Re: Homo Fossil timeline

Mark Feldman (
Mon, 16 Sep 1996 04:12:29 GMT

Bob Keeter <> wrote:

>Was there a "robust" Erectus in Asia that matched the
>Neanderthal period?

>Why would the Neanderthal physiology have been limited to
>Europe and near east when the climatic changes that
>supposedly favored the physique were considerably more
>widespread? (Were there central/east Asian Neanderthals?
>I think not?)

>What are the morphological markers for Erectus vs Neanderthal
>vs the different current races? Is it possible that the
>European racial traits may have more in common with the
>neanderthal whereas the Asian racial traits may be more
>in common with the Erectus fossils? I am not implying that
>the Mongoloid race is Homo Erectus, just wondering if, of
>the characteristic traits of the earlier homo fossils, there
>may be any grouping of these traits among modern man.

The best discussion of this I read is from Christopher Stringer, from
the British Museum of Natural History, in Chapter 36, _Paleoclimate
and Evolution_ edited by Elisabeth Vrba, et al, Yale University Press.

He lists all of the main hominid fossils by region from one million
years ago, classifying the first archaic H.sapiens as H.
heidelbergensis, in both Africa and Eurasia at 500,00 yrs ago. Fossils
classified a this way persist in Africa until 100,000 yrs, and in East
Asia until a more recent period. Most recognize the first modern
fossils dated at 100,000 yrs in both Africa and the Middle East, but
not appearing in East Asia until 50,000 yrs. ago.

Most accept a "true" Neanderthal presence in Europe and the middle
east by 300,000 yrs, but Arsuaga (Nature 362:534) found three skulls
in Spain from before this time that have features of both Neanderthals
and H. heidelbergensis. No one has seriously considered Neanderthals
out of these regions

These are by no means widely accepted classifications, but summarize
what appears to be the most popular held views. My own feeling about
Neanderthals is that they evolved and became extinct with the other
species of the European ice age, such as the cave bear and the giant
deer. Humans did live in some of these environments, and there is an
interesting discussion on giant deer in cave art by humans in the last
issue of Natural History magazine.

The later appearance of humans in the far east, including Australia by
40,000 yrs suggests that moderns migrated into southern Asia, being
more temperate, from the middle east. Moderns don't show in far
northern Asia until about 10,000 yrs., and human DNA data have them
migrating from the middle east.