Did humans leave Africa earlier than previously thought? Discovery of ancient tools in China


#1

Human in Asia 2.2 million years ago. Does this push GA way back?


#2

@Patrick,

The further back one goes, the more YECs lose interest. While Dr. Gauger and others are tempted to look as far back as 700,000 years… but there is a strong inclination for YECs to stay in the period of time AFTER the extinction of Neanderthal, so that questions about Neanderthals can be more or less passed over.


#3

Is making a stone tool the essence of what it means to be human? Or less philosophically, has every critter able to make stone tools been a member of our species, able to produce fertile offspring?


#4

The answer to this is, of course, no - our most recent common genealogical ancestor is still just a couple of thousand or so years ago, however ancient the human lineage. And if Adam’s “USP” is spiritual rather than biological, then palaeontology, genetics and even cultural anthropology do not impact on Genealogical Adam, though they do keep shaking up those questios in our ancestry.


#5

In the book that I am reading now “How Language Began - Humanity’s Greatest Invention”, the author argues that the stone tools that member of our genus made WERE the first symbols for which language began. He claims that being human IS related to the stone tools and the industry (yes industry) created by humans who brains were growing. He draws the human line as stating with Homo Erectus 2 million years ago when he says language began around the industry of stone tool production. It is a very impressive argument with a lot of data supporting.


#6

I interpret the data to show that everybody and everybody who ever lived is a mix of a large pools of ancestors. And every ancestor is a mix of a large pools of earlier ancestors. And so on for millions of years, even to Australopithecus. An our species is a mix of a large pool of ancestral species, a mosaic of perhaps many species of the genus Homo and perhaps Australopithecus. Makes GA kind of meaningless (and perhaps pointless) scientifically, biologically, genetically,and even culturally.


#7

But not spiritually, which is the essential “meaning” of Adam. “Why is the human race as it is, and what hope is there for change?” is not an insignificant question in any age.


#8

Perhaps it was the beginning, but that’s not to say Erectines had language or were members of our species. I think genetic evidence has to trump inferences from stone tools on this question. Not even neanderthals, the closest non-human to humanity that we currently know of, had the full suite of genes necessary for human speech. The part of the FOX2 gene in the paper below hints at it, but as I understand people without the normal human version of the gene have severe speech problems.

https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(13)01605-X?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS009286741301605X%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

Perhaps it would if it were true, but what you assert is not even the dominant position among secular science. Separate from the question of the origins of humanity, the mainstream view which I concur with is that there was a population of humans which is not a mosaic of various hominid groups but instead was a single population, or meta-population, to which some of its sub-sets had limited contributions from other hominids. In the case of Eurasians that sub-set wound up being larger than the descendants of the original group but humanity is not a “mosaic” as I understand the term. At some point, and things are picking up at work so it won’t be today, we need to discuss they issue of what the evidence is that there were genetic barriers to hybrid fertility between humans and neanderthals.


#9

Well we are beinning to know who we come from and how we got here. I am optimistic on our future. Stephen Pinker’s book is excellent, - long and detailed by still worthwhile to read and consider the ideals of the Enlightment’s secular humanism.


#10

No, thanks…
http://www.equip.org/article/steven-pinkers-evolutionary-explanation-of-infanticide/
“Left to an atheistic polygenism, human life in its diversity becomes a wild, wild west arena inviting of racist conceptions, and there’s no countervalence to mere utilitarianism, other than following the personal dictates of what one decides to be in fashion.”
Now, almost seems prescient. Back to my monkey noises… : )


#11

@Patrick , this has nothing to do with the cogency of the evidence you offer above, but perhaps now you’ll see why highlighting a monogenistic view of human origins, as informed by God’s actions in gifting humanity as “created in His image” is of practical value?


#12

Meanwhile, in science today, more discussion on the 2.2 million year old tools in China:


#13

This makes sense to me… the “asian eye” is supposed to be a modification for adapting to very cold climates.

[Edits: Upon further investigation, it looks like Asian Eyes appeared in the human genome +30k years ago. I removed the reference to a 2 million year time frame. See below for a posting and link to the related Wiki article…]


#14

Ah George, if we’re thinking in evolutionary terms, adaptations aren’t “for” anything, but merely chance to occur and happen to suit our ancient Chinese to his icy environment.

But that’s not good enough either nowadays, because we’re in the world of neutral theory, and making up Just So stories about cold, when the chances are much greater that epicanthic folds are non-adaptive, is so twentieth century.

Actually, the neutral story has a lot going for it in this instance - European peoples evolved in ice-age conditions and don’t have narrow eyes (apart from some of them, like a good number of the Irish), and far easterners living in the tropics or even on the equator haven’t lost them. But Google the matter, and it’s astonishing how many of the articles still focus on the “mystery” of “why” they evolved - evolution is still considered the wise designer hitting functional targets, whose ways need to be guessed at.


#15

@jongarvey

Frankly, I think you are unwisely investing in “understanding Evolution from the Godless viewpoint” in ways that are guaranteed to foil and confuse those who have Theologically embraced the view that God is behind evolution.

Maybe there was a time when BioLogos encouraged Christians to comprehend the origins of species “as though they were atheists” - - but I think that time has passed.

And my major conflict with Patrick is, in fact, because he has no ability to see things from another viewpoint… which I think is a fatal flaw for an enterprise like PeacefulScience.

As for the Asian eye and skin fold question … it could very well be a more rare mutation … and that for it to occur 2 million years ago is “about right” for that particular trait.

As we know, the eye fold is not easily lost … the Chinese haven’t lived in Inuit-style climate for eons… and there doesn’t seem to be any “random” walks away from those eyes.

On the other hand … perhaps the Ainu of Japan can help us understand who was in Asia before the “Inuit-style” gene pool began to invade the southern climes!

ADDENDUM:
It’s nice when I make a prediction and someone agrees with me!

I found this quote in the abstract below: "Despite recent advances in population genomics, much remains to be elucidated with regard to East Asian population history. The Ainu, a hunter–gatherer population of northern Japan and Sakhalin island of Russia, are thought to be key to elucidating the prehistory of Japan and the peopling of East Asia."

Below is a quote that touches on how long and how significantly humanity has lived in contact with the arctic circle!:

“Considering robust evidence of human habitation in Arctic Siberia before the last glacial maximum (LGM) (Pitulko et al. 2004), it is possible that there were multiple expansions (from south to north) and contractions (from north to south) of human populations in mainland East Asia and Siberia over a long period of time, generating a complex pattern of genetic relationships among contemporary populations.”

"The Ainu people are an indigenous population of Hokkaido, a northern island in the Japanese archipelago, and of the southern part of Sakhalin islands (Figure 1). They have been proposed by archaeologists, linguists, and geneticists to be the direct descendants of prehistoric Japanese hunter–gatherers, associated with the Jomon pottery culture, dating back to 16,500 years before the present (Hanihara 1991; Habu 2004). "


#16

Naw - I was basically just quoting Joshua’s thread on neutral evolution, on which I said a good deal about its limitations. If we’re going to talk about “adaptation” as opposed to “creation” then we need to keep the distinction clear.


#17

@jongarvey ( @swamidass )

Neutral Evolution is a human-centric viewpoint. It is not relevant to the Theosophical position that everything in Creation is under God’s inscrutable purpose.

With a little luck, we won’t have to spend much time discussing “neutral evolution” or Wall Street’s famous “Random Walk” concept either.


#18

…which enables me to get a plug in for my latest blog to that effect!


#19

Just to throw a bit of wrinkle; how do we “know” that the “Asiatic eye” is a variation, rather than the “European eye?” Have we narrowed this down to a specific genetic profile, and run it against the most ancient DNA? I honestly don’t know this very basic information, but I am aware of the general tendency towards “Euro-centrism” by western scientists. Glad for any info.


#20

@Guy_Coe,

It looks like the asian eye fold is not nearly as old as I thought it was. One (or more?) links below.

The way they know it is a recent change is that it isn’t found in the genomes of any remains of humans until more than 30,000 years ago.

This tells us WHEN.
But I haven’t found anything that tells us that this mutation is BENEFICIAL - - though they are tinkering with the idea that it is helpful for lactation during ecosystem circumstances with low vitamin D.

“The 370A mutation arose in humans approximately 30,000 years ago, and now is found in 93% of Han Chinese and in the majority of people in nearby Asian populations. This mutation is also implicated in ear morphology differences and reduced chin protusion.”
[Footnote 13: Adhikari, Kaustubh (19 May 2016). “A genome-wide association scan implicates DCHS2, RUNX2, GLI3, PAX1 and EDAR in human facial variation”. Nature Communications. 7: 11616. doi:10.1038/ncomms11616. URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms11616 ]
“The derived G-allele is a mutation of the ancestral A-allele, the version found in most modern non-East Asian and non-Native American populations.”

“In a 2015 study, three (of six) ancient DNA samples (7,900-7,500 BP) from Motala, Sweden; two (3300–3000 BC) from the Afanasevo culture and one (400–200 BC) Scythian sample were found to carry the rs3827760 mutation…”