Woolly mammoth discovery in Michigan, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

Woolly mammoth skeleton unearthed by Michigan farmers

3 October 2015

Two farmers in Michigan made an astonishing discovery when they unearthed the remains of a woolly mammoth while digging in a soybean field.

Experts say it is one of the most complete sets ever found in the state.

University of Michigan researchers say there is evidence the mammoth lived 11,700-15,000 years ago.

Ancient human species discovered in South Africa?

This video says about itself:

10 September 2015

Within a deep and narrow cave in South Africa, paleoanthropologist Lee Berger and his team found fossil remains belonging to the newest member of our human family. The Homo naledi discovery adds another exciting chapter to the human evolution story by introducing an ancestor that was primitive but shared physical characteristics with modern humans.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Homo naledi: New species of ancient human discovered, claim scientists

Bones found in South African cave are Homo naledi, a new species of ancient human relative, say researchers, but some experts are sceptical of find

Ian Sample, Science editor

Thursday 10 September 2015 10.30 BST

A huge haul of bones found in a small, dark chamber at the back of a cave in South Africa may be the remnants of a new species of ancient human relative.

Explorers discovered the bones after squeezing through a fissure high in the rear wall of the Rising Star cave, 50km from Johannesburg, before descending down a long, narrow chute to the chamber floor 40 metres beneath the surface.

The entrance chute into the Dinaledi chamber is so tight – a mere eight inches wide – that six lightly built female researchers were brought in to excavate the bones. Footage from their cameras was beamed along 3.5km of optic cable to a command centre above ground as they worked inside the cramped enclosure.

The women recovered more than 1,500 pieces of bone belonging to at least 15 individuals. The remains appear to be infants, juveniles and one very old adult. Thousands more pieces of bone are still in the chamber, smothered in the soft dirt that covers the ground.

The leaders of the National Geographic-funded project (link to video) believe the bones – as yet undated – represent a new species of ancient human relative. They have named the creature Homo naledi, where naledi means “star” in Sesotho, a local South African language. But other experts on human origins say the claim is unjustified, at least on the evidence gathered so far. The bones, they argue, look strikingly similar to those of early Homo erectus, a forerunner of modern humans who wandered southern Africa 1.5m years ago.

“We’ve found a new species that we are placing in the genus Homo, which is really quite remarkable,” said Lee Berger, a paleoanthropologist who led the work at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He described the slender, small-brained creatures as “long-legged”, “pinheaded” and “gangly”. The males stood about 5ft, with females a little shorter.

Measurements of the bones show that the creature has a curious blend of ancient ape and modern human-like features. Its brain is tiny, the size of a gorilla’s. Its teeth are small and simple. The thorax is primitive and ape-like, but its hands more modern, their shape well-suited to making basic tools. The feet and ankles are built for walking upright, but its fingers are curved, a feature seen in apes that spend much of their time in the trees. The findings are reported in two papers published in the online journal eLife.

The Dinaledi chamber has been visited by explorers in the past, and the soft sediments in which the bones were found have been badly disturbed. Because the remains were not encased in rock, Berger’s team has not been able to date them. They could be 3m years old, or far more modern. No other animals were found in the chamber that might hint at when the human relative got there.

“If this is an ancient species, like a coelacanth, that has come down through time and is only tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of years old, it means that during that time we had a complex species wandering around Africa, perhaps making tools. That would make archaeology very difficult, because we aren’t going to know who made what,” Berger said.

John Hawks, a researcher on the team, said that despite some of its modern features, Homo naledi probably belonged at the origins of our genus, Homo. “It’s telling us that evolutionary history was probably different to what we had imagined,” he said. Paul Dirks, another scientist involved, said that work was ongoing to establish the age of the bones. Some tests, such as carbon dating, will destroy the material, and will only be tried once the bones have been studied more closely.

Without knowing the age of the bones, some researchers see the fossils as little more than novelties. “If they are as old as two million years, then they might be early South African versions of Homo erectus, a species already known from that region. If much more recent, they could be a relic species that persisted in isolation. In other words, they are more curiosities than game-changers for now,” said William Jungers, an anthropologist at Stony Brook School of Medicine in New York.

Christoph Zollikofer, an anthropologist at the University of Zurich, said that many of the bone characteristics used to claim the creature as a new species are seen in more primitive animals, and by definition cannot be used to define a new species. “The few ‘unique’ features that potentially define the new species need further scrutiny, as they may represent individual variation, or variation at the population level,” he said. Tim White, a paleoanthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, goes further. “From what is presented here, they belong to a primitive Homo erectus, a species named in the 1800s.”

The Dinaledi chamber is extremely hard to access today, raising the question of how the creatures came to be there. They may have clambered in and become stuck, or died when water filled the cave. But Berger and his colleagues favour a more radical explanation. “We have, after eliminating all of the probable, come to the conclusion that Homo naledi was utilising this chamber in a ritualised fashion to deliberately dispose of its dead,” Berger said.

The conclusion is not widely accepted by others. “Intentional disposal of rotting corpses by fellow pinheads makes a nice headline, but seems like a stretch to me,” said Jungers. Zollikofer agrees. “The ‘new species’ and ‘dump-the-dead’ claims are clearly for the media. None of them is substantiated by the data presented in the publications,” he said. Hawks is open to other explanations, but said that disposal made sense. “The evidence really tends to exclude the idea that they entered the chamber one at a time, alive, over some time, because we have infants, small children, and very old adults who would almost certainly not have managed to get into this chamber without being deposited there.”

Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London, said that how the creatures reached their final resting place was a “big puzzle”.

“If we’re talking about intentional disposal, we’re talking about creatures with a brain the size of a gorilla’s going deep into a cave, into the dark, and posting bodies through a small fissure into this cave chamber. It’s remarkably complex behaviour for what we’d think of as a very primitive human-like species. Whether there are other explanations remains to be seen, but it’s one of the plausible explanations,” he said.

MEET THE NEWLY DISCOVERED HUMAN SPECIES “Acting on a tip from spelunkers two years ago, scientists in South Africa discovered what the cavers had only dimly glimpsed through a crack in a limestone wall deep in the Rising Star cave: lots and lots of old bones. The remains covered the earthen floor beyond the narrow opening. This was, the scientists concluded, a large, dark chamber for the dead of a previously unidentified species of the early human lineage — Homo naledi.” Check out this Q&A with the leader of the expedition. [NYT]

Scientists have discovered a new species of human ancestor deep in a South African cave, adding a baffling new branch to the family tree. By Jamie Shreeve, National Geographic: here.

Mysterious fossils in Dutch Oosterschelde estuary

This 1961 video is about finding fossil mammal bones with a fishing boat, from the bottom of the Oosterschelde estuary in Zeeland province in the Netherlands.

Astrid Kromhout of Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden reported on 7 September 2015 about two mysterious fossil bones, fished on 5 September 2015.

One of the bones used to belong to an aurochs, or, really, an aurochs ancestor; the other one to a mammoth.

Scratches on early Pleistocene aurochs ancestor bone

On both bones are parallel scratches. Hyena teeth or rodents’ gnawing don’t look being the causes of these scratches. Did a human ancestor cause them? But the mammoth bone is about 2.3 million year old; and the bovine bone is from the early Pleistocene as well. Then, all human ancestors still lived in Africa. The oldest traces of human ancestors in the Netherlands are 250.000 years old. So, mysterious indeed.

On 5 September, also other fossils were found, a molar and a bone of a 2,3 million year old mastodon.

Since 65 years ago, paleontologists go year after year aboard a fishing boat to use fishing nets to find fossils. During that time, 2174 fossils were found, mostly roughly 2 million years old.

Eurasian cave lion fossil discovery by seven-year-old

This video says about itself:

World Of The [Eurasian] Cave Lion

20 January 2014

Simba‘s European Cousin.

Translated from Nu.nl in the Netherlands:

Boy finds in Gelderland bones of prehistoric cave lion

August 16, 2015 20:20

The now ten-year-old Enzo Smink in the Gelderland town Wekerom has found an absolutely unique find. On a secluded beach nearby he found the lower jaw of a rare prehistoric cave lion.

That is reported by paleontological museum De Groene Poort in Boxtel this Sunday.

Smink made the discovery as early as the summer of 2012, but no one then realized what the boy had found. The remains landed in a box with his grandmother.

Only when the boy earlier this year got the bones out again for a speech, his mother decided to send a picture of it to specialists.

“An archaeological finding of this format is probably done once in twenty years,” says director René Fraaije of the museum to NU.nl. “Cave lions at that time were already rare, let alone that ten thousand years later their bones are often found.”

Cave drawings

The cave lion was the largest predator of the time of the mammoths. This animal lived in most of Europe then. The name does not refer to the lifestyle of the enormous feline, but to the place where most of the remains of the lions have been found.

The animal became extinct at the end of the last ice age, roughly ten thousand years ago. This was due to the changing climate and the extinction of the prey animals that the lions fed on. Most information about the appearance of the cave lion is derived from prehistoric cave drawings.

Enzo Smink will transfer the find officially to the prehistoric museum on Monday. There the lower jaw will get a special place in the collection.

Human with Neanderthal ancestry discovery

This video says about itself:

16 September 2014

Nova – Decoding Neanderthals (PBS Documentary)

By Jennifer Viegas:

Ancient Human With 10 Percent Neanderthal Genes Found

June 22, 2015 11:00 AM ET

DNA from a man who lived 40,000 years ago in Romania reveals that up to 11 percent of his genome came from Neanderthals.

Because large segments of the individual’s chromosomes are of Neanderthal origin, a Neanderthal was among the man’s ancestors as recently as four generations back in his family tree, reports a study published in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

The finding reveals that some of the first members of our species who came to Europe interbred with the local Neanderthals.

To this day, individuals of European and Asian heritage retain Neanderthal DNA in their genomes, but whether or not Neanderthals went extinct or simply were absorbed into the modern human population remains a matter of definition, senior author Svante Pääbo told Discovery News.

“Some Neanderthals clearly became incorporated in modern human societies,” said Pääbo, director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. “It is still unclear exactly how much of the complete Neanderthal genome exists today in people, but it seems to approach something like 40 percent.”

“But, of course, the Neanderthals are clearly extinct in the sense that they do not exist as an independent, separate group since some 30,000 or 40,000 years.”

David Reich from Harvard Medical School coordinated the population genetic analysis of the study, which was an international effort. At the center of the research were the remains of the man, named “Oase 1,” unearthed at a cave system called Peștera cu Oase in Romania.

The researchers believe that the man derived from the same expansion out of Africa as other modern people, but was likely to have been part of an early “pioneer foray into Europe,” ahead of other migrations that were to come later.

Under what conditions his relatives, and those of other early Neanderthal-human hybrids, interbred is a big question.

Chris Stringer, an expert on early humans at the Natural History Museum in London, posed some intriguing questions about the matings.

“Were these peaceful exchanges of partners, raids which stole women or girls, or even the adoption of orphaned babies?” he asked, adding that the answer remains a mystery.

What is clear is that the interbreeding took place at different times and locations. This particular individual, Oase 1, did not contribute much, if at all, to later modern human populations, however. Pääbo explained that whatever population he represented seems to have “disappeared,” leaving behind no known tools or other artifacts.

Humans from Africa to Lebanon to Europe, snail research says

This video is called Introduction to Archaeology – Lecture 2a. ‘Palaeolithic Europe‘.

From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America:

New chronology for Ksâr ‘Akil (Lebanon) supports Levantine route of modern human dispersal into Europe

June 1, 2015


Bayesian modeling of AMS radiocarbon dates on the marine mollusk Phorcus turbinatus from Ksâr ‘Akil (Lebanon) indicates that the earliest presence of Upper Paleolithic (UP) modern humans in the Levant predates 45,900 cal B.P.

Similarities in early UP lithic technology and material culture suggest population dispersals between the Levant and Europe around 50,000–40,000 cal B.P. Our data confirm the presence of modern humans carrying a UP toolkit in the Levant prior to any known European modern human fossils and allow rejection of recent claims that European UP modern humans predate those in the Levant. This result, in turn, suggests the Levant served as a corridor for the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa and into Eurasia.


Modern human dispersal into Europe is thought to have occurred with the start of the Upper Paleolithic around 50,000–40,000 y ago. The Levantine corridor hypothesis suggests that modern humans from Africa spread into Europe via the Levant. Ksâr ‘Akil (Lebanon), with its deeply stratified Initial (IUP) and Early (EUP) Upper Paleolithic sequence containing modern human remains, has played an important part in the debate.

The latest chronology for the site, based on AMS radiocarbon dates of shell ornaments, suggests that the appearance of the Levantine IUP is later than the start of the first Upper Paleolithic in Europe, thus questioning the Levantine corridor hypothesis. Here we report a series of AMS radiocarbon dates on the marine gastropod Phorcus turbinatus associated with modern human remains and IUP and EUP stone tools from Ksâr ‘Akil. Our results, supported by an evaluation of individual sample integrity, place the EUP layer containing the skeleton known as “Egbert” between 43,200 and 42,900 cal B.P. and the IUP-associated modern human maxilla known as “Ethelruda” before ∼45,900 cal B.P.

This chronology is in line with those of other Levantine IUP and EUP sites and demonstrates that the presence of modern humans associated with Upper Paleolithic toolkits in the Levant predates all modern human fossils from Europe. The age of the IUP-associated Ethelruda fossil is significant for the spread of modern humans carrying the IUP into Europe and suggests a rapid initial colonization of Europe by our species.

Two-milion-year-old redshank discovery

This is a redshank video from the Netherlands.

Translated from Vroege Vogels TV in the Netherlands:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dutch amateur paleontologists have found a bone of a redshank, two million years old. This makes this fossil the oldest known redshank in the world, two hundred thousand years older than previous finds. They will publish their findings soon in the renowned paleontological journal Cranium.