Evolution and humans: who got to the Philippines? (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Friday, May 04, 2018, 19:41 (222 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by David Turell, Friday, May 04, 2018, 19:48

Evidence of early Homos in the Philippines from one site in Luzon. Apparently early Homos could sail the seas:

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/stone-tools-rhinoceros-luzon-philippines-an...

"Stone tools found in the Philippines predate the arrival of modern humans to the islands by roughly 600,000 years—but researchers aren’t sure who made them.

"The eye-popping artifacts, unveiled on Wednesday in Nature, were abandoned on a river floodplain on the island of Luzon beside the butchered carcass of a rhinoceros. The ancient toolmakers were clearly angling for a meal. Two of the rhino's limb bones are smashed in, as if someone was trying to harvest and eat the marrow inside. Cut marks left behind by stone blades crisscross the rhino's ribs and ankle, a clear sign that someone used tools to strip the carcass of meat.

"But the age of the remains makes them especially remarkable: The carved bones are most likely between 631,000 and 777,000 years old, with researchers' best estimate coming in around 709,000 years old. The research—partially funded by the National Geographic Society—pushes back occupation of the Philippines to before the known origin of our species, Homo sapiens. The next-earliest evidence of Philippine hominins comes from Luzon's Callao Cave, in the form of a 67,000-year-old foot bone.

***

"While the researchers don't know which archaic cousin of ours butchered the rhino, the find will likely cause a stir among people studying the human story in the South Pacific—especially those wondering how early hominins got to the Philippines in the first place.

***

"Several of the habitable islands across the South Pacific have long been hemmed off by swaths of open ocean, so it was thought that humans' ancient cousins couldn't have made it to them without knowing how to sail.

"But as the saying goes, life finds a way. In 2004, researchers unveiled Homo floresiensis, which lived on the isolated island of Flores for hundreds of thousands of years. In 2016, researchers also found stone tools on Sulawesi, an island north of Flores. As National Geographic reported at the time, the Sulawesi tools date to at least 118,000 years ago, or some 60,000 years before the first anatomically modern humans arrived.

“'It's really, really exciting—it's now becoming increasingly clear that ancient forms of hominins were able to make significant deep-sea crossings,” says Adam Brumm, a paleoanthropologist at Griffith University who studies H. floresiensis.

***

"To get an age range for the site, the team measured the sediments and the rhino's teeth to see how much radiation they had naturally absorbed over time. In addition, they measured the natural uranium content of one of the rhino's teeth, since that element decays like clockwork into thorium. In the mud around the rhino's bones, they also found a speck of melted glass from an asteroid impact dated to about 781,000 year ago.

***

"The list of possible toolmakers includes the Denisovans, a ghost lineage of hominins known from DNA and a handful of Siberian fossils. The leading candidate, though, is the early hominin Homo erectus, since it definitely made its way into southeast Asia. The Indonesian island of Java has H. erectus fossils that are more than 700,000 years old.

"Ingicco's team suggests that the butchers may have been Luzon's version of H. floresiensis, which may have descended from a population of H. erectus that ended up on Flores. Over millennia, the H. erectus there may have evolved to live efficiently on a predator-free island, shrinking in a process called island dwarfism.

***

"Whoever they were, the toolmakers' ancestors may have taken one of two migration routes into the Philippines, according to Ingicco's team: an west-to-east route from Borneo or Palawan, or a north-to-south route from China and Taiwan. But it's an open question how these hominins crossed open ocean.

"It's tempting to think that our extinct cousins used rudimentary boats: When news of the Callao Cave remains broke in 2010, some experts chalked up their presence to ancient seafarers. But the idea is still considered farfetched. Rhinos and elephant-like creatures also made it to Luzon, and they clearly didn't build boats."

Comment: our early ancestors got around over the seas, and I think it will come out, if it ever does, that they learned some sailing techniques with enough provisions on board to spend several days at it. It happened over the Pacific in more recent times.


Complete thread:

 RSS Feed of thread

powered by my little forum