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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Tianyuan Man's DNA (40 ky old) linked to present South American Natives

I have read online that an analysis of the remains of the "Tianyuan Man", from China, dating back to 40,000 years ago, have revealed some unexpected findings.

I will quote below: (I highlighted part of the text in bold)

"... With a close relationship to present-day Asians, they expected him to be similar to present-day Asian populations with respect to Europeans. It was a surprise when they found that a 35,000-year-old individual from Belgium, GoyetQ116-1, who in other ways seemed to be an ancient European, shared some genetic similarity to the Tianyuan individual that no other ancient Europeans shared.
A second unexpected result sheds some light on human genetic diversity in prehistoric East Asia. In 2015, a study comparing present-day populations in Asia, the Pacific and the Americas showed that some Native American populations from South America had an unusual connection to some populations south of mainland Asia, most notably the Melanesian Papuan and the Andamanese Onge. That study proposed that the population that crossed into the Americas around 20,000 years ago could not be thought of as a single unit. Instead, one or more related but distinct populations crossed at around the same time period, and at least one of these groups had additional ties to an Asian population that also contributed to the present-day Papuan and Onge.
No trace of this connection is observed in present-day East Asians and Siberians, but unlike them, the Tianyuan man also possesses genetic similarities to the same South Americans, in a pattern similar to that found for the Papuan and Onge. The new study directly confirms that the multiple ancestries represented in Native Americans were all from populations in mainland Asia. What is intriguing, however, is that the migration to the Americas occurred approximately 20,000 years ago, but the Tianyuan individual is twice that age. Thus, the population diversity represented in the Americas must have persisted in mainland Asia in two or more distinct populations since 40,000 years ago.

A simple answer for the "intriguing" finding is that either:

(a) The ancestors of Tianyuan man came from South American stock, crossed North America before it was peopled by later Siberian-origin humans, and entered Asia via Bering heading south and peopling China, Melanesia and the Andamans first, and then heading west into Europe where the ancestors of the GoyetQ116-1 remains picked up these genes.

(b) The Asian ancestors of South Americans entered America at least 40,000 years ago, before Siberian-Asians peopled North America. This eliminates the need for a persistance in Asia of "two or more distinct populations since 40,000 years ago".

According to Science:

"... Tianyuan Man inherited about as much Neandertal DNA—4% to 5%—as ancient Europeans and Asians of similar age. That’s a bit higher than the 1.8% to 2.6% of Neandertal DNA in living Europeans and Asians. The Tianyuan Man did not have any detectable DNA from Denisovans...
Native Americans living today in the Amazon of South America, such as the Karitiana and Surui peoples of Brazil and the Chane people of northern Argentina and southern Bolivia. They inherited about 9% to 15% of their DNA from an ancestral population in Asia that also gave rise to the Tianyuan Man.

Or rather the Tianyuan man "inherited" this DNA from the American ancestors of the present Amerindian populations in South America.

The lack of Denisovan DNA is interesting and we should find out how come Melanesians which have a very high content of Denisovan DNA also have a very close link to Tianyuan man which has no Denisovan genes!

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2017 by Austin Whittall © 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Hominin footprints from Crete... 5.7 Million years ago

New discoveries every day. A few months ago the paper on Graecopithecus freybergi hinted at a hominin living in the Balkans 7.2 Million years ago:

Fuss J, Spassov N, Begun DR, Böhme M (2017) Potential hominin affinities of Graecopithecus from the Late Miocene of Europe. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0177127.

Today I came across this article:

Gerard D. Gierliński et al. Possible hominin footprints from the late Miocene (c. 5.7 Ma) of Crete? Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, published online August 31, 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.pgeola.2017.07.006

Amazingly, footprints of an ancient hominin were found in Crete and they are 5.7 Million years old, so here we have Balkans and Crete and hominins in two separate papers... were we from Africa?

The Footprints from Crete. Gerard D. Gierliński et al

Notice the compact foot with even sized toes, a human-like big toe and a heel! This is no chimp-like ape, this is a bipedal hominin walking along a beach in Crete! Maybe related to the Graecopithecus?. Was there an into-Africa event from Europe?

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2017 by Austin Whittall © 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Into Africa: sub-Saharan genetic diversity is due to introgression with archaics

Following up on my previous post, I want to share some more papers on the subject of the admixture of Homo sapiens and archaic hominins in Africa, which may be the cause of the "genetic diversity" which is the main evidence supporting an African origin of modern humans.

This paper (Genetic evidence for archaic admixture in Africa, by Michael F. Hammera, August E. Woernera, Fernando L. Mendezb, Joseph C. Watkinsc, and Jeffrey D. Walld) reached the following conclusions:

"Extensive simulation results reject the null model of no admixture and allow us to infer that contemporary African populations contain a small proportion of genetic material (˜2%) that introgressed ˜35 kya from an archaic population that split from the ancestors of anatomically modern humans ˜700 kya."
"Th[is] suggests that one such introgression event may have taken place in central Africa (where there is a very poor fossil record). Interestingly, recent studies attest to the existence of Late Stone Age human remains with archaic features in Nigeria (Iwo Eleru) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Ishango)"

The authors cite This paper (Allsworth-Jones, P., Harvati, K. and Stringer, C. (2010) The archaeological context of the Iwo Eleru cranium from Nigeria and preliminary results of new morphometric studies. In: Allsworth-Jones, P., (ed.) West African Archaeology New developments, new perspectives. BAR, S2164 . Archaeopress , pp. 29-42. ISBN 978 1 4073 0708 4):

""... results highlighted apparent archaic aspects in the specimen in its long and rather low cranial shape, and although modern overall, it also resembled fossils such as Omo Kibish 2 and Ngandong in certain respects. New studies... establish the relatively archaic shape of the vault, and confirm that this Late Stone Age individual was markedly different from succeeding populations.".

So we have archaic humans living relatively recently, and, the recent studies on Homo naledi also show that it was contemporary to the earliest modern humans (but it did not live -as far as we know in Central or Western Africa, but in South Africa:

In This paper we see that Homo naledi, is quite primitive but also relatively recent (The age of Homo naledi and associated sediments in the Rising Star Cave, South Africa. Paul HGM Dirks.

""We... establish[ed] that all sediments containing Homo naledi fossils can be allocated to a single stratigraphic entity ... interpreted to be deposited between 236 ka and 414 ka. This result has been confirmed independently by dating three H. naledi teeth with combined U-series and electron spin resonance (US-ESR) dating. Two dating scenarios for the fossils were tested ...: a maximum age scenario provides an average age for the two least altered fossil teeth of 253 +82/–70 ka, whilst a minimum age scenario yields an average age of 200 +70/–61 ka. We consider the maximum age scenario to more closely reflect conditions in the cave, and therefore, the true age of the fossils... we have constrained the depositional age of Homo naledi to a period between 236 ka and 335 ka. These age results demonstrate that a morphologically primitive hominin, Homo naledi, survived into the later parts of the Pleistocene in Africa, and indicate a much younger age for the Homo naledi fossils than have previously been hypothesized based on their morphology."

In other words dating range from 139 to 414 ka but the authors selected intermediate dates. They too seem surprised by its archaic appearance at such a late date.

And it was indeed "archaic" as attested by this paper (Human Evolution: The many mysteries of Homo naledi, Chris Stringer) which says:

"...Berger et al. describe how the collection displays a unique combination of primitive and derived characteristics (Berger et al., 2015). For example, the small brain size, curved fingers and form of the shoulder, trunk and hip joint resemble the prehuman australopithecines and the early human species Homo habilis. Yet the wrist, hands, legs and feet look most like those of Neanderthals and modern humans. The teeth have some primitive features (such as increasing in size towards the back of the tooth row), but they are relatively small and simple, and set in lightly built jawbones. Overall, to my eye, the material looks most similar to the small-bodied examples of Homo erectus from Dmanisi in Georgia, which have been dated at ~1.8 million years old".

Interesting that H. naledi resembles more primitive Homo erectus with an age of 1.8 million years when it is only roughly 200 ka old!.

Another Paper (Genome Research Published in Advance February 17, 2016, doi: 10.1101/gr.196634.115 Model-based analyses of whole-genome data reveal a complex evolutionary history involving archaic introgression in Central African Pygmies, PingHsun Hsieh et al.) supports this idea of an archaic introgression, but this time, in Pygmies!:

"... our inference method rejects the hypothesis that the ancestors of AMH were genetically isolated in Africa, thus providing model-based whole genome-level evidence of African archaic admixture. Our inferences also suggest a complex human evolutionary history in Africa, which involves at least a single admixture event from an unknown archaic population into the ancestors of AMH (anatomically modern humans), likely within the last 30,000 yr."

These findings plus that of an early presence of Homo sapiens in Morocco - In this paper (New fossils from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco and the pan-African origin of Homo sapiens, Jean-Jacques Hublin et al. Nature 546, 289–292, 2017):

"...We identified a mosaic of features including facial, mandibular and dental morphology that aligns the Jebel Irhoud material with early or recent anatomically modern humans and more primitive neurocranial and endocranial morphology. In combination with an age of 315?±?34 thousand years (as determined by thermoluminescence dating)3, this evidence makes Jebel Irhoud the oldest and richest African Middle Stone Age hominin site that documents early stages of the H. sapiens clade..."

An age which clearly overlaps that of H. naledi

These findings may lead to an overhaul of the Out Of Africa theory as it is not implausible that H. sapiens originated in Eurasia or even America from other Out Of Africa migrants that departed long ago (Neanderthal ancestors or even H. erectus), and then they peopled Africa recently from North to South and mixed during their Into Africa journey with archaics like Naledi or Iwo Eluru, picking up genetic diversity and carrying it into sub-Saharan Africa with them.

Maybe archaic DNA will be recovered from Naledi and clarify the situation.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2017 by Austin Whittall © 

Friday, July 21, 2017

On an Archaic hominin introgression in Africa and an earlier date for the peopling of Australia

Today I have come across two brand new and very interesting papers:

The first one tells us that modern Homo sapiens reached Australia much earlier than formerly believed: 65,000 years ago. (Chris Clarkson et al., "Human occupation of northern Australia by 65,000 years ago", Nature 547, 306–310, 20 July 2017, doi:10.1038/nature22968).

The authors point out that "This evidence sets a new minimum age for the arrival of humans in Australia, the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa, and the subsequent interactions of modern humans with Neanderthals and Denisovans.".

The other paper by Duo Xu et al ("Archaic hominin introgression in Africa contributes to functional salivary MUC7 genetic variation", Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2017; DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msx206.) tells us that an archaic hominin interbred with sub-Saharan Africans.

This is an extremely interesting conjecture which the authors state as follows "...we conclude that a divergent MUC7 haplotype likely originated in an unknown African hominin population and introgressed into ancestors of modern Africans...".

This introgression could explain why there is so much diversity in sub-Saharan Africans: they got it from an archaic human (I posted this same idea Here, where I wrote: "This leads me to ask, what if African heterozygosity was enriched by recent admixture with other hominins in Africa? an inflow of different relic alleles elevated African diversity above that of non-Africans" and Here where I wrote: "These ancient African humans carried the A00 lineage in them, mated with AMH (within the last 195 ky)").

The second paper is interesting and I will post on it later because it has some "orthodoxy" influencing its hypothesis, see this for instance, where the authors look into the introgressed halpogroup, (E):

"However, introgression of haplogroup E from Neanderthals or Denisovans is unlikely, because haplogroup E is exclusively found in sub- Saharan African populations, whereas introgression events between Neanderthals or Denisovans with modern humans happened after modern humans migrated out of Africa (Vernot and Akey 2014) (Figure 5A, Figure S5). As such, we hypothesize that an archaic hominin, at that time still roaming in Africa, contributed haplogroup E to the ancestors of extant Africans."

They are assuming that H. sapiens originated in Africa and moved "Out" of Africa. If they had move "Into" Africa from Eurasia, then Neanderthals or Denisovans could have been the origin of the haplogroup...

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 

Friday, July 7, 2017

An even older Out of Africa event (270kya)!!

A paper published in Nature, by Cosimo Posth et al, published in Nature looks into the odd discrepancy in the age of the split between Modern Human and Neanderthal genomes

The date of the split between humans and Neanderthals differs when you consider their nuclear or their mtDNA:

  • Nuclear DNA says that humans and Nearnderthals split some 765,000 to 550,000 years ago
  • Mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA says we split 365,000 to 400,000 years ago

I believe that discrepancies are what makes science leap forward (like the problems caused by the "ether" theory that led to relativity and quantum physics). And a gap like this of several hundreds of thousands of years is a big discrepancy. Either the dating is all wrong and has to be reviewed (ie. mutation rates and so forth), or the current ideas on the migration and origin of Homo sapiens are incorrect.

The paper looks into the mtDNA extracted a "complete mtDNA of an archaic femur from the Hohlenstein–Stadel (HST) cave in southwestern Germany. HST carries the deepest divergent mtDNA lineage that splits from other Neanderthals ∼270,000 years ago..."

This date of 270 kya is actualy the average, the real divergence date between HST and all other Neanderthals (95% HPD) is between 316 and 219 kya. The Altai Neanderthals split from the other Neanderthals some ∼160,000 years ago (95% HPD of 199 - 125 kya).

This paper tries to explain the genetic incongruence of Sima de los Huesos (see my post Sima de los Huesos remains, Neanderthals, Denisovans and their nuclear and mtDNA), the remains from Sima de los Huesos in Spain which are 430 ky old, have mtDNA that resembles that of Denisovans more closely than that of the Neanderthals. But, their nuclear DNA is more similar to that of Neanderthals than to Denisovan nuclear DNA.

The authors write (Bold is mine) that the nuclear DNA (nDNA) "... from the Sima de los Huesos site... confirmed their closer affinity to the Neanderthal lineage, suggesting that at least by ∼430 ka, Neanderthals and Denisovans had already diverged. However, in contrast to genome-wide data, the Sima de los Huesos mtDNA was found to branch off with the deeply divergent Denisovan mtDNA lineage. The phylogenetic discrepancies could be reconciled if the mtDNA of early Neanderthals was indeed Denisovan-like and was subsequently replaced by a more derived mtDNA lineage.".

This "derived mtDNA" got into the Neanderthals through " a genetic introgression event from African hominins into the early Neanderthal population that gave rise to the ‘Late Pleistocene’ Neanderthal mtDNA lineage".

This introgression took place long ago, and came from " an African source, which we constrain taking place more than ∼270 ka". In other words the paper suggests an Out of Africa event over 270,000 years ago which admixed human mtDNA into Neanderthals, mtDNA which replaced the older mtDNA -i.e. Denisovan and Sima de los Huesos hominin, with a new lineage, the "African mtDNA that evolved into the Late Pleistocene Neanderthal mtDNA type". And this "new" mtDNA spread from the HST Neanderthal in Germany to all others, including Sidron in Spain and eastwards all the way to Altai. Thousands of kilometers from the Atlantic to Siberia.

Furthermore, they estimate that "if Ne (effective population) was <5,000 units, a mean temporal interval of 300 ka is sufficient for an incoming mtDNA lineage below 0.1% in frequency to drift up to fixation." in other words, a very small initial input of "African genes".
But looking at this theory with a critical eye, we must point out that Neanderthals were spread out over a very wide area, which makes it very difficult for this replacement to take place in the whole population.

Furthermore a different explanation can be found: if modern humans were already outside of Africa i.e. in Asia, and they mixed with the Neanderthals outside of Africa -no Africans involved in the introgression. They would have had plenty of time to admix over a wide area, and this would also explain why there was an Ancient gene flow from early modern humans into Eastern Neanderthals 100,000 years ago as suggested by Martin Kuhlwilm et al, in Nature, Feb. 2016. DOI:10.1038/nature16544.

So instead of suggesting an earlier migration (it actually took place 1.8 Mya when Homo erectus left Africa for Asia) why not think about H. sapiens living in Eurasia and mixing with Neanderthals?

I wonder how this ties in with the Oldest Homo sapiens remains dating back to 315,000 years ago, found in Morocco?

(1) Deeply divergent archaic mitochondrial genome provides lower time boundary for African gene flow into Neanderthals, Cosimo Posth, Christoph Wißing, Keiko Kitagawa, Luca Pagani, Laura van Holstein, Fernando Racimo, Kurt Wehrberger, Nicholas J. Conard, Claus Joachim Kind, Hervé Bocherens & Johannes Krause. Nature Communications 8, Article number: 16046 (2017). doi:10.1038/ncomms16046.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2017 by Austin Whittall ©

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Homo naledi is far too young...

Homo naledi, a very primitive looking hominid, once believed to be a very ancient relative of modern humans, has been dated to a very recent period, in this paper (The age of Homo naledi and associated sediments in the Rising Star Cave, South Africa, by Paul HGM Dirks et al., DOI:, published May 9, 2017 Cite as eLife 2017;6:e24231) some 236 to 335 kya. And the abstract concludes:

"...We have constrained the depositional age of Homo naledi to a period between 236 ka and 335 ka. These age results demonstrate that a morphologically primitive hominin, Homo naledi, survived into the later parts of the Pleistocene in Africa, and indicate a much younger age for the Homo naledi fossils than have previously been hypothesized based on their morphology."


A second paper (New fossil remains of Homo naledi from the Lesedi Chamber, South Africa, John Hawks, et al., DOI: Published May 9, 2017 Cite as eLife 2017;6:e24232) points out its really primitive crania, which has a smaller size than that of H. habilis. And this creature lived side by side with our purported African ancestors!

H. naledi (R) seems to have shared southern Africa with distinct human species, such as Kabwe man (L)

Apparently there are two theories to explain H. naledi:

  1. It is a ancient relative of H. habilis and retained its primitive morphology in a branch that survived into the times of modern humans.
  2. It split later on, after H. habilis, maybe from Homo erectus and reverted into a primitive form.

Could these primitive hominids have admixed with Africans and enriched their genome with "diversity"? adding genes and variety that did not appear out of Africa because H. naledi were constrained to their Sub Saharan location?

An out of Africa origin of modern humans Asian (or even, an American) origin for modern humans, who later reached Africa and admixed with H. naledi would surely yield the current genetic variability.

Since Naledi is so young, perhaps viable DNA could be obtained and sequenced. Who can tell what that information will tell us!

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2017 by Austin Whittall © 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

America peopled 130,000 years ago

Some very good news: atlastsome scientific evidence supporting an early =(130000 years ago) peopling of America; read more read more·

This is the link to the paper in Nature: Link to paper. And this is the abstract (I highlighted the Bold text):

"The earliest dispersal of humans into North America is a contentious subject, and proposed early sites are required to meet the following criteria for acceptance: (1) archaeological evidence is found in a clearly defined and undisturbed geologic context; (2) age is determined by reliable radiometric dating; (3) multiple lines of evidence from interdisciplinary studies provide consistent results; and (4) unquestionable artefacts are found in primary context1, 2. Here we describe the Cerutti Mastodon (CM) site, an archaeological site from the early late Pleistocene epoch, where in situ hammerstones and stone anvils occur in spatio-temporal association with fragmentary remains of a single mastodon (Mammut americanum). The CM site contains spiral-fractured bone and molar fragments, indicating that breakage occured while fresh. Several of these fragments also preserve evidence of percussion. The occurrence and distribution of bone, molar and stone refits suggest that breakage occurred at the site of burial. Five large cobbles (hammerstones and anvils) in the CM bone bed display use-wear and impact marks, and are hydraulically anomalous relative to the low-energy context of the enclosing sandy silt stratum. 230Th/U radiometric analysis of multiple bone specimens using diffusion–adsorption–decay dating models indicates a burial date of 130.7 ± 9.4 thousand years ago. These findings confirm the presence of an unidentified species of Homo at the CM site during the last interglacial period (MIS 5e; early late Pleistocene), indicating that humans with manual dexterity and the experiential knowledge to use hammerstones and anvils processed mastodon limb bones for marrow extraction and/or raw material for tool production. Systematic proboscidean bone reduction, evident at the CM site, fits within a broader pattern of Palaeolithic bone percussion technology in Africa3, 4, 5, 6, Eurasia7, 8, 9 and North America10, 11, 12. The CM site is, to our knowledge, the oldest in situ, well-documented archaeological site in North America and, as such, substantially revises the timing of arrival of Homo into the Americas."

A 130,000-year-old archaeological site in southern California, USA Steven R. Holen Thomas A. Deméré Daniel C. Fisher Richard Fullagar James B. Paces George T. Jefferson Jared M. Beeton Richard A. Cerutti Adam N. Rountrey Lawrence Vescera Kathleen A. Holen. Nature 544, 479–483 (27 April 2017) doi:10.1038/nature22065

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2017 by Austin Whittall © 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Fake news on Bigfoot - just look at the photo!

I couldn't help sharing this "article" with you, which supposedly shows a bigfoot in its phot. A hoax, no doubt. This kind of unprofessional articles harms the cause of those who try to be serious and scientific.

The image is so crude and the hoax is so evident, that it is embarrassing.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2017 by Austin Whittall © 

Denisovans, Inuit and Native Americans

An article, which you can read here Arctic Inuit, Native American cold adaptations may originate from extinct hominids from Dec. 2016, tells us something about the Inuit, Amerindians and Denisovans or some other now extinct archaic hominid... (the original paper is here).

Two genes, TBX15 and WARS2 seem to be critical in how the body deals with fat in cold climates to generat heat. The article points out the following:

" The Inuit DNA sequence in this region matches very well with the Denisovan genome, and it is highly differentiated from other present-day human sequences, though we can't discard the possibility that the variant was introduced from another archaic group whose genomes we haven't sampled yet," said Fernando Racimo, lead author of the study.
The authors found that the variant is present at low-to-intermediate frequencies throughout Eurasia, and at especially high frequencies in the Inuits and Native American populations, but almost absent in Africa. TBX15 is a gene known to affect the human body's response to cold, and is associated with a number of traits related to body fat distribution. The authors speculate that the archaic variant may have been beneficial to modern humans during their expansion throughout Siberia and across Beringia, into the Americas.

Allow me to suggest another option: the archaic variant evolved in Homo erectus in high latitude Asia, they had reached this part of the world at least 1 million years ago. They hunted big game (mammoths and hairy rhino lived there and did so for millions of years). What would stop them from following the heards into America? Thanks to this adaptation they could. And this is why, their descent, the Amerindians carry it. Later after Homo sapiens evolved in America, it back migrated into Siberia and Eurasia and reached -though diluted- Africa when it was peopled by modern H. sapiens from Asia and America.

This explains the cline from a peak in America to a low in Africa. As you moved into hotter regions it became less of an advantadge (actualy a fatty layer in a hot climate is a disadvantage).

Archaic Adaptive Introgression in TBX15/WARS2 Fernando Racimo David Gokhman Matteo Fumagalli Amy Ko Torben Hansen Ida Moltke Anders Albrechtsen Liran Carmel Emilia Huerta-Sánchez Rasmus Nielsen Mol Biol Evol (2017) 34 (3): 509-524. DOI: Published: 22 December 2016

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2017 by Austin Whittall © 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Early man in Northern Yukon 300,000 years ago

This paper dating back to the 1980s: Stratigraphic, Sedimentological and Faunal Evidence for the Occurrence of Pre-Sangamonian artifacts in Northern Yukon by Jopling, AV, WN Irving, and BF Beebe. 1981.Arctic 34 (1): 3-33, reports evidence of ancient human presence in Yukon - Alaska. An excerpt from the paper is very interesting:

"... It is interesting that these early human inhabitants predate the extinction in Europe and western Asia of most or all populations of Homo sapiens neandertalensis. Indeed, if Unit 1 is of Illinoian = Riss age, these artefacts probably are older than Mousterian cultures and Neandertal Man. Elsewhere, Irving (1978a, b) has commented on a plausible relationship of these early cultures to the Early Palaeolithic of the Far East, ar elationship anticipated by Chard (e.g. 1963) and more recently by Rouse (19801, although terminologies differ. Bryan (1978) has published an unusual human calotte from Brazil which beckons renewed attention in this connection. In a recent announcement Chia et al. (1979) describe a large collection of vertebrate fossils and stone artefacts found near Hsuchiayao in Yangkao County, Shansi, China. They attribute the entire collection to an age comparable with that of the Riss (Illinoian) glaciation. The associated human skeletal remains are said to be intermediate between Homo erectus and Homo neandertalensis (sic). Elsewhere Medvedev (1979) appears to have documented the northward progress ofHomo sp. as far as the Aldan Plateau in Siberia, 200 000 or more years ago. We must now, therefore, entertain seriously the possibility that a variant of Homo erectus reached the Western Hemisphere, as recently suggested by Yoshizaki (pers. comm., 1981). If true, this must profoundly affect both studies of the origin of Homo sapiens and studies of New World populations..."

For map lovers, This map shows the site.

1981 was ages ago!!! I was in my 20s!!, the world was quite different, wasn't it? No internet, cellphones, WiFi, I was programming in Fortran in University! The so called good old days... like another life ago!

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2017 by Austin Whittall © 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Into Africa, some proof on an Out Of America origin of modern Homo sapiens

Regarding my previous post where I mentioned a paper on the non-African origin of modern humans, I have come across another very interesting paper: "Explaining worldwide patterns of human genetic variation using a coalescent-based serial founder model of migration outward from Africa" by Michael DeGiorgio, Mattias Jakobsson and Noah A. Rosenberg (Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Sep 22; 106(38): 16057–16062. Published online 2009 Aug 17. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0903341106) which offers an interesting model which can explain the greater diversity of Africans and at the same time make them the "most recent" humans instead of the oldest ones.

The usual argument for an Out of Africa origin of Homo Sapiens is the higher diversity in Africa versus that of non-African populations. A typical example used as proof is the graph showing how Heterozygosity decreases with the distance to Africa (there are countless of these on the internet, with the Y axis showing Heterozygosity and the X axis showing the distance from Addis Abbaba), below is one of them:

A typical heterozygosity vs. distance to Ethiopia. From Fig. 2 in [1]

Notice the negative gradient of the graph (shown by the dashed line in the figure -Fig. B, on the right). Heterozygosity falls from left to right.

The paper by DeGiorgio, Jakobsson and Rosenberg which caught my attention explores a models to explain this fact. In doing so they analyze different alternatives. And the one they discard because it does not fit the current idea of an Out of Africa model, is precisely the one that explains the data, if you accept a non-African origin of mankind. Allow me to explain:

Archaic Persistence Model

The team developed this "archaic persistence model" in which an archaic population evolved-mutated and originates modern humans (Homo sapiens). And as this first original and most ancient Homo sapiens population expands outwards from its homeland, it spreads gradually forming colonies which move into a "collection of preexisting archaic populations". For instance Denisovans, Neanderthals or even surviving yet unknown Chinese hominds -or Homo erectus descendants...

In the words of the authors, this is what they observed as the populations moved away from the original nucleous, the first modern human population:

"Heterozygosity increases, LD decreases, and the ancestral allele frequency spectrum slope increases with increasing colony number. These results can be understood from the fact that in the long time since the initial divergence, the K archaic populations have enough time to develop distinctive localized variants. As the migration wave travels through them, it accumulates diversity, gathering new variants from each population through which it passes. Thus, heterozygosity increases with increasing colony number in the same way that it increases in the archaic admixture model at the population in which admixture occurs. The difference between models lies in the fact that in the archaic persistence model, archaic admixture occurs in every population, so that heterozygosity increases at each step rather than at a single location. This occurrence of archaic admixture at each step also explains the decrease in LD and increase in the slope of the ancestral allele frequency spectrum that occur at each step...

In other words they observed that if the original, the "first real" human group, was in Africa, as we moved further away from there we should find more heterozygosity, which we don't. Hence the model is wrong and despite having originated in Africa we did not go through this type of admixture.

But lets just look at this with a more open mind:

Turn it around!

However if the original home of modern humans (Homo sapiens) was in America and not Africa, then, as they migrated outwards from America, into Asia, Oceania, Europe and went through each of the archaic populations in the old world, adding diversity and finally reached Africa mixing with the archaics there, the heterozygosity would be lowest in America and grow towards Africa, which is exactly what their model finds and which coincides with the observed heterozygosity cline in modern humans.

So It all makes sense if you invert the origin of the first humans: form Africa, to America.

Below is the image showing how heterozygosity grows as you move away from the original H. sapiens population if you assume the Archaic Persistence Model, the authors discard it because the actual observed heterozygosity falls as you move away from Africa:

From Fig 6 in DeGiorgio, Jakobsson and Rosenberg, adapted by A. Whittall

Now let's turn this same figure around and the result is a graph with a negative gradient which is exactly the same as the first graph we used in this paper (the distance to A. Abbaba & heterozygosity):

Same figure as above but we change the location of the first modern humans
Adapted by Austin Whittall

As an engineer, I sometimes get the feeling that Anthropology and those who study the origins of humanity are like the late 1800s Physicists who despite all the evidence kept on pushing the notion of ether or fiddle with the data to uphold classic mechanics. It took Einstein and Plank to change the paradigm with their Relativity and Quantum theories. Something similar took place in the 1500s, with Copernicus explaining with graceful simplicity the movement of the planets, doing away with the complex Ptolomean system. A shift in mindset is needed to look at the same data to find the necessary changes and to avoid adhering to theories that contradict that data.


[1] Verdu P, Pemberton TJ, Laurent R, Kemp BM, Gonzalez-Oliver A, Gorodezky C, et al. (2014) Patterns of Admixture and Population Structure in Native Populations of Northwest North America. PLoS Genet 10(8): e1004530. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004530

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

An intersting paper on the NON AFRICAN orign of mankind

Seems it is an Out of Asia after all...

This is a very interesting -at least it goes against the grain of most orthodox papers, positing an out of Asia orign of mankind- paper: WORLD SCIENCE EN ROUTE FROM OUT-OF-AFRICA TO OUT-OF-AMERICA: FIRST STOP IS OUT-OF-ASIA.

By the way, Happy 2017!! I have the feeling that this year will bring us surprises galore, and not only from some Neanderthals (with my apologies to our great and dignified ancestors) who have recently taken up their lodging in Washington DC.

May reason, sensible discussion of ideas, open-mindedness and above all, Western values such as respect, freedom to dissent, freedom of religion, thought and above all, freedom of speech, prevail above any populist sleazy politicians and their demagoguery. On both sides of the Anglo-Saxon Atlantic (i.e. Brexit supporters). Respect, chivalry and rationality must prevail over bigotry, prejudice and Medieval witch-hunting. Racism belongs with the 1940s fascists, not in the XXIst century.

And if you post any insidious comments I will publish them even if I disagree -of course-, no foul language please.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 
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