7. The Evolution of Hominids

7.7 The expansion

7.7.1 Away from tropical lands

Bony fishes synthesize vitamin D, which controls the uptake of calcium needed to build up bones. This synthesis is essential to avoid rickets. In amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, vitamin D is formed through exposure to UV light. If this exposure is rare, an exogenous supply of vitamin D is found in fish. As a rule, land vertebrates are restricted to sunny parts of the world, the babies being usually born in spring. In arctic countries, mammals and birds survive only because of their rich fish diet.

Man is a tropical animal who shed his fur and must have had a rather dark skin initially. The exposure to sunlight provided him with vitamin D. An overproduction of this substance is avoided through the melanisation of his skin. The initiation of massive consumption of fish by several human groups at the Australian Gatherer’s level allowed the population to move away in good health from the sunny lands. To travel overseas and to catch fish, a needed major psychological acquisition was to surmount the innate dislike of water manifested by the Primates. Primates hate water22. Chimps cannot swim. However, most hominids evolved along brooks, rivers and lakes and fed on fish.

The further North people moved, an adaptation of the skin took place toward fairness, so as to make fuller use of the sunrays, for the production of the needed vitamin. A transient darkening of the skin during summer months avoids an overproduction. Eskimos rely almost totally on fish for their diet; they are thus provided with an exogenous supply of vitamin D that is sufficient to allow a partial melanisation of the skin compatible with survival.

The Negro population of Africa has permanently incorporated the melanisation of the skin. It originated probably in the Sahara grasslands from white Paleo-European ancestors, 20,000 years ago. When the Sahara dried up, they moved south, with expulsion of the original Pygmy and Hottentot settlers, and adapted to tropical lands. The physical characteristics of Negroes are genetically largely dominant, as is apparent when breeding occurs between them and the more primitive Caucasian types: the offspring looks more Negro than white.

An adaptive measure that is taken for survival in very cold weather is the flattening of the nose and the protection of the eyes. This adaptation to cold weather probably took place during the latest glaciation, 15,000 years ago. The Amerindians show a trend towards such an adaptation. They are however still very close to the white type since their nose is prominent; their eye is slightly oblique but the “almond eye” of the Mongoloid (fig. 7.13) is usually observable only among children.

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Figure 7.13. The “almond” eye of the Mongoloid is one of the latest major adaptations of sapiens sapiens to his environment. The fold protects the eye against severe cold.

This last characteristic, more pronounced in the Eskimo, is recessive when breeding occurs with European types: the offspring no longer possesses it. Full protection against inclement weather is obtained by the Mongoloids (Chinese, Japanese, Yakouts, etc.) They are provided in various degrees with flat noses, almond eyes, and fat cheeks. These characters are dominant in the Mongoloid. Apparently, the initial occupants of Siberia moved south, as well in Asia as in America, during the last glaciation. When clement conditions reappeared, they recolonized, under the form of evolved Mongoloids, the Northern part of the continent and, in the process, erased all traces of the primitive white paleo European cultures that strove there.

7.7.2 Invasion of the Americas

The occupation of Europe, Africa and Siberia by white Paleo Europeans who underwent various adaptations in the process, is fairly straightforward. The American vacuum was apparently filled with three waves of invaders. The formidable ice pack that covered one third of the totality of the earth for quite a long time had stored away such large amounts of water during the last Ice Age that the sea level was about 125 meters below the present level, 18,000 years ago. This was largely sufficient to uncover the bottom of the sea between Siberia and Alaska (fig. 7.14). The uncovered portion is called Beringia.

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Figure 7.14. A passage existed between Siberia and Alaska before and after the North American glacier reached its maximal extent. The uncovered bottom of the sea is called Beringia.

For people sufficiently well armed and protected to confront the Alaskan cold, the crossing of Beringia was normal since Alaska was a continuation of the Asian continent, itself separated from the rest of North America by a barrier of ice. When the ice melted, the sea level rose again, Beringia disappeared and the people trapped behind the rising sea level could continue further the invasion of North America. This possibility existed at the end of the glaciation and also before it’s full extent was reached.

Invasion could also proceed from Europe. At one time, ice covered the whole of Northern Europe and of course eastern Canada. The cold weather provided for calm seas and the seashore offered plenty of game, fowl and fish to people who were culturally sufficiently evolved to catch them. To travel along the seashore from the height of the British Isles to the state of New York would have taken no more than about 4 weeks. A skeleton has been found in what is now the US, which is distinctly white-European. This find is fiercely opposed by the Amerindians, who want to be alone in occupying the Americas before the arrival of Columbus!

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Figure 7.15. Eskimos (1.58 meters) from Greenland and Alaska. The primitive characters are evident but different from those of the Tasmanian and Australoid. The skull is quite similar to that of a primitive man unearthed at Combe-Capelle (France). The Eskimos of Greenland are closest to primitive Man. Could they be Solutreans?

Based on an evaluation of the primitive tools found in Northern and Central America, it seems that the Paleo-Indians originated either from Spain or else from Northern Japan, now occupied by the Ainus, i.e. white Aborigines who occupied the whole of Japan until about 2,000 years ago. The invasion could have been staged from both sides. These initial invaders were artistically inactive, as was Homo sapiens sapiens at the time of his appearance. The Paleo-Indians were close to the Paleo-European type and these populations, which could have penetrated as early as 50,000 years ago, slowly were driven south. Another possibility is that seasoned navigators swiftly traveled from Europe to Eastern America while others went down the pacific coast of the Americas.

The Fuegians who live at the tip of South-America still possess distinct aborigine’s Australian features. An enigma is the Clovis culture, known for its elegant shaped projectile points (fig. 7.16).

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Figure 7. 16. Projectile points of the Clovis complex.(Science 315, issue 5815, 2007, cover).

It appeared around 13,000 years ago and lasted about 200 years. It was not, due to its relatively late appearance, first in America, and the Monte Verde culture, in Chile is 1000 years older. It might be a short-lived European invasion.

The second wave of invaders was composed of the populations now living in Central America and the more typically Mongoloid third wave occupied the northern part of the continent. Linguistic analogies show, in addition, that Polynesians also put foot on the continent, before the Vikings and the Europeans.

7.7.3 The invasion of Australia

Homo erectus survived in Southern Australia at least as late as 10,000 years ago. This remnant Pithecanthropine form had adopted distinct sapiens features such as the occasional cremation of its dead. Coexisting in time and space with this archaic form were fully sapiens populations using fire and cremating their dead. These were detectable in Australia as early as 35,000 to 50,000 years ago. A skeleton from Lake Mungo, called Mungo 3, sprinkled with red ocher and carefully arranged in his grave, was found in 1974 and is now believed to be 62,000 years old. Borneo has yielded a fully sapiens form that is 40,000 years old.

It would thus appear that South East Asian people expanded from their place of origin in Burma and Malaysia and moved towards Australia across water. Indeed, even under the most favorable conditions, the Australian continent would still have been separated from South East Asia. More annoying is the late presence of a Pithecanthropus in Australia, since it is hard to visualize the possibility that such a primitive hominid form used watercraft, even if the carving of boats out of a tree trunk was done with the sole help of fire, as is still practiced now by various primitive human groups. He might have been a slave. However, primitive human societies today do not practice slavery and probably did not either in former times.

In the isolated Australian niche, no further evolutive progresses were registered.

7.7.4 The invasion of Oceania

The invasion of Oceania was staged from South East Asia. The first invaders were the Australoids who, 50,000 years ago, traveled on simple rafts or even only a trunk. They invaded Australia and went as far as New Caledonia with their boomerangs, passing through New Guinea. New Guinea shows a 40,000 year-old human occupation site at Huon Peninsula. Some of these Australoids are so primitive as to look Pithecanthropian.

The second wave was that of the Negritos. They started from Burma. On their pirogues, they went to the Andaman archipelago, the Philippines and down Malaysia. Passing through Insulinde (Indonesia), they reached New Guinea and progressed further to the New Hebrides, carrying with them the ignane. The third wave was that of the Negroids (Melanesians). They left South East Asia 5,000 years ago, when the level of the seas began to raise, passed through the Philippines and went to New Guinea. There they expelled the Negritos to the mountains from the coastal regions. The Negritos continued to build their huts on pillars high in the mountains. The Melanesians introduced the Neolithic revolution in South East Asia and Oceania (taro, igname, sugar cane).

The ultimate wave was that of the Mongoloids and Caucasians23. As in India, the leaders of these clear-skinned people endeavored to maintain their racial characteristics while passing through Melanesia. From the shores of South China, their superior ships took them all over Oceania, as far as South America. Polynesians also reached Easter Island. In this isolated niche, they multiplied beyond the means of sustenance of the island, which lead 600 years ago to their disappearance.

7.7.5 The cultural levels

Two models for the origin of modern human behavior are current. One theory holds that “modern” use of symbols was prompted by a cognitive revolution in brain-wiring. In this case, abrupt change in behavior probably occurred only once, at one place, late and rapidly, about 50,000 years ago, associated with the European Upper Paleolithic and with the Later Stone Age of sub-Saharan Africa. However, bead wearing started about 42,000 years ago, in three different places lying far away from each other: Bulgaria, Kenya, and Turkey and Lebanon. The invention of ornamental beads correlates with a change in diet of the locals. Instead of eating tortoises, they switched to hares, which indicates an increase in numbers forcing the population to extend the range of its prey. Bead use is then seen as a better means of communication, in response to more frequent social encounters, giving information about oneself to strangers. It well seems that the changes in technology (sophisticated stone- and bone-tool manufacture), economy (advanced fishing and shellfishing skills) and social organization (well-developed exchange networks) observed in South Africa during the Middle Stone Age support the hypothesis of a gradual evolution that started in Africa about 250-40 thousand years ago. Abstract representations consisting of a series of X-like crosshatches, some struck through by a horizontal line or traversed by three horizontal lines, engraved on 7 cm and 5 cm long pieces of red ochre, a pigment used symbolically and hence indicative of a modern human behavior, have been found24 in layers with a mean date of 77,000 years. The authors of this observation took these representations as evidence of abstract thinking but they may also represent simply a record of counting.

Whether abstract or practical, these representations indicate that modern behavior began at least 35,000 years before the start of the European Upper Paleolithic. The finds are rare, in fact they are unique in abundance of evidence for modern behavior and cannot be compared with the drawing of horses in the European Upper Paleolithic. They indicate that the cognitive transition was not sudden but painfully slow and this slow evolvement of a modern behavior does not agree with the anatomical features of the head and face of modern humans. There is a long gap between when humans began looking modern and when they started acting modern. These early humans, no doubt every bit as intelligent as we are, lacked the accumulation of knowledge and experience that would allow full blown modern behavior. Advanced human cognition may very well be an adaptation to the challenging environmental and social changes that occurred during the last 250,000 years. Human evolution is marked by an increasing ability to deal with change rather than the adaptation to specific habitats. The expansion of the human species over the near totality of the earth was accompanied by adaptations to local conditions. These adaptations sometimes resulted in an increase in complexity of the adapting culture. The level of cultural development reached by various human groups has been analyzed. Extinct groups such as the Tasmanian or Cro Magnon cannot be analyzed in this way. Yet, through inferences, the following picture of cultural development was drawn25 (fig. 7.17).

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Figure 7.17. Cultural levels and cultural filiations of sapiens sapiens might be as depicted here. The denominations of the various cultures are sometimes those of the main racial group that practices this mode of living. These names do, however, not refer to races. For example, “Black Africa” is a cultural level reached in Africa, India and South-America. The Old High Culture was practiced by Mongoloids, Negroes, Whites, etc.

7.7.5.1 The Gatherers

7.7.5.1.1 The African Gatherer. Like the great apes, tropical Homo sapiens sapiens was originally a society composed of non-aggressive, intrasupportive teams of foraging botanists. The teams were quarterbacked by women and guarded by men. Hunting was practiced as it is now practiced by chimpanzees but was only a secondary source of food. The initial major activity of sapiens was the gathering of vegetal food.

Nomadic bands of low productivity roamed the forest without a well-defined leader and with a low differentiation score. Everyone did everything and not much was done. Women held the prime productive role since gathering is basically light work that can be done with the children around. The monogamist family was there to nurture children and to provide emotional security and stability to adults. Like the great apes, the original sapiens society was probably basically permissive because the society was of a community type devoid of a system of inheritance and there must have been a failure to establish a direct relation between coition and childbearing. There was no reason to suppose that men contributed to the propagation of the race, since visible pregnancy is delayed by several months after copulation and also every copulation does not result in fecundation.

The original sapiens was fun loving, egalitarian and sharing. He lived in balance with his environment, with all his needs provided for. This culture is still represented today by the Hottentots, Pygmies and Bushmen of Africa. It is also present in some small Asiatic refuge areas such as the Andaman archipelago. This is the African Gatherer’s culture. The present-day living African Pygmies nourish themselves mainly with poor vegetal food (mushrooms) and elephant meat. They exchange the meat for manioc and iron tools. The poor quality of the diet demands a breast-feeding of the babies that may last four years. This, the practice of a monogamist patriarchate and nomadism are the causes of the low reproduction rate of this human group.

7.7.5.1.2 The Australian Gatherer. A higher cultural level is that of the Australian Gatherer, observed in South East Asia, India and Australia. The Australian Gatherer has capitalized on the aptitude of Homo sapiens sapiens to talk. The accumulation of economic and communicative know-how that made the success of the African Gatherer was improved upon: vocal agility, verbal skills, manipulations of symbols are slightly better with the Australian Gatherer. Fishing, which equates to richer sources of proteins and vitamin D as well as fatty acids, is also twice or three times greater than among the African Gatherers. The communities of Australian Gatherers are organized in clans. Women are still the main productive members of the clan but a masculine gerontocracy controls the sexual, economic and ritual life of the clan. The succession of the leader is hereditary.

Beyond this cultural stage where an internal cohesion of thought becomes discernible, man, as an adaptation to various environments, either specialized in hunting or persevered in the collection of plants and turned to tropical horticulture and animal husbandry.

7.7.5.2 The Hunters

The development of sapiens sapiens into a hunter occurred in the Old World as early as 35,000 years ago with the appearance of Cro-Magnon man. Sapiens sapiens is not, basically, a meat-eater but can become so under the circumstances found in cold regions, where vegetable food is not available on a year-round basis, where the gathering of food is too arduous a business for women with child and where the cold weather makes the struggle for life an everyday reality. He can then become a hunter and a fighter, like Cro-Magnon man, the American Hunter, the Siberian, etc.

While in Europe this cultural trend was wiped out, leaving only the Laps (i.e. the Nomads, in the Norwegian language), the same culture still exists in Siberia with the Ostiaks, Vogouls, Ainous, where the culture (Siberia) is a dead-end, giving no further developments. This cultural level is also represented by the Bedouins of Southern Arabia. It also flourishes in the Americas from the Arctic to Patagonia under the form of the American Hunter.

Dogs have been part of human history longer than cows, horses or goats. The domestic dogs population originates from at least five arctic gray wolf lines, domesticated 15,000 years ago in China and Mongolia. Domestication of dogs appears to have been a common practice in that human population, probably pertaining to the “Siberia” cultural level. The Swedish Jämthund is probably the best representative of the dogs accompanying Paleolithic hunters (fig. 7.18).

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Figure 7.18. The Swedish Jämthund is probably the oldest representative of the dog, living with Paleolithic man. It stands hot weather only with difficulty. It was used to hunt bears and moose.

Figure 7.19. Nude Mexican dog Xoloitzcuintle. The name comes from the Aztec god Xolotl. The dog was raised for meat.

The earliest North American find of dogs is dated at 8,500 years B.P. The humans who colonized America brought multiple lineages of domesticated dogs with them. The rapid dissemination of different races of dogs on three continents indicates extensive intercultural exchange during Paleolithic times. Substantial behavioral modifications of the dog were produced over the course of domestication. A cognitive skill the dogs have, but no other domesticated animal nor the chimps nor wolves, is the understanding of human signals (a gaze, a gesture of the hand, a slight tap etc.). Dogs read humans, but the reverse is not always true26. The Aztecs in former times and the Chinese up to contemporary times raise dogs for meat, indicating that primitive dogs were raised by some cultures not only for hunt and company by the fire but also for meat.

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Figure 7.20: The chow-chow was and is still raised in China for meat and fur. Contrary to the Nordic and Siberian dogs, which are affectionate, the chow-chow is little expansive, and appears indifferent.

Other human cultures viscerally despise dogs and inflict on them treatments of an “inhumane” nature, e.g. fighting dogs. These human cultures fail to understand the dog’s nature and their disrespect of the covenant between Dog and Man indicts themselves.

7.7.5.3 The Farmers

7.7.5.3.1 The American Villager. The American Hunter, in an experiment that appears to be totally unrelated to the Mexican example, developed into maize-raising American Villagers in what is now the US. This cultural line owes nothing to tropical gardening and is to be put in parallel with the Neolithic evolution that took place in the Near East. Several succeeding settlements of American villagers are on the record. Many early attempts to maintain the cultural level of the American Villager appear to have been systematically destroyed by American Hunters, i.e. Nomads.

7.7.5.3.2 Tropical Gardeners. Tropical gardeners are marvelously adapted to the rain forest. A natural way to use the regenerative properties of the rain forest is shifting agriculture. It consists in planting a variety of plant species within a cleared patch of forest during a few years and then move on. Monocultures are never practiced. The gardeners take care to replant the forest back in their gardens before they move. This is a remarkable foresight.

On the American continent, tropical gardening appeared in Amazonia. The basic staple crop there was root crops (e.g. sweet potatoes, dahlia tubercles, taro). This tropical gardening developed into the higher civilizations of Peru and Mexico. The Spanish records of the Inca civilization mention the fear of the Empire for invasions by Amazonian populations. The possibility that the Amazonian populations were much larger than today is confirmed by the report of Francisco de Orellana, who traveled the 6000 km length of the Amazon River in 1542. All along the way, the riverbanks bristled with armed warriors and the lower third of the river was full of very large settlements lying close to each other. On the evidence of excavations conducted since 1995 along the Amazon river, it is now becoming clear that clearing the Amazon forest with stone tools was so difficult that rapid movement among different areas would have been impossible: it takes more than 30 times longer to cut down a single big hardwood tree with a stone ax than with a steel ax. The early agriculturists, facing the thankless conditions of the Amazon region, left the trees standing and improved the texture of the land (black earth obtained by mulch, compost, human dejections and animal refuse), to such an extent that its productivity allowed permanent settlements.

In the Old World, the first signs of horticulture and animal husbandry appeared in South East Asia as early as 40,000 years ago. The Melanesians, who rely, like the Amazonians, on root crops for their subsistence, apparently initiated this tropical gardening. The Melanesians however also raise pigs and have permanent settlements. This was the level of differentiation that was reached in Meso-America.

The tropical gardening extended thereafter all around the Pacific Ocean with the Polynesian culture. A white type generally carries out this culture and its level of differentiation is higher in that, for example, land ownership and inheritance are known. The tropical gardening effort was brought to its summit in Africa with the Negroes. Such a “Black Africa’ cultural level is also found in India, South East Asia and Venezuela. At this highest level, reliance is on grain rather than on root crops, metals are known, strategy games are practiced, cattle, sheep and goats are raised; the burden of providing for the family still rests on women’s shoulders.

For decades, archaeologists have believed that humans domesticated cattle solely in the Near East. Apparently, cattle was domesticated several times. By 8000 years ago, a humpless sort known as taurine cattle was domesticated in the Fertile Crescent of Turkey. About 6000 years ago, the humped zebu was domesticated in the Indus valley of Pakistan. In the 1980s, it became for the first time evident that native wild cattle was domesticated independently in northeastern Africa 10,000 years ago. Apparently, people living in Africa took the unusual path of food production consisting in domesticating livestock, before plants. Archaeologists suspect that indigenous populations in the Andes have a similar history. All other human populations are thought to have first tamed plants.

The availability of metal instruments to African cultures allowed an intensive deforestation that lead to “savanization” and ecological disasters, which were accentuated when an even more aggressive exploitation of the land came into being, during the 20th century. Currently 14 million hectares of tropical forests are lost annually worldwide27.

7.7.5.3.3 Rice Growing Malays. Apparently without any relation to the circum-pacific tropical gardeners, there appeared the rice-growing Malays in the hills of Indochina, 9,000 to 7,000 years ago, who displaced the former occupants. The Malay culture spread to Borneo and the Philippines.

7.7.5.3.4 The European Culture. In the Near East, about 10,000 years ago, there appeared the European Culture. Its superiority over the other Neolithic evolutions was the intensive cultivation of grain with a plough, the growing of vines (Noe) and the raising of cattle that could supply additional proteins, together with milk. By these means it was possible to occupy temperate and cold regions on terms other than hunting for survival. The hard labor involved in this type of work shifted the burden of work in the fields to the shoulders of men.

7.7.5.3.5 The Old High Cultures. Soon thereafter, relying on irrigation for additional supplies of cultivable land, great congregations of men occur at various points in the world: the Nile Valley, the Euphrates, Indus, Ganges, Mekong valleys, in Indonesia, China, Japan and Central Africa. Favored by a high verbal agility and exploiting to the fullest the ability of Homo sapiens sapiens to read and write, this Old High Culture spread into Europe by Greece and Rome.

The freedom from food gathering or hunting was obtained independently by American villagers, Tropical Gardeners, Malays, Old High Cultures and Europeans. Within these different cultures, one discerns an additional differentiation trend in the tendency to be sedentary or nomadic.

References

22. Orangutans however are fond of water to refresh themselves.

23. Caucasians populate the Asian continent. They are repressed communities in China.

24. C. Henshilwood et al. Emergence of Modern Human Behavior : Science 295: 1278-1280, 2002

25. A. Lomax, Science, 177, 228-239, 1972

26. I had a Doberman who greeted visitors with a smile. Needless to say that his courtesy and friendliness were systematically misinterpreted as aggressiveness.

27. Food and Agricultural Organization : State of the World’s Forests. FAO, Rome, 1997

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