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The Origin of People -- hominin migration and evolution

  1. May 16, 2017 #1


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    Origins of various modern human populations has been the subject of a few posts recently. Below is a link to a Science mag news article on this subject.

    Modern Archeology has been using new tools, such as DNA analysis (of modern populations and ancient dead people) and isotope analysis (on dead people, to determine whether or not they spent different parts of their lives in the local environment (due to distinctive isotope signatures)).
    Traditional archeological data (to a large amount reflecting culture, not biology directly) do not directly reflect the biological origins of particular people.

    Presumably, the biological unit (a person with a particular set of genetic traits) can acquire cultural traits (produce pottery, other artifacts, or organizational structures) regardless of their genetics.
    The proper analysis of a history of people would combine them all.

    Using this new information, somewhat deep histories of modern human populations can be assembled.
    This open access article from Science mag, mostly focused on Europe, compares the empirical information with mythologized origin stories.
    Few match.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2017 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    Gee, I wonder why....
  4. May 17, 2017 #3
    Great article, thanks.

    I have always found the migrations, and inter-breeding of peoples to be a fascinating subject, and especially of late, the studies showing that Neanderthals may have been assimilated, rather than having been wiped out by their contemporaries. (Although I have also seen some non-science magazine articles claiming otherwise, but hey, who ya gonna believe?)
  5. May 23, 2017 #4
    This is great info about a very interesting topic and I am glad to learn anything about where we came from and how we got to where we are. There is lots of discoveries being made by people digging up the past with care and respect for who they were and why they did what was done.
  6. May 23, 2017 #5
    While the origin of humans is interested and deserves more detailed attention, I found the linked article in "Science" to border on propaganda.

    1. "pure" European - no group is "pure" but there are certainly differences between groups.
    2. We all have a distinct genetic heritage
    3. Within the 1st paragraph of a "science" article we encounter the word Nazi. Nazi is found several times in the article. It escapes me how sprinkling the word Nazi through out the paper supports a "scientific" endeavor
    4. "German people have no unique heritage to protect." We all have a unique heritage
    5. New studies - 3 migrations last 15,000 years - What studies? Origin of migration? Number? Reason for migration? This would have made a great article.
    6. First Homo sapiens arose 60,000 years ago. How?When?Why?Where? Then in graph right under the 60,000 it says 50,000

    7. Obiter dicturm - "walked out of Africa" - http://www.albany.edu/news/release_1101.shtml Here is an article, although about chimpazees (note human vs chimp migrations patterns different) that suggests that swimming (overcoming bodies of water) might have had something to do with migration.

    At present there is scatterings of information all over the place about the origin of humans and their migration patterns. While the details are still very vague and subjective it is amazing to discern the ability of humans to find and inhabit every nook and cranny on the planet.
  7. May 23, 2017 #6


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    True, but that's not the point of the article.

    Yes, but the article is talking about the genetic heritage of a group of people, and they are using a specific definition of heritage:

    "Moreover, Arminius and his kin were not pure “Aryan,” if that term means a person whose ancestors lived solely in what is now Germany or Scandinavia. "

    A "pure" heritage of a group of people would be one where the group as a whole has ancestors who lived in a single area without mixing with other groups of people. But, except for a very small number of groups, humans have been mixing with migrating groups for millennia, leading to totally different heritages even for people living right next to each other.

    It does if such a group had a large impact on the direction of research that the field too, which it appears that it did.

    An individual does, but a group of people usually does not, as the article explained.

    Absolutely. But that's not the topic of this article.

    The text above the graph says more than 50,000 years and the graph itself points to about 55,000 years. This looks to be an obvious case of rounding.

    Indeed it is.
  8. May 23, 2017 #7

    1. If "pure" is not the point of the article why have it in the title?
    2. Very convenient to have a "specific" definition of heritage.
    3. The word Nazi could have been left out of the article without changing anything in the article.
    4. If an individual has a unique heritage, then a collection of individuals has a unique heritage. There is probably a statistics trick that makes uniqueness disappear, but we are talking about a group of people who have shared a common culture for hundreds of years. This group of people is going to be culturally different (unique) from a group of people living in Thailand.
    5. I suppose I have to agree that precision is not important - 60,000 or maybe 55,000 or 50,000 - the correct answer on the final exam is - whatever.
  9. May 23, 2017 #8


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    Because it shall emphasize the impossibility to define this in any reasonable, scientific way. Therefore the quotation marks 'pure'.
    It is always convenient to define what one's talking about.
    No, because this group of primates have genetic heritage on their agenda, and the article shows its absurdity. I assume the historical digression should be read as an allegory on current strands in some parts of the world.
    Pardon, what? This is nonsense.
    So they have a cultural heritage, which is by no means neither static nor unique.
    Different maybe, unique not. And as said before, this is only true if considered in small periods of time and on small aspects of the entire culture.
    All these numbers appear to be a bit low, however they are nowhere claimed to mark the appearance of homo sapiens.
  10. May 23, 2017 #9


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    Hmmm. Perhaps I misunderstood your comment. I'll detract my previous statement for now.

    It certainly helps.

    I disagree. If what the article said about Nazi Germany influencing the field is true, then it certainly deserves to be left in. In my opinion at least.

    They will certainly have a different culture. But I agree with the article's stance. The belief that everyone in a certain area has ancestors that, for the last ten to twenty thousand years, have lived in that same area and have not mixed with other people, is incorrect.
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