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Discovery In North China Challenges Theory On Origin Of Man
Xinhuanet ^ | 11-09-2001

Posted on 11/12/2001 5:20:19 AM PST by blam

Archaeological Discovery in N. China Challenges Theory on Origin of Man

Xinhuanet 2001-11-09 16:32:39
SHIJIAZHUANG, November 9 (Xinhuanet)

The latest archaeological discovery at the Old Stone Age ruins in Yangyuan County, north China's Hebei Province, proves that human activities began in east Asia some 2 million years ago, archaeological sources said. Chinese archaeologists unearthed more than 800 stone tools and animal skeletons left over by the ancients at historical ruins in a stratum dating back around 2 million years.

Xie Fei, a research fellow with the Hebei Provincial Relics Research Institute, said that the latest discovery at the Majuangou ruins in the Nihewan Basin proves that the date of the early stage human activities in east Asia is very close to the time of similar ruins discovered in Africa.

Xie, who has conducted archaeological research at Nihewan for 18 years, said that it is a question that deserves discussion among international archaeological circles: whether human beings migrated to east Asia at a fast speed at an early stage, or there was another origin place of man in the world.

Palaeoanthropology materials so far available show that the humans originated from Africa, and the earliest Old Stone Age ruins so far unearthed in the world are located in Ethiopia, dating back some 2.33 million years.

For a long period of time, many scientists believed that it was impossible for east Asia to have human activities some 2 million years ago.

Xie and his colleagues conducted a month-long excavation at the Majuangou ruins from September to October, and unearthed a great number of stone cores, flakes, hammers and scrapers, and bones of elephants, deer, horses and other animals.

More than 100 kilometers from Beijing, the over 9,000-square- kilometer Nihewan basin has very thick deposits of rivers, lakes and yellow earth, which contain rich fossils of mammals and animals of other species. It has been a key excavation area of early man in east Asia since the 1920s.

Chinese scientists have discovered a non-stop list of ruins of the Old Stone Age belonging to the Pleistocene epoch at the basin.
The Majuangou site is divided into three cultural layers. The latest excavation was carried out in the third layer that was discovered in the spring of last year.
Archaeologists said that the ruins unearthed were of a site where the ancient people were preparing food, adding that marks of strikes by stone tools and scrapers were found on most of the animal bones discovered at the site, and a firestone scraper was found on a rib of an animal skeleton.

The excavated stone tools prove that the manufacturers were highly capable of distinguishing stone materials and very skilled at processing stone tools, archaeologist Xie said. The ruins reveal that this group of ancient people had reached a high level, Xie added.

Early this year, Zhu Rixiang, a research fellow with the geological research institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), determined that the Xiaochangliang ruins at Nihewan Basin date back 1.36 million years, thus shifting back the known date of the ancients' activities in China by 360,000 years.
Zhu spent three years studying the date of the Xiaochangliang ruins.

The third layer of the Majuangou ruins, where the latest archaeological excavation was conducted, is more than 30 meters lower than the Xiaochangliang ruins. Judging from the comparison between the ancient geomagnetic dating materials and rock formation, researcher Wei Qi, of the ancient vertebrate and the ancients research institute under the CAS, said that the third layer of the Majuangou ruins is at least 1.9 million years old and possibly even more than 2 million years in age.

Beijing University professor Lu Zun'e, who made an on-the-spot investigation at the excavation site, confirmed that the date of the latest unearthed ruins is earlier than the date of the Xiaochangliang ruins.
Based on the latest discovery, archaeologist Xie Fei concluded that more earlier human activities might have existed in the Nihewan Basin.

Next year, Chinese archaeologists will make further and large scale excavations at the Majuangou ruins and other ruins in the Nihewan Basin, according to Xie. End item.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: crevolist; godsgravesglyphs
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A challenge to the 'out of Africa' theory? I recently read of a 2.25 million year old human site in China, I don't think this is it.
1 posted on 11/12/2001 5:20:19 AM PST by blam
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To: blam
Exciting if true. But consider the source.
2 posted on 11/12/2001 5:30:22 AM PST by pabianice
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To: blam
Modern humans appeared, what, 150,000 years ago? And we all share a common ancestoral individual that had to exist somewhere specific, even if similar individual pre-modern humans had spread about more widely.
3 posted on 11/12/2001 5:31:20 AM PST by jlogajan
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To: RightWhale; sawsalimb; JudyB1938; Bernard Marx; VadeRetro
I find this interesting considering that the oldest inhabits of Africa (still survivng today, albeit mixed race now) are the Han and Kung! Bushmen. They are bronze colored, have Asian facial features and their children have a tell-tell 'Mongoloid spot'. They are physically different than the Bantu (Black Africans) who invaded their historical territory. The Bushmen have oversised buttocks and the females have a unique 'apron' over the genitalia. These unique physical features are recorded in ancient Egyptian writings.
4 posted on 11/12/2001 5:31:59 AM PST by blam
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To: jlogajan
"Modern humans appeared, what, 150,000 years ago?"

That's widely accepted, I'm not convinced though.

5 posted on 11/12/2001 5:33:52 AM PST by blam
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To: blam
I bet these ancestral hominids were very good at math.
6 posted on 11/12/2001 5:37:45 AM PST by Jim Noble
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To: blam

Multiple Mongoloid spots on a child.(Typical is a spot near the last verterbrate)

7 posted on 11/12/2001 5:40:17 AM PST by blam
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To: blam
Thanks for the post. This is just fascinating stuff.
8 posted on 11/12/2001 5:53:36 AM PST by Bahbah
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To: blam
Skeletal remains, physically identical to modern human skeletons have been found which are about 100,000 to 150,000 years old. But modern human behavior, inovating, decorating, creating, can be dated only to the last 35,000 to 50,000 years. They did a show on PBS about this 'outbust of creative activity'. At about that time, the Cro-Magnan culture replaced the Neandertals in Europe, and Australia was settled.
9 posted on 11/12/2001 5:59:09 AM PST by VietVet
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To: *crevo_list
10 posted on 11/12/2001 6:02:41 AM PST by Junior
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To: blam
I refuse to argue with those who claim they can trace thier ancestry back to a bunch of monkeys. My parents are of a somewhat higher lineage
11 posted on 11/12/2001 6:15:25 AM PST by blastdad51
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To: blam
November, 4001 AD- Scientists excavating ancient transit tunnels in billion year old bedrock prove technologically advanced society existed before dinosaurs...
12 posted on 11/12/2001 6:18:19 AM PST by JimRed
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To: VietVet
I just started reading a book called the 12th planet by Zacharia Sitchin. He's going into detail of how the Sumerian civilization (considered the earliest known) was very advanced and how odd it is that they had such a developed infrastructure, economy, (written)language, government, laws, medicine etc.. that seemed to spring up out of nowhere basically after the last ice age, with no known progenitor(s).

One would think that such an advanced society would have taken millenia to develop to that degree of sophistication. Yet we have found nothing to detemine where it came from.

I've always thought that the history of mankind on this planet of 4.5 billion years in age, is not as cut and dried as they know or would have us believe.

13 posted on 11/12/2001 7:03:55 AM PST by AFreeBird
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Comment #14 Removed by Moderator

To: blastdad51
I refuse to argue with those who claim they can trace thier ancestry back to a bunch of monkeys. My parents are of a somewhat higher lineage

Ditto for my parents. However, I'm completely comfortable with the claim that my great, great, great, great, great, great, [snip 500,000 "greats"] great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents were a lower species than human.

I know for a fact that I'm taller than my parents, and even taller than my grandparents. I also know that I have more education than my grandparents and my mother, though less than my father.

Just what is the problem? Why this obsession with whether your distant ancestors were "higher" or "lower" than yourself?

15 posted on 11/12/2001 12:01:23 PM PST by jennyp
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To: AFreeBird
True. Have you read "Forbidden Archaeology"?
16 posted on 11/12/2001 12:05:45 PM PST by white rose
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To: VietVet
Mungo jumbo

Saturday 13 January 2001

Dr Alan Thorne in his Canberra home. He and his Australian National University team are studying the oldest known Human DNA in a skeleton found near Lake Mungo.

For thousands of years Aborigines wandered among the Walls of China, a line of ancient sand and clay landforms stretching for almost 30 kilometres along the edge of Lake Mungo. When the lake, part of the Willandra Lakes region in south-west New South Wales, dried up about 10,000 years ago,(End of the ice age), the bones and relics of the people who lived on its shores were swallowed up by the desert sands. But 30 years ago, the wind exposed a fragment of history.

In 1969, Australian archaeologists unearthed more than 175 bone fragments. Reassembled, they formed the frame of an adult female, who became known as Mungo Woman. Radio-carbon dating showed she had died between 24,500 and 26,500 years ago.

Then, five years later, 500 metres from where Mungo Woman was discovered, the burial site of another ancient human was found. Jim Bowler, now a professor of earth sciences at Melbourne University, noticed a tip of bone protruding from the sand. The bone turned out to be the top of a human skull at least 25,000 years old. The skeleton was dubbed Mungo Man.

Almost from the moment of its exhumation Mungo Man has challenged scientific beliefs and divided anthropologists. After 25 years there is still no agreement on the age of Mungo Man. Some say 30,000 years, others 60,000. Even the skeleton's sex is disputed, although it is generally considered to be male.

Yet the debates have paled in comparison with the controversy that now surrounds Mungo Man. An article soon to be published by three Australian scientists claims the skeleton proves the prevailing view of the origins of modern humans is wrong.

For more than a decade two theories have competed to explain the origins of Homo sapiens. The more accepted of these is the Out of Africa theory, proposed by Allan Wilson and Rebecca Cann from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1988. This has modern humans originating in Africa about 200,000 to 250,000 years ago and spreading around the globe. During this exodus they wiped out Neandertals and became the dominant species. Wilson and Cann also argue that an "archaic" human species, Homo erectus, had left Africa up to two million years ago and it was this species' descendants, including Neandertals, who were replaced.

But that theory is disputed by Dr Alan Thorne, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University's research school of Pacific and Asian studies. Thorne, along with Professor Milford Wolpoff of the University of Michigan, has long championed what is known as the "multi-region" theory.

The two scientists agree that Homo erectus began in Africa about two million years ago, and migrated. But they believe that Homo sapiens did not evolve solely in Africa but simultaneously in Africa, Europe and Asia.

"There's only two theories, and one of them has to be wrong," says Thorne. In a study to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, he and his two co-authors argue that a new examination of Mungo Man shows the "multi-region" theory must be right.

Acrimony between supporters of the different evolutionary views might appear to be little more than an inflated difference of opinion, but it goes much deeper. For centuries it has been argued that differences between human "races" mean some are inferior, some superior. According to the multi-region theory, the long process of evolution in different regions explains the "differences" between Asians, Africans, Europeans and Aborigines. But if the Out of Africa theory prevails, there can be no genetic basis for racism. Its premise is that modern humans evolved so recently that we are genetically identical, no matter how different we may appear.

So from a pile of bones rises the question: are our differences skin deep or programmed into our genes?

Thorne's argument hinges on the DNA that scientists extracted from Mungo Man. Dr Simon Easteal, an evolutionary geneticist at the ANU's John Curtin School of Medical Research, found that the genetic material contained a small section of mitochondrial DNA. He also analysed genetic material from almost 3500 people, including Neandertals, ancient Aborigines whose remains are about 30,000 years old, and present-day Aborigines. Easteal found that Mungo Man's DNA bore no similarity to the DNA from any other sample.

To Thorne this is dramatic evidence that the Out of Africa theory is wrong. Out of Africa argues that Homo sapiens had a single place of origin. But if Mungo Man was descended from a person who had left Africa in the past 200,000 years, Thorne argues, then his mitochondrial DNA should have resembled the other samples.

Out of Africa distinguishes between Homo erectus and "modern" Homo sapiens. Thorne thinks the distinction is pointless, because it is impossible to define when or where the transition occurred. Out of Africa claims this was Africa, 200,000 years ago.

But Thorne's critics are not persuaded by what he says the DNA shows. Some anthropologists argue that the reason none of Mungo Man's genetic material showed up elsewhere might be because he had no descendants. But until researchers can figure out how to collect nuclear DNA (from the nucleus of human cells) from ancient bones, there is no way of establishing that Mungo Man did not pass on his genes. Mitochondrial DNA is only passed through the female line.

Thorne says the fact that modern Aborigines have the same skeleton and teeth as Mungo Man's shows that while his mitochondrial DNA disappeared, the rest of his genes did not.

University of Sydney prehistorian Peter White says the debate over Mungo Man's mitochondrial DNA is irrelevant to the big picture of evolution. "We're looking at one of those lines of mitochondrial DNA that has disappeared; the fact that it is not known in Australia is meaningless in a larger evolutionary sense."

EVEN without the genetic analysis, Thorne argues, Mungo Man's anatomy is evidence enough for the multi-region theory. "The problem is that no living Australian looks like anyone in Africa," says Thorne. "If people got out of Africa 100,000 years ago, as the Out of Africa theory suggests, they would not have had time to change their appearance so dramatically."

But White says Thorne is overstating the anatomical differences between modern humans. "The difference between African, European and Aboriginal skeletons is really pretty small and there's an enormous amount of overlap between them. To pick out one individual and say he is not like an African is way beyond the evidence."

How long it takes for a species to evolve is still debated among biologists. But if they ever agree on a minimum time for the process, the age of Mungo Man could prove critical.

Thorne thinks Mungo Man is about 60,000 years old (an age that would substantially increase the length of time Australia has been known to have been inhabited). But geologist Jim Bowler, who discovered the skeleton, thinks its age is closer to 45,000 years.

Bowler claims Thorne's ANU dating team "largely ignored" field evidence that showed Mungo Man couldn't have been as old as 60,000 years. Clay pellets in the grave indicate it was dug from a higher, and, therefore, younger, level of sand, says Bowler.

In an article in Australasian Science last year, Thorne suggested the clay had been sprinkled on Mungo Man's body as part of the burial ceremony. Bowler is sceptical. "It's a landscape of clay dunes. To infer clay was sprinkled over the grave of the Aboriginal is absolute nonsense."

Dr Peter Brown, a senior lecturer in archaeology and paleoanthropology at the University of New England, is also sceptical about Thorne's conclusions on the age of the Mungo skeleton. He doubts that genetic material was extracted from it at all.

Brown says the oldest specimens from which genetic material have been extracted are about 30,000 years old, and these had been preserved in ideal conditions - a cool, dry environment. The Willandra Lakes, where Mungo Man was unearthed, are hot, with a fluctuating climate, making it unlikely, Brown thinks, that genetic material could be preserved there.

Brown also challenges Thorne's claim that early humans remained on the same evolutionary path by interbreeding. The geographical distances involved were too great, he says. "In the multi-regional model, it's unlikely gene flow could have been maintained. It's much more likely that modern humans came out of Africa."

Bowler agrees. "I would be surprised if one bit of DNA changes these theories. There seems to be an inverse relationship between the amount of data and the degree of debate."

More than one skeleton will be needed to provide an answer. Perhaps Lake Mungo will offer up further clues to guide the way. (I'm a multi-regionalist)

17 posted on 11/12/2001 12:06:29 PM PST by blam
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To: jennyp
why this obsession with whether your distant ancestors were higher...

it is an issue of faith, the most critical part of one's life.
18 posted on 11/12/2001 12:14:24 PM PST by mlocher
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To: white rose
Have you read "Forbidden Archaeology"?

No, but I've heard of it. Let me finish with Sitchin first.

19 posted on 11/12/2001 12:21:40 PM PST by AFreeBird
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To: blastdad51
My parents are of a somewhat higher lineage.

You think so, huh? I suppose they told you that because that's what you wanted to hear.
20 posted on 11/12/2001 12:24:58 PM PST by BikerNYC
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