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, May 21, 2018

Hominins in the Philippines 709,000 years ago: watercraft?

This paper published in Nature a few weeks ago: Earliest known hominin activity in the Philippines by 709 thousand years ago, by T. Ingicco et al. (Nature volume 557, pages 233–237 (2018) doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0072-8) is amazing: the authors find stone tools and the remains of butchered megafauna several hundreds of thousands of years older than expected. These hominins were not Homo sapiens, and the Philippines was separated from the rest of Sundaland by open sea. So how did they get there? Did they use boats?

The paper says the folowing:

  • The remains are between 631 and 777 Ky old. So this is +600 ky older than the alleged Out of Africa event of modern humans.
  • They found dozens of stone tools, rather primitive, lacking retouching.
  • They also found rhinoceros bones with cut marks and percussion marks (to break the bones), a clear indication of hominin activities.

The authors write: "Our excavations at Kalinga and the numeric dating results clearly provide securely dated evidence for human colonization of the Philippines by the early Middle Pleistocene epoch, and long before the appearance of modern humans in both the local context and wider Island South East Asia region. Although the identity of these archaic toolmakers remains unknown, it is likely that they dispersed over at least one sea barrier to reach Luzon Island. The most likely points of origin are Borneo through Palawan to the west, or China through Taiwan to the north, this latter island was connected to mainland Asia during periods with low sea levels..."

Then they wonder if these hominins are related to more recent remains found at Callao Cave, those of a small adult human:

"...a question clearly linked to our discovery is the origin of the Callao Cave hominin that has been dated to 66.7 ± 1 ka. This diminutive Callao hominin may represent a direct descendent from a Pleistocene migration stock related to these early Kalinga toolmakers—similar to what happened on Flores Island—or may be derived from a more recent migration wave of anatomically modern humans..."

The Callao Cave hominin was reported (New evidence for a 67,000-year-old human presence at Callao Cave, Luzon, Philippines,Armand Salvador Mijares et al. Journal of Human Evolution Volume 59, Issue 1, July 2010, Pages 123-132 after the discovery of a metatarsal bone (foot bone) of a diminutive hominin, which may have been or not a modern human:

"[The] metatarsal definitely belongs to the genus Homo. Morphometric analysis of the Callao metatarsal indicates that it has a gracile structure, close to that observed in other small-bodied Homo sapiens. Interestingly, the Callao metatarsal also falls within the morphological and size ranges of Homo habilis and H. floresiensis. Identifying whether the metatarsal represents the earliest record of H. sapiens so far recorded anywhere east of Wallace’s Line".

So it may have been a Homo habilis or even a Flores hominin! or, as the authors of the most recent find suggest, a migration of Homo erectus (see below) that became tinier due to insular dwarfism, see what Ingicco et al say about the rhino slayers:

"Despite the current evidence, it still seems too farfetched to suggest that H. erectus, or another unknown Pleistocene ancestral candidate for the Kalinga toolmakers (for example, Denisovans), were able to construct some sort of simple watercraft and deliberately cross sea barriers to reach these islands. However, considering evidence of overseas dispersal during the Middle Pleistocene stage is increasing in number, such a hypothesis cannot currently be rejected."

For me the important thing is precisely that: they crossed open sea to reach the Philippines. This means they dominated the art of building and sailing watercraft long before humans appeared, at the time that Neanderthals were splitting from the ancestors of H. sapiens (if the Out of Africa theory is correct). But do note how hesitant the authors are, to admit this (they write "too farfetched" instead of admitting that they did build a boat...)

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2018 by Austin Whittall © 

1 comment:

  1. Maybe they didn't have to cross open water. Here is a projection of what sea levels would look like at 110m lower than the current level. This is, of course, higher than the generally accepted 120m low. Note that even at that sea level the Philippines are connected by a land bridge.

    This is from the The Global Land One-km Base Elevation Project (GLOBE) within NOAA.


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