Thursday, May 18, 2017

Early Hominids in America

Scientists have conjectured that a prehistoric site in San Diego County may prove relatives of early humans entered North America 130,000 years ago, at least 100,000 years earlier than commonly believed:

First Americans May Have Been Neanderthals

Researchers have been working on this discovery since the early 1990s. The ambiguous evidence meets with skepticism. Are the mastodon bones found at the dig evidence of human or prehuman hunters in the New World at that remote period? If so, they might not have been modern humans (Homo sapiens). They might be older members of the genus Homo such as Neanderthals or Denisovans (a distinct subspecies discovered in Siberia).

The idea of other kinds of human-like people sharing the world with us—Neanderthals, Denisovans, the Indonesian "hobbits" (Homo florensiensis)—fires the imagination. It would be like having aliens among us. An SF explanation of orcs, elves, and dwarves might be developed by postulating that those creatures were independently evolved humanoid species or subspecies. Suppose some of them lingered into historical times as the truth behind the myths? Or remnants of their kind live secretly in isolated wilderness areas to this day?

Personally, I'm holding out for the possibility that survivors of hypothetical early hominids in California form the basis of the Bigfoot legend. Why shouldn't a small breeding population of such a species continue to hide in the depths of old-growth forests? After all, mountain gorillas were discovered and identified as a separate species only in the early 20th century, and only about 800 are estimated to exist in the wild. Why couldn't other types of supposedly extinct primates have survived?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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