RE: New genetic data and mankind's ancestry

From: Glenn Morton (
Date: Sat Mar 24 2001 - 05:35:19 EST

  • Next message: gordon brown: "Re: New genetic data and mankind's ancestry"

    Hi Peter,

    This will be my last reply. You can have the last word. I really am trying
    to withdraw from the debate as I think I am finally giving up and am going
    to now go and get a life.

    >-----Original Message-----
    >From: []
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2001 4:16 PM

    >I am Swiss - .ch in my e-mail address ;-) -, not German. - The paper by
    >D. Mania et al. shows that the paved area has an irregular shape, not a
    >circle as Gore wrote. Mania et al. suggest it may have been used for
    >cultural activities (not necessarily implying a religious cult). The
    >significance of the bison skull at one of the 20 one-man "workshops"
    >(which happens to be one of the two found on the edge of the pavement)
    >is apparently unknown.

    First, after about 400 centuries, you won't be quite so symmetrical
    either.;-) Look at the Ice man mummy. I think you are being way too literal
    here. Nothing in the archaeological record is perfectly preserved. The fact
    that the paved area is irregular, but subcircular is not a big deal. After
    abandonment and prior to burial, animals walk by, kick rocks, etc. The job
    of the archaeologist is to reconstruct what was there--what was built. Mania
    believes it was generally circular when it was built. Now you could quibble
    with him because if you put a compass on that area when it was built it
    probably would not have been perfectly circular even then. Don't be expect
    ancient structures to look pristine when dug up millennia later. They all
    have been moved around a bit over the millennia.

    The map published in "Latest Finds of Skull Remains of Homo erectus from
    Bilzingsleben (Thuringia), Naturwissenschaften 81:123-127 shows these two
    areas. One with the bison skull and 3 human skull fragment within about 3 m.
    Interestingly, there is a concentration of human skulls fragments just off
    of the second circle. The map can be found at:
    One should note that the remains of the huts all have openings that faces
    SOUTH to keep out the cold north wind and the fire hearths are on the south
    side of the huts. This is a homo erectus village.

     It may have been used as a seat by the workman.
    >The paper doesn't specify a "large anvil of quartzite" near the bison
    >skull, although it indicates a "large travertine slab" about 10 m away.
    >The human skull fragments are widely scattered, not just over the paved
    >area, but over at least 40 m, and the collection is clearly incomplete.
    >Whether these findings have any sacrificial or other religious
    >significance is, at present, anyone's guess. There is no recognizable
    >altar anywhere.

     The published map shows two paved circularish areas which are quite close
    to each other. This item is much like some of the Druid circles I have seen
    here in Scotland. The pictures below are from the Loanshead of Daviott about
    20 miles from Aberdeen and is about 5000 years old. See

    These two are basically the same scale. One can see the paved circle (in the
    second one I am there for scale). Over my left shoulder you can see on the
    lawn in the background the second circle. This circle is about 9-10 meters
    across so it is comparable to the Bilzingsleben. The published location of
    the bison skull fits will with the off center altars that the ancient Picts
    built. Here is the recumbant stone, presumably the focal point of the

    And at the East Aquhorthies circle (about 10 miles from Daviott), the
    recumbant stone 'altar' lies at the edge also. It can be seen at

    The point of this is that while the ancient Picts had a technological
    advantage over the Bilzingsleben residents of 400,000 years ago, what they
    did was quite similar. This is why I firmly believe that Christian
    apologetics MUST, simply MUST include ancient H. erectus within the human

     The lines engraved on some bone tools seem to be at
    >least decorative. Whether they have a symbolic significance is unknown.
    >Feustel (in the German text you sent me) claims some of the lines are to
    >be "interpreted" as a representation of "a large vertebrate", but he
    >doesn't appear to be sure about it. I don't think there is clearcut
    >evidence for a spiritual (as opposed to "soulish") dimension in those
    >people. It is possible, of course, that more finds would make a clearly
    >spiritual aspect to become recognizable.

    'Soulish' and 'spiritual' spiritual appears to me to be a distinction
    without a difference. Animals are 'soulish' but don't build villages.

    >> No, I don't accept your H and S definitions. I believe that if a
    >being built
    >> an alter, as did H. erectus, then he is spiritually human.
    >Otherwise what is
    >> the purpose of the altar?
    >No altar was found at Bilzingsleben. The probable altar found at
    >Bruniquel was made by Neandertals, not H. erectus, and dates to 47,600
    >years BP, according to R.G. Bednarick, "Neanderthal News," The Artefact
    >1996, 19:104, whom you quoted in your post.

    To quote Mania and Mania about Bilzingsleben, "According to the
    archaeological evidence, special cultural activities may have been carried
    out there." D. Mania and U.Mania, "Latest Finds of Skull Remains of Homo
    erectus from Bilzingsleben (Thuringia), Naturwissenschaften 81:123-127, p.

    Ironic mode on:
    I wonder what those special cultural activities might be? Gee, lets see,
    maybe plays? Maybe political discussions? Or a book club. Oh gee, with a
    large quartzite stone with bison horns on each side of it and human skull
    fragments at the base of it, one couldn't possibly interpret this as an
    altar. Nope, this certainly dosn't look like anything that modern man does.
    And the excavator obviously wrote the above sentence as a throwaway line!
    Nope, we can clearly bury our head in the sand and ignore that data!!!!
    Ironic mode off:

    >> ... and if you are going to have that situation, you need to move it
    >> way, way back in time. It can't have occurred within the past
    >100,000 years.
    >> But if we don't have that situation--a single pair, then how on
    >earth can we
    >> say that the Bible is true? Jesus' genealogy goes through Adam.
    >You can have Jesus' genealogy go through Adam in a biological sense even
    >if there were 10,000 pre-Adamites living at the time of Adam. But
    >presumably you were thinking that all fallen humans (and this includes
    >all humans except Jesus) must have their biological genealogy go through
    >Adam. But the Bible does not imply the doctrin of the biological
    >inheritance of the so-called "original sin" (supposedly Adam's). Romans
    >5:12ff contrasts Adam the head of the fallen humanity with Jesus Christ
    >the head of the new, spiritual humanity. In both cases, it is definitely
    >not biological inheritance that is in view. All believers, including
    >Abraham and many other Old Testament believers, belong to the new
    >humanity - but none of them descends from Jesus biologically; similarly,
    >all humans before, contemporaneous with, and after Adam belong to fallen
    >humanity, because "all have sinned", not because some of them
    >biologically descend from Adam. The text emphasizes the correspondence
    >between the old humanity and the new humanity, implying that the
    >relationship of fallen humanity to Adam is taken in the same spiritual,
    >not biological way as that of the new humanity to Jesus. The
    >significance of Jesus' genealogy is also (partly) biological, but its
    >primary impact is spiritual: it shows the fulfillment of prophecies
    >given to Adam, Abraham, and David, and Jesus' right to the throne of
    >David and his being the Messiah. Else why would the genealogy in Matthew
    >1 go through Joseph (who was not Jesus' father in a biological, but in a
    >legal sense)?
    >> As to supposedly ruling out multiregionalism, one must explain
    >why Mungo man
    >> had a pre-anatomically modern human mtDNA---meaning that he had to have
    >> gotten it from a maternal line that goes back at least 300,000 years
    >> according to my calculations. His mother was not your Eve, yet he himself
    >> was anatomically modern.
    >Adcock G.J. et al. determined the sequence of just 354 (of the over
    >16,500) base pairs of mtDNA of the anatomically modern Mungo man (LM3)
    >of ~60,000 years ago ("Mitochondrial DNA sequences in ancient
    >Australians: implications for modern human origins".
    >Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.USA 98 (2001), 537). Their mtDNA tree indicates that
    >it branches earlier than any of the modern human mtDNAs but closely
    >groups with a nuclear insert (on chromosome 11) which survives in all
    >modern humans.

    Wrong! The insert is not found in all humans. It is found in many humans.
    Adcock et al state:
    "All of the sequences differed from the sequence of the mtDNA segments of
    the two individuals handling the bone samples, and each of the sequences
    differed from an invariant mitochondrial insert sequence that occurs in the
    nuclear genome of many living humans " "Mitochondrial DNA sequences in
    Australians: implications for modern human origins".
    Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.USA 98 (2001), p. 540

    Going back to the original article which reported the insertion, we find:

    "Overall, 39% of chromosomes tested carried the insertion. In four African
    populations, the frequency of chromosomes carying the insertion ragnes
    between 10 and 25%, whereas it varies between 38% and 78% in populations
    tested in Europe, Asia, Oceania and South America." Hans Zischler et al, "A
    Nuclear 'Fossil' of the Mitochondrial D-loop and the Origin of Modern
    Humans," Nature 378:489-492, p. 491

    The highest frequency of insertions were among the Japanese 65%; the
    American Indians Surui-78% and the Melanesians 68%. Europeans were at 54%.
    Clearly this insertion occurred outside of Africa and it has a history much
    longer ago than a mere 150,000 years. Now you can ignore it, or you can
    modify your views to fit this troubling data point into your views.

    And to say that Mungo man's mtDNA closely groups with the insert is correct
    but ignores the important trees in the forest. THere are 15 nucleotide
    substitutions between Mungo and the insert which would give quite a
    divergence time for the two sequences.

    Adcock et al. don't give a time for the branching, though
    >they think it challenges the recent-out-of-Africa model.

    As I said, and you ignored, I used the mutation rate of Harpending which is
    4.5 x 10^-5 site mutations per year. To account for the 14 differences
    between Mungo and modern man (Kow swamp 1) of 311 thousand years. They
    don't have to give an age because the authors give enough info for others to
    do some calculations.

    If we use the general rule that mtDNA changes 2-4% per million years, which
    was used to calculate the chimp human split then we find that 14/354=3.9%.
    Using this rate, we would say that the Mungo man's mtDNA would have split a
    million years ago. I think Harpending's mutation rate is better. But, no
    matter how you cut it, Mungo's mtDNA is OLD!

    But Svante
    >Pääbo (as quoted in Holden C. "Oldest human DNA reveals Aussie oddity",
    >Science 291 (2001), 230) doesn't agree. Adcock et al. concur that their
    >analysis "did not reliably establish an early divergence of the
    >LM3/Insert lineage". Relethford J.H. ("Ancient DNA and the origin of
    >modern humans", Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.USA 98 (2001), 390), commenting on
    >Adcock et al.'s work, says: "Although the fossil evidence provides
    >evidence of the continuity of modern humans over the past 60,000 years,
    >the ancient mtDNA clearly does not, providing an excellent example of
    >why the history of any particular locus or DNA sequence does not
    >necessarily represent the history of a population." It is unknown when
    >LM3's ancestors got to Australia, and we don't know when the ancient LM3
    >mtDNA sequence was lost from the other human populations. The belief
    >that LM3 proves multiregionalism is not warranted.

    Reread Relethford. He is clearly disagreeing with your position on this.
    Just above your quotation Relethford states: "Adcock et al's. study shows
    clearly that when considering ancient mtDNA in addition to living mtDNA, the
    deepest branch is Australian. This result does not imply that modern humans
    originated in Australia, anymore than an African root demonstrates an
    African origin; the geographic root could exist in different times and
    different places depending on anceint population dynamics. Adcock et al,
    cleearly demonstratethe actual extinction of an ancient mtDNA lineage
    belonging to an anatomically modern human, because this lineage is not found
    in living Australians." Then continue with your quote above.

    Later on, he notes:
    "Lineage extinction implies narrower time depth for our reconstructions
    based only on living human mtDNA." p. 391

    In other words to claim that humans are all descended from Eve of 150,000
    years ago is to ignore the ancient DNA which means a deeper time window

    I took Adcock et al's data and used the generally accepted rates of
    mitochondrial DNA mutation. To account for the differences (at a clock-like
    rate) would give an expected divergence time of 300,000 years ago. It is a
    really simple calculation to perform if you wanted to you could do it. What
    it challenges is the idea that all our genetics came from people living
    less than 150,000 years ago.

    >> You must explain the characteristically Neanderthaloid muscle
    >> in the Lager Velho child from Portugal. The supposed replacement
    >don't have
    >> those types of attachements yet this kid did, and yet he too was mostly a
    >> modern human. There was interbreeding.
    >> You must explain why the earliest humans in Europe resemble the
    >> more than the supposed Out-of-Africa invaders. In fact, I never
    >see anyone
    >> like you really discuss the evidence below...
    >> In order to account for this data and still believe that there was no
    >> mixing, you must believe that the mere fact that the Africans
    >invaded Europe
    >> made them look like the Neanderthals. That of course is a silly
    >idea. But no
    >> OoA people I know of really deal with this data at this level of
    >> "We do not doubt that many prehistoric groups were replaced by
    >others, but
    >> we conclude that the hypothesis that all living humans descended from a
    >> single geographically isolated group during the Late Pleistocene
    >is false,
    >> and that the replacement explanation for the origin of these early modern
    >> Australians and Europeans can be ruled out." Milford H. Wolpoff,
    >John Hawks,
    >> David W. Frayer, and Keith Hunley, "Modern Human Ancestry at the
    >> Peripheries: A Test of the Replacement Theory," Science
    >> Wishing this data away, doesn't make it go away. It is contrary to your
    >> claims.
    >Paleoanthropologists are still divided about the amount of genetic
    >mixing between early and late humans outside of Africa, the extremes
    >being the multiregionality and the out-of-Africa models, and occasional
    >migrations between groups in and out of Africa might have provided for
    >any amount of genetic mixing. Such mixing would prove these
    >(contemporary!) groups to belong to the same species, but it doesn't
    >prove everyone from H. habilis of 2 million years ago to today's H.
    >sapiens belongs to the same species. I'm no specialist in this field and
    >therefore suspend my definitive judgement.

    Citing divisions in the paleoanthropological world is NOT dealing with the
    data. One can't come and advocate an idea and then when negative data is
    presented cop out from all responsibility by claiming that experts are
    divided. That is NOT the way science should work. It is the technique of
    many Christian apologists however. When the data is contrary to one's
    position--equivocate or suspend judgement!

     For the moment, I tend more
    >towards the OoA end of the continuous spectrum of biological models. My
    >theological model of time points "H", "S", "A" is independent of how the
    >paleoanthropology debate turns out, as I have no way of confidently
    >dating "S".

    As I suspected, data doesn't play much of a role in your hypothesis. You are
    ignoring the data and letting your theology determine what facts should be
    ignored and what facts you will use to support your view. This is a "heads I
    win"/"Tails you lose" strategy; a selective filter that allows you to use
    factoids that support your view while conveniently ignoring data that
    contradicts your view. It is the characteristic behavior of 99% of christian
    apologists. And it stinks, which is why I think I am leaving this area after
    20+ years trying to get Christians to pay attention to the facts It is like
    trying to tell people that the sun rises in the east rather than whatever
    direction their theology requires it to rise today!
    Such behavior is so widespread as to discredit most of what Christian
    apologists say. We should be ashamed of it.


    >Everyone agrees that there was an increase in population size between
    >about 2 million years ago and about 100,000 years ago, although opinions
    >differ about the time, sharpness, and size of a bottleneck (if any)
    >during this long interval. Somewhere in this epoch, we have to place
    >time point "S" characterized by God's creating the spiritual dimension
    >and commanding humans to fill the Earth. I agree with you that finds
    >indicating a spiritual capacity will be determinative for choosing this
    >point. I am just not yet convinced we have found it as early as you
    >place it.

    Do you accept the 47,000 year old Neanderthal? From your statement above
    you at least find it probable. Well if it is an altar (and there are other
    Neanderthal religious sites besides this one, then here is a chain of
    reasoning that shows that spirituality was on earth much longer ago.
    Neanderthals were genetically isolated from the rest of humanity for about
    500,000 years before they re-interbred (a bit) with the invaders from Africa
    around 30,000 years ago(many anthropologists believe that blond hair and
    blue eyes were Neanderthal traits. Blond hair gives protection against
    frostbite, blue eyes see better in dim light like that here in winter in
    Aberdeen, and these traits are native to the former Neanderthal territory.
    No other peoples developed these traits to handle frostbite). If they had
    an altar, then their humanity and spirituality MUST have either arisen
    independently of ours or it must have existed PRIOR to the genetic split! We
    have no other opitions. If it arose independently, then were there two
    Adams--one Neanderthal and one sapiens?

     And everyone agrees that there was a bottleneck at the end of
    >the last glaciation, when agriculture began. Somewhere around this time
    >we presumably have to place time point "A", Adam and Eve, and the
    >special divine dealing with them. Clearly, Adam and his sons were
    >farmers. But why can't an economic necessity be part of a development
    >connected with spiritual significance, or an indirect consequence of
    >spiritual events? God works through all natural events and uses them in
    >his dealings with humans whenever he sees fit. And his spiritual dealing
    >with humans may have consequences which are visible in archeology.

    Because by this defintion, poor people would not have spirituality.
    Afterall, some tiny populations of primitive peoples with static populations
    would fall into the area that given no economic or populational growth, we
    can wonder if they are human. What a bad idea.
    >I don't think it is possible to prove scientific matters from theology -
    >or spiritual matters from science. What kind of proof are you seeking?

    This is not exactly an answer to your question. When all is boiled down to
    the bare bone, I think I am looking for Christians who won't equivocate,
    delay judgments and ignore data and logic in order to hang on to their
    personal theology. We have people who say things are true, when there is no
    correspondence between an account of an event and what actually happened and
    we have people who decide this is what is true, now I am going to squeeze,
    twist and ignore any data I have to in order to make my worldview true. This
    whole thing with Carol Hill has been the final straw for me. I don't think
    we do a good job of research in our apologetics (we are always years behind
    the actual science), we don't use good logic (something is truth even if it
    is false) and we spend hours figuring out how to explain data away rather
    than accepting what is there and molding our theology (you and the altars
    and ancient genetics is a great example). For me, I have beat my head on
    this wall for a long time. The wall wins.

    I used to be on lots of lists discussing these things but this was the last
    one I was on having withdrawn from all others. I have a few commitments I
    must keep but I fully intend to withdraw from this issue and get a life.

    You can have the last word.


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