Site Hints at Asian Roots for Human Genus

Bruce Bower, Science News, June 6, 2011

Early members of the genus Homo, possibly direct ancestors of people today, may have evolved in Asia and then gone to Africa, not vice versa as many scientists have assumed.

Most paleoanthropologists have favored an African origin for the potential human ancestor Homo erectus. But new evidence shows the species occupied a West Asian site called Dmanisi from 1.85 million to 1.77 million years ago, at the same time or slightly before the earliest evidence of this humanlike species in Africa, say geologist Reid Ferring of the University of North Texas in Denton and his colleagues.

The new Dmanisi discoveries point to an Asian homeland for H. erectus, the scientists propose online June 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Evidence remains meager for the geographic origins of the Homogenus, says anthropologist Bernard Wood of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Several scenarios of Homo evolution are possible, and it’s possible that humankind’s genus got its start in Asia with H. erectus.

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With the new Dmanisi dates, “it certainly looks as though the African origin of H. erectus must be reconsidered,” remarks Harvard University anthropologist Philip Rightmire.

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The new Dmanisi discoveries come from just beneath soil that previously yielded 1.77-million-year-old H. erectus fossils, including skulls with surprisingly small brain cases suggestive of an early form of the species (SN: 9/22/07, p. 179). Excavations produced 73 stone tools for cutting and chopping, as well as 34 bone fragments from unidentified creatures. The artifacts came from a series of H. erectus camps at Dmanisi between 1.85 and 1.78 million years ago, the scientists say.

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  • Tony Soprano

    As I have always said once the Soviet Union fell discoveries like this will change how we view human evolution. Even my own daughter consider Asians to be more like whites than Africans.

  • Anonymous

    As we know, a single discovery is unlikely to establish a lastly theory. But this story does square with the IQ benefiting from longer periods of development and the demographic groups we observe today.

  • Hirsch

    Surely this can’t be correct. I just read a wonderful article from diversityinc.com, which covers issues relating to BLACK and white people, and they said that we all came from Africa. Also, the right honorable Elijah Muhhamad said that the white man was in caves, living as a cannibal while the Annubians were bequething upper math to the Phoenicians. A DNA test revealed that King Tut was of European descent, but DNA testing is racist. I also have it on good advice that Plato and Socrates were black. I can’t be sure, but as a child when the tooth fairy and Santa Claus snuck into my house to leave gifts, they both bore a striking resemblance to James Brown and Samuel L. Jackson, respectively.

  • Anonymous

    The article was not very forthcoming about the exact location of the archeological find. Dmanisi is located in the country of Georgia, in the Caucasus region between Turkey and Russia. It’s technically correct though misleading to simply say Dmanisi is in “Asia.” It’s certainly nowhere near China, where other early hominids have been found.

    Although the article says “[s]everal scenarios of Homo evolution are possible,” they should have explicitly offered the possibility that humans evolved in more than one place, rather than starting in one place and dispersing elsewhere. The article also missed the chance to consider another mystery: at what point in time the various populations of the world began to diverge.

  • TTownTony

    As a former student of anthropology, I can tell you that most human paleontologists have had this theory in mind for many generations. Because of political correctness they have been forced to keep their mouths shut.

  • joe

    Africa is a hell hole like it always has been. It’s PC to give its people some credit for something. Well, take that away and they will be really upset, at least in the US. Our blacks are so entitled, spoiled, stroked, and praised that they would not take news like this very well.

  • Anon

    Back when I took Physical Anthropology–not so terribly long ago–the professor said the total sum of ancient bones found worldwide would fit in the back of a single pickup truck. The amount of hard evidence we have today isn’t much larger. Trying to draw conclusions from the locations of migrating bands of ancient peoples is rather foolhardy. Primitive man and his various branches of genetic ancestors and non-ancestors traveled around far too much for us to draw easy conclusions.

    Personally, I do not care where the human species originated, because land does not equal people. Most readers of this site are mainly concerned with trying to prove that there is a large genetic distance between blacks and whites, and the best test is still DNA, not ‘origin’ on a continent.

  • Anonymous

    Rightmire will be driven from the field and scourned, for even hinting that there is an alternative to the narative that all living beings are related to Bantus

  • White Guy In Japan

    @ TTownTony-I have a BA in anthropology. That field has/had the potential to be great, but anthropologists themselves ruined it. It should be the documentation and analysis of the various facets of humanity, from culture to anatomy.

    Throughout the 20th century, anthropologists (cultural and linguist anthropologists,to be exact) insisted on moving away from any scientific credibility in favor of white-bashing wishy-washy relativity. All cultures are equal but Western is very bad. *scratches head*

    Cultural anthropologists will tell you that race is only cultural and is a false construct. Physical anthroplogists can identify the enthnic background of an individual from their skull alone. *scratches head*

    I don’t want to admit that I wasted my time getting that degree (got me a nice job in Japan) but I wouldn’t recommend it to a young person.

    While I’m at it, check out the mummies of Tarim. Researchers found Causasian mummies in northwestern China. The Chinese archaeological studiously ignored the site. A White civilization in Urumgi doesn’t fit in with the Chinese version of the story.

  • Sardonicus

    It was the late Harvard Anthropologist Dr. Carleton Coon who thought that whites and Asians differentiated fairly recently in human evolutionary history. He put the differentiation between blacks and other races much further back in the past. He was also in favor of separate evolutionary streams and rejected the currently fashionable “out of Africa” theory. Of course, Dr. Coon has been condemned as a falsifying racist today.

  • Whiteplight

    1 — Tony Soprano wrote at 6:22 PM on June 8:

    “As I have always said once the Soviet Union fell discoveries like this will change how we view human evolution. Even my own daughter consider Asians to be more like whites than Africans.”

    Not to attack you, per se, but this is typical evidence of American educational/recollecting limitations. Remember that “Asia” begins where Europe ends. Turkey is properly referred to as “Asia Minor.” All of the known arrivals in Europe came from a region of “Asia” and were known as Indo-Europeans. Check the language origin chart, (I have one in front of me). All major language groups from Balto-Slavic, to Germanic, to Celtic, Italic, Hellenic, Anatolian,Indo-Iranian, and Tocharian, are ALL going under the super heading of Proto-Indo-European. which results in 81 modern day languages. No character languages (such as Chinese) or Middle-Eastern language (Arabic, Hebrew, Coptic, Turkic) are included in that huge language family, and certainly nothing from deeper Africa.

  • Whiteplight

    7 — Anon wrote at 11:06 PM on June 8:

    “Back when I took Physical Anthropology—not so terribly long ago—the professor said the total sum of ancient bones found worldwide would fit in the back of a single pickup truck. The amount of hard evidence we have today isn’t much larger. Trying to draw conclusions from the locations of migrating bands of ancient peoples is rather foolhardy. Primitive man and his various branches of genetic ancestors and non-ancestors traveled around far too much for us to draw easy conclusions.

    Personally, I do not care where the human species originated, because land does not equal people. Most readers of this site are mainly concerned with trying to prove that there is a large genetic distance between blacks and whites, and the best test is still DNA, not ‘origin’ on a continent.”

    Quite true. In fact, most people think of the continents as they are positioned today, forgetting continental drift, etc. Also, there is no evidence that the first H Erectis were black as we know them today. Blacks are the least genetically mutated, but that doesn’t mean that they were the first most advanced group. That that light, whites are the most advanced, since they contain more mutations, as the latest product of evolution. All the more reason to preserve the white race.

  • Whiteplight

    10 — Sardonicus wrote at 7:54 AM on June 9:

    “It was the late Harvard Anthropologist Dr. Carleton Coon who thought that whites and Asians differentiated fairly recently in human evolutionary history. He put the differentiation between blacks and other races much further back in the past. He was also in favor of separate evolutionary streams and rejected the currently fashionable “out of Africa” theory. Of course, Dr. Coon has been condemned as a falsifying racist today. ”

    I recommend everyone to read “Before the Dawn,” by Nicholas Wade. It is commented on (as cover slip review) by James D. Watson. It is about DNA tracing and supports most if not all of what Coon was saying, in particular that Africans were lacked the markers of Asians and Whites that are associated with higher IQ levels in general. Genetics and research in that field have become unpopular, and constitutes a new sort of underground, requiring perhaps a secret society for protection since many of its conclusions would lead to a renewal of ideas like eugenics. One telling trend is the popularity of genealogical research among whites, even though it is being pushed on blacks via commercial groups like Ancestry.com. I can tell you, their main business is from European derived whites. A ray of hope.

  • Anonymous

    It’s what you do with the data that counts.

    If we use this new evidence to protect whites from the vile consequences of ‘diversification through homogenization as miscegenation’, culturally and genetically, _fine_.

    If we use it to hopefully give a more primitive black conceptual mind the ability to become self-supporting, rational and non-criminal, preferrably in their native homelands or a segregated part of ours, okay.

    But chicken or egging a genetic baseline for ‘where modern humanity got started’, as much as when the root races divided out, is rather childish when the majority of what is great about even white cultures has happened in the last 500 years.

    I can’t agree with pushing a racial origins agenda like a cart uphill that doesn’t need to happen -either way- to prove that we are not like and are greatly endangered by, the direct descendants of a race whose origins ARE KNOWN.

    Because they have brought Africa, in all it’s primitiveness, with them.

  • Anonymous

    7 — Anon wrote at 11:06 PM on June 8:

    Back when I took Physical Anthropology—not so terribly long ago—the professor said the total sum of ancient bones found worldwide would fit in the back of a single pickup truck.

    My professor said the bones would fit on a standard double bed with plenty of room, about the same size as a pickup truck.

  • down the bayou

    Anthropology has become fascinating to me( the science not the wishy–washy politics). I wonder about the ratio of lower jawbone angle to upper nose angle ( I may be phrasing it incorrectly) I have begun to notice patterns in the profiles of people of different races.

    I also have a picture of an area of the caucus mountains with a large red arrow showing the possible path of migration from a central “posited homeland” near a sea. Yet how long will we have to endure the “out of africa” myth?

  • Gentle Dave

    Actually to the people celebrating this as a point of pride for Whites (and Asians), I don’t see that. This article is not saying that Africans are some sub-homo species, they’re homo, they’re just different. If anything, it would kill the convenient ‘travelling and having to cope made everyone but Africans smarter’ idea. Africans would be homo, who travelled into Africa. Maybe Whites are the most primitive and un-adventurous in this version. But I don’t know, isn’t it still the case that genetic diversity is greater in Africa than anywhere, meaning that that’s where humanity started?

  • Mike

    How is it possible for any thinking white person to imagine even in their wildest dreams that our roots are in Africa.

    Africans are hundreds of years behind the times even today and even in America where they have more chances for success than anywhere else in the world, including Africa. Yet they still seem to operate under the rain forest mentality here in America today.

    I honestly do not believe blacks can live peacefully with any advanced civilized race or group of people!