Thursday, 29 December 2011

Nice stanes

It’s been suggestit that Modren humans had the edge ower the Neanderthals in social organisation. Yin aspeck o this is trade, sae it’s interestin tae see fae this article Multiple origins of Bondi Cave and Ortvale Klde (NW Georgia) obsidians and human mobility in Transcaucasia during the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic be François-Xavier Le Bourdonnec et al., that baith Neanderthals an Modrens in whit is noo Georgia (Transcaucasia) had access tae obsidian. Obsidian tuils wis fund in twa caves occupied be Neanderthals an later be Modrens. The authors haes identified yin o the places that the obsidian cam fae. It’s no a prohibitive distance (a maitter o 170 km), bit ither sources are twice that.

They cite seemilar recent results fae Hungary for obsidian and the Czech Republic for rock crystal, an note that “even greater distances are attested for flint in areas where artefact quality raw materials are absent or rare”.

There’s ay some doot whan tryin tae link objecks tae the fowk that made thaim, bit it daes leuk like the Neanderthals wis ontae the obsidian first an the Modrens learnt tae wirk it fae thaim: “Neanderthals and later Modern Humans apparently employed the same behaviour with regard to how they worked their obsidian, which raises the question of an eventual transmission of this tradition.”

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Lalueza-Fox an Gilbert, “Paleogenomics of Archaic Hominins” (2011)

This article, Paleogenomics of Archaic Hominins, is a maist yuisefu an timeous summary o whit we’ve learned fae “palaeogenomics, a discipline that has begun to revolutionise the study of human evolution” by twa prominent researchers in the field, Carles Lalueza-Fox an M. Thomas P. Gilbert.

There a time line o recent findins, includin:

1997 first Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA sequence;
2006  Neanderthal nuclear DNA sequenced;
2007 Neanderthal FOXP2 gene (crucial tae langage) fund tae be identical tae that o modren humans; Neanderthals fund tae hae reid hair an fair skin;
2008 Neanderthals fund tae be O bluid group;
2010 draft o hale Neanderthal nuclear genome;
2011 detection o ancient hominin gene flow intae modren human genomes warldwide (i.e. Neanderthal in aabody ootside Africa, Denisovan in Australasians an Asians, unidentified ancients in Bushmen an Pygmies).

The authors spick aboot methods, includin the byordnar problems o retrievin relevant data fae the backgrun noise o bacterial DNA, an the risk o modren contamination. They summarise whit we ken fae paleontology o the Neanderthal phenotype, includin the wey the shape o the brain developed fae birth tae adult. (They touch briefly forbye on diet an tools.) They discuss whit we can deduce fae genetics aboot the Neanderthal phenotype, population dispersal an nummers, gene flow atween ancients an modrens, an Neanderthal group structure (a faimly group has been typed, an the males are closely relatit, suggestin a patrilocal social structure; on the ither haun, anither study fund continuity in mitochrondrial DNA ower thoosans o years in yae place). 

Researchers are ay siftin through the Neanderthal genome. “Ultimately, our knowledge of the differences between Neanderthals and us will depend on how well we understand the phenotypic effects of these genetic changes in living organisms.” Yaisin the chimpanzee as a reference pynt, researchers hiv leuked for genes whaur Neanderthals seem tae hae kept an aulder primate form an modrens hae diverged. “The list comprises genes associated with various functions, including metabolism, cranial development, pigmentation, skin physiology, cognition and even sperm movement.” Chynges speceefic tae Neanderthals are faur harder tae pin doon, especially wi a totty sample, sin they could ay be mirages caused be damage or error.

We can leuk forrat tae excitin findins as researchers in this field set aboot the “sequencing of genomes from anatomically modern human samples that date to the Upper Palaeolithic, although this approach will face substantial contamination issues.”

Monday, 19 December 2011

Ancient dalliances

Dienekes screives aboot the divergence o African populations an the lave, an whether it can be pit doon tae Neanderthal admixture. This is a yuisefu post wi links back tae his earlier screivins on the subjeck.

It was kinna surprisin, richt eneuch, whan the Neanderthal element turnt oot tae be richt through aa populations ootside Africa. Dienekes ootlines his ain theory - that (whether or no there's ony Neanderthal admixture as weill), the same data cud be pyntin tae somethin deifferent - somethin aboot Africans raither nor non-Africans - namely admixture wi yin or mair ancient human lineages in Africa.
Dienekes' reference for this is Hammer et al's paper Genetic evidence for archaic admixture in Africa.

Essential tae Dienekes' interpretation is his ither norie: that modren humans originatit in an dispersed fae the Arabian Peninsula - in ither wirds INTAE Africa.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Mair reader feedback

Bethia Rayne reviewed the English version on Amazon:
"Broken Fences reminds me a lot of the writing of Margaret Atwood. When you pick it up you think science fiction, when you put it down you realise what a lot it tells us about the past and a possible future, which may happen quite easily, there is nothing too far fetched here. Well researched with a good knowledge of science and current politics; it paints a world you are quite sure you would rather not live in given a choice but with still an opportunity to escape to a time before belief systems be they science based or spiritual took over the knowledge contained in human beings from our beginnings on earth, our emotions and our instincts. I would recommend this to the reader who likes an intelligent read, different from the norm but which also has romance, adventure and a very considered and realistic answer to an age old mystery."

Seumas Simpson writes, I had been meaning to email you to say how fascinating I find Braken Fences. It is interesting on various levels: the language, of course; the concept of the fundamentalists and the rationalists dividing the earth; the Neanderthals; the picture of the roof of the world; and the story itself. I am enjoying it hugely ... I congratulate Mr Kurtoğlu.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Novel on Amazon

The Inglis version o ma novel, Broken Fences, is available on Amazon, bit the Scots version, Braken Fences, is gaunnae be a coupla wicks yit, because o "technical issues" - maybes they cannae mak oot whitna leid it is. Ah'm pittin thegither Kindle versions, an Ah howp tae hae baith available richt suin.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Neanderthal biggin

Mair evidence o Neanderthals yaisin mammoth bones tae bigg shelters. This paper describes a site in the Ukraine, the earliest fun up tae noo. 

Mammoth banes seems tae be a subsitute for wuid in steppe environments. We ken Neanderthals yaised wuid – hafts for stane tuils, obviously – bit it’s no a material ye’d expeck tae survive. Sae it’s fascinatin tae see this find fae a Barcelona site, a cast o a wuiden spatula, reconstructit by the archaeologists fae the Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social. Julien Riel-Salvatore pits it in context here.