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Humans Were Human Earlier Than Thought

From Koinonia House
Science artists love to depict early humankind as intelligent apes – standing upright, but hairy in a specifically primate-looking fashion, eyes and ears high on the head.  Yet, as paleoanthropologists uncover more information about ancient humans, the evidence consistently points toward a race of beings that were intelligent and capable, different from anatomically modern humans primarily in that they camped out in caves.  Recent discoveries show that fire was tamed by the earliest of humans, and they used it for more than just keeping warm.

Researchers from Boston University found ash and bone remnants in Wonderwerk Cave in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, according to details published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences.  The ash and bones and been heated to nearly 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (500 C) in what appear to be a consistent series of controlled fires 100 feet inside the cave.  The site has been dated to the early Acheulean period, about a million years ago, a time when Homo erectus (Homo ergaster in Africa) was busy making tools.  Whether the dating of the site is absolute or relative in the timeline of human history, it does offer strong evidence that humans were using fire to cook their food much earlier than previously thought. 

Prior to this discovery, there were indications that humans used fire as early as 1.5 million years ago, but most paleoanthropologists agreed that only the 400,000-year-old use of fire could be well-established.  It is well known that Neanderthals and modern humans used fire; it appears that early Homo erectus was able to control fire as well.

Paleoanthropologists commonly place H. erectus at between 1.9 million and 143 thousand years ago, when these early humans lived in groups found in spots from Indonesia and China all the way to the southern tip of Africa. Because the brain cases of H. erectus were on average smaller than the brains of people today (yet within the modern-day range of brain size), with thicker face and jaw bones, artists often portray H. erectus with ape-like features.  Yet, the evidence has long demonstrated that these early men were just as human as the humans of today.  We cannot go back in time and have a conversation with them, but we can examine the tools they left behind, and they were not the handiwork of a people who were intellectually defective.
Homo erectus craftsmen chiseled tools from stone in a distinctive teardrop or oval shape, chipping stone hand axes and other cutting tools from the earliest time of their known existence.  The cutting tools were used to butcher the large animals they hunted.  The H. erectus people are always described as hunters and gatherers, yet their tools also included picks, which means they also spent time digging in the ground.  While the "cave man" has long assumed to have been intellectually weak, the sophistication of the artifacts indicates otherwise.  
While there has been question about whether H. erectus could communicate as we do today, this people did have a human hyoid bone.  Also, the Broca's area of the H. erectus brain was like that of modern humans, according to studies of skull endocasts done by Thomas Wynn.  Scientists have been slow to agree that H. erectus communicated just as well as we do (perhaps better), but the paleoanthropological community has also been reluctant to agree that Neanderthals sat around chatting, and Neanderthals had larger brains than modern man.  Considering their sophisticated tool production, sufficient brains and a hyoid bone, there seems to be little reason to believe that H. erectus did not use spoken language, except for the same assumptions about early man that cause the artists to draw him looking like an upright chimpanzee.

Red Deer Cave People
Even modern man gets sketched as ape-like because he is determined to have "primitive" features.  A recent article on the Red Deer Cave People in Southwest China published in last week's China Daily shows a fine ape-man pencil drawing at the top, even though the Red Deer Cave People were dated to less than 15,000 years ago, nearly 60,000 years after the time when scientists say men were using fire to blacksmith tools.  According to the common paleoanthropology timeline, these are young humans who should look anatomically modern, yet they have "archaic-looking" parietal lobes, large molars, and thick skull bones – qualities that H. erectus also shared. The most important difference is their lack of a strong modern human chin.  "They look very different from all modern humans, whether alive today or in Africa 150,000 years ago," Darren Curnoe of the University of New South Wales told the BBC.
The Red Deer Cave People were also tool makers that used shovels and stone hammers. Even pyramids and quartz stone-cutting tools have been found in their isolated Asian home.
"It is not rare to see fossils that carry both early and modern Homo sapien traits. In the same era, there were many human groups in China. Red Deer Cave people could just be ordinary Chinese," an anonymous paleoanthropologist in China told reporters.
The skulls of modern humans are relatively similar, but that does not mean that ancient people who had different skull characteristics were any less human than we are.  It simply indicates that certain human family groups died out while one group lived on. 
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jenniecarroll/ jennie-carroll@hotmail.com said...

could not understand or missed it, who wrote this and are they saying they believe humans lived that long ago, sure this earth is way into millions of years, but these guys sure were not human, won't go into what I believe , who they were, not ape, not human.but maybe a bit alike within limits.I won't push it without Gods ok, but we know man as we know him is not that old and the ape looking is because of what they were, but not ape, nor human, I promise. love jc oops PS HOW DO I SIGN IN<NEW HERE <NO WEBSITE OR GOOGLE NOW??my name is ok seen too or??

Bernard and Pamela Dreyer said...

The article was from Koinonia House a very reputable Christian Media: http://www.khouse.org/