Showing posts with label human history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label human history. Show all posts

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Million Year Old Footprints in the UK?

What is in a footprint? A footprint can tell you a lot about people who walked there. It also tells you about their depth, size, impression angle, and location that can give you all types of clues such as where they are heading, their general size, whether they are carrying something, or even their gender. When the footprints are 780,000 to million years old and have never been seen before in the area it can lead you to a whole bunch of new conclusions.

Researchers in Happisburg, Norfolk in the UK found footprints when moving sand. They took some pictures and measurements before the water washed them away. It is a rare find to have long preserved footprints as most are destroyed right away without having the right circumstances that solidify them.

It is believed that they were made by the Homo antecessor which is human or near human. The footprints indicate it was a group of around five people of different ages and genders. It may have been a family making its way to some location. Outside of this discovery the only other known place in Europe to have markings is Northern Spain.

The discovery is unique as it changes the balance of when humans were expected to have arrived in Europe. In this case they were around a million years ago. That changes a few assumptions about the island and the nature of its people. It appears that Europe was being explored earlier than expected.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Human Skull Confuses Scientists 1.8 Million Years Old

Artwork and Music Played by Dr. Murad Abel
Variations of five 1.8 million-year-old sculls found in Dmanisi, Georgia indicate that there may not have been multiple forms of humans before the modern era. This flies in the face of other researchers who believe that there are other members of the hominid family such as homo erectus, homo habilis, and homo rudolfensis.  What makes the finding unique is that all five were found together with distinct variations that fit within other species.

The findings of the skull are new but the town of Damanisi was already discovered as an ancient site that contained bones and extinct species. There have been numerous archeological works in the area to uncover its history which dates back to the beginnings of European civilization. History seems to come together in this location from many hundreds of generations.

One of the skulls is of particular importance as its jaw was found in 2000 and was larger than those found in other discoveries. In 2005, the rest of the skull was found and it contained an elongated structure with a very small brain area that equates to about half the size of modern humans. Even though it is different, it is seen as a variation of the same species. No one is sure and scientists are pointing fingers.

The skulls were preserved under an ancient fortress. Some believe that the species existed at a time when humans were just gaining longer legs and able to walk completely upright. The body would have been less than five feet with smaller hips and elongated teeth for eating.  They may have died in a fight with each other or with some type of animal.

Dmanisi has a long history and first mentioned by 9th century Arabs as part of the Emirate of Tbilisi. They are believed to have inhabited the area since 645. It grew into a silk trading route between Europe and the Middle East. The site also hosts a 6th century church called Dmansis Sioni which is a modern day pilgrimage site.  You may want to view the history of the area and the skulls below:

Lordkipanidze, et. al. (2013). A complete skull from Damanisi, Georgia, and the evolutionary biology of early Homo. Science, 342 (6156)