Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Life and Death Amongst the Hominids: Interaction Between Various Members of the Genus Homo

A couple of stories recently on some of the famous hominids contemporary with Homo sapiens sapiens.

More evidence for cannibalism amongst Neanderthal populations has surfaced. This interpretation continues to pop up, but because of the sensationalistic nature of cannibalism, the evidentiary level is pretty high. Another set of remains has been interpreted as a hybrid modern-Neanderthal, evidence of interbreeding between the two populations. I am no expert in that field, but until the genetic evidence stops showing big differences, I am skeptical. Especially since so many examples of hybridization come from still-growing adolescents.

Modern humans have been in Europe for at least 45,000 years, according to the dating of artifacts from Russia. Settlement here may have been spurred on because there was no competition from Neanderthals in this colder part of Europe.

Meanwhile, a flurry of stories have popped up regarding the Indonesian "hobbits," also known as Homo floresiensis. Research is beginning again in the caves of Flores Island, after political concerns had shut down the work. The discovery of a large cave under the cave sites may allow for many new sets of remains to be found. New testing refutes the idea that the specimens were hydrocephalic, and instead suggests that they were a separate species with a brain comparable to modern humans. And modern humans may have hunted the "hobbits" or their food sources into extinction, as it appears a volcanic eruption did not kill them off. This news will certainly please those, including cryptozoologists who support the idea of ancient primates other than humans surviving to the present, who have taken interest in the stories of the Orang Pendek and of stories in the region of little people.

No comments: