time to update timeline

A story on science news.com gives an accessible account of an article published in Science about a genetic study from the genome recovered from a boy who lived in southern Africa 2000 years ago:  https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ancient-boys-dna-pushes-back-date-earliest-humans.  The methodology here is way beyond my ken but it involves comparing this genome to others recovered all around Africa and Eurasia from different time periods and figuring out rates of genetic change that would account for its composition some 2000 years ago.  The scientists concluded that the essential genome for us, Homo sapiens, coalesced around 350,000 years ago; that is a 100,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Putting some of the reports together, it seems that humans in Africa long ago traveled the  length and breadth of the continent and intermarried for many thousands of years ago before modern humans migrated to Europe, maybe influenced by climate changes..  My 6/19/17 post was about a Moroccan fossil that also put Homo sapiens origin around 300,000 years ago.  For reference DNA studies indicate that Neandertals and Denisovans (our kinfolk in Europe and the Russian steppe;  homo sapiens did not arrive in Europe until around 30,000 years ago) split around 640,000 years ago.

Adding to a post from some time back check out these dates listed as years ago:

3 million—gene appears promoting brain enlargement

2 to 2.8 million—tools that were worked and shaped

1.8 million—fire and cooking (homo erectus)

before 640,000-Neandertal and Denisovan genomes took shape

500,000–phonological study’s estimate of origins of modern language

350,000-Homo sapiens genome took shape

130,000-eagle claw necklace from southern Africa

40,000 to 100,000—burials

45,000—paintings, good painting they are too

43,000—bone flutes

40,000—dogs domesticated

40,000—modern humans arrive in Europe

10,000—agriculture

9,000—dog burials (just found that one)

6,000—glyphs and a new learning curve

500–modern science took hold

And so we travel on.

3 news stories

Here’s 3 unrelated reports of interest.  First, 2 hours after I posted the last piece on the hippocampus, I read the obituary of Suzanne Corkin.  I did not know her name but she was the principal scientist, after Brenda Milner, studying the famous patient and research subject H.M. after his bilateral hippocampectomy.  She spent years investigating his memory loss and what he retained.  As mentioned in the previous post she spent hours many days with Henry Molaison (H.M.) who never recognized her but thought maybe he had been to high school with her.  She was respected for the thoroughness and rigor of her work.  In her book about him, Permanent Present Tense (I might have to check it out sooner than later), she wrote, reports the NYT, of coming to see Henry as a person and not solely a research subject but a collaborator in the research.  She also said he retained some strong memories from the distant past in an austere manner which she labeled ‘gist’ memories’, saying his memory had lost the capacity for narrative richness.  Thank you, Dr. Corkin, and thank you, Henry Molaison

corkin-suzanne-louis-bachrach-use-this-one

Neuroscientist Suzanne Corkin worked with Henry Gustave Molaison, who had severe amnesia, for 50 years — from the 1953 surgery that caused permanent damage to his brain until his death in 2008.

Next up a brief report from Earthsky.org on the Rosetta spacecraft orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko since August, 2014.  It has detected glycine and phosphorus on the comet.  Glycine is a simple amino acid and phosphorus is essential to building  DNA, so comet 67P orbiting our galaxy and who knows where else carries some of the building blocks of life.  Gaia seeded from Mars?  Maybe, but life from Andromeda maybe as well.  Don’t you love it when we get some empirical confirmation towards some of the wilder ideas out there?

Finally, another NYT story reports that researchers have found a Neanderthal construction from 175,000 years ago (remember that the earliest cave art is only about 50,000 years ago).  This pushes back the hominid timeline a great deal.  Evidently Neanderthals deep in a cave in France broke off stalagmites and stalagmites and arranged them in a circle way back then.  The ability to navigate that deep underground is impressive and then they were able to break off these mineral formations and then for some reason arranged them into a pretty decent circle.  Meditate on those findings for awhile and see what you come up with thinking about what our minds were like back then.  Thank you Neanderthals and thank you researchers.

That’s it for now, so after you do the above meditation, please travel on.

 

 

 

 

another date on the timeline

I have posted several times recently updating the timeline of humanity’s development. This primarily documents indirectly the rise of symbolic thought, which in my scheme presupposes a highly developed sense of empathy: why code and communicate symbolically what is in your MEMBRAIN’s interiority if you do not sense empathically that within the other’s MEMBRAIN their interiority ‘understands’ your meaning or import? Here’s another report pushing the timeline back and including Neanderthals.

Science News (4/18/15) reports that a paleontologist looked again at eagle claws recovered a hundred years ago from a cave dated to 130,000 years ago inhabited by Neanderthals (modern humans would not arrive in the area, as far as we now know, for another 60,000 years). He found evidence that these claws had been worked and probably strung together to form a necklace or some other adornment. Of course some say they did not necessarily symbolize something (and of course we do not know what) but this seems ludicrous. Maybe they put on jewelry mindlessly like Zsa Zsa Gabor but the rest of us humans don’t. This article has some other good details in it so check it out.

I looked back at some of my other posts to construct a proper timeline, remembering that some clerics (and many were of the intelligentsia of their day) tried to refute Darwin by pointing out that his theory on the origin of species would require many thousands of years, and they knew from studying the Bible that the earth itself was less than 10,000 years old (oops!). Darwin’s time was also the birth of modern geology so most intelligent people knew the earth was much older and now we know it is billions of years old with life developing in fits and starts over the majority of it. So a timeline is actually an important result of good science.

Before listing a summary from my more recent posts, here are some skulls of Homo genus (and they all were empathic and used some symbolization) with Mr/Ms Neanderthal upper right.

512px-Craniums_of_Homo

Check out these dates listed as years ago:

3 million—gene appears promoting brain enlargement

2 to 2.8 million—tools that were worked and shaped

1.8 million—fire and cooking (homo erectus)

500,000–phonological study’s estimate of origins of modern language

40,000 to 100,000—burials

45,000—paintings, good painting they are too

43,000—bone flutes

40,000—dogs domesticated

40,000—modern humans arrive in Europe

10,000—agriculture

9,000—dog burials (just found that one)

6,000—glyphs and a new learning curve

And so we travel on.