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China's Earliest Modern Human Found 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-is-old-is-new dept.
The remains of one of the earliest modern humans to inhabit eastern Asia have been unearthed in China. The find could shed light on how our ancestors colonized the East. Researchers found 34 bone fragments belonging to a single individual at the Tianyuan Cave, near Beijing.
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China's Earliest Modern Human Found

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 05, 2007 @04:55AM (#18617791)
    fabricated by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Such gullible people.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by FyRE666 (263011)
      I dispute this nonsense, since as we all know, the Earth is only a few thousand years old, not the 42,000 years old that this skellington is supposed to be!
      • > I dispute this nonsense, since as we all know, the Earth is only a few thousand years old, not the 42,000 years old that this skellington is supposed to be!

        It really is that old. On the 8th day, god created a 40,000 year old skeleton and then buried it somewhere he knew we would find it. he does this to test our faith. god can do anything. Even impossible things or things that make no logical sense.
        • If God creates such things, he might be omnipotent but very stupid.

          Imagine you're God. And of course, you want people to believe in you 'cause ... well, you're God, that's your job.

          Why would I create stuff to make people doubt my existance?
          • by BlueTrin (683373)
            Because god's best gift was free will.

            ... at least that's what they say.
          • Easy, To test our faith, because without faith God is nothing.
          • Disclaimer: I'm not particularly religious (in fact, like the joke goes, more like apathic agnostic: I don't know if there's a god, and don't really give a damn), so probably not really qualified to play the devil's advocate there. Still, it seems to me like you're taking some axioms for granted which are actually very debatable.

            If God creates such things, he might be omnipotent but very stupid.

            Or maybe he just doesn't think the way you do?

            Imagine you're God.

            Yes, please do think you're _God_. Not a king, no

            • "What difference would it make to you whether those created people believe in you or not?"

              You then liken the scenario to a SimCity. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but Black&White would be a better comparison. In B&W (or the one I'm thinking of, if I have the title wrong) your status in the game is dependent on what the people in the simulation think of you. Perhaps this video game-playing god needs the Faith Points to level up so he has access to better stuff. Perhaps the people in the simula
              • You then liken the scenario to a SimCity. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but Black&White would be a better comparison. In B&W (or the one I'm thinking of, if I have the title wrong) your status in the game is dependent on what the people in the simulation think of you. Perhaps this video game-playing god needs the Faith Points to level up so he has access to better stuff. Perhaps the people in the simulation need to be leveled-up in order to beat the player's friend's Peoplemon.

                The black and white

                • A God, by its very definition, needs worshippers. It's a bit of a philosophical question, but does a God even exist if nobody believes in him? Does he have any influence in a world that doesn't believe in him?

                  Whether it's "mana points" or whatever, pretty much every religion has some kind of exclusivity demand in its makeup, that a god (or the pantheon) demands from you that you believe in him, her or them, and not in any conflicting religions.

                  If you assume religion to be man made, this makes sense, because
                  • Again, REALLY? I don't know where you even found that definition.

                    That's certainly not the definition they use in the Bible, for example. I don't recall them saying anywhere that God would stop existing if you stop believing. In fact, au contraire, God is perfectly able to be an ominpotent god:

                    - without _any_ worshippers during Genesis, before making Adam. And even afterwards, he doesn't seem to have any problem because he had only 2, and even those didn't seem to have _that_ much faith. It sure didn't stop
        • by simm1701 (835424)
          No he couldn't have done it. On the 7th day he exited from append mode and ran chmod 511 !$

          One can only wonder what would have happened if he had set it 4511 instead...
      • by BlueTrin (683373)
        I noticed that there is a correlation between the number of Negationists, the Tomatotarians, and Global Warming.
    • by webdoodle (1081343) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @07:21AM (#18618485)
      This isn't the article I submitted to Slashdot. You editors are complete assholes, its a wonder people use your site at all. Thanks you hypocrites for sending people to a worthless BBC article, and not my site.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Click-throughs not working out for you, hmm?

        What makes you so sure you were the only submitter? And if it wasn't the article you submitted, what the hell are you complaining about?
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by mapkinase (958129)
      Troll and flamebait. I always get moderator points when /. editors in the mood for games, iPods and RIAA wars and never on those subjects. It is a test.
    • by erasmix (880448)
      Everybody knows that we did not evolved on earth, but were created by the almighty. Those remains must be from the pre-columbus era :-p
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The find could shed light on how our ancestors colonized the East.

    What do you mean "our", pilgrim? My ancestors didn't colonize the East.
  • by CrackedButter (646746) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @05:08AM (#18617853) Homepage Journal
    I'd be more interested as to how people in the region developed different facial features, such as smaller eyes and differing skin tones. If we all have supposedly come out of Africa as the Article suggests, what is the reason for our physical differences? Even as a child, our differences amazed me, now that I'm older and the current theory is that we all came from Africa, I'm left asking myself again, how did we get them?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CmdrGravy (645153)
      What puzzles me is that the article goes on about "archaic" groups of humans who the humans coming from out of Africa met up with and made love to without ever explaining who or what these archaic groups were and how they had got where they were.
      • by grahamlee (522375) <iamleeg@@@gmail...com> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @05:39AM (#18617999) Homepage Journal
        AIUI (I'm not an evolutionary biologist, although my girlfriend is) the environmental pressures which gave rise to homo sapiens in Africa also occurred among simian populations elsewhere, so that human-like characteristics arose independently among multiple populations (h. neanderthalis in Europe, for example). Through interbreeding and competition, there's now a single species, h. sapiens sapiens. Although some of the characteristics of our species are apparently or allegedly tracable to interbreeding events, for instance I've heard that red/ginger hair among Europeans can be linked to Neanderthalis genes.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by edwardpickman (965122)
          The red headed Neaderthal theory has been around for a while but there's still no evidence genetic or physical. That said my exwife was a redhead so I personally am a true believer.
        • I'm not an evolutionary biologist, although my girlfriend is
          Wow, talk about bragging rights. Here's to you, buddy!
        • And I've heard [google.com] that blue hair comes from interbreeding with blueberries.
        • by torndorff (566594)
          The currently theories are that the Neandertal genes did not persist in H. sapien sapien. They died out, and there wasn't any interbreeding (at least none that had significant historic effect).
        • by Empiric (675968)
          This model, though, may require revisitation as IBM is currently crunching the genetic numbers and indicating a single common ancestor for all of present-day humanity living tens of thousands, rather than millions, of years ago.

          It's an interesting project. [nationalgeographic.com] More information on ibm.com as well.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by grahamlee (522375)
            If she's called Eve then I'll pick up Richard Dawkins' coat along with mine on the way out ;-). Mind you, you can kindof work out that it wouldn't require too much history for you and I, or you and CmdrTaco, or you and anyone else in the world to find a common ancestor. If you go back 33 generations then without any inbreeding you would have 8 billion ancestors, which is more than even the current population. That's only 8-900 years, OK the population isn't as uniform as the above calculation assumes but
            • by Empiric (675968)
              If she's called Eve then I'll pick up Richard Dawkins' coat along with mine on the way out ;-)

              That's fine, but, of course, neither of you have anywhere to go. ;)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Chemicalscum (525689)
          "AIUI (I'm not an evolutionary biologist, although my girlfriend is)... Although some of the characteristics of our species are apparently or allegedly tracable to interbreeding events, for instance I've heard that red/ginger hair among Europeans can be linked to Neanderthalis genes."

          You are certainly not an evolutionary biologist and if your girlfriend is you certainly haven't been listening to here unless she is a student of that neanderthal Wolpert.. You don't live in Ann Arbour by any chance?

          Most paleoa
          • by grahamlee (522375)

            listening to here[sic] unless she is a student of that neanderthal Wolpert

            In my understanding, the neanderthals are extinct.

          • by dasunt (249686)

            However the first dark skinned modern humans to penetrate into the gloomy north would tend towards vit D deficiency and there would be a selective pressure towards lighter skinned individuals, able to produce enough vit d, surviving to reproduce. Nothing todo with inbreeding with archaics, simple eh?

            So why do Tasmanians have darker skins than northern Europeans, even though much of northern Europe was still under glaciers when the Tasmanians settled in Tasmania?

            While darker skin pigment may be benefici

      • by Scarletdown (886459) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @06:00AM (#18618097) Journal
        I thought this Human origins question was answered back in the late 70s...

        There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe. With tribes of Humans, who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. That they may have been the architects of the great pyramids, or the lost civilizations of Lemuria or Atlantis. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of Man, who even now fight to survive...somewhere beyond the heavens.


        (Cue one of the most kick-ass scifi theme songs ever composed...)

      • by dajak (662256) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @06:22AM (#18618227)
        The archaic groups of humans they are speaking of are obviously the previous wave of humans coming out of Africa. Coming "out of Africa" does not by the way suggest a relation with the Niger-Congo ("black") peoples who currently dominate that continent: the Bantu expansion is of much more recent date. The Wikipedia Khoisan [wikipedia.org] article maybe sheds some light on where the brown and yellow skin and epicanthic eye folds typical of most Eurasian populations may come from. The Papua and Australian Aboriginals are for instance also interesting leftovers of previous peoples coming "out of Africa".
        • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @06:28AM (#18618269) Homepage Journal

          The Papua and Australian Aboriginals are for instance also interesting leftovers of previous peoples coming "out of Africa".

          I read somewhere that even now human African populations have much more diversity than humans outside Africa. Perhaps the different racial characteristics represent groups who left Africa at various times because they were less suited to the environment there.

          • by dajak (662256) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @06:51AM (#18618355)
            Indeed. Nearly all diversity in appearance of human beings outside of Africa is also found in Africa, even today. But there seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding about what this means, because many people seem to be under the impression that a) Africa is inhabited by black people of the Niger-Congo type, and b) that these people and their ancestors where always all over that continent and all people less black than them are somehow less "African".

            In reality the expansion of the Niger-Congo people from a fairly small area in western Africa is a very recent phenomenon, and a large part of Africa was, and in the north still is, inhabited by people with lighter skins and a variety of physical features. The African sun does not select specifically for being of the Niger-Congo type: the expansion has to do with agricultural and military advantages these people had over their competitors. Compare tropical regions in Asia and South America before the Spanish arrived: no blacks there. There is however a limit on how light-skinned a baby can be in the African sun and still survive, so some mutations will only happen once a group has left Africa.
          • You're correct about diversity. Malcolm Gladwell [gladwell.com] wrote a New Yorker article [gladwell.com] about racial diversity, or more specifically, about why so many athletes in some sports are of African descent. A geneticist studying this is quoted: "I would say, without a doubt, that in almost any single African population-a tribe or however you want to define it-there is more genetic variation than in all the rest of the world put together..." The conclusion is that since there's more diversity, there are more people at the h
      • by radtea (464814) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @09:16AM (#18619295)
        the article goes on about "archaic" groups of humans who the humans coming from out of Africa met up with and made love to without ever explaining who or what these archaic groups were and how they had got where they were.

        Evidence suggests that early hominids migrated out of Africa in waves. Homo erectus, for example, is believed to have evolved in Africa and spread over much of Asia one or two million years ago. The general pattern of hominid evolution is one of evolution of new species in Africa followed by general dispersion over those parts of the globe accessible by foot. This pattern appears to have been repeated several times: H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis/neanderthalensis[1] and H. sapiens.

        The reality of hominid evolution is that we don't know a lot. The number of fossils is small and the weight of inference they bear is heavy. As Mark Twain said, in science one gets such a huge return in speculation from such a trifling investment of fact. However, the DNA evidence points quite strongly to the evolution of modern humans in Africa about two hundred thousand years ago, and the migration across the rest of the Old World about 70,000 years ago, with the settling of Australia by perfectly ordinary H. sapiens who are just like all the rest of us about 40,000 years ago. North America was colonized somewhat later, but probably not that much.

        Humans are much bigger on exogamy than any other primate: we have a strong tendency to breed outside our kin group. We'll have sex with just about anything, and actually show a marked preference for those who are not perceived to be close kin. This is why the differences between races are so tiny, and restricted entirely to rapidly evolved and quite trivial enzymic variations that have high survival value in different climates. We are all multi-racial under the skin, and all have ancestors of different races far more recently in our family tree than most people appreciate (Icelanders may be exempt from this rule.)

        So on the face of it, if there were multiple waves of near-modern humans migrating across the Old World, it is very likely that the members of the most recent group would have interbred with previous groups.

        [1] For the racists in the audience, it might be worth contemplating that Neanderthals are the only hominid species that appears to have evolved in Europe (from H. heidelbergensis that left Africa earlier) and of all the hominids they are amongst the least successful.
        • by CmdrGravy (645153)
          Whats so special about Africa ? Why is everything evolving here first as opposed to anywhere else in the world ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Evolutionary adaptions to different environments combined with random mutations in isolated communities perhaps?
      • by Naviztirf (856598)
        My thoughts as well.
        "The question is where did they get them from? Either they re-evolved them, which is not very likely, or, to some degree, they interbred with archaic groups."

        Since the traits in question were essentially throwbacks, why should it be all that surprising that they would turn up occasionally? Remember too that this the only skeleton we have from that time and place, and not even complete one at that.

        And who are these archaic groups? And how do I join one?

        ----

        "After the ship ha

    • by eck011219 (851729)
      My understanding is that it's simple Darwinian law -- for example, those who moved to colder regions and didn't have noses close to the warmth of their head and heavy epicanthic folds tended to get cold and die. So over hundreds of generations, minor physical differences became magnified as the people of a region lived or died based on the practical characteristics of those differences. And I'd imagine that taste began to play a part in it, as well -- certain cultures valued certain features (a chiseled jaw
  • i bet he/she never thought ending up on slashdot.
  • And he was lying there in the dirt only slightly longer than it took Slashdot to catch on to this news.
  • Modern? (Score:5, Funny)

    by FredDC (1048502) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @05:43AM (#18618013)
    Researchers found 34 bone fragments belonging to a single individual at the Tianyuan Cave, near Beijing.

    If he's living in a cave, he can't be very "modern"...
  • I read a recent article - in US News & World Report I think - where they mention "modern" traits appearing for hundreds of thousands of years. Their stated theory was the traits failed. It doesn't take much of a thinker to realize the extent forms are not the result of a linear, constantly improving evolution function; so, to make claims of evolution based on "advantage" and to continue to hold those despite such clear "advantages" occurring much older than what is claimed as "modern" is simply bad sc

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