Neanderthal mtDNA from before 220,000 y.o. Early Modern Human

Fact or Baloney…read on…

Neandertals and modern humans started mating early

For almost a century, Neandertals were considered the ancestors of modern humans. But in a new plot twist in the unfolding mystery of how Neandertals were related to modern humans, it now seems that members of our lineage were among the ancestors of Neandertals. Researchers sequenced ancient DNA from the mitochondria—tiny energy factories inside cells—from a Neandertal who lived about 100,000 years ago in southwest Germany. They found that this DNA, which is inherited only from the mother, resembled that of early modern humans.

After comparing the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with that of other archaic and modern humans, the researchers reached a startling conclusion: A female member of the lineage that gave rise to Homo sapiens in Africa mated with a Neandertal male more than 220,000 years ago—much earlier than other known encounters between the two groups. Her children spread her genetic legacy through the Neandertal lineage, and in time her African mtDNA completely replaced the ancestral Neandertal mtDNA.

Other researchers are enthusiastic about the hypothesis, described in Nature Communications this week, but caution that it will take more than one genome to prove. “It’s a nice story that solves a cool mystery—how did Neandertals end up with mtDNA more like that of modern humans,” says population geneticist Ilan Gronau of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel. But “they have not nailed it yet.”

 The study adds to a catalog of ancient genomes, including mtDNA as well as the much larger nuclear genomes, from more than a dozen Neandertals. Most of these lived at the end of the species’ time on Earth, about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. Researchers also have analyzed the complete nuclear and mtDNA genomes of another archaic group from Siberia, called the Denisovans. The nuclear DNA suggested that Neandertals and Denisovans were each other’s closest kin and that their lineage split from ours more than 600,000 years ago. But the Neandertal mtDNA from these samples posed a mystery: It was not like Denisovans’ and was closely related to that of modern humans—a pattern at odds with the ancient, 600,000 year divergence date. Last year Svante Pääbo’s team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, offered a startling solution: Perhaps the “Neandertal” mtDNA actually came from modern humans.


Strange! Everything I’ve read previously has said the Neanderthal mtDna was not at all similar to any H. sapiens mtDna haplogroups. 


In the new study, paleogeneticists Johannes Krause and Cosimo Posth of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, test this wild idea with ancient mtDNA from a Neandertal thighbone found in 1937 in the Hohlenstein-Stadel cave (HST) in Germany. Isotopes in animal bones found with the Neandertal suggest that it lived in a woodland known to have vanished at least 100,000 years ago.

Researchers compared the coding region of the HST Neandertal’s mtDNA with that of 17 other Neandertals, three Denisovans, and 54 modern humans. The HST Neandertal’s mtDNA was significantly different even from that of proto-Neandertals that date to 430,000 years ago at Sima de los Huesos in Spain, suggesting that their mtDNA had been completely replaced. But the HST sample was also surprisingly distinct from that of other Neandertals, allowing researchers to build a phylogenetic tree and study how Neandertal mtDNA evolved over time.

Using modern humans’ mtDNA mutation rate to calculate the timing, the researchers conclude that the HST mtDNA split from that of all other Neandertals at least 220,000 years ago. The ancient H. sapiens’ mtDNA must have entered the Neandertal lineage before this time, but after 470,000 years ago, the earliest date for when modern human and Neandertal mtDNA diverged. That’s early enough for the new form of mtDNA to have spread among Neandertals and replaced all their mtDNA.

“The mtDNA of Neandertals is not actually from Neandertals, but from an early modern human from Africa,” Krause says. The researchers speculate that this key mating may have happened in the Middle East, where early H. sapiens may have ventured. Other researchers find the scenario remarkable but plausible. “It seems magical but this type of thing happens all the time … especially if the populations are very small,” Gronau says. For example, the mtDNA in some grizzly bears has been completely replaced by that of polar bears, Krause says.

But some experts say DNA from other Neandertals is needed to prove that their mtDNA was inherited entirely from an early H. sapiens rather than from an ancient ancestor the two groups shared. “Is there other evidence of another [early] mtDNA introgression event?” asks Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London.

Not yet, Posth says. Pääbo is seeking evidence of early gene swapping by trying to get nuclear DNA from the HST Neandertal and others. “We will learn a lot about the population history of Neandertals over the next few years,” he says.

Posted in: Evolution




The Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Reaction / Neanderthal Myths

The “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” reaction is what happens when I read articles written for public consumption that “boil down” science for the “educated public” – those who are genuinely interested in the physical universe, but may or may not  have a science background. One of my favorite examples is how Neanderthals are “created” out of the modern social typical penchant (and temperamental obligation) to write stories (myths) from scant, contradictory or preliminary information.

Claiming that Neanderthals were "dumb" is dumb.

The claim that Neanderthals were “dumb” is dumb. Are these skulls to scale?

Science Shows Why You’re Smarter Than a Neanderthal

Neanderthal brains had more capacity devoted to vision and body control, with less left over for social interactions and complex cognition

By Joseph Stromberg March 12, 2013 Full article

COMMENTS: This article hits the Whoa! Stop! barrier before getting past the subhead. “Neanderthal brains had more capacity devoted to vision and body control, with less left over for social interactions and complex cognition.”

  1. This view of the brain as having a “capacity” related to volume, like a closet that can be packed with X amount of clothing and Y amount of shoes, and if you want to add more shoes or ski equipment, you have to remove the clothes to make room, defies what we know (and brag about endlessly) about the brain: it’s built of networks that connect across regions and functions, and these are PLASTIC – what is referred to as “able to rewire itself in reaction to the environment.” This blows apart much of what the article has to say.
  2. Visual thinking is judged to be INFERIOR, low level cognition. Tell that to a raptor, such as a hawk, raven or eagle; to giant squid or octopi and the myriad species which utilize various segments of the electro-magnetic spectrum to perceive the environment. This opinion is based in ignorance and the noises made by the perpetual cheer leaders for Homo sapiens, who believe humans are the pinnacle of evolution, and therefore, whatever “we” do is de facto superior.
  3. Which brings us to the question, if human abilities are superior, why must we compensate for our lack of sensory, cognitive and physical abilities by inventing technology? The average “know-it-all” American CONSUMES the products invented and developed by a handful of creative people in each generation. Knowledge is purchased in the form of “gadgets” that for the most part, do not educate, but distract the average individual from pursuing direct experience and interaction with the environment.
  4. Which means, “we” cognitive masterminds are taking a whole lot of credit for adaptations that are INHERITED from our “inferior, stupid, ancestors” who over the previous 200,000 years, not only survived, but built the culture that made us modern humans –
  5. Which comes to the egregious error of ignoring context: Compare an imaginary modern social human who exists in a context that is utterly dependent on manmade systems that supply food, water, shelter, medical care, economic opportunity, government control, cultural benefits and instant communication with a Neanderthal (or archaic Homo sapiens) whose environment is a largely uninhabited wilderness. One of the favorite clichés of American entertainment is “Male Monsters of Survival” cast into the wilderness (with a film crew and helicopter on call) recreating the Myth of Homo sapiens, Conqueror of Nature. These overconfident males are often lucky to last a week; injuries are common, starvation the norm.
  6. If visual thinking is so inferior, why do hunters rely on airplane and helicopter “flyovers” to locate game, and now drones, and add scopes, binoculars, game cameras,  and a multitude of “sensory substitutes” to their repertoire? Ever been to a sporting goods store? They’re packed with every possible gadget that will improve the DIMINISHED senses and cognitive ability of modern social humans to function outside of manmade environments and to be successful hunters and fishermen.
  7. As for forcing Neanderthals into extinction, modern social humans could accomplish this: we have a horrific history of wiping out indigenous peoples and continue to destroy not only human groups, but hundreds of species and the environments they are adapted to. Modern social humans could bomb Neanderthals “back to the Stone Age”. Kill them off with chemical weapons, shred them with cluster bombs, the overkill of targeted assassination and nuclear weapons.
  8. BUT there is no proof that Archaic Homo sapiens “extincted” Homo Neanderthal. We know that in some areas they lived cheek by jowl, had sex and produced offspring, but modern social humans maintain that Neanderthals were so “socially stupid” that the entire species fell to the magnificence of party-hearty Homo sapiens.  Actually, a modern social human would have difficulty distinguishing the two fearsome types: the challenge may have been like distinguishing a polar bear from a grizzly bear, which are actually both brown bears adapted to different environments. rather irrelevant if you’re facing down either one with a sharp stick.
  9. The myth that Homo sapiens individuals outside of Africa “contain” a variable 1-4% of Neanderthal DNA, with  specific “snips” related to various functions in modern humans, is incomplete. Rarely included in articles about how Homo sapiens and Neanderthal are connected is whole genome sequencing results which show that overall, the Homo sapiens genome, even now, is all but identical to the Neanderthal genome. This is logical: the divergence between the common ancestor of Chimps and  African great Apes (us) occurred 5-6 m.y.a. and yet, the human and chimp genomes share 99% of our DNA. How similar then, is Neanderthal and Denisovan genome to ours? This is a simple math question.
  10. What we need to compare is the Neanderthal genome and the ARCHAIC Homo sapiens genome – two groups of humans who were contemporaries.




Human Footprints / Visual Geology

“Experiential geology” One of my favorite aspects of understanding geologic processes is the direct experience of “seeing” the same type of manifestations of physical “acts” today as were recorded in the rock record as fossil traces, impressions and patterns on specific days and times millions of years ago. Although these are my own refrozen boot prints from previous days, in principle they are no different than any track way made by any ancestral biped. I imagine some familiar, and yet alien creature, under the same sun, walking alone, or with another, and try to envision where they were going, and why, but I can’t assume that their thoughts were like mine: that their experience of the environment and each other was modern in any way. Geology sticks to physical facts, processes, and results. What I experience in these moments is mine; it is not the experience of a creature who “walked similarly to me” millions of years ago.

Perhaps they felt the sun warming their backs, the mud and water squishing between their toes, the effort it took to “not get stuck” and looked around for a less muddy path; maybe they didn’t. There were no “hiking trails”; no camp grounds with electricity and running water; no place to clean up; no home. We really can’t imagine a planet undivided by human landscape schemes; roads, fences, fields and grids; maps and satellite photos. We have a compulsion to “know where we are”.  We really can’t imagine a “human-like brain” that is not likewise divided, reduced and confined by ideas to one prescription for living. One perception of reality.

I get the best of both some days, thanks to having studied geology. A ‘snippet’ of a lost species, who walked like me, enters into my day, but it lived as a natural animal.

My question is always, Did its kind perceive beauty? Not some elaborate description of beauty, but the sensation of “rightness” – proportion, pattern, color, detail in their surroundings; the changes  made by light, by night, by dawn and the pleasure this creates? Or were they simply hungry, anxious, stressed; on guard, uncomfortable and slogging through a muddy stretch of ground toward a bit of shade, wary of ever-present predators?

In a way, I prefer not to know. I’m happy to have my big 4 WD truck parked nearby, equipped with a so-so heater and defroster. A warm house to return to with food waiting in the fridge, and a stove on which to cook it. A natural gas “campfire” and lights. And most of all, hot water on demand to unfreeze my fingers and toes.



Charles Lyell (1797-1875), the famed Scottish geologist and paleontologist  befriended the young Charles Darwin and strongly influenced his thought. In particular, Darwin’s reading of Lyell’s Principles of Geology prompted him to think of evolution as a slow process in which small changes gradually accumulate over immense spans of time.

In this founding document of modern geology, Lyell emphasized natural law. It makes sense, he said, to assume that geological processes acting in the past were much the same as those we see today — forces such as sedimentation in rivers, erosion by wind, or deposition of ash and lava by volcanic eruptions. This is the principle of uniformitarianism, the reasonable assumption that the forces that acted in the past are of the same sort as those we see acting today.

In emphasizing these natural processes, he undermined the claims of earlier geologists many of whom had a distinct tendency to explain geological formations in terms of biblical floods. In the same way, Darwin, who took a copy of Lyell’s Principles around the world with him on the voyage of the Beagle, constructed an explanation of the origin of living things in terms of natural processes.


Geologists discover 5.7 myo “human-like” footprints / CRETE


Fossil footprints challenge established theories of human evolution

August 31, 2017 / Uppsala University

Summary: Newly discovered human-like footprints from Crete may put the established narrative of early human evolution to the test. The footprints are approximately 5.7 million years old and were made at a time when previous research puts our ancestors in Africa — with ape-like feet.

Ever since the discovery of fossils of Australopithecus in South and East Africa during the middle years of the 20th century, the origin of the human lineage has been thought to lie in Africa. More recent fossil discoveries in the same region, including the iconic 3.7 million year old Laetoli footprints from Tanzania which show human-like feet and upright locomotion, have cemented the idea that hominins (early members of the human lineage) not only originated in Africa but remained isolated there for several million years before dispersing to Europe and Asia. The discovery of approximately 5.7 million year old human-like footprints from Crete, published online this week by an international team of researchers, overthrows this simple picture and suggests a more complex reality.

Human feet have a very distinctive shape, different from all other land animals. The combination of a long sole, five short forward-pointing toes without claws, and a hallux (“big toe”) that is larger than the other toes, is unique. The feet of our closest relatives, the great apes, look more like a human hand with a thumb-like hallux that sticks out to the side. The Laetoli footprints, thought to have been made by Australopithecus, are quite similar to those of modern humans except that the heel is narrower and the sole lacks a proper arch. By contrast, the 4.4 million year old Ardipithecus ramidus from Ethiopia, the oldest hominin known from reasonably complete fossils, has an ape-like foot. The researchers who described Ardipithecus argued that it is a direct ancestor of later hominins, implying that a human-like foot had not yet evolved at that time.

The new footprints, from Trachilos in western Crete, have an unmistakably human-like form. This is especially true of the toes. The big toe is similar to our own in shape, size and position; it is also associated with a distinct ‘ball’ on the sole, which is never present in apes. The sole of the foot is proportionately shorter than in the Laetoli prints, but it has the same general form. In short, the shape of the Trachilos prints indicates unambiguously that they belong to an early hominin, somewhat more primitive than the Laetoli trackmaker. They were made on a sandy seashore, possibly a small river delta, whereas the Laetoli tracks were made in volcanic ash.

‘What makes this controversial is the age and location of the prints,’ says Professor Per Ahlberg at Uppsala University, last author of the study.

At approximately 5.7 million years, they are younger than the oldest known fossil hominin, Sahelanthropus from Chad, and contemporary with Orrorin from Kenya, but more than a million years older than Ardipithecus ramidus with its ape-like feet. This conflicts with the hypothesis that Ardipithecus is a direct ancestor of later hominins. Furthermore, until this year, all fossil hominins older than 1.8 million years (the age of early Homo fossils from Georgia) came from Africa, leading most researchers to conclude that this was where the group evolved. However, the Trachilos footprints are securely dated using a combination of foraminifera (marine microfossils) from over- and underlying beds, plus the fact that they lie just below a very distinctive sedimentary rock formed when the Mediterranean sea briefly dried out, 5.6 millon years ago. By curious coincidence, earlier this year, another group of researchers reinterpreted the fragmentary 7.2 million year old primate Graecopithecus from Greece and Bulgaria as a hominin. Graecopithecus is only known from teeth and jaws.

During the time when the Trachilos footprints were made, a period known as the late Miocene, the Sahara Desert did not exist; savannah-like environments extended from North Africa up around the eastern Mediterranean. Furthermore, Crete had not yet detached from the Greek mainland. It is thus not difficult to see how early hominins could have ranged across south-east Europe and well as Africa, and left their footprints on a Mediterranean shore that would one day form part of the island of Crete.

‘This discovery challenges the established narrative of early human evolution head-on and is likely to generate a lot of debate. Whether the human origins research community will accept fossil footprints as conclusive evidence of the presence of hominins in the Miocene of Crete remains to be seen,’ says Per Ahlberg.



Does drawing lines force extinction?

I’m not referring to a magical process that retroactively “drives” hominid species to extinction, nor to the ever-popular “somebody screws up and the entire species falls over dead” concept. Nor to the “every species that became extinct was a failure” simplification.

I’m referring to how the popular 2-d linear “timeline” representation of evolution is so unrealistic that it doesn’t allow for any hominid except Homo sapiens to survive today nor for a valid allocation of direct ancestry. GRAPHIC DESTINY, in which no “earlier” human species (or hybridization) is “good enough” to be our direct predecessor is arrogant prejudice.

Unfortunately, non-scientists pick up on graphic representations of evolutionary relationships and take-away a garbled idea of evolution at work. Is it a surprise then that “evolution deniers” find it easy to pervert the very idea of evolution into a confusion of religious magic with scientific magic?

Note: the anthropologic accuracy of the examples below is not what I’m discussing, but instead how graphic design influences what students or others derive as “meaning” in visual presentations. I have experience with this problem; began my career as a textbook designer with responsibility for editing illustrations / diagrams etc. for visual effectiveness and accuracy.

The classic unscientific, conceptually supernatural view of MAN as the goal of evolution.




Above and below: The species as “time bars” style, which uses artifacts such as scraps of fossils, bone or stone merely duplicates a list. (Disconnected from significance, the physical environment and once-living organisms). This style also promotes the idea that a “new species” arises just in the nick of time before one or more species become extinct; in fact that species “must die” to make way for new species (and eventually) for Modern Homo sapiens.


hominin_timeline_med ccc

We have a problem: H. rudolfensis / H. habilis became extinct; what species is designated by the blue line to which the green arrow points? Also the dumb idea that “squiggly lines” make diagrams more visual and organic.


The “Man on the March” timeline which shows Chimps as our ancestors, which they are not. And the   “defective” species that led to white male Homo supreme-us, which also are not direct ancestors (or maybe they are), but which “filled in” the empty time until WE could appear.


Imaginative is correct! Again we have the “Road to Homo sapiens” – which encourages the idea that all these “dead” species existed in anticipation of “Modern” Homo sapiens; but as inferior-defective “experiments” became road kill on the supernatural highway that prefigured modern Homo sapiens. Really? Seven million years of evolution are a waste of time? And, which, if any, are direct ancestors of Homo sapiens? No one seemas able to decide because then the Bible would be wrong.


This “graphic” really isn’t more than a list.


The slightly gruesome skulls on “time posts” style. The posts for H. ergaster, H. heidelberg and H. sapiens appear to be inverted as a space-saving device.  Is not informative except as a “time list”

These strictly time-based (lists) squander the true potential of visual presentation, and by “ignoring” 99% of available information (geography, geology, climate, other organisms…etc) are incredibly misleading.




Just So Stories / Bad, Bad Science

 untitlediplingStudy reveals why our ancestors switched to bipedal power


Oh no it doesn’t! The study reveals that modern chimpanzees behave in pre-conceived ways, in a contrived setting, in which food and its availability is controlled by humans. Nothing about how / why our ancestors became bipedal can be concluded from this study. 

(FROM: _ Our earliest ancestors may have started walking on two limbs instead of four in a bid to monopolise resources and to carry as much food as possible in one go, researchers have found. A study published in the journal Current Biology this week, investigated the behaviour of modern-day chimpanzees as they competed for food resources, in an effort to understand why our “hominin”, or human-like ancestors became bipedal.


1. Chimpanzees are not Bipedal; Birds, and their particular Dinosaur ancestors, are bipedal. Choosing Chimpanzees is Lazy; why not study other bipedal species?  
2. Chimpanzees are not our Ancestors, and yet we insist on using  them as analogs for study comparisons.
3. Our ancestors did not “Start Walking on Two limbs” one day because they “realized” that it would Make them more competitive.
4. The vast majority of species are not bipedal, and yet all have strategies for acquiring food resources.
5. One must then ask, Why didn’t chimpanzees become bipedal if doing so presented such an advantage?

Are chimpanzees the best animal to study for information about bipedal evolution? Anthropology seems “hung up” on a fascination with chimpanzees, as if chimps are human children who didn’t grow up, but if they had, would be just like us.

The joint University of Cambridge and Kyoto University team of biological anthropologists, led by PhD student Susana Carvalho and Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa, conclude that our earliest hominin ancestors may have lived in shifting environmental conditions in which certain resources were not always easy to come by. (Wow! Brilliant!) Over time, intense bursts of bipedal activity may have led to anatomical changes (OMG! The “Just So” version of how evolution works) that in turn became the subject of natural selection where competition for food or other resources was strong. (Amazing how evolutionary processes are “skipped over” by the meaningless weasel words “led to” – neurotypical speak for “the magic part happened here”!)

Storytelling is a widespread human attribute, but it is not reliable science.

Professor William McGrew, from the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, said: Bipedality as the key human adaptation may be an evolutionary product of this strategy persisting over time. (What strategy? Running on two legs now and then in order to force “evolution” to drastically alter anatomy? And then  convincing one’s offspring to do the same – generation after generation until “the magic” happens?) Ultimately, it set our ancestors on a separate evolutionary path.”

Lack of evidence in the fossil record (there is no evidence for our conclusions, which means we can pursue lavish speculation) means that researchers remain divided over when these ancestors became bipedal. It is widely believed that they did so because of climatic changes, which reduced forested areas and forced them to move longer distances across open terrain more often. (Invoke long-term nebulous environmental conditions as a last resort) 

More storytelling.

The new research digs deeper, however, by attempting to explain what particular pressures within that context forced those hominins to modify their posture and resort to moving on their legs. (Bipedalism is an act of desperation?) Two surveys were carried out. The first was in Kyoto University’s “outdoor laboratory” (Outdoor does not mean wild, or that these are wild chimps uncontaminated by human interference) of a natural clearing in Bossou Forest, Guinea. Here, the researchers allowed the chimpanzees access to different combinations of two different types of nut – the oil palm nut, which is naturally widely available, and the coula nut, which is not, so the latter is an “unpredictable” resource. (Unpredictable meaning controlled by the humans doing the “study”. (Do Chimpanzees think in these conscious human terms?)

Their behavior was monitored in three different situations: (a) when only oil palm nuts were available, (b) when a small number of coula nuts was available, and (c) when coula nuts were the majority available resource.

When the rare coula nuts were available only in small numbers, the chimpanzees transported far more in one go. Similarly, when coula nuts were the majority resource, the chimpanzees ignored the oil palm nuts altogether. Clearly, the chimpanzees regarded the coula nuts as a more highly-prized resource and competed for them more intensely. (This is a human economic word-concept being projected onto an animal that may simply prefer the taste, or other physical attributes of the coula nut, or appreciates novelty in a boring diet).

In such high-competition settings, (manipulated by humans) the frequency of cases in which the chimpanzees started moving on two legs increased by a factor of four. (And this “two-leg frequency” is attributable solely to the “coula conspiracy”. No other stimulus to “two-legged” behavior occurred  – or was it all behavior simply “recorded” as fitting the expectations of the study?) Not only was it obvious that bipedal movement allowed them to carry more of this precious resource (brilliant observation), but also that they were actively trying to move as much as they could in one go by using everything available, even their mouths. (This does not add to “bipedal” advantage; mouths are available when walking on all four feet)

Would any of this stand up in a court of “evolutionary law” as evidence for  anatomical change by “choice or force”? No. This argument is compatible with Creationism!

Many species “hoard” food stuffs as they become available – in fact, it’s a prime behavior in  Nature. 

The second survey was a 14-month study of Bossou chimpanzees crop-raiding, a situation in which they have to compete for rare and unpredictable resources. Here, 35% of their activity involved some sort of bipedal movement, and once again, this behavior appeared to be linked to a clear attempt to carry as much as possible in one go. The study concludes that unpredictable resources, like the coula nut in the field survey, are seen by as more valuable. When these resources are scarce and access to them is on a first-come, first-served” basis, (chimps have no “social” status structure for determining access to resources?) they are more prone to switch to bipedal movement, because it allows them to carry more of the resource at once. (Conflating details from two separate “surveys” in order to increase the importance of each one is not scientifically valid. Each must stand on its own. Note abundant and vague “weasel words”)

Isn’t this activity simply an example of chimpanzees (and many, many species across the animal spectrum) taking advantage of an opportunity? It has no direct connection or explanatory value concerning bipedalism. We identify chimps as “cute little humans.” imagesELC4DMTT

Here we go again!

Totally unsupported conclusions:

For our early ancestors, unpredictable access to vital resources may have been a frequent occurrence because of climatic shifts and rapid environmental change. Those who resorted to bipedal movement may have had an advantage, and gradually, anatomical change may have taken place as they used this strategy again and again. Once that happened, ability to move more easily on two legs may have become a selection pressure, so that over many generations, it became the norm.

Of course! This is how the giraffe got its long neck; by stretching and stretching to reach leaves higher and higher on the tree until one giraffe’s neck got “stuck” being longer and magically, ALL GIRAFFES got this “long neck” because the stretching somehow “became permanent” in their DNA. 

Wow! Giraffes certainly didn’t think ahead to the unintended consequences of “stretching their necks”, did they? And couldn’t our ancestors have known how much back and joint pain their bipedal behavior would cause? 

I can’t believe the magical thinking at work (and I’m being charitable) in this type of academic biological anthropology study! Drastic anatomical changes in early apes is attributed (retroactively) to behavior in modern captive chimpanzees, in situations contrived to confirm pre-conceived results, which attribute “conscious modern thinking” to “mysterious ancestral apes”. 

What’s missing from so much scientific activity today is CONCRETE THINKING.

More information: The full report, Chimpanzee carrying behavior and the origins of human bipedality, is available in the March 20 issue of Current Biology:



Pleistocene Animals / Population Dynamics

The Field Museum of Natural History was a “kid magnet” in my day; I’m sure it still is. I remember the Egyptian mummies, which I didn’t like to be around because the odor they gave off was repulsive. The big dioramas and paintings attracted me, especially the giant fauna of Ice Age animals, which were labeled “extinct”. Some were shown as being hunted by Paleo-Indians; it seemed preposterous (and terribly brave – or an act of desperation) for a human with a wooden spear and stone point to do such a thing. Then there were “cave” animals presented; they looked a lot like contemporary bears and big cats, but bigger and more ferocious. The word “cave” confused me. Being Asperger I took this literally: humans occupied caves, too – did they have to “evict” or kill all the animals living there before moving in? I’m still not sure, but it seems that “cave” doesn’t refer to the animal occupying the cave, but to species that humans depicted in cave paintings. (Language again! So non-specific…)

As a “real” hunting scene, this is idiotic! Wild boar are EXTREMELY dangerous animals! No one would crouch on the ground or stand a few feet in front of one of these fast charging and deadly animals… And what about those “coyote-looking” dogs on leashes? Hmmm… And all that tender white skin?

Diorama ID: Mas d’Azil cave in France. The scene shows two Azilian men armed with wooden spears with flint lance-points at close quarters with an enraged wild boar defending his mate and two young pigs. The dogs are held by rawhide straps and they are straining forward at the leash. The painted background shows the peaks of the Pyrenees in the distance.

For the story of this and other Field Museum “cave men” dioramas:

Le Mas-d’Azil cave, southwestern France, is the typesite for the prehistoric Azilian culture. The Grotte du Mas d’Azil is a “supersite” for human habitation ca. 30,000 years ago, and is also a key site for the Magdalenian culture that preceded it. 

For lots more info & photos see also:


Full PDF at:

Ecological Change, Range Fluctuations and Population Dynamics during the Pleistocene

Apart from the current human-induced climate change, the Holocene is notable for its stable climate. In contrast, the preceding age, the Pleistocene, was a time of intensive climatic fluctuations, with temperature changes of up to 15°C occurring within a few decades. These climatic changes have substantially influenced both animal and plant populations. Until recently, the prevailing opinion about the effect of these climatic fluctuations on species in Europe was that populations survived glacial maxima in southern refugia and that populations died out outside these refugia. However, some of the latest studies of modern population genetics, the fossil record and especially ancient DNA reveal a more complex picture. There is now strong evidence for additional local northern refugia for a large number of species, including both plants and animals. Furthermore, population genetic analyses using ancient DNA have shown that genetic diversity and its geographical structure changed more often and in more unpredictable ways during the Pleistocene than had been inferred. Taken together, the Pleistocene is now seen as an extremely dynamic era, with rapid and large climatic fluctuations and correspondingly variable ecology. These changes were accompanied by similarly fast and sometimes dramatic changes in population size and extensive gene flow mediated by population movements. Thus, the Pleistocene is an excellent model case for the effects of rapid climate change, as we experience at the moment, on the ecology of plants and animals.

Excerpt: Clearly, these massive climatic and environmental changes significantly influenced the distribution and genetic diversity of plants and animals. The idea that, during times of adverse climate, species track their habitat goes back to Darwin [9], and the Pleistocene should represent an excellent opportunity to test this assumption. Generally, one would assume that Arctic species would expand their distribution southwards during colder times and that temperate species would expand northwards during warmer times. While this is straightforward in North America, with mountain chains, which represent partial barriers to range shifts, running from north to south, in Europe a level of complexity is added with mountain chains running from east to west and the available land mass becoming smaller to the south and being divided into several peninsulas bordering the Mediterranean. This geography, together with numerous studies that found geographical patterns in the genetic diversity of many species consistent with colonization of mid-latitude and northern Europe from the Iberian Peninsula, Italy and the Balkans (for review, see [10,11]) has resulted in the classical ‘refugium theory’, which proposes that temperate species survived the glacial maxima in southern refugia with little gene flow among them and colonized the more northern parts from there during interglacial times. While this model is theoretically sound and correct in many aspects, recent studies on both modern and, especially, ancient DNA diversity have shown that reality is much more complex and only very broadly follows a contraction–expansion model for population dynamics, with many additional processes complicating the picture [12–16].

Finally, the end of the Pleistocene is marked by a massive extinction of large land vertebrates across most of the world (Box 1), with the exception of Africa [17]. Although these extinctions have long been known, their causes remain controversial. While some authors blame humans [18], others deny any human influence, at least on the continents, although human-induced extinctions are widely accepted for islands [19]. Again, recent research has revealed a great deal about the timing and processes of these extinctions, showing that not only mammoths [20,21], but also giant deer (deceivingly known as Irish elk) [22] and some Caribbean ground sloths [23], survived into the Holocene. However, when it comes to the cause(s) of these extinctions, the verdict is still out.

Signature Pleistocene animals.

The Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) is a small (smaller than the red fox) white or bluish-grey fox that lives today in the arctic northern hemisphere of the Holarctic from Greenland to Iceland and the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia. During the Pleistocene it had a much wider distribution across the middle part of Europe and western Asia as well as in the large ice-free region of Beringia. It is primarily an inhabitant of the tundra and mountainous regions above the tree line, but it does penetrate into the taiga to some degree. Arctic foxes feed primarily on lemmings, but their diet also includes Arctic hare, eggs, and carrion scavenged from the leftovers of larger predators. A remarkable characteristic is their capability for long distance dispersal, with movements up to 2,000 km.

The brown bear (Ursus arctos) had and still has by far the largest habitat range of all living bear species. Formerly, its habitat extended across North Africa, Europe, the northern and middle parts of Asia and North America from Alaska down to Mexico. Due to intensive human persecution, it is now extinct in many of these areas, including North Africa, large parts of Europe and most of North America. Brown bears are very adaptable and can live on both a mostly herbivorous diet and a mostly carnivorous diet. They are very variable in size and other morphological traits which historically has led to the description of numerous subspecies and even species. Today, all brown bears are considered a single species with a number of subspecies.

Cave bears (Ursus spelaeus) are the close — and less fortunate — cousins of the brown bear. The two species diverged some 1.6 million years ago, with tooth and stable isotope analyses indicating that cave bears were mostly herbivorous. However, recently a population was discovered that shows a stable isotope signature indicating an omnivorous, or even carnivorous, diet. Although in Europe cave bear remains are much more numerous than those of the brown bear, cave bears went extinct some 25,000 years ago. It has recently been shown that cave bears also occurred in Asia up to north-eastern Siberia.

Cave hyenas (Crocuta crocuta spelaea) are close relatives of the living spotted hyenas from Africa. In fact, in mitochondrial DNA sequence trees, sequences of cave and spotted hyenas are quite intermingled, questioning any taxonomic distinction of them as a subspecies or even as a species. Judging by cave paintings, they were probably spotted like modern spotted hyenas in Africa. They lived in Eurasia throughout the Pleistocene and probably already during the late Pliocene, about 3 million years ago. The timing of their extinction is not well established, but may have taken place around the same time as the cave bear, some 25,000 years ago.

The giant deer (Megaloceros giganteus), or Irish elk, is the gigantic relative of the rather gracile fallow deer. Giant deer are not only remarkable for their large body size but also for their huge antlers which could span up to 3.5 meters. Giant deer are often seen as typical representatives of the Pleistocene, but recent research has shown that in the Urals, giant deer survived until at least 7,700 years ago, far into the Holocene.

The woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) is no doubt the most iconic of all extinct Pleistocene animals. However, the woolly mammoth is only the last representative of a long lineage that had its origin in Africa. The first European mammoth lived in southern Europe and only later did mammoths colonize the arctic regions. Woolly mammoths differ from their closest relatives, the living elephants, in many features, most conspicuously by their curved tusks, the long hair and their small ears and short tails. Tens of thousands of mammoth bones have been recovered from the northern permafrost regions and sometimes even complete frozen carcasses. Mammoths survived into the Holocene, with the last population disappearing from Wrangel Island only about 3,700 years ago.

The steppe bison (Bison priscus) must have been a very common species throughout the Arctic region, especially in Beringia, given the vast numbers of fossils that have been found. Steppe bison were very variable in their morphology, especially with regard to the size of their horns, which were much larger in some individuals than in modern bison. They went extinct in Eurasia, but genetic analyses have established that they were the ancestor of the modern American bison, Bison bison. Their relationship to the European bison, Bison bonasus, is not known.

In this review, we will discuss the dynamics of animal and plant populations during the Pleistocene, trying to outline how populations reacted to the rapid variations in climate. We will restrict our analyses to the northern hemisphere, as the majority of studies on Pleistocene DNA have been done on species from this region.

What kids see today: Neoteny is rampant in American entertainment and education! Thank-you Hollywood for making “creationism” look legitimate!


“Long ago, when animals could speak…,” / True?

I don’t venture into “fiction and fantasy” often, except into myth and folklore, which is our only “literature” that extends deep into pre-Christian, pre- “modern social human” overlays onto what once was the world of humans living as an animal embedded in the natural environment.

A theme of folklore worldwide, is that of a time when animals and humans talked to each other; I believe that this was a literal ability for humans to understand animal exchange of information, just as animal species that survive together in ecosystems, “understand” each other’s calls, body language, hormonal states, movements and seasonal behaviors, and co-operate in food-finding, protection and defense.

Scientists today are trying to “recapture” some of this ability and knowledge in observational experiments in the field, where it must be done, since these behaviors are “interactive” responses to the natural environment and the complex group of animals and plants adapted to that environment. The “trouble” is in finding environments that are even remotely free of human alteration and destruction. However, the behaviors of species that are adapting successfully to urban environments also teach us “to read and understand” animal behavior as an ongoing process of animal intelligence.

Labs are also being used to “test” animal communication and learning, but interference and distortion by modern social human preconceptions, unconscious prejudice, and anti-nature, supernatural “ideologies” – beliefs about the status of animals and man, are extremely difficult to remove, as we have seen time after time, in “human” psychology studies and theories.

There were / are individual humans who have “hung on to” relationships with (usually) wild animals, throughout millennia of persecution and extermination policies carried out by increasingly “culturally poverty-stricken” social humans, who display an extreme fear of nature, its physical processes, and its living contents, and tragically, project their own modern social “magical paranoia” of physical phenomena, as hallucinatory manifestations from a nonexistent supernatural domain. This is the state of human perception that has now been declared to be “normal”.

Once the “divide” was made between “wild animals” and domesticated types, which are controllable and exploitable because they are much less intelligent and self-motivated, and as “herd breeds” are no longer able or willing to “defend themselves” from ill-treatment by humans, an “unseen and unacknowledged” domestication of Homo sapiens also took place. Wild humans, just like other wild animals and plants, (and natural and mineral resources), have been targeted for extinction during the recent development of “civilization”.

The relation of Homo sapiens to the environment was shifted by social forces (driven by climate – weather patterns; growing dependence on agriculture – increase in “food” quantity, but decrease in quality – which remains the situation today; population increase due to neotenic sexual selection – possibly a result of bottleneck drops or restrictions in population; and many other factors) from “reasonable survival for all” (a rational conservative strategy) to the exploitation of “slavery of all living things, in service to the predatory few”. This “social journey” has lead to the denial of access, for most humans alive today, to the great resources that were delivered to our ancestor’s curious and artistic-inventive brains by nature – especially by the practice of observing and copying the behaviors of our fellow animals and “appropriating” the active processes and materials all around them, by intuitive insight and persistent “tinkering” within the parameters of intuitive physics.

Animals don’t “talk anymore” because humans don’t listen anymore … to animals or to each other! 


Check this out; a wonderful modern visualization of human “integration of animal qualities” as practiced by our ancestors.


From a lovely website with many illustrations: 

notes from a Dartmoor studio
on folklore, fairy tales, fantasy,
mythic arts & mythic living

by Terri Windling

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far beneath ourselves. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complex than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”  – Henry Beston (The Outermost House)

“How monotonous our speaking becomes when we speak only to ourselves! And how insulting to the other beings – to foraging black bears and twisted old cypresses – that no longer sense us talking to them, but only about them, as though they were not present in our world…Small wonder that rivers and forests no longer compel our focus or our fierce devotion. For we walk about such entities only behind their backs, as though they were not participant in our lives. Yet if we no longer call out to the moon slipping between the clouds, or whisper to the spider setting the silken struts of her web, well, then the numerous powers of this world will no longer address us – and if they still try, we will not likely hear them.”  – David Abram (Becoming Animal)

“Maybe it’s animalness that will make the world right again: the wisdom of elephants, the enthusiasm of canines, the grace of snakes, the mildness of anteaters. Perhaps being human needs some diluting.”  – Carol Emshwiller (Carmen Dog)

Many an old story begins with the words, “Long ago, when animals could speak…,” invoking a time when the boundary lines between the human and the animal worlds were less clearly drawn than they are today, and more easily crossed. Animals play a vibrant role in the earliest stories from around the globe: tales of animal gods and guardians, animal nurses and paramours, animal thieves and tricksters, animal teachers and ancestors. In ancient carvings and pictographs we find numerous representations of the animal kingdom, as well as images of men and women with animal characteristics: stag-men, bird-men, lion-women, snake- women, and other beings both beautiful and monstrous. Shamans and wizards were said to be able to shape-shift into animal form, attaining these powers after spending some time living with animals in the wild — sleeping in wolf dens, traveling with reindeer, learning their speech and their secrets.

Folk tales from around the world tell us that the animals communicate with each other in a language unknown to men and women — or else in a language that used to be known to us, but now is lost. The stories also tell of human beings who understand the speech of animals. Some are born with this ability, while others obtain it through trickery, or magic, or as a gift from the animals themselves, a reward for an act of kindness. In both Europe and Asia, snakes and dragons are closely associated with animal speech. In Norse myth, Siegfried tastes dragon blood and then understands the language of birds; in Arabian myth, one obtains this power by eating the heart of a snake. In eastern Europe, the snake must be white; in France it must be black or green; in Greece, the snake must merely lick the ears of the human supplicant. In some tales, humans blessed with the gift of understanding animal speech must never reveal their possession of it — and often they lose it again when a careless word or laughter betrays them. Madness and the ability to speak the language of animals has often been linked, particularly in shamanic tales where the line between madness and oracular wisdom is blurred.

In tribal traditions from all around the globe, animals are believed to have the power to cause or cure certain illnesses. Animal and their spirits are propitiated through gifts, prayers, song, dance, shamanic rituals, and the use of totemic objects. (I once watched a Tohono O’Odham friend sing to a wild hawk in the mountains near Tucson, slowly drawing the hawk within arms’ length of where he knealt. The song, he said, was “hawk medicine,” passed down in his family.) Animal tales are often told not just as simple entertainments but as teaching stories, or as part of healing rites intended to foster a proper relationship between humankind and the natural world. Today, in our rapidly urbanizing society, this teaching/healing aspect of myth — and, by extension, of Mythic Arts — has become more important than ever, while we stare ecological disaster in the face and while more and more animal species fall under threat of extinction.

Animal myths remind us that we don’t own this earth but share it with others — with our animal “brothers” and “cousins,” as many tribal groups have named them. Some early Greek philosophers argued that animals, too, could reason and love, and thus were no less favored by the gods than human beings. To insist that man was the lord of all, they said, was the height of human arrogance. The Book of Job instructs us to “ask the beasts and they shall teach thee; and the Fowls of the air, and they shall teach thee; or speak to the Earth, and it shall teach thee,” while the Qu’ran says, “there is no beast on earth nor bird which flyeth with its wings but the same is a people like unto you.”

In The Spell of the Sensuous, David Abram writes of the importance of re-learning the language of animals and re-telling the stories that bring us back into a balanced relationship with the natural world. “Human language,” he notes, “arose not only as a means of attunement between persons, but also between ourselves and the animate landscape. The belief that speech is a purely human property was entirely alien to those oral communities that first evolved our various ways of speaking, and by holding to such a belief today we may well be inhibiting the spontaneous activity of language. By denying that birds and other animals have their own styles of speech, by insisting that the river has no real voice and that the ground itself is mute, we stifle our direct experience. We cut ourselves off from the deep meanings in many of our words, severing our language from that which supports and sustains it. We then wonder why we are often unable to communicate even among ourselves.”

The late naturalist John Hay expressed a similar sentiment in his influential book A Beginner’s Faith in Things Unseen: “In a society so estranged from animals as ours,” he said, “we often fail to credit them with any form of language. If we do, it comes under the heading of communication rather than speech. And yet, the great silence we have imposed on the rest of life contains innumerable forms of expression. Where does our own language come from but this unfathomed store that characterizes innumerable species?”

There is much to study in the content of myth and folklore; innumerable clues, like the symbolic bread crumbs that lead to encounters of unknown consequence in children’s tales, clues that document the “heart-breaking” degeneration of the human experience of being alive; ancient vitality which is crushed by modern social regimes.

We have denigrated “what is real” to irrelevance by pretending that 200,000 years of human evolution is only a “pagan fantasy”.  Nature as a continually creative context for human fulfillment has been perverted into a forbidden human adventure. Nature is a “bad place” that produced inherently “bad people”. Modern social humans have elevated “sick” social structures to the “highest and only possible good”; a nightmare universe of pathology and unhappiness has swept across the peoples of the planet. That’s my well-researched opinion, as well as the conclusion of my “intuitive visual” Asperger brain, which “remembers” eternal principles. 

Modern Human Superiority Complex / Skeptical Paper – Neanderthal Extinction

PLoS One. 2014; 9(4): e96424.
Published online 2014 Apr 30. doi:  10.1371/journal.pone.0096424
PMCID: PMC4005592

Neandertal Demise: An Archaeological Analysis of the Modern Human Superiority Complex

Michael D. Petraglia, Editor



Neandertals are the best-studied of all extinct hominins, with a rich fossil record sampling hundreds of individuals, roughly dating from between 350,000 and 40,000 years ago. Their distinct fossil remains have been retrieved from Portugal in the west to the Altai area in central Asia in the east and from below the waters of the North Sea in the north to a series of caves in Israel in the south. Having thrived in Eurasia for more than 300,000 years, Neandertals vanished from the record around 40,000 years ago, when modern humans entered Europe. Modern humans (this word usage again! Modern humans that coexisted with Neanderthal weren’t “modern humans” – they were Archaic Homo sapiens! Neanderthals were “human” – Homo neanderthalensis – to call archaic Homo sapiens “modern” but their contemporary Neanderthals “archaic” is so awkward, misleading, archaic and evidence for a “superiority complex” LOL) are usually seen as superior in a wide range of domains, including weaponry and subsistence strategies, which would have led to the demise of Neandertals. This systematic review of the archaeological records of Neandertals and their modern human contemporaries finds no support for such interpretations, as the Neandertal archaeological record is not different enough to explain the demise in terms of inferiority in archaeologically visible domains. Instead, current genetic data suggest that complex processes of interbreeding and assimilation may have been responsible for the disappearance of the specific Neandertal morphology from the fossil record.


The problem with modern social humans is that they assume that archaic species were as dumb as modern social humans.


And: Who writes this stuff?

Artifacts Suggest Neanderthals Were The World’s First Leather Makers: Is That Gucci Or ‘Ugh-Ugh’?

Neanderthals in the south of France may have been sporting soft leather ‘coats’ up to 50,000 years before the likes of Zara and Armani. Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest evidence suggesting the pre-human species made specialized tools out of bone, which — based on the shape — they may have used to smooth leather hides.

Neanderthals, our closest extinct relatives, were the dominant human-like species in Europe for nearly 170,0000 years. Their supremacy was marked by marginally sophisticated behavior like ceremonial burials and potentially made ritual ornaments. It is argued that their existence was pushed out by the arrival of modern humans about 40,000 years ago, although the details of this upheaval remain murky.

One item of contention involves the development of specialized tools made of animal bones.

Did modern humans introduce these tools to Neanderthals after migrating to Europe from the Middle East and Africa?


Did Neanderthals create these tools on their own?

The new discovery argues for Neanderthals being ahead of the game when it comes to bone tools. Uncovered about 350 miles due south of Paris from two famous Neanderthal archeological sites, Pech de l’Azé and Abri Peyrony, the findings suggest that these pre-humans used the ribs from ungulates, most likely red deer or reindeer, to make the original “lissoirs”. Nearly 50,000 years later, lissoirs — also known as smoothers — are still used by leather makers today.

“Lissoirs like these are a great tool for working leather, so much so that 50 thousand years after Neandertals made these, I was able to purchase a new one on the Internet from a site selling tools for traditional crafts,” said co-author Marie Soressi of Leiden University in The Netherlands. “It shows that this tool was so efficient that it had been maintained through time with almost no change. It might be one or perhaps even the only heritage from Neandertal times that our society is still using today.” (Physics doesn’t “die out” or become obsolete like last season’s “fashion” fads…a hammer is a hammer..)

Each of the prehistoric lissoirs have an arched and polished tip, similar to modern versions, which is used to push against a hide to create burnished, softer, and more water-resistant leather. The artifacts were discovered in a pit that contained stone tools and the bones of hunted animals, like horses, reindeer, and bison.

“For now the bone tools from these two sites are one of the better pieces of evidence we have for Neandertals developing on their own a technology previously associated only with modern humans,” explained co-author Shannon McPherron of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. (Which modern humans? Archaic modern humans or “modern” modern humans?)

These aren’t the first examples of tools being made by Neanderthals, but older artifacts resembled stone-based devices. (?)

“Neandertals sometimes made scrapers, notched tools and even handaxes from bone. They also used bone as hammers to resharpen their stone tools,” said McPherron. “But here we have an example of Neandertals taking advantage of the pliability and flexibility of bone to shape it in new ways to do things stone could not do.” (Are we sure that there has never been, nor ever could be, a stone lissoir?)

Modern Neanderthal

Source: Soressia M, McPherron SP, Lenoire M, et al. Neandertals made the first specialized bone tools in Europe. PNAS. 2013.


Ape Evo / Graecopithecus freybergi / Azmaka Bulgaria Hominids

An excellent example of the geosciences applied to controversial questions concerning evolution of hominids. Awe-inspiring!  

Messinian age and savannah environment of the possible hominin Graecopithecus from Europe


Dating fossil hominids and reconstructing their environments is critically important for understanding human evolution. Here we date the potentially oldest hominin, Graecopithecus freybergi from Europe and constrain the environmental conditions under which it thrived. For the Graecopithecus-bearing Pikermi Formation of Attica/Greece, a saline aeolian dust deposit of North African (Sahara) provenance, we obtain an age of 7.37–7.11 Ma, which is coeval with a dramatic cooling in the Mediterranean region at the Tortonian-Messinian transition. Palaeobotanic proxies demonstrate C4-grass dominated wooded grassland-to-woodland habitats of a savannah biome for the Pikermi Formation. Faunal turnover at the Tortonian-Messinian transition led to the spread of new mammalian taxa along with Graecopithecus into Europe. The type mandible of G. freybergi from Pyrgos (7.175 Ma) and the single tooth (7.24 Ma) from Azmaka (Bulgaria) represent the first hominids of Messinian age from continental Europe. Our results suggest that major splits in the hominid family occurred outside Africa.


For “objections to” the notion that the origin of “humankind” could have taken place outside Africa:

Note: The insistence of an “either Europe (or Asia) or Africa” as the “home” of humankind is so social typically irrational. Silly! It’s not like archaic apes had a map of the continents with political-geographic boundaries printed on it, with instructions like, “Evolution is forbidden to occur on both sides of this body of water; no fair “living in the vicinity of” (in the region surrounding this feature). Not recognizing “socially designated” boundaries will confound and disturb future neurotypicals and cause bizarre arguments.”