Showing posts with label neanderthal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label neanderthal. Show all posts

Monday, January 11, 2010

When Cavemen Wear Make-up Bigfoot Seem Smarter

At BLC we believe beyond field research, the best way to learn about Bigfoot is paleo-anthropology and primatology. The new evidence regarding Neanderthals has us rethinking our theoretical models of Bigfoot.

There are two things Bigfoot and Neanderthals had in common. They were both speculated to be "the missing link." We now know neither are likely. What is likely, humans were not the only intelligent bipedal hominids on the block. Heck, we are even finding out primates are smarter than we thought.

Today we have been alerted to the evidence that Neanderthals may have worn makeup.

Archaeologists digging in sites in modern day Spain where Neanderthal remains were previously discovered found 50,000-year-old seashells smeared with brightly colored pigments. The researchers believe some of the shells were used as makeup compacts and that others acted as colorful jewelery.

If true, this suggests Neanderthals had a symbolically based culture thousands of years before humans had even found their way to Europe. Some archaeologists argue this new find contradicts the widely accepted view that Neanderthal men (and women) were unsophisticated half-wits when compared to their human counterparts.

At the risk of eluding Neanderthals are vain, more interestingly, this also points to a type of intelligence of symbolic logic Neanderthals must have had.

What is symbolic logic? Its "the intelligence of abstractions that capture the formal features of logical inference." In other words, we use symbolic logic when we see the three letters D-O-G and know its an english word representing (or symbolizing) the concept of a canine, and not a literal canine. Or another example are emoticons, :) means "happy" or "smiles" even though its not spelled out. This is symbolic logic.

Many cognitive scientists and researchers believe it is symbolic logic that gives us our ability to have language.

The Bigfoot community has always believed Bigfoot to be an intelligent creature. If primates are smarter and Neanderthals are smarter, than this can only confirm that Bigfoot is smarter too.

You can read about the implications of Neanderthal Make-up here

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Things I Learned From “Becoming Human,” part 2

This three-part series, Becoming Human, on PBS’s Nova covers new theories about how and why we evolved into human beings and is well worth watching. You can watch all of the episodes here, as well as view several interesting mini-programs about related topics. This post covers the major idea presented in episode 2, “The Birth of Humanity.” It’s a doozy.

2) Sweating made us human. Okay, bear with me. The big brains we got from climate change needed more food to operate. Our brains use more energy and food than any other organ in our body. To get more food, we turned to meat, which is loaded in calories, protein, and fat. To get meat, since humans don’t have claws, fangs, or great strength, we had to figure out a new way get our meat fix. Scientists now think we turned to persistence hunting, which is chasing the prey until it collapses from exhaustion and then killing it. The Bushmen of Africa still do this, chasing antelopes and other game for several hours in the heat of the day, when most animals are sleeping. It turns out that humans are unique in this capability; we can run for hours in the hottest temperatures because we traded fur for sweating. They think that losing our body hair or fur and gaining the ability to sweat happened at the same time as our brains started to get bigger. Most animals cool themselves by panting. Humans can sweat over their entire bodies which is a more effective method for cooling. Our bigger brains triggered a number of adaptations to support that growth. Because our brains got bigger, we started eating meat, lost our body hair, started sweating, and were able to run down prey for hours at a time. Oh, and our big brains and our new appetite for meat caused us to develop stone tool-making to “process” our kills and fire-making to cook the meat to make it more easily digestible. But the ability to sweat was the big change that enabled everything else. Cool.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Things I Learned From “Becoming Human,” part 1

This three-part series, Becoming Human, on PBS’s Nova covers new theories about how and why we evolved into human beings and is well worth watching. You can watch all of the episodes here, as well as view several interesting mini-programs about related topics. Some of the ideas being offered in Becoming Human are fairly new and have a lot of bearing on how we differ from the other great apes and by inference how we might compare to Bigfoot. I’ll cover the major ideas in each of the three episodes and wrap it all up in the final and third installment.

1) Climate change made us human. At one time, it was thought going from knuckle-walking to bipedalism is what triggered the growth of our brains. But there were bipedal apes staggering around Africa for 4 million years before there was a growth spurt in the brains department 2 million years ago, and then it was a upwards growth from then on. Scientists have now linked it to a long period of climate change in the Africa Rift Valley, where the climate swung back and forth between extreme drought and desertification to extreme rainy periods. This went on for a long time and the most successful bipedal apes were the ones that could adapt the easiest to the extreme changes in climate. The ones that could do this were the ones with bigger brains. They could think better with a bigger brain. The longer the climates changes continued, the bigger our brains got. So bigger brains enabled apes to adapt to their changing surroundings and to eventually adapt their surroundings to themselves—big brains, big advantage, big deal.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Its an ongoing question. Time Magazine has a new article out today suggesting we made war.

It is one of the world's oldest cold cases. Sometime between 50,000 and 75,000 years ago, a Neanderthal male known to scientists as Shanidar 3 received a wound to his torso, limped back to his cave in what is now Iraq and died several weeks later.

New research suggests that Shanidar 3 may have had a more familiar killer: a human being.

At the time of his death, only humans, who had adapted their hunting techniques to the open plains of Africa, had developed projectile weapons; Neanderthals, who hunted in the close quarters of forests, used thrusting spears. To learn the cause of Shanidar 3's wound, Churchill and his team used a specially designed crossbow to fire stone-age projectiles at precise velocities at pig carcasses (a pig's skin and ribs are believed to be roughly as tough as a Neanderthal's). At kinetic energies consistent with a thrown spear, the pig's rib bore damage resembling Shanidar 3's isolated rib puncture. What's more, Churchill found that the weapon that killed Shanidar 3 entered at about a 45-degree downward angle. Churchill also found that Shanidar 3's rib had started healing before he died. By comparing the wound with wounds documented in medical records from the American Civil War, a time before antibiotics, Churchill hypothesized that Shanidar 3 probably died within a few weeks of the injury.

Others suggest they may have interbred with humans.

Read The full Article here.
Read the competing interbreading theory here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Neadertals Sequenced

We don't know where BF fits into the evolutionary tree, but then again we only recently have began to understand where neanderthals fit into the picture. Thanks to DNA we have a clearer picture how the puzzle of hominid history fits together

Two great sites offer a great view of neanderthals place by following up on the DNA sequencing.

One site, National Geographic talks about the very beginning of the DNA sequencing of neanderthals.

While the other site, Nature, is an update with four streaming videos taking us on a complete journey of the DNA Sequence.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Neandertal DNA Deciphered

By Tina Hesman SaeyWeb edition : Thursday, August 7th, 2008
Results show modern humans, Neandertals diverged 660,000 years ago

Now there’s even more scientific proof that you are not a Neandertal, no matter what anyone says.

An international consortium of researchers reports in the Aug. 8 Cell that for the first time the complete sequence of mitochondrial DNA from a Neandertal has been deciphered. Comparison of the Neandertal sequence with mitochondrial sequences from modern humans confirms that the two groups belong to different branches of humankind’s family tree, diverging 660,000 years ago.
That date is not statistically different from previous estimates of the split between humans and Neandertals, says Erik Trinkaus, a paleoanthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis. The sequence also doesn’t reveal what happened to drive Neandertals to extinction, but it does clear up some discrepancies in earlier studies.

“It’s a major tidying-up of a lot of loose ends,” Trinkaus says.

At 16,565 bases long, the new sequence is the largest stretch of Neandertal DNA ever examined. The DNA was isolated from a 38,000-year-old bone found in a cave in Croatia.

“It’s a nice accomplishment and the next important step toward completing the Neandertal genome,” says Stephan Schuster of Pennsylvania State University in University Park. Schuster is part of a group that is sequencing the genomes of the mammoth and other extinct animals, but was not involved in the current study. “It’s a nice landmark on the way to saying what makes modern humans so s


In order to know exactly how modern humans and Neandertals differ, scientists will need to examine DNA from the Neandertal’s entire genome. The sequence reported in the new study was generated as part of a project to decode Neandertal DNA, but it contains information only about DNA from mitochondria.

Mitochondria are organelles that generate energy for a cell. Inside each mitochondrion is a circular piece of DNA that contains genes encoding some of the key proteins responsible for power generation. Mitochondria are passed down from mothers to their children. Scientists use variations in mitochondrial DNA as a molecular clock to tell how fast species are evolving.

Scientists have previously examined a short piece of Neandertal mitochondrial DNA known as the hypervariable region, but this new complete sequence helps clear up some ambiguities from studies comparing Neandertals and humans, says John Hawks, a biological anthropologist from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Some modern humans have several changes in the hypervariable region that made it seem as if Neandertals are more closely related to modern humans than humans are to each other.

“Comparing the complete mitochondrial DNA genomes of a Neandertal and many recent humans presents a very different picture,” Hawks says. “Humans are all more similar to each other, than any human is to a Neandertal. And in fact the Neandertal sequence is three or more times as different, on average, from us as we are from each other. This change from the earlier picture is a purely statistical one, but it makes a clearer picture.”

Human and Neandertal mitochondrial DNAs differ at 206 positions out of the 16,565 examined, while modern humans differ at only about 100 positions when compared with each other.

The mitochondrial genome contains 13 genes, blueprints for stringing amino acids together to make proteins. The researchers examined the nature of changes within those genes to learn how proteins evolve. Generally, changes that alter the amino acid sequence of a protein are bad because they disrupt the way a protein works or interacts with other proteins, says Richard Green, a computational biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Neandertals have more amino-acid altering changes in their mitochondrial genes than do other primates, Green and his colleagues found.

“This really demands an explanation,” Green says. One scenario that could explain the finding is that Neandertals had very small effective populations long before they went extinct.

But humans also have changes in some of their mitochondrial genes. One gene, called COX2, had four changes specific to humans. Neandertals, chimpanzees and other primates don’t have those changes. “This tells us these changes happened very recently and perhaps conferred some selective advantage” for humans, Green says. The data reinforce the notion that humans are evolving faster than other primates and “it gets us closer to understanding what it means to be a fully modern human.”


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Neanderthal Vocal Tracts Reconstructed After 30,000 years

Robert McCarthy of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton reconstructed Neanderthal vocal tracts to simulate their voice with a computer synthesizer. McCarthy used the fossil record to help his reconstruction of the Caveman's voice. Simple sounds were made, but McCarthy hopes to create a whole Neanderthal sentence. McCarthy spoke at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Ohio this month.
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