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Oldest ever engraving discovered on 500,000-year-old shell

Homo erectus on Java was already using shells of freshwater mussels as tools half a million years ago, and as a 'canvas' for an engraving. An international team of researchers, led by Leiden archaeologist José Joordens, published this discovery on 3 December in Nature. The discovery provides new insights into the evolution of human behaviour.

Oldest ever engraving discovered on 500,000-year-old shell
Detail of the engraving on fossil Pseudodon shell (DUB1006-fL) from Trinil
[Credit: Wim Lustenhouwer, VU University Amsterdam]
Not only Homo sapiens made engravings

"Until this discovery, it was assumed that comparable engravings were only made by modern humans (Homo sapiens) in Africa, starting about 100,000 years ago," says lead author José Joordens, researcher at the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University.

A team of 21 researchers studied hundreds of fossil shells and associated finds and sediments from the Homo erectus site Trinil, on the Indonesian island of Java. The shells are part of the Dubois Collection that has been held at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center since the end of the 19th century. The shells were excavated by the Dutch physician and researcher Eugène Dubois, the discoverer of Pithecanthropus erectus -- now known as Homo erectus.

Engravings older than weathering

The discovery of an engraved geometrical pattern on one of the shells came as a total surprise. The zig zag pattern, that can only be seen with oblique lighting, is clearly older than the weathering processes on the shell arising from fossilisation. The study has excluded the possibility that the pattern could have been caused by animals or by natural weathering processes and shows that the 'zigzag' pattern is the work of Homo erectus.

Oldest ever engraving discovered on 500,000-year-old shell
The fossil Pseudodon shell (DUB1006-fL) with the engraving made by Homo erectus at Trinil 
[Credit: Wim Lustenhouwer, VU University Amsterdam]
Five hundred thousand years old

By applying two dating methods, researchers at the VU University Amsterdam and Wageningen University have determined that the shell with the engraving is minimally 430,000 and maximally 540,000 years old.This means that the engraving is at least four times older than the previously oldest known engravings, found in Africa.

Purpose or meaning of the engraving?

"It's fantastic that this engraved shell has been discovered in a museum collection where it has been held for more than a hundred years. I can imagine people may be wondering whether this can be seen as a form of early art," says Wil Roebroeks, Professor of Palaeolithic Archaeology at Leiden University. He was able to finance this long-term research with his NWO Spinoza Prize. "At the moment we have no clue about the meaning or purpose of this engraving."

Oldest ever engraving discovered on 500,000-year-old shell
Inside of the fossil Pseudodon shell (DUB7923-bL) showing that the hole made by 
Homo erectus is exactly at the spot where the adductor muscle is attached to the shell 
[Credit: Henk Caspers, Naturalis, Leiden, The Netherlands]
Early human-like mussel collector

This research has shown that these early human-like people were very clever about how they opened these large freshwater mussels; they drilled a hole through the shell using a sharp object, possibly a shark's tooth, exactly at the point where the muscle is attached that keeps the shell closed. "The precision with which these early humans worked indicates great dexterity and detailed knowledge of mollusc anatomy," says Frank Wesselingh, a researcher and expert on fossil shells at Naturalis. The molluscs were eaten and the empty shells were used to manufacture tools, such as knives.

Possible follow-on research

This discovery from the historical Dubois collection sheds unexpected new light on the skills and behaviour of Homo erectus, and indicates that Asia is a promising and, so far, relatively unexplored area for finding intriguing artefacts.


From the Netherlands, researchers at Leiden University, the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the universities of Wageningen and Delft and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands were involved in the research.

This research is being financed by research funding from the NWO Spinoza Prize.

The shell with the oldest known human engraving will be on display in the Naturalis museum from 4 December onward.

Source: Leiden University [December 03, 2014]
TANN

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31 comments :

  1. Very interesting, thanks a lot. Joossens cs think that Homo erectus 1/2 mill.yrs ago used a shark tooth to open the Pseudodon shells. Pseudodon lives in "forest streams & sandy, shallow areas in lakes & rivers" (p.271 in Munro S 2010 "Molluscs as Ecological Indicators in Palaeo-anthropological Contexts" PhD thesis Austr.Nat.Univ. Canberra), so the shells were presumably collected through wading or diving in a large river, close to the sea (bull shark teeth).
    In any case (irrespective of whether it was art, doodle, pastime, or
    something else), the engraving is another argument that Homo did not run over open plains (as many palaeo-anthropologists still believe), but simply followed the African & Eurasian coasts & rivers when they in the early Pleistocene dispersed inter-continentally as far as Algeria (Aïn-Hanech), Georgia (Dmanisi), Java (Mojokerto) & the Rift (Turkana) - all these archaeological or fossil sites are c 1.8 Myr old (at Turkana in the Rift, H.erectus appeared together with stingrays, suggesting a marine connection at the time with the Indian Ocean? Joordens J cs 2013 "Improved age control on early Homo fossils from the upper Burgi Member at Koobi Fora, Kenya" J.hum.Evol.65:731-745).
    Comparative & other data suggest that Pleistocene Homo on their coastal journey beach-combed, waded bipedally & dived for shallow aquatic & waterside plant & animal foods incl.molluscs, as we have argued in several publications (e.g. proceedings of the symposium on human waterside evolution "Human Evolution: Past, Present & Future" (London 8-10 May 2013, with Peter Rhys Evans, Michael Crawford, David Attenborough & Don.Johanson) in 2 Special Editions of Hum.Evol. (6 contributions in Part 1, end 2013, and 12 contributions in Part 2, begin 2014), or google PPT: Homo erectus = Homo litoralis?
    Aquatic foods such as cray- & shellfish are rich in brain-specific nutrients (DHA, iodine) and could help explain the remarkable brain enlargement of H.erectus & later Homo populations (Cunnane S 2005 "Survival of the Fattest: the Key to Human Brain Evolution" World Scient.Publ.Comp.Singapore).

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  2. All letters shown are made out of straight lines or lines at an angle - thus they must be part of a counting system.

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  3. Yes, George, certainly a possibility IMO. We shouldn't understimate erectus' mental capacities.

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  4. Marc, thanks for the interesting info. The Petralona, Greece "archanthropos" (see: http://www.aee.gr/english/6petrlona/petralona.html )
    Poulianos claims is 700K years old, lived in a cave area 20 km away from the closest shoreline. This seems to contradict your argument that homo didn't live along shores. Unless you consider 20 km inland as "shore line". Any comments?

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  5. Thanks, George. Several explanations for this "contradiction" are possible IMO: (1) is Poulianos right about the 700 ka? (2) and about the 20 km away from the coast then? (3) plate tectonics have uplifted the northern Mediterranean Sea since 700 ka (if 700 ka is correct), (4) my 2013 Hum.Evol.paper argued early-Pleistocene Homo followed the coasts >1.8 Ma, Petralona is much younger, (5) the same paper argued neandertals lived in wetlands, oxbow lakes etc., but seasonally followed the river to the sea, (6) cave = water: did the bones wash in? from the river? sea?
    IOW, I see no problem with Petralona for our theory that Pleistocene Homo did not run over open plains, but simply followed coasts & rivers.
    (FWIW, my impression on Petralona: The occiput is remarkably thick & dense (pachosteosclerosis) but the frontal bone is extremely thin (very large frontal sinus), which suggests they regularly or seasonally dived (e.g. for shellfish) & back-floated between dives - in accordance with the very large brain (DHA), the platycephaly etc., see my Hum.Evol.papers, e.g. already 1985 "The aquatic ape theory: evidence and a possible scenario" Med.Hypoth.16:17-32, and 2013 "The aquatic ape evolves: common misconceptions and unproven assumptions about the so-called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis" Hum.Evol.28:237-266, wich can be found by googling "verhaegen evolution" or at www.researchgate.net/profile/Marc_Verhaegen

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  6. Yes Marc, you are right about the movement in the shoreline - although we can't be sure about the exact distance. And yes, there's some disagreement about the Poulianos 700K claim (although still more than 500K old according to most anthropologists, I think). Thanks for the info and the insights.

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  7. IMO, the "endurance running" hypothesis is one of the most silly hypotheses ever proposed (e.g. google "original econiche homo" table 4).
    Most glacial coasts are about 100 m today's below sea-level, but due to plate tectonics, the northern Mediterranean coasts, the Caucasus (Dmanisi), Indonesia (Mojokerto, Trinil...) etc are now above sea-level, and everywhere in these places we find fossils or tools of H.erectus & relatives (in spite of waves, tsunamis, tides & sea-level changes eroding the sea-coasts).
    IOW, no doubt our Pleistocene ancestors lived for shorter of longer times along the sea-coasts, although there are still unsolved questions, e.g. did they live more in deltas (brackish?), or is this a matter of fossilisation chances? did they live more at coasts during interglacials, or during glacials? were they even (during short periods) almost fully littoral, or have they always moved seasonally along rivers? were they at some (short) periods almost exclusive divers, or have they always been partial bipedal-waders?

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  8. Good questions; probably a combination of both options. My view is though that coast caves offer more amenities (security), but inland caves more variety in and stable food sources. River deltas don't have caves and dangerous places to be; they must be later period settlement spots. Where we find fossils is a matter of chance, not an indication of any habitation sequence. Evolution in homo erectus produced many off shoots, largely based on that residential choice.

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  9. No, George, biologically our erectus-like ancestors were typical littoral animals, almost the opposite cursorial mammals: broad bodies, flattened femora, flat skulls, large brains, external noses, heavy bones, ear exostoses, intercontinental dispersal, found amid edible molluscs etc. They simply followed the coasts & rivers, wading bipedally, beach-combing & shallow-diving. The discoverers of the first neandertals in caves (Engis, Neanderthal) thought the bones were washed in thhrough simple erosion, perhaps they're right, although some neandertals & sapiens might parttime have lived in caves, and at least sapiens used caves for rituals etc. Pre-sapiens Homo fossils are typically found with edible molluscs, at seacoasts, river deltas, oxbow lakes, often with beavers. Reed rafts or so (all hominoids vs monkeys already make shelters from wood or reed) were far safer than running on land amid lions, wolves, bears, snakes etc. Archaic Homo would be hopeless on dry open land without sophisticated tools, fire etc. And the water(side) yielded much more edible & easily obtainable foods. Moreover, humans have clear relics of a rel.recent (IMO Pleistocene) semi-aquatic past: olfactory reduction (impossible on dry land), high water & iodine & LC-PUFA needs, large brains (DHA), fat bodies, slow running, fur reduction, dentitional reduction, head-spine-legs in 1 line etc. A direct transition from forest to open land would have been an impossible evolutionary step for our ancestors, e.g. savanna primates are more quadrupedal, use less tools, have longer canines, are faster & leaner etc than forest primates. OTOH, a transition from wet forests (lowland gorillas, bonobos, orangs still) to coastal forests & later more open coasts (cf erectus' worldwide dispersal) to rivers & lakes is completely gradual, e.g. M.Verhaegen 2013 "The aquatic ape evolves: common misconceptions and unproven assumptions about the so-called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis" Hum.Evol.28:237-266, google "verhaegen evolution", or www.researchgate.net/profile/Marc_Verhaegen

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  10. So Marc, what specific time periods you see the transitions from aquatic (shorelines) to semi-aquatic (rivers, lakes) to inland (valleys and mountains) environment? And do these transitions occur in all continents (Africa, Asia, Europe) at the same time?

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  11. As we argued (e.g. 2013 Hum.Evol. 28:237-266, 2012 J.compar.hum.Biol. 63:496-503), it was presumably generally from littoral (early-Pleistocene dispersal) to seasonal littoral-riverine (different coastal populations in parallel, e.g. neandertals) to wading-walking (sapiens in Africa, perhaps c 200 ka). Likely, glacial/interglacial alternations were important, see the questions I asked above: "... our Pleistocene ancestors lived for shorter of longer times along the sea-coasts, although there are still unsolved questions, e.g. did they live more in deltas (brackish?), or is this a matter of fossilisation chances? did they live more at coasts during interglacials, or during glacials? were they even (during short periods) almost fully littoral, or have they always moved seasonally along rivers? were they at some (short) periods almost exclusive divers, or have they always been partial bipedal-waders?" IOW, I can't tell you much more at this moment than what you can find in our recent publications, although mountains were unlikely (iodine deficiencies until last century: hypothyroidism, goiter, cretins, myxedema etc.), and still today, savannas are sparsely populated: from Verhaegen 1987 Nature 325:305-6: "... it is highly unlikely that hominid ancestors ever lived in the savannas ... Humans lack sun-reflecting fur, but have thermo-insulative subcutaneous fat layers, which are never seen in savanna mammals. We have a water- and sodium-wasting cooling system of abundant sweat glands, totally unfit for a dry environment. Our maximal urine concentration is much too low for a savanna-dwelling mammal. We need much more water than other primates, and have to drink more often than savanna inhabitants, yet we cannot drink large quantities at a time." Specific arguments for rejecting the "endurance running" ideas can be found by googling "original econiche Homo" table 4. Human physiology & ontogeny suggests that there was generally a metabolic shift more salt (early-Pleistocene) to less salt in the diet & milieu (late-Pleistocene).

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  12. These are important physiological characteristics that humans have; but these characteristics were not all the same for all erectus all over the Eurasian and African continents at any particular point in time. Some erectus successfully adapted to their new environments - thus differentiation took place in their evolution. Choice of habitat initially works so that it fits their existing traits, but then these very traits do change (either because the environment changed - glaciation or ice sheets melting for example - requiring successful adaptation, or because of DNA related mutations which then forces them to move to new habitats.)

    Pre-existing physiology, seeking an optimum mix of foods (not single diet) and drinking water in combination with gene mutations by erectus are in complex interplay (bush type of evolutionary branching) over geographically various environment (in both morphology and weather conditions), thus producing different homo sapience over the continents. Success is simply recorded by their relative numbers - most populous (highest density) have always been the coastal areas of the world; river deltas rank second, then inland along riverbanks and lakes living is third (in some of them we have cave living conditions), fertile valleys (Mesopotamia, Nile, Danube etc.) are fourth (that's where agriculture and cities appeared), then fifth comes in mountain living (primarily due to safety reasons) where we see forts. So these residential choices imply some evolution in time as well - in rough lines. Unfortunately, due to changes in sea levels, most (but not all) of these coastal fossil remains are not accessible to us for digging.

    A point, IMO, not all erectus came out of Africa.

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  13. Yes, I largely agree, George (except for the mountains perhaps). Although we don't know anything directly about erectus' physiology, we do know a lot about their "hard" anatomy (teeth & bones): all erectus had long, low, flat skulls (platycephaly, typical of swimming mammals) & dorso-ventrally flattened femora (platymeria, idem) & broad pelvises (as in shallow-aquatic ammals), most erectus had very heavy (thick & dense) skulls & postcrania (only in slow littoral divers), some had ear exostoses (cf human divers in colder water), they had projecting nasals (i.e. external nose, often in semi-aquatic & littoral mammals), they had larger brains (often in (semi)aquatic mammals, cf DHA?), they had reduced dentition (not in savanna mammals, except anteaters...), they dispersed "suddenly" (cf sea-level changes?) between Algeria & Java = Aïn-Hanech, Dmanisi, Turkana & Mojokerto c 1.8 Ma (typical of littoral mammals), they used hard tools (cf sea-otters etc.), IOW, I can see no reason that early-Pleistocene erectus did not follow the coasts (& later the rivers), obviously diving & probably also bipedally wading & beach-combing for shellfish & other littoral foods. OTOH, I see dozens of reasons why they couldn't have run over open plains or savannas (after antelopes, or away from lions?).

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  14. It seems Marc your main argument is that coming out of Eastern Africa erectus went along the coast of Africa north (and maybe south?), rather into the African savanna west 1.8-1.5 mya. If that's your argument I would definitely agree. But then, what I suggest is that sapiens had already been out there in other continents besides Africa in about 500,000 ya AND so had erectus - in fact not only erectus had left East Africa but I bet habilis had left Africa before then too, along the coast north and south. My question is was habilis an exclusive African species? We now have evidence that 15 million year old (bipedal?) pre-anthropo-pithecines are all over southern Europe and the middle east (maybe all the way east to Indochina). What is telling us then, that habilis is an exclusive African species? Not so IMO. This "out-of-Africa" scenario has many holes in it. What do you think?

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  15. IMO most ideas about into or out of Africa or Asia are not very relevant for people who were often coastal: what is the difference between living at the eastern side (Asia) or at the western side (Africa) of the Red Sea?
    My opinion FWIW (see my last Hum.Evol.paper): There were different out-of-Africas, IMO at least 3 times (this implies that our ancestors must have come back to Africa a few times): (1) hominoids c 18 Ma, possibly hominids-pongids apart from hylobatids, (2) Homo soon after the Homo-Pan split c 5 or 4 Ma, (3) non-African sapiens c 70 ka.
    (1) The split between hominoids & Old World monkeys (c 30 Ma?) probably happened in Africa (or Africa-Arabia still then), but after c 18 Ma we find most hominoids outside Africa. The hominoids already lived in swamp or coastal forests when they split (c 18 Ma?) into hylobatids (gibbons, siamang) & hominids-pongids. When Africa-Arabia hit Eurasia (c 18 Ma?), first the hylobatids followed the S-Asian coasts to SE.Asia. Some 2 My later, the great "apes" (hominids-pongids) followed, and colonised the Tethys coasts: the pongids (orang) in the eastern-Tethys (S-Asian Indian Ocean coasts), the hominids (now Gorilla-Homo-Pan) in the western Tethys coastal forests (now the Mediterrenean coasts, c 15 Ma still archipelagoes), some living in Europe (Dryopith cs), others in Africa (Chorora-, Nakali-, Samburu-pithecus) some possibly in Anatolia (if Ankarapith is hominid rather than pongid). Our ancestors possibly descend from hominids who lived in the Lybian Sea coastal forests & wetlands, such as Sahelanthropus (Chad c 7 Ma). The split between Gorilla & Homo-Pan (c 7 Ma?) was perhaps an allopatric split between the central forest wetlands (Nile, Chad, Kongo, Rift = Gorilla) & the Indian Ocean coastal forests (Zambesi mouth etc. = Homo-Pan), see Jonathan Kingdon. The "central group" evolved into "Gorilla-australopiths": afarensisis, aethiopicus, boisei etc. Lucy had curved phalanges & large airsacs, her "human"like characters (thick enamel, rel.small canines, vertical spine, low pelvis...) were primitive-hominoid IMO, not human-derived. I guess Lucy cs lived in wetlands, eating papyrus sedges etc. The "Zambesi group" split (c 5 or 4 Ma) into "Pan-australopiths" (africanus, sediba, robustus) & Homo. IMO E-African australopiths (Gorilla?) & S-African australopiths (Pan?) evolved partly in parallel, see my Hum.Evol.papers: instead of becoming less apelike & more humanlike as is often assumed, they became generally more gorilla- resp. chimp-like.
    (2) Whereas the Pan-australopiths remained in the S-African forest & wetlands, Homo (after c 4 Ma) IMO followed the Indian Ocean coastal forests (cf absence of African retroviral markers in humans, see C.Yohn cs 2005 PLoS Biol 3:1-11). With the Pleistocene coolings after c 2.6 Ma (low sea-levels + vast continental shelves, tree-poor but shellfish-rich?), Homo populations became littoral (initially eating mostly shellfish) and dispersed along Eurasian & African coasts & rivers (cf coastal or coast-connected sites 1.8 Ma (Aïn-Hanech Algeria, Dmanisi Georgia, Turkana E.Africa, Mojokerto Java). Different Homo populations in Africa & Eurasia trekked inland along the rivers in parallal. One of these (near the central African lakes??) became the ancestors of H.sapiens, who (<200 ka?) split into Khoi-San & those who then (<100 ka?) split into Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Kordofan & the rest.
    (3) This "rest" (or part of it) left Africa-Arabia = non-African humans = "Out of Africa" sensu stricto.
    (IMO "habilis" consists of different spp, some Homo, others Pan or even Gorilla, e.g. O.H.62 evolved much longer arms than Lucy = evolving into ape direction.)

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  16. All these statements may be so, but unfortunately we don't have enough data to test rigorous statistical hypotheses. Most likely some or all of these events did take place to some extent by some of the specimens in each species but not the total population in each case.

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  17. The Tethys sea and its north-western section (the straight between what used to be Laurasia and Gondwana) was the key here in what happened regarding human evolution both in the Eurasia and African continents. Going back and forth was a strong possibility (both along the Red sea, the Libyan and Gibraltar corners around 16 Mya) but that possibly diminished considerably at the time of habilis. Then "residential choices mode" set in, pre-humans got "addicted" to some areas.

    I don't see as necessary to arriving at our ancestors (habilis, erectus, sapiens, sapiensis) any branching to any species of great apes not at least pre-16.5 Mya.

    What perplexes me is the DNA evidence that has the "Eve" of our species set at 250Kya and the "Adam" at 85Kya BOTH in Africa. I wonder how firm these results are.

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  18. Yes, different habilis existed - the point of my argument regarding "some did this, some didn't NOT ALL did the same thing".

    And different erectus, and different sapiens etc.

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  19. I'M very sorry, I wrote: "...Joossens cs think that Homo erectus 1/2 mill.yrs ago used a shark tooth to open the Pseudodon shells..." (Nature doi 10.1038/nature13962). This should be "Joordens" of course.

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  20. George: "What perplexes me is the DNA evidence that has the "Eve" of our species set at 250 ka and the "Adam" at 85 ka BOTH in Africa. I wonder how firm these results are."
    Adams & Eves are abstractions, of course. We can only try to reconstruct the ancestral genes (DNA), not the individuals, e.g. it's theoretically thinkable that part of our genome was in Africa at the same time when another part was in Asia. "Adam" (last common ancestor of all living men) is based on the Y chromosome DNA, and "Eve" on the mitochondrial DNA. Since men can have more offspring than women (which implies that more men than women have no offspring), the Y-LCA is more recent than the mt-LCA.

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  21. OK Marc, so our "Eve" and "Adam" are not exclusively African - they could have (mit-DNA and Y-DNA correspondingly) strains which are Eurasian, and these non-African elements in their DNA could be far more than African?

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  22. That's not what I said, George: AFAWCS, the sapiens' LCA did live in Africa in the period (c 150 ka?) when they (Eve) split into Khoi-San(Bushman..) & the rest, and later (<100 ka?) this rest split (linguistic data) in Nilo-Saharan(Maasai..), Niger-Kordofan(Bantu..) & Afro-Asian(Hausa..)+non-Africans.
    But that doesn't mean our earlier ancestors always lived in Africa. In fact, retroviral data suggest that our ancestors between at least c 4 & 3 Ma did not live in Africa (Yohn cs 2005 PLoS). If so, I guess they lived then somewhere along the S- or SE.Asian coasts. We don't know when they re-invaded Africa (c 1.8 Ma?? when H.erectus appeared in the Rift together with stingrays = marine connection then).

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  23. Then Marc this would imply that we come from those Asian pre-habilis who re-invaded Africa. Does this mean that all those (Euro-Asians, not just Asians) who DIDN'T participate in the re-invasion of Africa disappeared? They never became habilis? What about the habilis evidence in the Caucasian region?

    So, the sapiens of today all come from the African habilis?

    I know that's what DNA analysis says - I just wonder how strong is that evidence. I can't simply accept that all Eurasian pre-habilis (and habilis and erectus) just disappeared from the face of the earth. It simply doesn't make sense.

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  24. Without DNA, bones don't say much about their relatedness with our ancestral line: there's a lot of parallel, convergent & even reverse evolution in closely related species. Lucy was long said to be our ancestor (which fossil-hunter wants to dig up an ancestral gorilla or chimp rather than an ancestral human?), but that's highly unlikely: she had curved phalanges & large airsacs, and her thick enamel, rel.small canines, low iliac bones, more vertical spines & flatter feet were not derived in the human direction, but primitive (early hominoid): she might have waded bipedally in the forest swamps (not unlike western gorillas wading for sedges in forest bais) where she was found amid crocodile eggs & crab claws, and climbed vertically in the branches above the swamp. Where exactly the different "habilis" fossils belong is difficult to say, e.g. O.H.62 had very long arms: was it an ancestral chimp? others had larger brains: related to Homo? H.erectus is no doubt Homo, but I don't know about the different "habilis". H.erectus fossils are found 1.8 Ma from Mojokerto in Java to Dmanisi in Georgia to Turkana in the Rift. In Turkana, H.erectus appeared together with stingrays 1.8 Ma, suggesting a marine connection at the time between the Indian Ocean & Turkana (Joordens cs 2009 J.hum.Evol.57:656).
    But I don't understand what you mean in your last sentence, George: there were never non-African habilis AFAIK, and most fossils simply disappear without leaving descendants.

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  25. I never thought Lucy was in the sapiens branch.

    The question I have is how come and all Eurasian pre-habilis that remained in Eurasia (rather than re-invading Africa) disappeared. Climate, volcanism, social conditions got them to be dead ends? I simply can't get the reason behind it.

    I thought they have discovered evidence of habilis in the Caucasus quite recently. No?

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  26. AFAIK, we have no evidence of Eurasian pre-habilis, George. As I said, there's retroviral (DNA) evidence that our direct ancestors between at least 4 & 3 Ma were not in Africa (Yohn cs 2005 PLoS), but this says nothing about any habilis fossils (all in Africa).
    The Caucasus fossils (you mean Dmanisi 1.8 Ma?) were H.georgicus (erectus-like), not habilis. They were found in a confluence of big rivers ("rich in lacustrine resources"), not far from the connection at the time between the Caspian & Black Seas.

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  27. OK Marc. Thanks. Let's keep discussing this issue more if you like my email is: grg7wtkns at gmail dot com.

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  28. OK, we can further discuss the implications of the engraved Trinil shell at the AAT yahoo group, where we discuss Homo erectus' "coastal dispersal model" (term of Joordens' co-author who found the shell: Stephen Munro 2010 "Molluscs as Ecological Indicators in Palaeoanthropological Contexts" PhD thesis Austr.Nat.Univ Canberra): AAT at yahoogroups dot com

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  29. Thanks Marc; I sent an inquiry to become a member of the AAT group.

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  30. For a recent update of my views on ape & human evolution, please google "two logical mistakes 2019 verhaegen"

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