validity of religious dogmas, but a fallacy certainly is not one.

Re:Actually it is that old. (0, Offtopic)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618245)

A ~A should read A <==>~A

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618621)

I thought that the 'implied' operator was denoted as '<='. And A <= !A is true for A is zero. But my logic is rusty..

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618487)

I don't get it. Do you mean that A ~A as the reductio ad absurdum of omnipotence cannot apply because it shows that the conclusion is absurd?

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618673)

Can God make an heptagonal triangle? Well, to spare my time trying to explain why is it a fallacy I googled an article [demon.co.uk] about it. Anyway, discussing this is as pointless as discussing how can the Saci Perere [wikipedia.org] cross his legs if he has only one (Brazilian folklore), or what is the sound of one hand clapping [wikipedia.org] .

Anyway, there is only one thing we can be certain: Chuck Norris can create a rock so heavy that even he can't lift it. And then he lifts it anyways, just to show you who Chuck Norris is.

I can clap with one hand (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619101)

I basically keep my wrist still and throw/slap my finger forward - it make a nice clapping sound. It always screw up people who have poised that question in front of me.

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618237)

Could God set a puzzle that was so difficult that even God couldn't solve it?

Richard Swinburne, the foremost living philosopher of religion, gives an interesting presentation of this problem for laymen in his book Is There a God? [amazon.com] (Oxford University Press, 1996). His conclusion is that God is bound by logic. For example, he cannot cause something to exist and not exist at the same time. This idea, that logic in a sense precedes God, is controversial, and debate on this is one of the most lively issues in philosophy of religion at the moment.

Re:Actually it is that old. (2, Insightful)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618415)

Richard Swinburne, the foremost living philosopher of religion

No - the foremost living philosopher of religion is Richard Dawkins, and there is no logical reason for believing in a god or gods at all.

Logic not only precedes gods, it precludes them as well.

Philosphy of religion? Why bother? An anthropology of religion would be valid, but to try to apply logic and reason to myths is just not valid. As Wittgenstein put it -

Of that on which we cannot speak, we must remain silent.

Re:Actually it is that old. (1, Interesting)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618443)

and there is currently no logical reason for believing in a god or gods at all.

In the past with so many things unexplained believing in a God would probably make more sense than some of the explanations we have today.

God has no place in a modern world.

Re:Actually it is that old. (5, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618479)

No - the foremost living philosopher of religion is Richard Dawkins

No, he is not a philosopher of religion. In the last twenty years, he has tried to present himself as one, but the academy, both theist or non-theist, is getting a little worried about him. Anthony Flew, instead of joining with Dawkins in any way, went the entirely opposite direction.

There is no logical reason for believing in a god or gods at all.

Theist philosophers of religion propose arguments, and their non-theist colleagues, though they critically examine them, nonetheless believe that the whole enterprise has value.

To try to apply logic and reason to myths is just not valid.

Theist philosophers don't necessarily work from any existing world religion, so "myths" don't often come into play here.

Please get some training in the field before you try to dispute its work. K thx bye.

Philosophers have value? (2, Interesting)

guidryp (702488) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618831)

"Theist philosophers of religion propose arguments, and their non-theist colleagues, though they critically examine them, nonetheless believe that the whole enterprise has value."

First you have to convince someone that modern academic philosophers have value, for this statement to matter.

Religion is interesting in the abstract, but theists tend to believe because that is what their parents believed and they simply indoctrinated the children. If not fairly heavily indoctrinated, most people would not be that religious.

Re:Philosophers have value? (3, Interesting)

c_forq (924234) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619297)

If not fairly heavily indoctrinated, most people would not be that religious.

I hear this argument a lot, but I have never seen anyone back it up with evidence. I know it is anecdotal so close to meaningless, but my reason to doubt is the largest church in my hometown has a congregation of over 1,600 people, and a vast majority of them were not raised in Christian homes. Now the catholic church and school, in which children are heavily indoctrinated and I don't think a single member wasn't raised in a catholic home, has seen steady and fairly rapid decline.

Re:Statistics Canada. (5, Interesting)

guidryp (702488) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619959)

Just recently I ran across this at statscan: Page 7-9 of pdf. There is an interesting table on "Religiosity", part of it compared religiosity to parental religion Look at the low religiosity category. If both parent have the same religion (more consistent message) only 32% have low religiosity, if both parents just have different religions (less consistent message) low religiosity jumps to %50. If neither parent is religious, it jumps to %85. This has always made sense, but this is pretty clear statistical evidence that it is more a learned trait.

http://www.statcan.ca/cgi-bin/downpub/listpub.cgi? catno=11-008-XIE2006001 [statcan.ca]

Religion of parents (vs outcome Lo Med Hi religiosity )
Both parents same religion 32 34 33
Parents from different religions 50 28 22
Neither parent religious 85 6 10

I like to think I was just born very skeptical and would have been a non believer no matter what circumstance I was born into, but it may just be that neither of my parents was religious and I was left to form my own ideas without being indoctrinated. Naturally many people will buck the trend but I think the correlation is clear.

Religion is just the brains legacy OS many people got stuck with.

Re:Philosophers have value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18620203)

Are you seriously arguing that indoctrination doesn't implicate religious belief? I've met a lot of people in my life, and I know of *one* who became a christian but had atheist parents. I know of many who went the opposite route, and everyone else I know pretty much followed whatever their parents did.

Children in predominantly christian countries are predominantly christian. Likewise for muslims, hindus, etc... Hence, indoctrination works, otherwise there would be as many muslims in the US as there are on average world-wide.

Non-commercial ones do (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619967)

Academia is a business. Not surprisingly, academics talk about anything other than reality, so they can keep selling their product. But kicking it old school with Aristotle, that's pimpin'

Re:Actually it is that old. (4, Insightful)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618843)

Dawkins is an arrogant media-hungry loser of science. I have seen similar figures in my field: computational biology. It has nothing to do with religion or anything else. Some people just want to flamebait on- and off-line.

Re:Actually it is that old. (2, Interesting)

Mjlner (609829) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618923)

No, he is not a philosopher of religion. In the last twenty years, he has tried to present himself as one, but the academy, both theist or non-theist, is getting a little worried about him.
He has hardly tried to present himself as a "philosopher of religion". He has quite clearly presented himself as an atheist and a scientist. He does, of course, philosophize against religion. Which academy are you talking about, by the way, and of what importance is this academy to Richard Dawkins?

Theist philosophers of religion propose arguments, and their non-theist colleagues, though they critically examine them, nonetheless believe that the whole enterprise has value.
That statement is quite non-informative. You already said that Dawkins is not a philosopher of religion, which indicates that you automatically exclude atheists from being philosophers of religion, which I'm prepared to agree with. In other words, the only non-theists you speak of are deists. Why should a deist philosopher of religion not find value in such an enterprise?

Re:Actually it is that old. (1, Offtopic)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619245)

ou already said that Dawkins is not a philosopher of religion, which indicates that you automatically exclude atheists from being philosophers of religion, which I'm prepared to agree with.

No, atheists are not excluded from being philosophers of religion. There have been many notable atheist philosophers of religion. For every Swinburne there's a Mackie, and for every Plantinga there's a Flew (well, before his conversion, anyway). Just look in your university library for an introductory reader in the philosophy of religion--I'm especially fond of Readings in the Philosophy of Religion [amazon.com] ed. Baruch Brody (Prentice Hall, 1996). you'll see that atheist lines of argumentation are just as represented as theist ones.

Dawkins is not a philosopher of religion because he does not publish in journals dedicated to the subject, nor does he hold a university position as a lecturer or researcher in the philosopher of religion, nor do many actual philosophers of religion recognize Dawkins as one of their own.

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 7 years ago | (#18620049)

nor do many actual philosophers of religion recognize Dawkins as one of their own.
They wouldn't, would they? Even those who search for the underlying truth care about job security.

Re:Actually it is that old. (0, Offtopic)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18620167)

No, that's not it at all. If Dawkins fulfilled the requirements I mentioned above, publishing in the right journals, holding a proper university position, then of course no one would have a problem considering him a colleague.

Re:Actually it is that old. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18619077)

No, he is not a philosopher of religion.
True. His background is more biology, you know, something resembling a real job...

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619205)

I wouldn't dream of trying to dispute anything in the field of 'philosophy of religion' - I would merely point out that the whole field is of no value whatsoever.

Since the root of the word 'philosophy' means 'love of knowledge', what value does the knowledge of something non-existent have?

You might as well have a 'philosophy of unicorns' for all it's worth.

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

andphi (899406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619423)

There's no such thing as religion? What an interesting assertion!

Let me go check with some Buddhists on that. Well, maybe not the Buddhists, since they're probably trying to be as detached from what we would refer to as their 'religion' as what we would refer to as 'everything else'. How about some Muslims? Or Sikhs? Zoroastrians! Maybe the Zoroastrians will be able to tell me this 'religion' thing is non-existent.

Sorry, they didn't seem to be willing to say 'there is no such thing as religion'. And I'm not even going to bother asking Protestants, Catholics, or Jews about it. And the Hindus are too busy not eating their cattle to talk to me about how their veneration of a million or more different gods is not, in fact, a religion.

But seriously, if you wanted to be precise, you should have asked, 'what value does the knowledge of something specious have?' Religions clearly do exist. You may question their value, but the human tendency to be religious is incontrovertible.

[noflame]Everything I said is to poke fun at the imprecision of the OP's argument, not to poke fun at the various faiths and religions I mentioned. No offense is meant to any adherent of any of these religions.[/noflame]

Re:Actually it is that old. (0, Troll)

totallyscrewed (913406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619507)

Actually, the Zoroastrians don't exist; they were wiped out by the Muslims.

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

andphi (899406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619689)

From what I've heard, the religion is being carried on in relatively small enclaves in India, Pakistan, Iran, and elsewhere. Total world population is estimated be about 200,000 (as of 1996).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrian#Demograph ics/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:Actually it is that old. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18619851)

While Freddy Mercury is dead, the Muslims didn't kill him, and I don't think he was the last Zoroastrian anyway.

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

v01d (122215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18620129)

Please get some training in the field before you try to dispute its work. K thx bye.

You haven't, so why should anyone care what you say? You're just one of a billion christian tools. You might have an edge in arrogance, but that doesn't really buy much credibility.

Re:Actually it is that old. (0, Offtopic)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18620255)

I did do work in the philosophy of religion as an undergraduate, and my favourite part of the field isn't specifically Christian at all. But still, my point above stands, it's not for anyone on Slashdot (unless they hold a Ph.D and a university position in the subject) to say anything negative about a field.

Re:Actually it is that old. (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18620361)

Richard Swinburne, the foremost living philosopher of religion
No - the foremost living philosopher of religion is Richard Dawkins
Actually, Daniel Dennett is probably the best mind in the field today.
He proposes many scientific tests for analyzing the propagation, benefits, and costs of religious ideas. He thinks memetics and evolutionary psychology provide the best way of understanding the state of religions.

He is also an atheist, and believes religion is in its death-throes in modern society.

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619361)

'This idea, that logic in a sense precedes God, is controversial, and debate on this is one of the most lively issues in philosophy of religion at the moment.' [emphasis mine]

And people talk about trekkies needing to get a life!

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618331)

If God creates such things, he might be omnipotent but very stupid.

Imagine you're God. And of course, you want people to believe in you 'cause ... well, you're God, that's your job.

Why would I create stuff to make people doubt my existance?

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618427)

Because god's best gift was free will.

... at least that's what they say.

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618429)

Easy, To test our faith, because without faith God is nothing.

Re:Actually it is that old. (2, Funny)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618551)

without faith God is nothing.
Yeah, but the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, right?

Re:Actually it is that old. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18618553)

Oh, I get it. So the entire christian religion is just a ploy by allah to test our faith. Thanks for the clarification.

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619175)

But if he pushes the envelope too much, people might see through the bunk.

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

simm1701 (835424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618345)

No he couldn't have done it. On the 7th day he exited from append mode and ran chmod 511 !$

One can only wonder what would have happened if he had set it 4511 instead...

Re:Actually it is that old. (1)

BRUTICUS (325520) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619599)

Yeah you idiots everyone knows god just does this to test our faith... He's a bit of a trickster god! I bet he's a having a good laugh up there right now...

"Look at those FOOLS HAHAHAHA!! They actually believe people were on Earth 40,000 years ago... What a bunch of maroons! HAHAHAHAHA! That was one of my easiest jokes and they all fell for it. Well, not as good as the dinosaurs but STILL GOOD! Hahahahaa!"

Re:More evidence... (1)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618285)

I noticed that there is a correlation between the number of Negationists, the Tomatotarians, and Global Warming.

Re:More evidence... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18617947)

Pfft. The Chinese INVENTED the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You only heard it because Marco Polo reported its sighting while he was in China.

Re:More evidence... (4, Funny)

webdoodle (1081343) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618485)

This isn't the article I submitted to Slashdot. You editors are complete assholes, its a wonder people use your site at all. Thanks you hypocrites for sending people to a worthless BBC article, and not my site.

Re:More evidence... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18618615)

Click-throughs not working out for you, hmm?

What makes you so sure you were the only submitter? And if it wasn't the article you submitted, what the hell are you complaining about?

Letter to the Editor/Editorial Grievance (1)

webdoodle (1081343) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619895)

If someone else submitted this same article, wouldn't it show up in the firehose [slashdot.org] ?

This last week I submitted 15 articles to slashdot. 2 were rejected right away, and several sat pending. One that was voted quite well in the firehose was later rejected. One article, not including this one, was hijacked and redirect to another site.

I fully expect that most of the articles I submit will be rejected. My tastes are not universal, nor are all the press releases I gather and articles I write the quality that a good editor would except. I'm still learning how this process works, and expect a few bruises and blackeyes.

With that said, I don't see why I've been maliciously blacklisted by the editors of this site. I've seen 3 articles on this site this week from other web sites that collect and publish news in exactly the same way that I do. They haven't been blacklisted, why am I?

The Napoleonic method by which I was browbeat in the superbug article [slashdot.org] was uncalled for. I made a mistake, and immediate fixed it when it was brought to my attention. However, since then, my articles have been rejected or redirected to other sites.

I spend a significant amount of time scouring the internet for press releases and research papers on the topics I'm interested in. The ones I think are applicable to slashdot, and haven't been submit by others, I submit for review. I then watch those submissions in the firehose, to see which are interesting to slashdot users. People are obviously interested in the topics I'm submitting, why penalize me for doing you a favor?

I just discovered slashdot a few weeks ago. I've been suffering through the idiots at Digg ever since people learned how to game their system. At first slashdot was a bit daunting, because the submission system is quite different than any other user generated news sites I've seen. After my initial learning curve though, I realized the true power of this system.

Earlier this week I told a friend how much better I liked the slashdot editorial system. I told him how the system allowed people to vote on articles, but that editors still had the final say. I said "you don't get all the toilet humor articles on the home page about the scientific methods of wiping your butt." For me slashdot was the ideal news aggregator.

Now that I'm on the pointy end of the editorial process though, I'm starting to see problems. First off, if an editor has the time to go out and find a similar article to the one I posted, then they have enough time to tell me why they rejected mine to begin with. If you are just going to take the research efforts I've put in and redirect them at your whim, what incentive do you intend to offer so that I'll continue to submit high quality news?

I apologize for posting this letter to this article. I was unable to find a "Letters to the Editor(s)" section. If one exists, please let me know, and I will continue this dialogue their.

Re:More evidence... (0, Offtopic)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618787)

Troll and flamebait. I always get moderator points when /. editors in the mood for games, iPods and RIAA wars and never on those subjects. It is a test.

Re:More evidence... (1)

erasmix (880448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619029)

Everybody knows that we did not evolved on earth, but were created by the almighty. Those remains must be from the pre-columbus era :-p

Who are you talking about? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18617821)

The find could shed light on how our ancestors colonized the East.

What do you mean "our", pilgrim? My ancestors didn't colonize the East.

Re:Who are you talking about? (2, Insightful)

Frozen Void (831218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618273)

Your ancestors are ancestors for everyone if you look deep enough.
see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_Recent_Common_An cestor#MRCA_of_all_living_humans [wikipedia.org]

Re:Who are you talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18619085)

Yes, but they still didn't colonize the east.
Some descendants of those common ancestors colonized the east.

Re:Who are you talking about? (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618531)

The find could shed light on how our ancestors colonized the East.
No! If you do that, they'll disintegrate!

Surname (-1, Flamebait)

w_lighter (995939) | more than 7 years ago | (#18617851)

Im curious... wut surname he had?? Is it WANG, LIM, EE, AHH, BENG, LEE,?? Coz this will definately explain the egg and the chicken argument in china....lolz

Re:Surname (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18619397)

Thats wasis!

Other things interest me besides... (4, Interesting)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18617853)

I'd be more interested as to how people in the region developed different facial features, such as smaller eyes and differing skin tones. If we all have supposedly come out of Africa as the Article suggests, what is the reason for our physical differences? Even as a child, our differences amazed me, now that I'm older and the current theory is that we all came from Africa, I'm left asking myself again, how did we get them?

Re:Other things interest me besides... (2, Interesting)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18617929)

What puzzles me is that the article goes on about "archaic" groups of humans who the humans coming from out of Africa met up with and made love to without ever explaining who or what these archaic groups were and how they had got where they were.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (5, Informative)

grahamlee (522375) | more than 7 years ago | (#18617999)

AIUI (I'm not an evolutionary biologist, although my girlfriend is) the environmental pressures which gave rise to homo sapiens in Africa also occurred among simian populations elsewhere, so that human-like characteristics arose independently among multiple populations (h. neanderthalis in Europe, for example). Through interbreeding and competition, there's now a single species, h. sapiens sapiens. Although some of the characteristics of our species are apparently or allegedly tracable to interbreeding events, for instance I've heard that red/ginger hair among Europeans can be linked to Neanderthalis genes.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18618081)

I've heard that red/ginger hair among Europeans can be linked to Neanderthalis genes.
I knew it!

Re:Other things interest me besides... (2, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618383)

The red headed Neaderthal theory has been around for a while but there's still no evidence genetic or physical. That said my exwife was a redhead so I personally am a true believer.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618991)

I'm not an evolutionary biologist, although my girlfriend is
Wow, talk about bragging rights. Here's to you, buddy!

Re:Other things interest me besides... (1)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619011)

And I've heard [google.com] that blue hair comes from interbreeding with blueberries.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (1)

torndorff (566594) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619015)

The currently theories are that the Neandertal genes did not persist in H. sapien sapien. They died out, and there wasn't any interbreeding (at least none that had significant historic effect).

Re:Other things interest me besides... (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619409)

This model, though, may require revisitation as IBM is currently crunching the genetic numbers and indicating a single common ancestor for all of present-day humanity living tens of thousands, rather than millions, of years ago.

It's an interesting project. [nationalgeographic.com] More information on ibm.com as well.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (2, Insightful)

grahamlee (522375) | more than 7 years ago | (#18620365)

If she's called Eve then I'll pick up Richard Dawkins' coat along with mine on the way out ;-). Mind you, you can kindof work out that it wouldn't require too much history for you and I, or you and CmdrTaco, or you and anyone else in the world to find a common ancestor. If you go back 33 generations then without any inbreeding you would have 8 billion ancestors, which is more than even the current population. That's only 8-900 years, OK the population isn't as uniform as the above calculation assumes but if you even had to go back 15k years for yourself and an arbitrary other human to find a common ancestor, I'd be surprised.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (2, Informative)

Chemicalscum (525689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619701)

"AIUI (I'm not an evolutionary biologist, although my girlfriend is)... Although some of the characteristics of our species are apparently or allegedly tracable to interbreeding events, for instance I've heard that red/ginger hair among Europeans can be linked to Neanderthalis genes."

You are certainly not an evolutionary biologist and if your girlfriend is you certainly haven't been listening to here unless she is a student of that neanderthal Wolpert.. You don't live in Ann Arbour by any chance?

Most paleoanthopologist think that modern humans are descended from a small population in Africa that spread out and colonized the entire world displacing earlier archaic types of homo such as erectus and neanderthalensis with whom they could not interbreed. There is good genetic evidence based on the sequencing of mitochondrial DNA from the bones of neanderthal specimens to show that we are not the product of interbreeding with neanderthals.

The differences in appearance are a result of selective evolutionary pressures working on populations of modern humans. For example the pale pinko-grey skin of northern europeans like myself is due the lack of sunlight in these northern climes. Vitamin D is produced through the action of sunlight on cells just below our skins. Having a dark skin in Africa and othour tropical regions protects against damage from strong sunlight and the occurence of skin cancer, while enough sunlight penetrates to produce vit D.
However the first dark skinned modern humans to penetrate into the gloomy north would tend towards vit D deficiency and there would be a selective pressure towards lighter skinned individuals, able to produce enough vit d, surviving to reproduce. Nothing todo with inbreeding with archaics, simple eh?

Re:Other things interest me besides... (1)

grahamlee (522375) | more than 7 years ago | (#18620293)

listening to here[sic] unless she is a student of that neanderthal Wolpert

In my understanding, the neanderthals are extinct.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18620183)

so that explains the red-haired step child thing.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (4, Funny)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618097)

I thought this Human origins question was answered back in the late 70s...

There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe. With tribes of Humans, who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. That they may have been the architects of the great pyramids, or the lost civilizations of Lemuria or Atlantis. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of Man, who even now fight to survive...somewhere beyond the heavens.


(Cue one of the most kick-ass scifi theme songs ever composed...)

Re:Other things interest me besides... (4, Interesting)

dajak (662256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618227)

The archaic groups of humans they are speaking of are obviously the previous wave of humans coming out of Africa. Coming "out of Africa" does not by the way suggest a relation with the Niger-Congo ("black") peoples who currently dominate that continent: the Bantu expansion is of much more recent date. The Wikipedia Khoisan [wikipedia.org] article maybe sheds some light on where the brown and yellow skin and epicanthic eye folds typical of most Eurasian populations may come from. The Papua and Australian Aboriginals are for instance also interesting leftovers of previous peoples coming "out of Africa".

Re:Other things interest me besides... (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618269)

The Papua and Australian Aboriginals are for instance also interesting leftovers of previous peoples coming "out of Africa".

I read somewhere that even now human African populations have much more diversity than humans outside Africa. Perhaps the different racial characteristics represent groups who left Africa at various times because they were less suited to the environment there.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (4, Interesting)

dajak (662256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618355)

Indeed. Nearly all diversity in appearance of human beings outside of Africa is also found in Africa, even today. But there seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding about what this means, because many people seem to be under the impression that a) Africa is inhabited by black people of the Niger-Congo type, and b) that these people and their ancestors where always all over that continent and all people less black than them are somehow less "African".

In reality the expansion of the Niger-Congo people from a fairly small area in western Africa is a very recent phenomenon, and a large part of Africa was, and in the north still is, inhabited by people with lighter skins and a variety of physical features. The African sun does not select specifically for being of the Niger-Congo type: the expansion has to do with agricultural and military advantages these people had over their competitors. Compare tropical regions in Asia and South America before the Spanish arrived: no blacks there. There is however a limit on how light-skinned a baby can be in the African sun and still survive, so some mutations will only happen once a group has left Africa.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (4, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619295)

the article goes on about "archaic" groups of humans who the humans coming from out of Africa met up with and made love to without ever explaining who or what these archaic groups were and how they had got where they were.

Evidence suggests that early hominids migrated out of Africa in waves. Homo erectus, for example, is believed to have evolved in Africa and spread over much of Asia one or two million years ago. The general pattern of hominid evolution is one of evolution of new species in Africa followed by general dispersion over those parts of the globe accessible by foot. This pattern appears to have been repeated several times: H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis/neanderthalensis[1] and H. sapiens.

The reality of hominid evolution is that we don't know a lot. The number of fossils is small and the weight of inference they bear is heavy. As Mark Twain said, in science one gets such a huge return in speculation from such a trifling investment of fact. However, the DNA evidence points quite strongly to the evolution of modern humans in Africa about two hundred thousand years ago, and the migration across the rest of the Old World about 70,000 years ago, with the settling of Australia by perfectly ordinary H. sapiens who are just like all the rest of us about 40,000 years ago. North America was colonized somewhat later, but probably not that much.

Humans are much bigger on exogamy than any other primate: we have a strong tendency to breed outside our kin group. We'll have sex with just about anything, and actually show a marked preference for those who are not perceived to be close kin. This is why the differences between races are so tiny, and restricted entirely to rapidly evolved and quite trivial enzymic variations that have high survival value in different climates. We are all multi-racial under the skin, and all have ancestors of different races far more recently in our family tree than most people appreciate (Icelanders may be exempt from this rule.)

So on the face of it, if there were multiple waves of near-modern humans migrating across the Old World, it is very likely that the members of the most recent group would have interbred with previous groups.

[1] For the racists in the audience, it might be worth contemplating that Neanderthals are the only hominid species that appears to have evolved in Europe (from H. heidelbergensis that left Africa earlier) and of all the hominids they are amongst the least successful.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18620195)

Whats so special about Africa ? Why is everything evolving here first as opposed to anywhere else in the world ?

Re:Other things interest me besides... (3, Informative)

Somewhat Delirious (938752) | more than 7 years ago | (#18617931)

Evolutionary adaptions to different environments combined with random mutations in isolated communities perhaps?

Re:Other things interest me besides... (1)

Naviztirf (856598) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618109)

My thoughts as well.
"The question is where did they get them from? Either they re-evolved them, which is not very likely, or, to some degree, they interbred with archaic groups."


Since the traits in question were essentially throwbacks, why should it be all that surprising that they would turn up occasionally? Remember too that this the only skeleton we have from that time and place, and not even complete one at that.

And who are these archaic groups? And how do I join one?


----

"After the ship has sunk, everyone knows how it might have been saved." - Italian Proverb

Re:Other things interest me besides... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18618525)

"And who are these archaic groups?"

Right here [rollingstones.com]

Re:Other things interest me besides... (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618959)

I understand they still practice traditional techniques of medicene. Keef, who I presume must be the tribes witchdoctor has recently explained how snorting up his fathers ashes with a good dose of coke smooths the coke nicely and gives you a good hit.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18617983)

This research has the potential to explain a great many mysteries. The article tells us that scientists have already found that the true Homo sapiens from Africa may have mated with archaic humans in East Asia who had "large front teeth" in order to form the sort of peoples that one finds there today.

Perhaps further investigation will find that the modern humans who journeyed to Scotland encountered archaic humans who were characteristically tight-fisted, while the archaic humans in archaic Ireland were always drinking and getting into fights. There is great potential for some amazing scientific discoveries here!

Re:Other things interest me besides... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18618365)

Hey modz, this "large front teeth" thing was directly from the article. I was mocking the article for the racist troll-spew that it is. If that makes me a troll as well, so be it.

Re:Other things interest me besides... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18619609)

How is the phrase "large front teeth" racist?

Wow.... (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18617861)

i bet he/she never thought ending up on slashdot.

Quickly now, don't run! (2, Funny)

cybereal (621599) | more than 7 years ago | (#18617869)

And he was lying there in the dirt only slightly longer than it took Slashdot to catch on to this news.

Modern? (4, Funny)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618013)

Researchers found 34 bone fragments belonging to a single individual at the Tianyuan Cave, near Beijing.

If he's living in a cave, he can't be very "modern"...

Re:Modern? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18618209)

Researchers found 34 bone fragments belonging to a single individual at the Tianyuan Cave, near Beijing. In this cave it was found a refrigerator, microwave,TV, internet and sauna.

Fixed

Re:Modern? (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618213)

> If he's living in a cave, he can't be very "modern"...

Actually, some modern people

http://www.geekcode.com/geek.html#house [geekcode.com]

are "Living in a cave with 47 computers and an Internet feed, located near a Dominoes pizza".

Re:Modern? (1)

Frozen Void (831218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618283)

Relative to monkeys in the trees.

Re:Modern? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18618337)

With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan (and most Slashdotters)

I am the very model of a modern homo sapien,
I've hunted vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the bow and arrow, and I fight the fights historical
From Africa to All Point East, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters geneological,
I understand knapping, both the flint and glass that's pyroclastical,
About creating fire I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With many cheerful facts about cooking up the deer and moose.
I'm very good at tracking and spirits mysterious and miraculous;
I know the common names of beings animalculous:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern homo sapien.

Re:Modern? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618587)

You are correct. No one would accuse Osama ibn Ladin as being modern.

Age? (0, Offtopic)

sarahbau (692647) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618263)

Would it have been so hard to mention the age in the summary? You made me RTFA! :(

Only reasonable explaination, time travel (-1, Flamebait)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618351)

We finally have proof of time travel! If the world is 6,000 years old then some one from 36,000 years in the future dug up a modern body and transported it back to 4,000 BC inorder to try and cast doubt on the Bible. Thankful not all of us are so easily fooled by such an obvious hoax!

Could be fake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18618373)

China is known for its black market on falsified archaeological evidence... so as intriguing as this sounds, it has a very high likelihood of being a forgery.

Re:Could be fake (3, Informative)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18618453)

"has a very high likelihood of being a forgery"

Don't be an idiot - that would mean being found for sale on a dirty blanket laid out on a sidewalk outside the Lohou train station in Shenzhen. The Tianyuan Cave is a carefully protected area [people.com.cn] , listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List, and monitored specifically to prohibit such funny business.

Re:Could be fake (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619633)

The Tianyuan Cave is a carefully protected area, listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List, and monitored specifically to prohibit such funny business
Your tinfoil-hat-fu is weak. Who monitors it, and what would they stand to gain by this find occurring there?

What if nothing was found at UNESCO sites? UNESCO would lose relevancy, of course. It's rather obvious that UNESCO, the Chinese government, and academics have conspired to pull one over on us, and that these bone fragments are actually the remnants of last Friday's goat barbecue.

And there's been a stamp on the bone fragments (1)

woodengod (863603) | more than 7 years ago | (#18619389)

"Made in China"

US News article (1)

timjdot (638909) | more than 7 years ago | (#18620181)

I read a recent article - in US News & World Report I think - where they mention "modern" traits appearing for hundreds of thousands of years. Their stated theory was the traits failed. It doesn't take much of a thinker to realize the extent forms are not the result of a linear, constantly improving evolution function; so, to make claims of evolution based on "advantage" and to continue to hold those despite such clear "advantages" occurring much older than what is claimed as "modern" is simply bad science. It is great to research and to have theories but the evidence does not seem to point to these same conclusions. FWIW, I don't think the claim the Mongolians developed in or around China holds any validity given the stated need for separation. A more probable guess is they developed in the Americas and then emigrated.
    Few people seem to realize how fast time will ravage a civilization. A city built in a desert may have remains after 4000 years but a city built in a fertile valley will probably be washed away after eons of floods. Not to mention cities built on hills which will simply crumble down after thousands of years. Even highways paved in the 1950's can barely be located today if they have been abandoned. Trees are very powerful at breaking up concrete and other human building materials.

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