14 5 / 2013
“Last year the video of police shooting dead protesting miners in South Africa shocked the world. Since then serious questions are being raised about rampant police brutality. Are the…
27 1 / 2011
Read the rest here: 100,000-year-old human settlement in U.A.E. overturns what we know of our evolution http://t.co/qDLy583Amplify’d from io9.com
The tools discovered during an excavation in the U.A.E., located in the southeastern part of the Arabian peninsula, have been reliably dated to 100,000 years ago. Genetic evidence has suggested modern humans did not leave Africa until about 60,000 years ago, but these tools appear to be the work of our ancestors and not other hominids like Neanderthals.
If they are the work of our ancestors, then they’ve been found outside Africa at least 40,000 years ahead of schedule. But, as the paleontologists behind this discovery are quick to point out, the 60,000 year figure is one based on only one strand of evidence, and that’s genetic data. It’s a useful tool, to be sure, but using genetics to reconstruct a species’s history can be tricky - genetic data once said domestic dogs were 120,000 years old, but more recent evidence has shown they’re actually much closer to 20,000 instead.
This find is one of the first major archaeological discoveries that seems to place anatomically modern humans out of Africa - but, helpfully, still close to Africa, so it’s a bit easier to reconstruct their path and timing of migration. That automatically makes this an intriguing find, although we can’t instantly dismiss the old 60,000 years figure. This is an extraordinary claim and, as one of the best scientific maxims points out, it requires extraordinary evidence.
Well, I can’t guarantee their evidence is sufficiently extraordinary, but at a press conference yesterday the researchers involved did lay out some compelling reasons to believe the basics of the find - that modern humans lived in Arabia 100,000 years ago - even if they were reluctant to discuss the wider implications.
They answered a number of questions one might have about this discovery, so let’s dive in:
How do we know anatomically modern humans made these tools?
Paleontologist Tony Marks explains how they identified the likely makers of these tools, which were classified assemblage C:
“There were two possibilities for assemblage C. First, that it was made by local people who’d been there for a long time and who would have left similar artifacts around the landscape. Or second, it was made by people moving into the area. Since assemblage C was 120,000 years old, we looked at what was in southeastern Arabia at that time, there was literally nothing. Long before 120,000 in western Arabia there was what we call the Acheulean, but it had disappeared about a half million years ago, leaving a 400,000 year gap between it and assemblage C. Thus it seemed that assemblage C was made by people coming from somewhere outside southern Arabia, either from the north or from the west.
“A comparison of contemporaneous Paleolithic assemblages from the north showed they totally lacked the bifacial tool production found at assemblage C. Their technique was quite different. Thus, they were unrelated. In east Africa, however, there were contemporaneous Paleolithic assemblages that not only used bifacial techniques to make some of their tools, but also used the other two techniques, blade production and radial (levaloir). An origin in east Africa for assemblage C people therefore was most plausible based on the stone tools and how they were made.”
But couldn’t it have been another hominid species that had already left Africa, such as the Neanderthals?
Marks offers some logical reason why Neanderthals are very unlikely candidates to be behind these tools, even leaving aside the fact that the tools fit the more human style:
We can look at it from a broad point of view. If these tools were not made by modern man, who might have made them? Well, could Neanderthals have made them? Well, at 120,000 years ago, beginning of the inter glacial, Neanderthals had pretty well developed their facial characteristics and body characteristics to be recognizable as Neanderthals and not the yet classic Neanderthals. But they’re mainly in Europe at about the beginning of the last interglacial there’s a movement, a spread of Neanderthals along the temperate zone to the east. That is the Crimea, southern Russian plain out to central Asia. There is no evidence for any Neanderthals south of that temperate zone to the east. It is only in OSI4, that is when it starts getting cold that you have movements of Neanderthals out of the highlands of the temperate zones down into the (levant). Into lower elevations where the environment is better. Here is a group of Neanderthals who instead of going into this temperate zone, which was getting better, they took a turn south, went several thousand kilometers into what at the time was desert, really dry areas, until they reached southern Arabia, which happened to be very good because of monsoons that were coming up from the south. It seems to me a very difficult explanation and one that is – doesn’t follow any reasonable logic.
If these tools date back to 100,000 years, why then do they think humans left Africa 125,000 years ago?
Adrian Parker explains how ancient climate limited the times when humans could leave Africa, and that about 125,000 years ago was an ideal time to move into Arabia:
We need to go back to where modern humans emerged in east Africa. This occurred approximately 200,000 years ago. The period between 200,000 years ago until 130,000 years ago corresponds to time when there was a global ice age. During ice ages global sea levels fall as water becomes locked up in the vast ice sheets in the northern and southern hemispheres. When ice ages occur, the world’s major desert belts also expand and thus modern humans would have been restricted to east Africa as the deserts of the Sahara and Arabia posed major geographical barriers that prevented movement out of the region.
Read more at io9.com
By 130,000 years ago global climatic conditions changed and we moved into an interglacial, a period of warmer, global temperatures. At this time, the Indian Ocean monsoon system was forced northwards, bringing rainfall into Arabia. The previously arid interior of Arabia would have been transformed into a landscape covered largely in savannah grasses with extensive lakes and river systems. At the onset of the inter glacial, sea levels in the southern Red Sea were over 100 meters lower than today. this led to a brief window of time when sea levels were still low and Arabia experienced a wetter climate, thus humans would have been able to cross a much narrower Red Sea, perhaps as little as four kilometers wide before sea levels rose sufficiently to make the crossing more difficult.”
25 12 / 2010
I have always believed that overpopulation was a myth too, it is the corruption within the countries that make the aid not reach their starving people. This is what needs fixed. There is no need for anyone to go hungry.Amplify’d from www.newint.org
Three Myths About World Hunger
Actually there is plenty of food in the world. Production of cereals (wheat, rice, millet etc) last year reached 1799.2 million tons, enough to offer everyone in the world well over the recommended minimum of 2.500 calories per adult per day. And that is before you’ve even begun to count the calories in vegetables, nuts, pulses, root crops and grass-fed (as opposed to grain-fed) meat.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is the distribution of that food, both within countries and between rich and poor worlds. People like us in the developed nations eat much more than we need.
Americans represent only six per cent of the world’s population, yet they consume 35 per cent of the world’s resources - the same as the entire developing world. So is the real world population problem that there are too many Americans?
But Western countries have enough land to support their populations - Third World countries don’t.
Western countries have enough money to support their populations. There’s little relationship between hunger and the availability of land. Holland has 1.117 people per square mile and Bolivia (just 12, yet the Dutch are one of the best-fed people in the world and the Bolivian poor among the world’s most undernourished. We think of India as overpopulated yet it has 568 people per square mile, less than Britain’s 583. And Africa may have the world’s greatest food problem - but it isn’t for the lack of land. At the moment only a quarter of Africa’s potential arable land is being cultivated.
But doesn’t Africa have the world’s fastest population growth?
Yes, and no one is saying they shouldn’t be concerned about that. Contraception should be freely available to everyone who wants it. But people are only likely to use it when their poverty is relieved. When one in four children dies and more hands are needed to help in the fields, children become an economic necessity. The rich world’s population growth slowed when standards of living improved - before the advent of reliable contraception.
The weather does not cause famines - people do. Earthquakes and floods, droughts and cyclones may be ‘natural disasters’ but humans decide who will suffer from them. When the recent cyclone hit Bangladesh, for instance, it was only the poor that died. Only the poor were desperate enough for land to make the dangerous move onto the new islands that appear every year in the Bay of Bengal. Red Cross statistics show that, in high-income countries, the number of people killed per disaster is under ten per cent of that killed in low-income countries.
That’s all very well, but people are dying in Africa now because it hasn’t rained.
No. they’re dying because they’re poor. Farmers starved in US droughts in the 189Os and 1910 but they don’t starve when drought hits now; Saudi Arabia has greened part of its desert to make itself self-sufficient in wheat. So it is clearly money that counts.
The climate in Africa may be changing - we don’t know yet. But what we do know is that more people are dying in droughts than ever before - an average of 23,110 people per year died in droughts in the 1970s. compared with only 1,010 per year in the 1960s.
This is partly explained by the increased frequency of droughts - the number grew from 5.2 droughts per year in the world in the 1 960s to 9.7 per year in the 1 970s. But the reason so many more die in each drought is that people are being pushed into poverty - the weather simply tips them over the brink.
Read more at www.newint.org
We’d all like to think that scientific progress could cure our ills. And solving the world’s food problem might seem easy compared with sending rockets to Venus.
But science’s solution to global hunger – the Green Revolution – has been no solution at all. In fact in some places it has made the gulf between rich and poor wider.
How can that be? The Green Revolution introduced seeds that yielded bigger crops
Yes, but high-yield seeds only work if they’re in laboratory-like conditions. They need artificial fertilizer and an irrigation system that’s beyond the means of a small farmer.
Even so, more food is grown and that must be good for everyone.
Not necessarily. Take two farmers one with barely enough land to eke out a living, while the other is rich in land and capital. Both are persuaded of the value of high-yield seeds. But the first has no money for the fertilizer the new seeds need, and is too poor for the bank to offer a loan. So while the large farmer has a bumper harvest, the small one grows the same of less than usual – and has to sell at a lower price due to the market glut. Eventually the poor farmer will have to sell out to the rich to make ends meet.
A neat story, but you can’t deny that science has turned down India from a basket-case into a country that can feed itself.
It’s true that India, once the symbol of famine, is now a net food exporter. And that must be good – it has been freed from the draining indignity of food aid and imports. But no-one would deny that poor Indians are still hungry. When new agricultural techniques are injected into an unequal society then the gap between rich and poor widens – even is more food is grown.
20 12 / 2010
Amplify’d from www.pasthorizons.com
International conference on preservation of ancient manuscripts in Africa - Photo newbusinessethiopia.com
During a two-day international Conference on Preserving Africa’s Ancient Manuscripts being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the call was heard for the preservation of Africa’s ancient manuscripts.
Ancient Ethiopian manuscript - Photo newbusinessethiopia.com
Read more at www.pasthorizons.com
many of them are still in the hands of individuals and families and many others are not even identified and registered