Lumping at Dmanisi

Palaeontologists at Dmanisi, an increasingly famous village in Georgia, have made some quite interesting discoveries: a small collection of early Homo skeletons from people living in the same place at the same time that are nevertheless fairly variable in appearance, as exemplified by the recently-described “skull 5.” The usual rules of population dynamics say that you can’t have different species that have the same niche (i.e. they have same shtick – they live in the same way, eat the same food etc) living in the same place – one of them will quickly win out and exclude the others. If this hasn’t happened – and it doesn’t seem to have at Dmanisi – we must conclude that the organisms are or were of the same species. Continue reading

Fire at Wonderwerk Cave

Finally, an article by Mr Thomas on the Wonderwerk Cave controlled fire discovery: Humans Used Fire Earlier Than Believed.

Wonderwerk Cave is a cave in South Africa that has been excavated since the 1940s for its ancient archaeological remains. The earliest date to around two million years – the ones relevant here are only the one million years old, however.

The paper here is Microstratigraphic evidence of in situ fire in the Acheulean strata of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape province, South Africa, freely avialiabe from PNAS (as is an author summary). Also possibly of use is a summary at EvoAnth, so go read at least two of those and come back.

They were not, however, quite this ambitious Continue reading