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

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Nesher Ramla Homo (Israel)

A paper published last June (I. Hershkovitz et al. A Middle Pleistocene Homo from Nesher Ramla, Israel. Science. Vol. 372, June 25, 2021, p. 1424. doi: 10.1126/science.abh3169.) describes bones found in a site in Israel, dating back to 140-120,000 years ago. These remains display a mixture of archaic and modern features that prompted the authors to suggest a name for this "last surviving populations of Middle Pleistocene Homo in Europe" as the "Nesher Ramla Homo"".

There is a second paper (Y. Zaidner et al. Middle Pleistocene Homo behavior and culture at 140,000 to 120,000 years ago and interactions with Homo sapiens. Science. Vol. 372, June 25, 2021, p. 1429. doi: 10.1126/science.abh3020.) that explores their stone knapping technology, comparable to that of Neanderthal and H. sapiens, using Levalloisean techniques. Until now it was believed that Middle Pleistocene (MP) hominins could only produce more primitive Acheulean tools.

The acquisition of Levalloisean "know-how" apparently came through admixture of this MP Homo and Homo sapiens: "We contend that cultural diffusion and interaction across Homo populations is the most likely reason for such a close cultural similarity between MP Homo and H. sapiens... Our findings provide archaeological support for close cultural interactions between different human lineages during the Middle Paleolithic period and suggest that contacts between MP Homo and H. sapiens had already occurred prior to 120 ka."

The MP Homo or Nesher Ramla Homo is a mossaic of archaic and modern features, compatible with H. erectus, Neanderthal and H. sapiens:
"The cumulative evidence from the three analyzed anatomical elements (parietal bone, mandible, and M2) reveal a unique combination of archaic and Neanderthal features, supporting the existence of a local, Levantine population at the final MP. The results of the quadratic discriminant analyses ... show that an affiliation of the NR fossils with early and recent H. sapiens is highly unlikely, but that it is impossible to establish whether NR fossils are more likely to be classified as MP Homo, Neanderthal, or H. erectus (the latter for the parietal only).
Consequently, the discriminant function plot (fig. S1) shows that the NR-1 parietal falls between the H. erectus/African MP Homo group and the European MP Homo/Neanderthals, with a similar likelihood of belonging to either cluster (H. erectus = 0.41, MP Homo = 0.34, Neanderthal = 0.25, based on the first three PCs).

So they conclude that "The NR fossils could represent late-surviving examples (140 to 120 ka) of a distinctive Southwest Asian MP Homo group, predating Levantine Neanderthals from Amud, Kebara, and Ein Qashish (70 to 50 ka)."

Below is an image from the commentary published (Marta Lahr) with the studies; it shows the increasing complexity of the evolution of human beings.

From M. Mirazón Lahr. The complex landscape of recent human evolution. Science. Vol. 372, June 25, 2021, p. 1395. doi: 10.1126/science.abj3077.

I will close with Lahr's comment: " The poor preservation of ancient DNA in Africa precludes similar insights into our African demographic history. However, the recent discovery of modern human fossils in Greece and Israel dating to about 210 to 177 ka ago and ancient European genomes show that there were multiple out-of-Africa dispersals in the last 400,000 years, during which early humans and Neanderthals interbred."

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2021 by Austin Whittall © 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Hepatitis B Virus and the early peopling of America

In December 2018 I wrote a post suggesting "An ancient American origin of Hepatitis B virus" (HBV), yesterday I came across fresh research into the origin of this virus, published on Oct. 7 in Science magazine (Arthur Kocher et al. Ten millennia of hepatitis B virus evolution. Science, 2021 DOI: 10.1126/science.abi5658. 🔒 ). It adds data to the subject.

Main conclusions

  • Wasn't an Out of Africa Event ("There is no evidence indicating that HBV was present in the earliest humans as they spread out of Africa" and "Our findings challenge the view that current HBV diversity reflects early human dispersals out of Africa."
  • Old lineage in America ("Furthermore, the virus was present in the Americas by about 9000 years ago, representing a lineage sister to the viral strains found in Eurasia that diverged about 20,000 years ago")
  • American HBV is a distinct Sister Clade ("HBV genotypes typically found in Native Americans (genotypes F and H) represent a sister clade to the rest of worldwide HBV diversity (which we refer to as the Eurasian branch)")

An American origin?

As the American lineage is the oldest, and on a separate branch, with all other Eurasians on a separate branch, and NO early African root (Africans are on the Eurasian side of the tree), this is disquieting for those supporting an Out of Africa and into America migration of humans. How can they explain that the American HBV is the oldest? and not at all related to East Asian - Siberian variants? You would expect the Amerindian variant to be a branch of the Siberian or East Asian ones if HBV entered America from there.

The authors add that "HBV ... found in Native Americans ... represent a sister clade to the rest of worldwide HBV diversity... In particular, the monophyly of the American HBV branch, comprising all ancient genomes from the Americas dating back to as early as ~9 ka ... was highly supported" meaning the HBV in America is old, and monophyletic (they all descend from the same ancestor, which in this case is distinct from the Eurasian and rest-of-the-world linages). This is remarkable.

But the authors cautiously add a disclaimer: "However, deep nodes within the Eurasian branch were not well resolved, pointing to plausible alternative topologies in which some of the earliest Eurasian lineages would have diverged before the American branch" meaning that there may be some other Eurasians from which both American and Rest of the World clades diverged.

Fig 2 A from the paper.

The image shows all the global variants, except American ones, on the upper branch. Notice that simian (Chimpanzee, Gorilla, Gibbon, and Orangutan) variants and the African E variant are on this part of the tree. On the bottom of the image are the American variants. A separate branch. I added the red star to mark the point where American and Rest Of The World clades split.

What is interesting is that if you climb the tree from the root, the branches fork as follows:

  • Root
    • American branch
    • Eurasian-African branch
      • Gibbon - Orangutan branch
      • All non-American Humans

So the great apes of Asia (Orangutan and Gibbon) and Asian-European-African humans got HBV from a common ancestor that also infected Americans?

Who was this hominin living in the Southeast Asian jungles? Maybe Homo erectus? The dates along the tree can be taken cautiously because a scientist studying virus will take the accepted date for the arrival of modern humans in America and apply it to his or her research. If conventional science agrees that 15 Ky is the date, then the split between Rest of the World and Americans will be set at that date. In fact the tree shows that all American branches coalesce at 15.3 to 18.9 Ky.

So how can this be reconciled with the Out of Africa origin of mankind?

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2021 by Austin Whittall © 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Lake Utah 40Ky stone tools and the Hansen skull cap article

Following my previous post, I found the Utah Statewide Archaeological Society Newsletter, Volume 21, Number 1, April 1975 which contains not only Hansen's paper about the Lake Utah Neanderthaloid skull cap but also another one by Leland Clark about stone tools dating back 40,000 years, discovered on the highest shoreline of former Lake Bonneville, on the NW tip of Lake Utah.

Former Lake Bonneville now reduced to the Great Salt Lake and Lake Utah that existed during the past 45,000 years, gradually drying up.

The images depict the lake, and the headline of the paper on the 40ky old stone tools (check fig. 5, showing a handaxe).

The whole newsletter is worth reading as it deals with the same subject: early human presence on the shores of Lake Bonneville in Utah, USA.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2021 by Austin Whittall © 

Lake Utah Skullcap (Neanderthal?)

This is the article mentioned in my previous post, the Lake Utah skullcap: Utah Lake Skull Cap George H. Hansen American Anthropologist New Series, Vol. 36, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1934), pp. 431-433.

I will try to find out more about it.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2021 by Austin Whittall © 

Neanderthaloids in America

I came across this article: American Neanderthaloids T. D. Stewart The Quarterly Review of Biology Vol. 32, No. 4 (Dec., 1957), pp. 364-369. Quite unusual, it mendions "neanderthaloid" crania discovered in the US, and how Hrldicka imposed his point of view that still prevails (sort of) regarding a late peopling of America and than Neanderthal's never reached America (why couldn't they?).

Unfortunately I am not subscribed so I can't go beyond this first page!.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2021 by Austin Whittall © 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Human hair 40,000 years old in Argentina (Cacao 1.A cave)

This is a finding originally published in 2018, which I read this year (Spanish language newspaper article), it states that remains dating back to 40,000 years ago have been discovered in a cave in the Argentine Andean province of Catamarca.

The research and dig was cut short by the covid-19 pandemic. The leading scientist, Carlos Aschero, reported that the cave known as Cacao 1.A., located at a height of 3,780 meters (12,400 ft) in a dry, arid and desertic area of the Puna highlands, produced some stone tools, human and animal hairs and two Sclidotherium (large sloths) rib bones that were worked by humans. This area was more humid and had lagoons and more vegetation 40,000 years ago.

Aschero visited the site many times, in 2013 he had found fossil megatherium dung 12,500 years old, now he dug up more dung and beneath it, two ribs and five stone tools laid in a horizontal position. He had them dated in the US and the dung was 37,000 years old, and the ribs over 39,000. "We were stopped by the panemic, but we plan to go back." said Aschero.

He adds that "there are some parallel marks, perpendicular to the rib edge, that surprise me and make me remember some marks that appear on bones from the Mousterian... like if they were calendar elements". Note that Mousterian is the technology of Neanderthals in Europe. So he is assuming these are not H. sapiens marks.

Lock of Human hair dated to ca.40.500 to 38.000 years ago

Regarding the human hair he says "in the matrix where the (stone) artifacts were laid, we came across a lock of hair, cut transversally, with three dates that go from 40.500 to 38.000 years BP. We are sure the hair is human. A forensic expert of the Federal Police analyzed it and concluded 'or it is human or it is of a primate'... sieving the material we found loose hairs with bulb, which is very important because it would allow DNA studies".

He supposes they were Neanderthal and says that these remains are not usually found because "they are buried under earth covered by many meters of sediment. Maybe there were not more thn a few tens of thousands of persons, small and dispersed populations ... there is another problem. Did the Neanderthal type populations navigate or not? That is another problembecause they could have come down the coast sailing so that the speed they populated (America) could have been much faster, specially along the Pacific coast."

He concludes that they could be either Neanderthal or Denisovan in the final paragraph of the article.

Let's wait for further work at this site and discoveries that confirm or disprove these theories.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2021 by Austin Whittall © 

Erectus lived in India recently (177 kya)

Erectus survived in India until fairly recently (177 Ky ago) according to this article.

Published in Cosmos, it states that "The new study, led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Germany, re-examined ancient stone tools unearthed at a site called Singi Talav, in Rajasthan, and found that they were used by some of the last creators of Acheulean stone tools in the world, dating to around 177,000 years ago – just before the earliest expansions of Homo sapiens across Asia."

I will try to read the original paper. Anyway, if they managed to survive until such a recent time, they may have also had time to cross Beringia in one of the periods when it was high and dry, and trekked into America.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2021 by Austin Whittall © 
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