One would think that with limited space devoted to online articles, the focus would be on inclusion of “fact-based” information detailing the actual scientific relevance of specific “discoveries” – but no….
… archaeologists have discovered a cache of butchered rhino bones and dozens of stone tools on the Philippines’s largest island, Luzon. The find pushes back the earliest evidence for human occupation of the Philippines by more than 600,000 years, and it has archaeologists wondering who exactly these ancient humans were—and how they crossed the deep seas that surrounded that island and others in Southeast Asia.
“The only thing missing is the hominin fossil to go along with it,” says archaeologist Adam Brumm, of Griffith University in Nathan, Australia. He’s wasn’t involved with the work.(This standard “journalistic format” added comment by a “random” expert drives me nuts… is it supposed to compensate for lack of evidence? Is it merely to make it look like the journalist did some “background work”? Or is it the NT passion for “he said, she said” cable TV news “black and white” ideological warfare transferred to “science” articles? Please stop!
Researchers found 75% of a fossilized rhino skeleton—ribs and leg bones still scarred from the tools that removed their meat and marrow—lying in ancient mud that had long since buried an even older river channel. To determine the site’s age, researchers dated the enamel in one of the rhino’s teeth, as well as quartz grains embedded in the sediment layers above and below the bones, using electron spin resonance (ESR), which measures the buildup of electrons as a material is exposed to radiation over time. The team dated the bottom sediment layer to about 727,000 years old, the rhino tooth to about 709,000 years old, and the top sediment layer to about 701,000 years old. Several independent experts say(aye, yai, yai!)they were impressed by the team’s careful use of the technique. “They’ve nailed it,” says Alistair Pike, an archaeological dating expert at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.(Please stop inserting these technically-scientifically irrelevant comments! These statements are NOT PROOF that the dating is accurate, EXCEPT IN THE “lazy-crazy” NT social brain. The appeal to “authorities” is a social substitute for facts; NTs believe in “authority hearsay” and don’t recognize the existence of factual information)
So who were these ancient people? They couldn’t have been our own species, Homo sapiens, which evolved in Africa hundreds of thousands of years later. The most likely bet is H. erectus, an archaic human species that first evolved nearly 2 million years ago and may have been the first member of our genus to expand out of Africa, the team writes today in Nature. H. erectus bones have been found in China and Java, so researchers know they lived in Asia (Asia is a VERY BIG PLACE, but if one is geographically illiterate, this vague reference may sound impressive and “meaningful”)around the time the rhino was butchered on Luzon. But Thomas Ingicco, a paleoarchaeologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris who led the research, doesn’t want to jump to any conclusions without human bones—especially not in a region that already has yielded one big surprise for scientists studying archaic humans. (Drum roll…)
Three thousand kilometers to the south, (almost 2,000 miles) on the island of Flores in Indonesia, archaeologists discovered H. floresiensis, a diminutive archaic human species known as the hobbit. It lived from about 60,000 to 100,000 years ago and seems to have evolved its short stature, large feet, and other distinctive traits because of its long isolation on Flores. There’s no evidence that the rhino butcherers on Luzon are the ancestors of the hobbit, or connected to those unusual humans in any way. But the discovery of H. floresiensis opened up the possibility that there could be many hitherto unknown human species living and evolving in Southeast Asia. (Wow! What “peculiar” logic. 1. Why are “the Hobbits” even mentioned in this context? (700,000 y.o. hominid in Luzon “magically” connects to” 60-100,000 y.o. hominid in Flores, 3,000 km away. 2. The possibility of “hitherto unknown human species living and evolving in Southeast Asia” already exists WITHOUT “the Hobbits”. 3. The salient fact about Flores Homo is that it’s small stature is a consequence of being isolated on an island – they were not “wandering around” a vast region. “In theory you could have something special on every single island,” Ingicco says.
And how did the rhinoceros get to Luzon?
The area in question.
Equally mysterious (please ban the use of mysterious, strange, bizarre, etc. in science journalism, and let the Ancient Aliens crew have this nonsense as their very own ”catchy” theme! The use of mysterious, etc can only refer in this context to the confused state of the NT mind.) is how the ancestors of the rhino butchers arrived on Luzon, which was surrounded by deep water then, as it is today. “I’ve been studying H. erectus for a long time, and I think they are pretty clever,” says Susan Antón, a paleoanthropologist at New York University in New York City who wasn’t involved in the work.Recent research (by whom?) even suggests that stone age peoples were using boatsmore than 130,000 years ago in the Mediterranean Sea.(Now there is a piece of “NT logic” – Non-correlation of geography, dates, location – and zero evidence – are no obstacle to social typical magical thinking) But like most researchers Antón isn’t convinced that ancient humans were deliberately crossing Southeast Asian seas so long ago. More likely, they were carried to distant islands by tsunami waves, or arrived there via floating islands of land and debris detached during typhoons. (Really? Does this actually occur, or is this a garbled interpretation of massive landslides that end up AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA? Maybe it was Ancient Astronauts…)“The presumption has been that Homo erectus didn’t, at least purposefully, disperse over water,” Antón says. “But the more places you find that happening, then … the more likely it becomes that they had some kind of control over it. But that kind of a conclusion is way off in the distance.” (How articulate…)
Let’s see what NATGEO has to say:
700,000-Year-Old Stone Tools Point to Mysterious Human Relative
Stone tools found in the Philippines predate the arrival of modern humans to the islands by roughly 600,000 years—but researchers aren’t sure who made them.
The eye-popping artifacts,unveiled on Wednesday in Nature, were abandoned on a river floodplain on the island of Luzon beside the butchered carcass of a rhinoceros. The ancient toolmakers were clearly angling for a meal. Two of the rhino’s limb bones are smashed in, as if someone was trying to harvest and eat the marrow inside. Cut marks left behind by stone blades crisscross the rhino’s ribs and ankle, a clear sign that someone used tools to strip the carcass of meat.
But the age of the remains makes them especially remarkable: The carved bones are most likely between 631,000 and 777,000 years old, with researchers’ best estimate coming in around 709,000 years old. The research—partially funded by the National Geographic Society—pushes back occupation of the Philippines to before the known origin of our species, Homo sapiens. (Of course, as the pinnacle of evolution, every “discovery” must be oriented to “our” arrival!) The next-earliest evidence of Philippine hominins comes from Luzon’s Callao Cave, in the form of a 67,000-year-old foot bone.
“It was surprising to find such an old peopling of the Philippines,” says lead study author Thomas Ingicco, an archaeologist with France’s National Museum of Natural History. While the researchers don’t know which archaic cousin of ours butchered the rhino, the find will likely cause a stir among people studying the human story in the South Pacific—especially those wondering how early hominins got to the Philippines in the first place.
“I think it’s pretty spectacular,” says Michael Petraglia, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History who was not involved in the work.“While there had been claims for early hominins in places like the Philippines, there wasn’t any good evidence until now.”
Dating With Confidence
Several of the habitable islands across the South Pacific have long been hemmed off by swaths of open ocean, (Is that not what an island is?)so it was thought that humans’ ancient cousins couldn’t have made it to them without knowing how to sail.
But as the saying goes, life finds a way.In 2004, researchers unveiled Homo floresiensis, which lived on the isolated island of Flores for hundreds of thousands of years. In 2016, researchers also found stone tools on Sulawesi, an island north of Flores. As National Geographic reported at the time, the Sulawesi tools date to at least 118,000 years ago, or some 60,000 years before the first anatomically modern humans arrived. (Repetitive NT narcissism)
“It’s really, really exciting—it’s now becoming increasingly clear that ancient forms of hominins were able to make significant deep-sea crossings,” says Adam Brumm, a paleoanthropologist at Griffith University who studies H. floresiensis. (but wait…)
In 2014, the team dug a test pit at Kalinga about seven feet to a side. Almost immediately, the researchers started finding bones that belonged to a long-extinct rhinoceros. Soon, they had uncovered an entire skeleton, as well as stone tools left behind by its butchers.
To get an age range for the site, the team measured the sediments and the rhino’s teeth to see how much radiation they had naturally absorbed over time. (You never know – 700,000 y.a. there may have been time traveling H. sapiens going around artificially irradiating rhinoceros bones and teeth. Or maybe it was Ancient Aliens) In addition, they measured the natural uranium content of one of the rhino’s teeth, since that element decays like clockwork into thorium. In the mud around the rhino’s bones, they also found a speck of melted glass from an asteroid impact dated to about 781,000 year ago. (More magical and irrelevant NT type “evidence” What impact, where? How did it “end up” in the sediment? erosion, transport, etc.)
“Nowadays, it’s necessary that you try various methods to nail the dates, because in the past, there have been so many dates that have proved unreliable,” says study coauthor Gerrit van den Bergh, a University of Wollongong sedimentologist.
The Unusual Suspects
The list of possible toolmakers includes the Denisovans, aghost lineage of hominins known from DNA and a handful of Siberian fossils. The leading candidate, though, is the early hominin Homo erectus, since it definitely made its way into southeast Asia. The Indonesian island of Javahas H. erectus fossils that are more than 700,000 years old.
Ingicco’s team suggests that the butchers may have been Luzon’s version of H. floresiensis, (what on earth does that mean?)which may have descended from apopulation of H. erectus that ended up on Flores. Over millennia, the H. erectus there may have evolved to live efficiently on a predator-free island, shrinking in a process called island dwarfism.
The most comprehensive study on the bones of Homo floresiensis, a species of tiny human discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, has found that they most likely evolved from an ancestor in Africa and not from Homo erectus as has been widely believed.
The study by The Australian National University (ANU) found Homo floresiensis, dubbed “the hobbits” due to their small stature, were most likely a sister species of Homo habilis—one of the earliest known species of human found in Africa 1.75 million years ago.
back to: In 2010, a team led by University of Philippines Diliman archaeologist Armand Mijares found the Callao Cave foot bone, which has measurements that overlap with both modern humans and H. floresiensis. (Utterly meaningless: this panders to archaic notions of “linear evolution” that demands “missing links” – so outdated!) Was this Luzon hominin a homegrown hobbit, descended from H. erectus castaways that arrived hundreds of thousands of years before? It’s too soon to say. (OMG!)
“We don’t have any information about 600,000 years of prehistory, [so] it’s a reach,” says Petraglia.
Riding Out the Storm?
Whoever they were, the toolmakers’ ancestors may have taken one of two migration routes into the Philippines, according to Ingicco’s team: an west-to-east route from Borneo or Palawan, or a north-to-south route from China and Taiwan. (Does this contrived “choice” have any real meaning? Were Homo erectus standing around looking at a map, arguing over which “migration route” to take?) But it’s an open question how these hominins crossed open ocean.
It’s tempting to think that our extinct cousins used rudimentary boats: When news of the Callao Cave remains broke in 2010, some experts chalked up their presence to ancient seafarers. But the idea is still considered farfetched. Rhinos and elephant-like creatures also made it to Luzon, and they clearly didn’t build boats.
OMG! What is this, a Disney movie?
Perhaps large animals and the butchers’ ancestors accidentally rode to Luzon on floating masses of mud and aquatic plants, torn off coastlines by large storms. Regional tsunamis may have also washed some terrified H. erectus out to sea. As they clung to floating debris, they may have inadvertently island-hopped.
“Water dispersal by H. erectusis accidental—there’s no Manifest Destiny, there’s no plot,” says Russell Ciochon, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Iowa at Iowa City. (What an outstanding contribution to this article!)
There’s also outstanding questions about what happened when and if descendants of these early hominins made contact with the first modern humans to reach Luzon: (Endless NT narcissism, of course.) “Did our species come face to face with these creatures? What is the nature of that contact?” wonders Brumm.
These and other questions remain to be answered, but researchers say that study of the human story in Luzon—and the South Pacific writ large—is only just beginning.