Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Friday, January 15, 2016

Humans in Siberia 10,000 years earlier than formerly believed,

Seems like human beings have been on the move for much longer than formerly believed. A paper published in Science (Early human presence in the Arctic: Evidence from 45,000-year-old mammoth remains Vladimir V. Pitulko, Alexei N. Tikhonov, Elena Y. Pavlova Pavel A. Nikolskiy, Konstantin E. Kuper, Roman N. Polozov, Science 15 Jan 2016:Vol. 351, Issue 6270, pp. 260-263 DOI: 10.1126/science.aad0554), mentions their discovery of a butchered mammoth, with clear signs of pre and post-mortem wounds caused by intelligent beings. The date is 45000 years ago, and pushes back the presence of humans in the area some 10,000 years.

The free-access text says:

"Earliest human Arctic occupation
Paleolithic records of humans in the Eurasian Arctic (above 66°N) are scarce, stretching back to 30,000 to 35,000 years ago at most. Pitulko et al. have found evidence of human occupation 45,000 years ago at 72°N, well within the Siberian Arctic. The evidence is in the form of a frozen mammoth carcass bearing many signs of weapon-inflicted injuries, both pre- and postmortem. The remains of a hunted wolf from a widely separate location of similar age indicate that humans may have spread widely across northern Siberia at least 10 millennia earlier than previously thought.
Archaeological evidence for human dispersal through northern Eurasia before 40,000 years ago is rare. In west Siberia, the northernmost find of that age is located at 57°N. Elsewhere, the earliest presence of humans in the Arctic is commonly thought to be circa 35,000 to 30,000 years before the present. A mammoth kill site in the central Siberian Arctic, dated to 45,000 years before the present, expands the populated area to almost 72°N. The advancement of mammoth hunting probably allowed people to survive and spread widely across northernmost Arctic Siberia."

The place is well north of the Arctic Circle, at 72° north. Location map.

So they were there longer ago than expected which means they were equipped to reach America via the Arctic earlier than expected too. or Move out of America into Asia at an early date... After all, who said they were Homo sapiens? They could be Denisovans, archaic Asian or even archaic American hominins.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2016 by Austin Whittall © 

More evidence of archaic humans in Asia ca. 100-200 kya.

A paper published in Nature, two days ago: Earliest hominin occupation of Sulawesi, Indonesia by Gerrit D. van den Bergh et al., Nature 529, 208–211 (14 January 2016) doi:10.1038/nature16448, reports an interesting finding in Indonesia:

"Sulawesi is the largest and oldest island within Wallacea, a vast zone of oceanic islands separating continental Asia from the Pleistocene landmass of Australia and Papua (Sahul). By one million years ago an unknown hominin lineage had colonized Flores immediately to the south1, and by about 50 thousand years ago, modern humans (Homo sapiens) had crossed to Sahul. On the basis of position, oceanic currents and biogeographical context, Sulawesi probably played a pivotal part in these dispersals. Uranium-series dating of speleothem deposits associated with rock art in the limestone karst region of Maros in southwest Sulawesi has revealed that humans were living on the island at least 40 thousand years ago. Here we report new excavations at Talepu in the Walanae Basin northeast of Maros, where in situ stone artefacts associated with fossil remains of megafauna (Bubalus sp., Stegodon and Celebochoerus) have been recovered from stratified deposits that accumulated from before 200 thousand years ago until about 100 thousand years ago. Our findings suggest that Sulawesi, like Flores, was host to a long-established population of archaic hominins, the ancestral origins and taxonomic status of which remain elusive.

The Bold, part that I highlighted above is very clear: archaic humans lived in this part of Sulawesi between 200 and 100 thousand years ago. They were not Homo sapiens, who arrived there about 50,000 years ago. So what are these "elusive" people?

The evidence of a non-African ancestral human group is growing. Could they be Denisovans? Homo erectus? We will just have to wait and see.

Did they move further north, into China, Eastern Siberia and, maybe the Americas? Or did they come from there in an Out-Of-America dispersal?

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2016 by Austin Whittall © 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Helicobacter pylori and the Out of Africa theory

A paper published in Science (F. Maixner, 2016 [1]) reported that they studied the DNA of the Helicobacter pylori recovered from Ötzi, the iceman, whose mummified body was discovered in an Alpine glacier melt in 1991. They body is 5,300 years old and they expected to find the typical European variety of H. pylori in the remains of his stomach. Instead they found the Asian variety. Casting a shadow on the current Out of Africa theory of the peopling of Europe.

Their abstract says: (bold is mine) "The stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori is one of the most prevalent human pathogens. It has dispersed globally with its human host, resulting in a distinct phylogeographic pattern that can be used to reconstruct both recent and ancient human migrations. The extant European population of H. pylori is known to be a hybrid between Asian and African bacteria, but there exist different hypotheses about when and where the hybridization took place, reflecting the complex demographic history of Europeans. Here, we present a 5300-year-old H. pylori genome from a European Copper Age glacier mummy. The “Iceman” H. pylori is a nearly pure representative of the bacterial population of Asian origin that existed in Europe before hybridization, suggesting that the African population arrived in Europe within the past few thousand years."

I wrote about this some time ago, that the different H. pylori variants are not necessary of an African origin. These findinngs by Maixner and his team seem to support this idea.

According to the paper (it is free access), the Iceman's variant of H.pylori is closer to the South Asian one! (India, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Philippines) and is furthest from the N.E. Africa and W. Africa variant (from Nigeria to Ethiopia)... See this graph with the different variants and Ötzi's position closest to Asian types.

So this is no man from the steppes or a Middle Eastern H. pylori variant. This copper age man has a H. pylori found in SE Asia. The route taken by humans out of Africa, and long before them, by Homo erectus to... South East Asia. Are we seeing some signal of an old variant of H. pylori here? One that predates European H. pylori and also the African one?

What is odd is that a paper by A. Keller et al., (2012) [2] found the Iceman was closely related to the population of the two islands of Corsica and Sardinia in the NW Mediterranean Sea: "Sequence analysis showed genetic distance from modern mainland European populations, but proximity to the extant populations of Sardinia. Interestingly, the Iceman's Y-haplogroup G2a4 has hitherto only been found at appreciable frequencies in Mediterranean islands of the Tyrrhenian Sea (Sardinia and Corsica). Although admixture and demographic history cannot be reconstructed from one individual alone, the Iceman's Y-chromosomal data document the presence of haplogroup G in Italy by the end of the Neolithic and lends further support to the demic diffusion model. The affinity of the Iceman's genome to modern Sardinian groups may reflect relatively recent common ancestry between the ancient Sardinian and Alpine populations, possibly due to the diffusion of Neolithic peoples." [2]

What do Sardinians and South Asians have in Common? Perhaps Keller et al. are right and it just reflects a group that survived from the days of Ötzi in isolation in those two islands, and ths same DNA is found at very low levels (less than 1%) across Europe.

The paper states that: "Furthermore, our co-ancestry results indicate that the Iceman’s strain belonged to a prehistoric European branch of hpAsia2 that is different from the modern hpAsia2 population from northern India" [1]. Which is very interesting. It is a really ancestral branch. (Neanderthal ?)

Figure 4 in the paper shows the tree, with two big branches, one is N.E.Asia and America, the other has Africa, Europe, South Asia and Oceania. That is indeed striking.

The First branch, splits into Africa and Europe, and another which holds the Iceman and also includes to India, Papua New Guinea and Sahul.

The other main branch with N. E. Asians (Korea, China and Japan) also hash the Amerindians (Peru: Puno and Cuzco variants and Venezuela) with many smaller branches. Does that imply a longer time for their diversification vs. the other human groups?

The best part is that over the last few months a series of discoveries have cast some doubt on the Out Of Africa theory: Neanderthal backflow into Africa, and the 80- 120 kya old teeth found in China. What new findings will 2016 bring with it?


[1] Frank Maixner, et al., 8 January 2016: The 5300-year-old Helicobacter pylori genome of the Iceman Vol. 351 no. 6269 pp. 162-165 DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2545
[2] A Keller et al. (2012) New insights into the Tyrolean Iceman's origin and phenotype as inferred by whole-genome sequencing, Nature Communications 3, Article number: 698 doi:10.1038/ncomms1701

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2016 by Austin Whittall © 
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