Re: puzzle of the negrito: isolated archaic populations

Philip Deitiker (
Mon, 16 Dec 1996 21:40:21 GMT (Dan Barnes) wrote:

>In article <58s45k$>, says...
>> (Gerold Firl) wrote:
>>>The polynesian settlements are *very*
>>>recent, and open-ocean technology is viewed with scepticism anywhere
>>>beyond 40,000 b.p. or so. Java, on the other hand, had residant
>>>hominids a million years ago
>>True, but the fossile record dries up after that and I'm not even sure
>>that there were non-HS hominids in this subequatorial region when the
>>75K - 50KY migrants came across. There is the belief that somewhere
>>along the way there was a 60 mile stretch of water that had to be
>>crossed, and the best evidence suggests that it was first crossed 50
>>to 45 KYA. The latest dating for Peking man puts him at 400 KY old and
>>there is little evidence from that period to the present suggesting HE
>>presence (And I agree it seems odd that there shouldn't be). So unlike
>>what has been discovered in europe, which can be summerized as
>>evidence for interspecies cultural exchange (with a lack of any
>>genetic exchange) in southeast asia there is simply no evidence for
>>temporal territorial overlap. In addition there is no reason, based on
>>genetic studies, to suggest that these ancient southeast asians are
>>not out of africa.
>Of course the new dates for H.e. (27 to 53 ka) in Java throws a different light on
>this. There may have been a degree of temporal overlap.

About 20 minutes after I sent the posting in I read about this in the
newspaper. As usual I have 2 responses to the new find and
datings,(without debating the quality of the find)

1. The initial datings are usually off the value, tend to overdate
artifiacts, probably in the next 6 mos to a year a correct date will
be found.

2. Even without correct dating the new find demonstrates the
differences between ancient and modern forms indicating that
interbreeding was unlikely. If the new finds showed an intermediate
form then a strong case for argumentation would be present.

> I have also heard
>suggestions, although I have no ref for them, that H.e. had colonised at least one
>island (c. 700 ka) that would have needed boats - even at low sea levels.

My personal opinion is that the working mental abilities of ancient
hominids has, in general, been greatly underestimated. Thus travel by
boat or other means does not strike me as impossible even for H.
neaderthalensis of H. erectus. What is apparent is that erectus was
not very competitive in a variety of other ways and in this regard
what strikes me as the most likely cause of low population numbers is
the ability to fight and fend off predators. The loss of two species
(neaderthals and erectus) indicates that modern humans must have been
pretty good in doing-in competitors. Modern history remains a good
example of this behavior.

>However, you are right in concluding a lack of evidence for genetic continuity.

The real intriquing question is why after several 100K years of
presence that this hominid did not dominate the region, to the extent
that H. Sapiens would be challenged upon arrival? The overlap with
neaderthalensis was apparently much longer. Why didn't neaderthals
move into the region before humans and overtake the territory?