Re: Out of E.Asia II

Phil Nicholls (
Fri, 10 Nov 1995 20:26:39 GMT (David Marcus Woodcock) graced us with the
following words:

>JamShreeve stated:

>S>I am puzzled by your contention that your "Out of Asia" theory better
>S>fits the evidence than Out of Africa.

>That's out of East Asia. [ when I first started thinking about this
>idea 15 years ago out of Asia would have been descriptive]
>I'll touch on 3 major issues my scenario handles better below:

> 1] ooa ignores [or attempts to dispute] the fossil evidence of the
> erectus-modern transition -- my ooea accounts for it.
> 2] ooa account of neandertal-H.s.sapiens divergence relies on
> no credible isolating mechanism and contradicts fossil evidebce;
> ooea agrees with evidence, has an isolating mechanism.
> 3] ooa relies on a particular interpretation of the genetic data,
> however the ooea interpretation fits the data better.

>S>The best record for a
>S>transition from an erectus-grade form to modern Homo sapiens is in
>S>Africa and the Middle East;

>I know of no record of transition from erectus to modern found
>in Africa or the mideast. I do know of finds described as
>modern dated to about 100 kya in S.Africa,Eithiopia and the Mideast.
>And I know of much older erectus finds in E.Africa. I don't
>know of any finds that appear transitional between the 2 grades
>from that part of the world. To my knowledge all the finds
>dated between the erectus finds and the 100 kya moderns from Africa
>appear to be transitional between erectus and neandertal.
>But I'd welcome any references to any finds that do appear to
>fit in a series from erectus to moderns.

Your account is somewhat ambiguous. If by "Modern" you mean
"anatomically modern Homo sapiens" then you are mistaken. There are
a number of fossils from Africa usually labeled "archaic Homo sapiens"
that show some Homo erectus and some modern Homo sapien traits.
Hear are two examples.

Elandsfontein (S. Africa)
skull cap and mandibular fragment dated (faunal dating)
500,000-200,000 years ago. maximum breadth near the base, massive
browridge and flat, receding frontal bones are characteristic of Homo
erectus. Estimated cranial capacity (1,200 - 1,250), relatively broad
frontal and rounded occipital areas are more like Homo sapiens.

Broken Hill (Zimbabwe)
Complete cranium plus cranial fragments from another individual
Massive face, large brow ridges, flat, receding frontal, large basal
breadth BUT cranial capacity of 1,280cc, more rounded occipital and
broad frontal. Dated to late middle quaternary, no later than 130,000
years ago.

In fact, all of the fossil finds from Africa that fall within the
500,000 - 200,000 range appear to show a mosaic of Homo erectus and
Homo sapiens traits. They are not transitional to neandertals as
neardertal morphology is rather unique in many respects. None of
these materials show the enlarged nose, mid-facial prognathism,
occipital bun or suprainiac fossa.

In my opinion, the transition in Africa is as well documented as that
in Asia and occurs earlier. However, I am not an advocate of the
replacement hypothesis.

>S>there are no early moderns in Southeast Asia that I know of before
>S>60,000 years at most;

>The problem is dating fossils older than 50 kya to the nearest
>100 kya when there were no convenient nearby volcanos. Wolpoff and
>Thorne each have series of skulls that show a smooth progression
>from erectus to sapiens ['modern'] grade. They can't point to
>the skull next to the last and give it a definite 200 kya date.

Potassium/Argon dating is only really good up 500,000 years ago. This
has recently been a problem for paleoanthropologists because there
have been few good dating methods for the important transitional
period between 500,000 and 100,000 years ago.

Phil Nicholls
"To ask a question you must first know most of the answer"
-Robert Sheckley