Tuesday, February 28, 2012
I have just read an interesting article which summarizes the following paper: Partial genetic turnover in neandertals: continuity in the east and population replacement in the west, by Love Dalén, Ludovic Orlando, Beth Shapiro, Mikael Brandström Durling, Rolf Quam, M. Thomas P. Gilbert, J. Carlos Díez Fernández-Lomana, Eske Willerslev, Juan Luis Arsuaga and Anders Götherström. Molecular Biology and Evolution. Mol Biol Evol (2012). doi: 10.1093/molbev/mss074. First published online: February 23, 2012.
Basically it seems that an analysis of Neanderthal DNA suggests that nearly all of the Neanderthals in western Europe died out about 50,000 years ago (long before modern humans appeared on the European scene), perhaps due to extremely cold weather. Later, the Neanderthals that survived elsewhere, re-entered Europe, peopling it again for about ten thousand years before becoming extinct themselves...
Remarkably little is known about the population-level processes leading up to the extinction of the neandertal. To examine this, we use mtDNA sequences from 13 neandertal individuals, including a novel sequence from northern Spain, to examine neandertal demographic history. Our analyses indicate that recent western European neandertals (<48 kyr) constitute a tightly defined group with low mitochondrial genetic variation in comparison to both eastern and older (>48 kyr) European neandertals. Using control region sequences, Bayesian demographic simulations provide higher support for a model of population fragmentation followed by separate demographic trajectories in subpopulations over a null model of a single stable population. The most parsimonious explanation for these results is that of a population turnover in western Europe during early Marine Isotope Stage 3, predating the arrival of anatomically modern humans in the region.
Neanderthal Cave art
Another recent find were some "seals" discovered in a cave on the southern coast of Spain at Nerja.
These were apparently drawn by Neanderthals 48 ky ago!!. And if so, are older than any modern human rock art and a clear sign of the intellectual capabilities of the Neanderthals.
More on the Nerja drawings here,
Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2012 by Austin Whittall ©
Thursday, February 2, 2012
I took my vacations during the last two weeks of January 2012, and while I was browsing through books and magazines at an airport bookstore I came across the February 2012 issue of National Geographic Magazine, leafing through it I was startled by the image shown above (top), which very clearly reminded me of some hands painted on a basaltic cliff in Patagonia, the "Cueva de las Manos" (Cave of Hands), which I had visited in 2007; shown in the photograph above (bottom).
More on the "Cueva de las Manos" World Heritage Site of the UNESCO at my website www.TurismoRuta40.com.ar/cuevadelasmanos.html [in Spanish]
The Papuan hands are brighter but bearing in mind that the Patagonian ones date to about 10,000 years BC (12,000 years ago) it is not too surprising.
Austronesians in America
I have already posted (Homo erectus in America - more) about the theory that suggests that native Patagonians differ from the usual "Mongolid" people considered by orthodox science to be the ancestors of all native Americans. This theory says they resemble "Austronesians" in their DNA. (as well as other things; see my previous post on a possible migration route from Australia to Patagonia.
In my book I mention several myths shared by the Australian Aboriginal people and the Tehuelche natives of Southern Patagonia (I exclude the Mapuche natives of Northern Patagonia, who in my opinion are of an Amazonian origin and closely related to the Guaraní people of Paraguay and Brazil).
The striking similarity of the hands painted with the same method (stenciled by blowing paint through a hollow tube) is amazing.
Of course, a hand painted on a wall is a clear human gesture: "this is me", "I am", "I am a person", "I exist", and I am sure that there must be some rock art in European caves with stenciled hands. Yet, it is a very weird coincidence!
I googled "Hands Rock Art Australia" for images and came across the following:
Notice the similarity with Patagonian rock art. All of these are Australian Aboriginal hand paintings. A similar search for "Hands Rock Art Europe" did not return any images of European rock paintings with hands in them.
Furthermore they have a myth (mentioned in the article ) which says that the cave, known as Kopao, which has these paintings, was the place that the Meakambut people came from, out of a crack in the rocks made by their god Api.
A similar legend exists among the Tehuelche, where their god brought forth all beings from a cave!
Well, that is all for now. More in my next post.
 National Geographic Magazine, Feb. 2012. Last of the Cave People pp 127. Photograph by Amy Toensing.
Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia
Copyright 2009-2012 by Austin Whittall ©