Out of Georgia…

Dmanisi Mensch

From The Times, September 9, 2009

Georgia fossil suggests key stage of human evolution was in Europe

Mark Henderson, Science Editor

A key stage in human evolution may have taken place on the fringes of Europe and not in Africa as has generally been thought, scientists said yesterday.

Fossils of an ancient human relative, or hominin, from Georgia dated from 1.8 million years ago suggest that the first of our ancestors to walk upright could have done so in Eurasia, the British Science Festival was told.

David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum, said the skulls, fossils and limb bones found at Dmanisi in 1999 and 2001 raise the possibility that Homo erectus, a forerunner of modern humans, evolved in Europe or Asia and later spread back to Africa. He also revealed that a fifth well-preserved skull, the most complete yet, had been discovered at the site.

Dmanisi-Mensch; Rekonstruktion von National Geographic
The Dmanisi fossils, which have been identified either as Homo erectus or a new species, Homo georgicus, have already shown ancient hominins began to leave Africa at least 1.8 million years ago, pushing back the accepted date for the first exodus from the cradle of humanity by several hundred thousand years.

This leaves two possible scenarios for a critical phase in evolution, Professor Lordkipanidze said. Either Homo erectus could have evolved in Africa and then spread to Asia and even Europe, or a more primitive relative might have left Africa and evolved into the more upright, advanced species in Eurasia. “We all agree the first appearance of humans was in Africa but when they left and started global colonisation is a debatable issue,” Professor Lordkipanidze said.

“The prevailing view before Dmanisi was that they left about a million years ago, and had sophisticated tools and quite advanced anatomy and brain capacity. What we’re finding is different.

“The story begins in Georgia. It was always thought the Champions’ League of human evolution took place in Africa, and Europe was in the second league.

Dmanisi in Georgien

"What we are finding changes this. The question is whether the origin of Homo erectus is in Africa or Eurasia? This looked quite stupid a few years ago, and if you asked the question people thought you were a little provocative.

“Today it seems not so stupid. There is a possibility Homo erectus originated in Eurasia and it’s not impossible to think they spread back to Africa.” Modern Homo sapiens evolved from this African population much later, about 200,000 years ago, before beginning a second exodus from Africa about 60,000 years ago.

Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the National History Museum in London, said: “There must have been a primary dispersal out of Africa prior to the date of the Dmanisi fossils, which does raise the question of where Homo erectus evolved. There could certainly have been an Asian phase in human evolution, with Homo erectus later spreading back to Africa.”

He added that there were intriguing similarities between the Dmanisi fossils and the more recent hominins recently discovered at Flores in Indonesia — the diminutive species Homo floresiensis and nicknamed “hobbits”. “The possibility exists the primary dispersal gave rise to the Dmanisi fossils and the hobbits,” Professor Stringer said.

dmanisi  man

Advertisements

~ von Panther Ray - September 9, 2009.

Kommentar verfassen

Bitte logge dich mit einer dieser Methoden ein, um deinen Kommentar zu veröffentlichen:

WordPress.com-Logo

Du kommentierst mit Deinem WordPress.com-Konto. Abmelden / Ändern )

Twitter-Bild

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Twitter-Konto. Abmelden / Ändern )

Facebook-Foto

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Facebook-Konto. Abmelden / Ändern )

Google+ Foto

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Google+-Konto. Abmelden / Ändern )

Verbinde mit %s

 
%d Bloggern gefällt das: