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


There are a few ways to trace “seniority” in anthropology:

  1. diversity or complexity of language;
  2. diversity or complexity of genome;

All the evidence vectors point to Africa being the source of hominids.
Even African languages are measurably more intricate and diverse than
human languages outside of Africa.

That would be pretty surprising for Homo sapiens to evolve outside of Africa and
then hurry up and migrate back into Africa, yes?

And there is every reason to expect it to be - - considering its climate and resources…

1 Like

That was the previous evidence to date. The evidence in the links I put up don’t point to that, even if the narrative in them keeps the party line.

Who said anything about evolving? But however they got here, ‘migrating back to Africa’ is just one possibility. Maybe they started in the Mid-east or Arabia and just migrated to Africa instead of “migrating back”. Or maybe there were humans on both sides of the Red Sea so they didn’t have to migrate back. Some of them were there to start with.

As new results come out in ancient fossils sequencing and as well as when language and culture began, I am getting a new found appreciation of Homo Erectus. H. Erectus originated in Africa around 2 million years ago and migrated through Europe and Asia. From tools production, it seems that H. Erectus had language and culture. I don’t know what a species must do to earn the badge of “imago Dei” but, from what I have seen recently, Homo Erectus certainly accomplished enough to be called human.

1 Like

I am all for you continuing to push them on this. If humanity is defined by tool use it leads to absurdly ancient dates for “humanity”. But making a flint scrapper by your lonesome is not the same thing as building a highway or a rocket to the moon. The skill set needed to do the latter is different, particularly on the social and moral side.

At some point I think my friends around here are going to have to get past defining humanity by tool use or brain size and start looking at what really makes us different. When they do, I think they will see that not even Neanderthals make the cut. Not when the evidence is considered in detail.


How far back do you want to go, Mark?
It’s not just tool manufacture, but art production, and much more.

1 Like

Consider this from the book, “How Language Began” pgs. 59-60:

Flores sits among the lesser Sunda Islands of eastern Indonesia. The fifteen-mile strait separating Flores from the closest land, the source of Stegodontiadae, would not have presented a great swimming challenge to the large mammals, who pursued floating plants across the strait. But the tools later discovered near charred bones of these creatures do present an enigma. How did they get there? These tools are nearly 800,000 years old. And there is no period during which the island was connected to any other land. It was always been isolated by deep water. Erectus somehow got to Flores. How?

Unlike the Stegodontidae, they could not have swum there. Even had they spotted the island on the horizon and decided to visit, the currents would have made swimming impossible. The greatest waterflow in the world is known as the ‘Pacific Throughflow’ and it flows around the islands of Indonesia, including Flores. These currents would defeat all but the most elite athletes. Yet there is evidence of a relatively large erectus population on the island. A founding population would need to include a minimum of fifty individuals. And it is unlikely that they all set out paddling logs or attempting to swim across treacherous currents, even though they may have witnessed stegodonts doing such a thing. They must have had a motive to go, certain that there would be plenty of food there.

The idea that a founding population crossed the straits piecemeal, without planning, is implausible - fifty or more 'shipwrecks ’ as it were, within a short time, where everybody survived. They would have had to arrive during a short time period to guarantee survival and this would have required an unfeasible amount of coincidence. It is of course, possible that a flotilla of logs was launched, of which fifty or more made it to the island. But, while that would not lessen the intent and adventure of erectus in crossing to Flores, it would provide a poor explanations for the settlements on Socotra and other islands described below, an island out of sight, requiring a sense of imagination and exploration for a large erectus population to arrive within a time frame short enough to guarantee their survival. Moreover, archaelogoist Rober Bednarik and others have provided entensive and convincing evidence that Homo erectus built watercraft and crossed the sea at various times in the lower Paleolithic era, around 800,000 years ago and 750,000 years before Homo sapiens made sea crossings.

It would amaze me if someone felt they had a valid biblical objection to that scenario. I’d love to hear it, and why, if so.

So you want to have de novo creation of Adam & Eve outside of Africa …

Or you think it makes even more sense to have de novo creation of the Kenites (or Pre-Adamites) outside of Africa? … at 100,000 years ago?

You are going to need another dozen videos…

1 Like

Patrick, you’re turning into Ann Gauger!

Seriously, one has to be open to how much wit it takes to achieve was erectus did.


Ann is trying make Adam out to be that ancient, as far as I can tell. It follows from the view to read the texts as recapitulatory, and to make Adam the first human being ever. I’m quite certain that’s NOT what Patrick is trying to do. He only wants us to face the evidence, as we all do. The only problem is, he is chipping away at monogenism. This is not a fatal flaw, by any means, in theology.

The progression from “earthy” to “spiritual” is covered by the same passage some use to try claim that Adam is the first human being ever, while demurring from the view that, then, Jesus is the last.
The truth is, the two of them are being compared and contrasted, rather than identified as the first and last ever. Here’s the passage.
–So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul .” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. - 1Corinthians15:45-49 NASB

1 Like

Clearly Patrick doesn’t believe in Adam - but Ann’s approach to the science is as a “lumper” - the sharp divisions others make between varieties of Homo she does not, and the cultural artifacts of those are a major reason.

Yes - it’s so often lost that the distinction Pauol makes is not between the sinful and the redeemed, but the “natural” and the transformed.

1 Like

I think Ann is right in that aspect, and what I would merely call “misguided” in the “first man” interpretation. But, I could be misreading her, myself, as well.

Yes, the evidence is mounting that H. erectus (and I am lumping Homo Habilis, Homo ergaster, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rudolfensis and others into H. erectus of 2 million years ago) had language, culture, technology. If you don’t agree that H. erectus should be called human, what is it about H. Sapien and H. Neanderthal, and H. Denosivan and the great mixtures of species of the past 2 million years that earns the distinction of human?

To me humanness, starts about 2.5 million years and is the slow process of evolving culture, language, technology practiced by all Genus Homo.

The transition to uniquely human behaviors, thought and culture is summarized as:
–Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.God blessed them; and God said to them, “ Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. - Genesis 1:26-31 NASB
For most these words imply something sudden and dramatic, although that is not always how the prologues to aetiological stories unfold.
I note that it’s the result of an act of God, a gift.
I note that it involves understanding language, acknowledging and trusting and emulating the Creator, accepting a calling to benevolently rule in nature, recognizing the truly complentary value of women and men, recognizing that food is a gift from God, and steering choices away from predatory behavior, with an emphasis on gathering over hunting.
All in all, a marvelous accounting for the changes in behavior associated with being an “imago Dei” human.
That I don’t find a strict demarkation line in the paleoanthropological sand is not particularly vexing to me, personally.
All of these changes are preliminary to the successful rise of human civilization and ecological sustainability for a burgeoning human population.

Humanness, as Josh has pointed out, is an ill-defined term that is probably best treated contextually. Many of its meanings (deserving equal rights under law, being suitable for ones daughter to marry, for example) are irrelevant as they are long dead.

Doctor T, your post inspired me to do a little reading up on the Stegodons of Flores. And of course I was already familiar with the famous “hobbits”. I did not even get past the Wiki article on the Stegodons of Flores when I read this:

“A general evolutionary trend in large mammals on islands is island dwarfing. The smallest dwarf species, S. sondaari, known from 900,000-year-old layers on the Indonesian island of Flores, had an estimated body weight of 300 kg (660 lb),[6] smaller than a water buffalo. Another estimate gives a shoulder height of 1.2 m (3.9 ft) and a weight of 350–400 kg (770–880 lb).[4] A medium- to large-sized stegodont, S. florensis, with a body weight of about 850 kg (1,870 lb), appeared about 850,000 years ago, and then also evolved into a dwarf form, Stegodon florensis insularis.”

It seems both hominids and stegodons made it to Flores 800,000-850,000 years ago but were subsequently stranded and subjected to island dwarfism. They could get there, but they could not get back. This seems more consistent with a hypothesis that there was a time period when the gap in the strait was significantly narrowed, permitting larger and more athletic creatures to swim across but leaving the Wallace line for smaller fauna. Later the gap re-widened, stranding them on Flores. The other hypothesis, that the stegodons swam and the hominids built boats to get across, would require the stegodons to forget how to swim and the hominids to forget how to build boats.

You seem to be assuming that the strait of Bali was always as wide, deep, and treacherous as it is now. Is there a good reason to assume that? We can’t know that for sure, but it is more reasonable to suppose that at the height of the last ice age when sea levels were lower the distance across was less than it is now. We don’t know what the changing ocean and temperature patterns did to any currents flowing through the strait. Finally we don’t know if any of the volcanic eruptions from those islands caused a lava flow which provided a causeway shortening the distance until the channel currents eroded it away.

Guy I don’t see the “much more” but I have no problem at all with the Outside-the-Garden population of humanity being 77,000-100,000 years old. Or twice that. Or half that. It doesn’t matter. If Genesis chapter one is the whole history of the world from its formation to the advent of humanity then its cramming a billion years or more into a single chapter. Given that scale, what do I care if verse 1:27 is talking about events which occurred over the course of 200,000 years? That doesn’t mean they are, but it wouldn’t be out of place.

I am going to pretend that by that statement you are requesting that I make and post more videos here.

But this one is not about the theology so much as it is about what the facts from science are saying verses what the researchers, and therefore others, are saying that the facts are saying. Theologically I don’t see how it matters if the Outside-the-Garden population was in Africa or not. I am not speaking of Adam the man here but adam the race- you know I am of the two populations school of thought. Nor does the timing much matter. As I mentioned to Guy, Genesis chapter one stuffs a billion years of earth history into one chapter so if verse 1:27 is referring to events spaced out over 200,000 years it would not at all be surprising. I don’t think it matters theologically when adam the race came along, 100,000 years ago, double that, or half that.

I do think it is important to completely separate the definition of human from intelligence or some ability to individually fashion and use tools. After all, when we learn of the foul deeds of some conscienceless psychopath and say “He’s inhuman” we don’t mean that he can’t make or use tools. We don’t mean that he can’t use speech or abstract symbols, or even that he is biologically incompatible with the rest of us. We mean that he has no empathy, no desire to love and connect with others… He has no higher sense of right and wrong.

And it is that sense of humaness which has allowed us to cooperate and soar to heights that non-humans like Neanderthals could not conceive of. Individually we may not be much if any better tool-makers than some of these other hominids. But the fact that we are better at those other things fosters cooperation and a sense of oneness which permits the achievements of civilization which they lacked completely.

The science, if I understand it correctly, is dropping hints that humans outside Africa and inside it but those outside Africa mostly or totally died out. Scenarios where humanity arises in Africa do not well account for this study which indicates that an ancestor of an Eastern Neanderthal in central Asia apparently hybridized with a human 100,000 years ago- a human from a population which is not an offshoot of the San but rather either a co-equal branch of humanity or from a slightly earlier branch…

In the same way, it seems to me that the result in this following study could be explained at least as well by the idea that the African branch of humanity was only one part of the original human group…