Tag: ancestors

How People Really Lived During the Stone Age

cave man

The Paleo diet is just the beginning. It’s the gateway to an entire suite of lifestyle prescriptions devoted to mimicking the way our ancestors ate, moved, slept, and bred nearly 10,000 years ago in the Paleolithic era of hunting and gathering, an era Paleo followers associate with strong bodies and minds.

Members of this modern-day caveman community believe the path to optimal health is through eating only what our ancestors ate before modern agriculture and a shift to more sedentary ways.




Devoted proponents of a Paleo lifestyle not only subsist primarily on meat and eschew carbs; they also exercise in short bursts of activity intended to mimic escaping prey.

Even blood donation has become a Paleo fad among the most dogmatic of 21st-century cavemen, based on the notion that our ancestors were often wounded, making blood loss a way of life.

But new research reveals flaws in the logic behind these trends. As evolutionary and genetic science show, humans, like all other living beings, have always been a work in progress and never completely in sync with the natural world.

Survive-in-the-wild

If we’re going to romanticize and emulate a particular point in our evolutionary history, why not go all the way back to when our ape ancestors spent their days swinging from tree to tree?

It is hard to argue that a simpler life with more exercise, fewer processed foods, and closer contact with our children may well be good for us, but rather than renouncing modern living for the sake of our Stone Age genes, we need to understand how evolution has—and hasn’t—suited us for the world we inhabit now.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

The Origins Of Our Species Might Need A Rethink

On the outskirts of Beijing, a small limestone mountain named Dragon Bone Hill rises above the surrounding sprawl.

Along the northern side, a path leads up to some fenced-off caves that draw 150,000 visitors each year, from schoolchildren to grey-haired pensioners.

It was here, in 1929, that researchers discovered a nearly complete ancient skull that they determined was roughly half a million years old.

Dubbed Peking Man, it was among the earliest human remains ever uncovered, and it helped to convince many researchers that humanity first evolved in Asia.

Since then, the central importance of Peking Man has faded. Although modern dating methods put the fossil even earlier at up to 780,000 years old the specimen has been eclipsed by discoveries in Africa that have yielded much older remains of ancient human relatives.




Such finds have cemented Africa’s status as the cradle of humanity the place from which modern humans and their predecessors spread around the globe and relegated Asia to a kind of evolutionary cul-de-sac.

But the tale of Peking Man has haunted generations of Chinese researchers, who have struggled to understand its relationship to modern humans.

It’s a story without an ending,” says Wu Xinzhi, a palaeontologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing.

They wonder whether the descendants of Peking Man and fellow members of the species Homo erectus died out or evolved into a more modern species, and whether they contributed to the gene pool of China today.

Keen to get to the bottom of its people’s ancestry, China has in the past decade stepped up its efforts to uncover evidence of early humans across the country.

It is reanalysing old fossil finds and pouring tens of millions of dollars a year into excavations. And the government is setting up a US$1.1-million laboratory at the IVPP to extract and sequence ancient DNA.

In its typical form, the story of Homo sapiens starts in Africa. The exact details vary from one telling to another, but the key characters and events generally remain the same. And the title is always ‘Out of Africa’.

In this standard view of human evolution, H. erectus first evolved there more than 2 million years ago.

Then, some time before 600,000 years ago, it gave rise to a new species: Homo heidelbergensis, the oldest remains of which have been found in Ethiopia.

About 400,000 years ago, some members of H. heidelbergensis left Africa and split into two branches: one ventured into the Middle East and Europe, where it evolved into Neanderthals; the other went east, where members became Denisovans a group first discovered in Siberia in 2010.

The remaining population of H. heidelbergensis in Africa eventually evolved into our own species, H. sapiens, about 200,000 years ago.

Then these early humans expanded their range to Eurasia 60,000 years ago, where they replaced local hominins with a minuscule amount of interbreeding.

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Pass it on: New Scientist