Monday, December 3, 2018

Human Occupation of Northern Australia by 65,000 Years Ago

Clarkson et al.
20 July 2017


The time of arrival of people in Australia is an unresolved question. It is relevant to debates about when modern humans first dispersed out of Africa and when their descendants incorporated genetic material from Neanderthals, Denisovans and possibly other hominins. Humans have also been implicated in the extinction of Australia’s megafauna. Here we report the results of new excavations conducted at Madjedbebe, a rock shelter in northern Australia. Artefacts in primary depositional context are concentrated in three dense bands, with the stratigraphic integrity of the deposit demonstrated by artefact refits and by optical dating and other analyses of the sediments. Human occupation began around 65,000 years ago, with a distinctive stone tool assemblage including grinding stones, ground ochres, reflective additives and ground-edge hatchet heads. This evidence sets a new minimum age for the arrival of humans in Australia, the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa, and the subsequent interactions of modern humans with Neanderthals and Denisovans.


DDeden said...

OT: Andaman genome

Whole Genome Sequences for 60 Indian Individuals
Submitting Centre
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Secondary accession(s)
To shed light on the peopling of South Asia and the origins of the morphological adaptations found there, we analyzed whole-genome sequences from 10 Andamanese individuals and compared them with sequences for 60 individuals from mainland Indian populations with different ethnic histories and with publicly available data from other populations. We show that all Asian and Pacific populations share a single origin and expansion out of Africa, contradicting an earlier proposal of two independent waves of migration. We also show that populations from South and Southeast Asia harbor a small proportion of ancestry from an unknown extinct hominin, and this ancestry is absent from Europeans and East Asians. The footprints of adaptive selection in the genomes of the Andamanese show that the characteristic distinctive phenotypes of this population (including very short stature) [b]do not reflect an ancient African origin [/n]but instead result from strong natural selection on genes related to human body size.

free dataset

Data availability
All sequences produced in this project have been deposited in the European Nucleotide Archive (ENA) under accession codes PRJEB11455 (Andamanese whole-genome sequences (FASTQ, BAM and VCF files)) and PRJEB16019 (all remaining continental Indian whole-genome sequences (FASTQ, BAM and a merged VCF file)).

H/T xyyman @ Egyptsearch

In my opinion, virtually every single science article/paper about Andamanese & Congo Pygmies shares the same fault: Height bias, where 'tall' people pronounce judgements about why Pygmies aren't 'normal'.

Marnie said...

The Matsumura paper

suggests that "Andaman like" populations were spread out across India, Southeast Asia, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Papua, Australia, South China, and Japan during the Late Pleistocene. Madagascar and perhaps other parts of East Africa may also have shared Andaman like ancestry in the Late Pleistocene. So, I think it is too simple to argue for these tree like models, with one, two, or whatever number of "migrations" out of Africa. I'm sure there were many "back migrations to Africa from Asia and Southeast Asia over the last half million years. So my inclination is to reject these tree like models that I keep seeing in various genomic papers. You can tell there is something wrong with these tree models, because every time they sample a new population, the tree model changes quite significantly.

Anyway, I think Matsumura et al. shows nicely how the Andamanese fit with other Southeast Asian populations. The relationship certainly doesn't look like a tree with one single migration out of Africa.

I actually wonder why this tree like model, with Africa at the root of the evolutionary tree, keeps getting pushed forward. What is the reason for this? It doesn't make sense to me.

Also, while we're discussing problems with models, the whole IE genomics thing is really disgusting. There is actually a very considered discussion about Basque as an IE language. And obviously, Greek is an IE language. The current IE discussion with IE emerging within the last 5000 years is nonsensical. Nobody is going to buy into such nonsense ten years from now, so I really do wonder why so many geneticists continue to push clearly broken theories about the "origin" in the last five thousand years of IE.

Regarding the shortness of some Andamanese people: I imagine it has something to do with being island populations.

Who cares! It's just human variation. Some Papuans also appear to be short (but very fearsome). But other "Andaman" populations are tall. So, I don't know where the height variation in these indigenous Southeast Asian, Papuan and Australian populations come from, but they are nevertheless, closely inter-related populations.

Again, regarding the notion that there is this tree like origin for modern humans, rooted in Africa, with a little bit of admixture from "archaic" hominins sprinkled here or there is further problematics in that it necessarily divides hominins into moderns and archaic populations (outside Africa). I think these models are goofy and highly contrived.

Marnie said...


Another thing:

The Rosandic et al. paper indicates and eastward shift of a Homo Heidelbergensis population:

and the Hu paper of a Levallois making population:

If the shift ends up being toward South and Southeast Asia during MIS 6 and 5 (which appears to be the case from the Hu paper) then this could account for the appearance of early Modern Humans in South and South East Asia. Certainly, this Levallois making population ends up being well established all over East Asia, as far east as South China by MIS 6, and as far northeast as Mongolia, by MIS 5.

So this could be the Pleistocene "Andaman like" population that Matsumura is referring to that is spread from South India, to Papua and Australia, and around to Japan.

Anyway, I think that sampling only modern Andaman Islanders is not the best way to prove out such a model.

Certainly, the distribution of mtdna M and N derived lineages in Southeast Asia, Papua, the Western Pacific and Australia, (and the Americas) indicates that focusing only on the Andamanese as "the" signature Out of Africa into Asia population is ill conceived (and probably quite misleading).

Marnie said...

Ooops! Wrong URL for the Hu et al. blog post. Correct link is here:

DDeden said...

Marnie, please understand my point: I completely agree that "Island dwarfing" (@almost everyone claims) and "rainforest dwarfing" (@Andrew) appears logical, since we know other fauna have done that. But applying that pattern only when convenient is not unbiased science. The data supports "shrinkage" only if "tall" is the norm, but it wasn't the norm 10ma, 5ma, 2ma. The small African rainforest elephant is more "archaic" than any big mammoth or savanna elephant, yet morphologists claimed it was a shrunken savanna elephant. Wrong. Same with rainforest okapi & savanna giraffe. Same with rainforest Pygmies & tall populations.

I can accept being proved wrong, (not so far) but IIcan't accept race-biased science (in this case height-ism).

DDeden said...

OT: So. Am. Terrest vs aquatic tech.

Sambaqui@Tupi: mollusk midden ~ Xyamb(u)a(tlua)chy(a): bound feast

AI analysis of Patagonian tech.
Did they separate bark-tied canoe from adze-carved log dugout canoe? If not, study is deficient, unable to resolve cultural distinctions and thus earliest immigrants.

DDeden said...

Afaik, Andamaners were all the same height except those on northernmost Sentinal island, who I think had Africans or others that escaped slaving ships, with animosity towards all outsiders. After colonization, much admixture with European & Indian people resulted in increased heights.

Re. PIE, I place around Black Sea, with influences from fertile crescent and steppe and Iran/India region.

Re. Models, you are the expert, not me. :)

Marnie said...

"But applying that pattern only when convenient is not unbiased science"

DD, I have no opinion one way or another about caused the shorter height in some Andaman Islanders. I do not know what caused it. In general, I am not very interested in height, skin color, or eye color genetics and don't pay much attention to papers that publish such results.

Marnie said...

Hey, this research looks really interesting. I'll enjoy reading this in the next few days. Thank you very much for posting this!

Marnie said...

"PIE, I place around Black Sea, with influences from fertile crescent and steppe and Iran/India region."


DDeden said...

I fuss about it only because "island dwarfing" was a dominant paradigm in my ecological schooling; only when I questioned its application to Flores giant rats & small stegodons, Congo elephants & giraffes could I see the limits. "Pure" carnivores and "pure" herbivores do shrink on islands, but omnivores like Homo are variable.

Anyway, by reconsidering the paradigm, I was able to view Papua/Australia/America in a new light, and able to think of them as real people, rather than as bones & stones. I'm especially interested in the fact that both Andaman paddles doubled as bows, and Australian paddles doubled as atlatls/dart-launcher/woomera. I think this indicates early-stage paddle development.

Marnie said...

Regarding PIE, I will fully disclose that I think Greenberg was more or less correct about his Eurasiatic-Amerind hypothesis, except that the timing of the split of Eurasiatic from Amerind is probably about 25,000 years ago (when the Ice Sheet coalescence split Eurasiatic from Amerind). So before that, I think there was a collection of related languages stretching from Europe, all the away to North America, that could be grouped as Eurasiatic-Amerind.

Sungir and Yana probably spoke this language.

Other possible clue to this is are the Sungir wheels, which look a lot like the hoop and arrow game wheels that Gabriel Yanicki writes about in

Old Man's Playing Ground

Allan Pard was interviewed by Gabriel, and thought that the Hoop and Arrow game hoops where related to the Blackfoot Medicine Wheels.

I was talking to one of the archaeologists who worked in the Zabaikal region. He tells me that there are sun alignment structures there that are 40,000 years old. So, maybe the Sungir wheels are related to the same Sun worshiping culture as these American cultures who played the Hoop and Arrow game. Don't know, but it is suggestive of some Paleolithic connection between Sungir and North America.

Marnie said...

Greenberg's Eurasiatic-Amerind hypothesis needs to be reconciled with Johanna Nichols work on American languages.

“No high-latitude area like Siberia, Beringia, Alaska, or northern Canada could have contributed or transmitted the linguistic diversity to seed the New World in these time frames,” she said. She estimates it would take 50,000 years for a single wave of migrants to diversify a single tongue to the extent seen in Native American languages today. She said the language may have evolved such diversity in 35,000 years if migrants had come in multiple waves."

So again, Greenberg was wrong about the time frame for Amerind. According to Nichols, Native Americans would have had to have been in the Americans for at least 35,000 years, at a minimum.

Again, if Greenberg is to be reconsidered, the split between Amerind and Eurasiatic had to have occurred at a minimum of about 25,000 years ago.

Which is to say that for about 10,000 years, and maybe much longer, North American "proto-Amerind" speakers had to have been in contact with, and not fully diverged from, "Eurasiatic" speakers, in Beringia and Eurasia.

Marnie said...

Re: Island dwarfing, etc., my formal education is in physics and engineering, so I've never been taught ecology formally in a university setting. The first time I came across the concept of animals evolving to be smaller on islands was when I visited the Channel Islands off the coast of California. There is a beautiful tiny fox there which they think evolved to be smaller since it was isolated on these islands during the last Ice Age. And apparently there was a dwarf mammoth who lived in the Channel Islands as well. So that is the extent of my experience of island mediated smaller body size.

Regarding the Papuans, I think there are some dreadful ethnographies and anthropologies for them, I have to say, however, that Landtman's ethnography of the Papuans of the Fly River area is respectful and shows genuine concern. I think he (Landtman) was a very open minded and deeply curious person.

Marnie said...

Thank you for the information on Australian and Andaman paddles. I will have to check that out.