Archive for the ‘anthropology’ Category

A Genetic Study of Mark Gelbart–My 23 and Me Results

January 12, 2023

My late mother’s cousin researched our family genealogy years ago. and I know quite a bit about our family’s history. Nevertheless, I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what the science reveals. I submitted my DNA to 23 and Me, a service that analyzes a person’s genetics for a fee. The results arrived a few days ago. They determined I was 51.2% British (English and Irish) and 48.8% Ashkenazi Jew. I must have inherited a little more DNA from my mom than from my dad. I already knew I was half of English descent and half Jewish. My mom’s cousin’s genealogy chart on my maternal side goes back 1000 years. Most of the names on my maternal side are very English–Parsons, Penhollow, Howe, etc. However, the oldest names are Norman (the French speaking Vikings who invaded England 1000 years ago). I have no Scandinavian ancestry according to these results. 23 and Me must interpret British ancestry as the indigenous British population + Viking invaders + the Germanic tribes who invaded England even earlier. I also take issue with 23 and Me’s classification of Ashkenazi Jews as European. Ashkenazi Jews originated in the Middle East (primarily the location of modern Israel). They are descendants of the people Romans conquered and forcibly removed from Judea 1900 years ago. The foundling population of Ashkenazi Jews was likely just a few hundred individuals who clung to their traditions. The rest were assimilated or perished.

I have good knowledge of my ancestry, so the results were not a surprise. I’m half British and half Ashkenazi Jew. I take issue though with 23 and Me classifying Ashkenazi as European rather than Middle Eastern. Ashkenazi Jews originated in the Levant.

I was most interested in finding out if I had any relatives I didn’t know about. I found out I have seven 2nd cousins and hundreds of 3rd and 4th cousins who submitted their DNA to 23 and Me. I don’t know any of them. My closest relative who submitted their DNA to 23 and Me supposedly shares a Great Grandparent with me. I know the surnames of 7 out of 8 of my Great Grandparents. They are Gelbart, Shneier, Klarriech, Bailey, Wages, Cobb, and Parsons. The family tree provided by 23 and Me suggests she is related to a Great Grandparent on my Jewish side, but I can’t determine who. She is 1/4th Jewish and 1/4th English. This result is a bit of a mystery, and I think this result might be slightly off. I think it is more likely we share a Great-Great Grandparent, probably from the Klarriech side. I think there was someone from that side who arrived in the U.S. early enough. Her mother was born in 1930. My 2nd closest relative shares a Great-Great-Grandparent, and I think I did figure this one out. He includes the Bailey surname in his list of family surnames. Sam Bailey lived from 1840-1922, and he is one of my Great-Great-Grandparents. I’ve lost touch with my mom’s paternal side relatives, even though many of them live here in Georgia. My Grandfather called one side of his family a “rough bunch” and “horse thieves from Alabama.” I’d be interested in meeting their descendants. I thought I wouldn’t have many Jewish relatives because of the Holocaust, but I was wrong. There are lots of Jewish-sounding names on my paternal side. The list of places where their parents were born is like a map of where Ashkenazi Jews ranged. Birthplaces listed by my 23 and Me relatives include U.S. (359), Poland (217), Russia (193), Ukraine (167), Romania (71), Hungary (67), Lithuania (67), Austria (61), Germany (61), Belarus (59), U.K. (37), Canada (28), Latvia (20), Czeck Republic (11), South Africa (10), Moldavia (10), Italy (9), Israel (7), France (7), and the Netherlands (5).

23 and Me also estimates the chances of certain traits. I do prefer salty snacks over sweet. They gave that a 57% chance. Against the odds, I do like broccoli and Brussel sprouts and cilantro. Unfortunately, also against the odds I have a bald spot and back hair.

I do have back hair and a bald spot, so that is against the odds, but I don’t have dimples.
I do have blue eyes. My hair thinning didn’t occur until after 40.

23 and Me goes way back and can tell which haplogroup I belong to. My mom is from maternal haplogroup H1 which originated from one woman who lived 18,000 years ago and spread throughout Europe and Asia after the Last Glacial Maximum. My paternal haplogroup is much older originating 47,500 years ago in North Africa. They are known as haplogroup E-M5021. They eventually became farmers. The report also claims I’m less than 2% Neanderthal, but I am more Neanderthal than 76% of the population.
My maternal line is haplogroup H1 which originated about 18,000 years ago. We all descend from the same mother who lived in Africa between 150,000-200,000 years BP.
My paternal haplogroup is E-M5021. They are thought to have become farmers.

I was glad I submitted my DNA results, and I hope more of my relatives eventually submit theirs.


The Fascinating Mystery of Homo naledi

October 12, 2022

Homo naledi, an extinct species of human not ancestral to Homo sapiens, is known from just 1 fossil site in the entire world–Rising Star Cave in South Africa. The remains consist of 15 individuals that apparently were buried in the same location over time. They were discovered during 2013 and anthropologists believe they were deliberately buried, though Homo naledi had a much smaller brain that modern humans. The discovery spawned a fascinating mystery. Why did a primitive species of human bury their dead in the same location? Anthropologists don’t believe humans with such a small cranial capacity could have a concept of an afterlife. The burial pit is pitch dark. They must have used torches to see inside the chamber, but anthropologists don’t think humans this primitive could have mastered fire. Some anthropologists don’t think the site is a deliberate burial pit. They suggest the bodies were simply thrown down a shaft or were carried by flood water. However, the majority of anthropologists who have examined the evidence do believe the bodies were deliberately buried.

Scientists used a variety of dating techniques to determine the age of the Homo naledi remains including uranium-thorium decay, optically stimulated luminescence, electron spin resonance, and paleo-magnetic analysis. They determined the bones range in age from 414,000 years BP-236,000 years BP. This means Homo naledi co-existed for a while with our ancestors: Homo erectus or maybe even Homo heidelbergensis. An anatomical analysis determined they shared characteristics with Australopithecus and Homo genuses, but they should be placed in the latter genus. They could walk upright just like us, though they were better climbers than modern humans. On average adults were less than 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds. Dental evidence suggests they are dirt-covered roots and bulbs. The location is some distance away from an area rich in game, so they may have existed in a spot where predators such as leopards were less common. They probably used tools. No other evidence of this species may ever be discovered. They diverged from our ancestors at least 900,000 years ago, and we likely will never know very much about our distance cousins.


Dirks, P., et. al.

“The Age of Homo naledi and associated sediments in the Rising Star Cave, South Africa”

Evolutionary Biology May 2017

Irish, J., et. al.

“Ancient teeth, Phenetic Affinities, and African Hominins: Another Look at where Homo naledi fits in”

Journal of Human Evolution 122 September 2015

Pleistocene Paw, Hoof, and Footprints in New Mexico (redux)

August 17, 2022

I already wrote an article with this title 2 years ago, but a minor disaster last week inspired me to rewrite it. In the original article I wrote the fossilized human footprints found at White Sands National Park were at least 11,000 years old. A new study published last year determined the footprints were between 23,000 years-21,000 years old. I tried to edit in a note to the old article explaining the results of the new study, and some kind of glitch erased the last 2 paragraphs and the image I used for the original article. I could look for the old handwritten first draft in a stack of old notebooks I keep in a dusty, old, cardboard box, then retype it, but I decided to start all over and rewrite it completely.

During the late Pleistocene climate patterns were much different in the American Southwest than they are today. The region enjoyed higher rainfall and a cooler more temperate climate, resulting in abundant lakes. Lake Otero, now a completely dry lakebed, was filled with water then and surrounded with lush prairie and scattered trees. A drier climate phase struck, and the lake began to recede, leaving a muddy shoreline where many species of mammals left trackways, including humans, mammoths, camels, bison, Harlan’s ground sloths, saber-toothed cats, giant lions, and dire wolves. Some of the human trackways crisscross those of a ground sloth, and it appears as if the sloth paused and stood, so the animal could better detect the human scent. 61 fossilized human footprints have been found here, and they are mostly of teenagers and children. Apparently, the teenagers were going back and forth, as if they were carrying objects. Children appear to be playing. Scientists hypothesize the adults were fishing and/or collecting edible aquatic plants, and the teens were carrying the items to a camp (not yet found by archaeologists). One teenager was babysitting a toddler and carrying it around.

Human trackways at White Sands National Park in New Mexico. Some scientists estimate these footprints are about 21,000 years old. Human trackways are interspersed with the prints of Pleistocene megafauna.
Artist’s rendition of White Sands National Park 21,000 years ago. Image is a courtesy of the National Park Service.

Of course, fossilized footprints can’t be radiocarbon dated, so how did scientists date the trackways? They radiocarbon dated the ditch grass (Ruppia cirrhosa) seeds found in sediment above and below where the trackways are located. They determined the trackways are between 23,000 years BP-21,000 years BP. This evidence contradicts mainstream archaeologists who believe humans didn’t arrive in North America until about 14,000 years ago.

Diagram showing how the conclusions by the above discussed study could be wrong. Gary Haynes believes wind erosion redeposited older sediment over younger sediment or simply displaced younger sediment so 21,000-year-old ditch grass seeds were on the surface when men and megafauna walked in the area 13,000 years ago. Image from the below reference (Haynes 2022).

Gary Haynes, a renowned archaeologist, casts doubt on the purported age of the trackways. In an article he published in the journal PaleoAmerica, he points out 3 factors that could cause the scientists to reach misleading conclusions about the age of the trackways. The presence of hardwater in an environment causes radiocarbon dates to be older than they actually are. The scientists who dated the trackways were aware of this but think this isn’t a problem because local water is currently not hard. However, Haynes points out they didn’t analyze modern ditch grass to see if it absorbs a greater concentration of hard water than is found in the environment. Another factor that could cause misleading dates is redeposition of sandy sediment by wind. One study of a stratigraphic column in the area nearby found roughly half of the dates were out of order with older sediment on top of younger sediment and alternating with it. Haynes thinks the stratigraphic column in the region where the trackways are found date to between 15,000 years BP-11,000 years BP, dates consistent with when the Clovis culture was known to occur in North America. Finally, he thinks the trackways were made 13,000 years ago, but the exposed sediment where the humans and animals walked happened to be older due to wind redeposition. In other words wind blew the younger sediment away, and people and animals were walking on old sediment.

M. Bennett is the lead author of the study determining the trackways were 21,000 years old. His response to Haynes’s alternative explanation was short and rather obtuse. He believes it was unlikely redeposition of windblown sand occurred, but he offers no explanation why. He also stated the trackways couldn’t be of Holocene age because the human trackways were interspersed with Pleistocene megafauna trackways, and Pleistocene megafauna were extinct by the Holocene (beginning about 11,000 years ago). However, Haynes merely quoted another study that mentioned the trackways being of Holocene age was just 1 of 3 possibilities. Bennett didn’t even address Haynes’s belief that the trackways date to 13,000 years BP when Pleistocene megafauna still roamed the region.


Bennett, M. , et. al.

“Evidence of Humans in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum”

Science 373 6562 2021

Haynes, G.

“Evidence for Humans at White Sands National Park during the Last Glacial Maximum could be for Clovis People ~13,000 years ago”

PaloeAmerica March 2022

Aborigines may have Occurred in South America and Southwestern North America Before the Last Glacial Maximum

August 10, 2022

There is tantalizing genetic and archaeological evidence suggesting small ephemeral populations of people related to Australian aborigines occupied parts of South America and southwestern North America thousands of years before Amerindians colonized the continents. The archaeological evidence predates or at some sites is simultaneous with the Last Glacial Maximum, the climate phase when the most recent Ice Age glaciers reached their greatest extent about 21,000 years ago. Mainstream archaeologists long believed the first humans arrived in the Americas about 14,000 years ago, but there are just too many compelling archaeological sites, especially in South America and southwestern North America, that contradict this view. The radio-carbon dates can’t be wrong on all of them. Examples of archaeological sites predating or simultaneous with the Last Glacial Maximum include Monte Verde, Chile (33,000 years BP), Toca de Tara Peia, Brazil (20,000 years BP), Arroyo del Vizcaina, Uruguay (30,000 years BP), fossil footprints in Argentina (30,000 years BP), Chiquihuite Cave, Mexico (26,000 years-19,000 years BP), Conxcatlan Cave, Mexico (30,000 years BP) and fossil footprints in New Mexico (21,000 years BP). Now, a recent study of a site in New Mexico determined humans butchered a mammoth and calf here 37,000 years ago.

The recently studied site located in New Mexico is known as the Harley Mammoth Locality named after the hiker who found it. Scientists examined the mammoth bones using CAT scans and determined the mammoths were butchered by humans. The skulls were broken to extract the calorie-rich brains. Ribs were removed from vertebrae–a logical step when breaking down a large mammal. Calorie-rich marrow was extracted from the bones as well. 6 chert flakes, debitage from toolmaking, were found in situ. And it appears as if some of the bones were used for fuel to cook fish over open campfires. Fish scales were found, though the site is 70 yards from the nearest source of water. There is no sign of carnivore scavenging, but the scientists did find termite and cicada burrows in the bones. Insects likely burrowed into the bones after they were slowly buried when rain over time washed sediment downslope over the bones. Later, wind eroded some of this sediment away, allowing Hartley to find some of this material.

Stones modified by tool-making found at the Hartley Mammoth Site dated to an incredible 37,000 years BP. Image from the below reference.
Mammoth bones with evidence of human butchering. From the Hartley Mammoth Site located in New Mexico. Image also from the below reference.

3 Indian tribes found in the Amazon Basin, including the Surui, Karitiana, and Xavanti, have a genetic marker suggesting some of their ancestry is related to the ancestors of Australian aborigines. This genetic marker is known as the Y population and is found in no other known populations of Indian tribes. The oldest known human skeleton in the Americas, the Anzick child from South Dakota, dates to about 12,900 years ago and does not have this genetic marker. This genetic evidence suggests 2 different populations colonized the Americas. Aborigines colonized Australia about 40,000 years ago, and it seems likely they were capable of long-distance sea travel then–a knowledge that was lost over time. Small groups of them may have discovered South America at about the same time their relatives found Australia. Maybe, they were so traumatized by harrowing sea journeys, they decided to stick to land, and over a generation they forgot how to travel by sea. I hypothesize populations of aborigines in America remained low over millennia and likely were always on the verge of extinction in the harsh environments of the Late Pleistocene. The later invasion of more technologically advanced Indians probably displaced the aborigines across most of their range with the exception of the Amazon Basin where they interbred. Perhaps, Indians were more dependent upon aborigine knowledge in the more challenging environment of the Amazon jungle.

3 tribes in the Amazon basin have a genetic signature shared with Australian aborigines. No other Indian tribes in the Americas have this signature. These tribes may be relics from a more widespread population that was displaced by Indians during the Late Pleistocene. Linguistic evidence also suggests the former existence of aborigines alongside Amerindians.

Apparently, aborigines didn’t have as negative an impact on megafauna populations as the Indians. They were fewer in number and never specialized in hunting megafauna, though they did occasionally kill large animals. They probably preferred exploiting small game and fish because it was less risky. Small aborigine tribes couldn’t risk casualties when hunting larger more dangerous animals.


Rowe, T. et. al.

“Human Occupation of the North American Colorado Plateau ~37,000 years ago”

Frontiers of Ecology and Evolution July 2022

The Mysterious Pygmy Man of Northern Sumatra and Digital Fakery

November 12, 2021

Cryptozoology is a waste of time. >99% of the time when a mysterious creature is spotted or caught on camera, it is determined to be an existing species or a fake. Bigfoot is a man in an ape suit. The television show, The Unexplained, lately airing on The Travel Channel, included a segment with a video showing a mysterious pygmy-like humanoid running away from motorcycle riders on a dirt road in the jungles of Sumatra. The video was released on social media during March of 2017 by Fred Pastrana who puts videos of his off road motor cycle riding club on Twitter. Allegedly, his club was riding on a dirt road in Sumatra when they encountered a strange pygmy-like man who ran away and disappeared in the tall grass. The lead motorcycle rider tipped over when the pygmy first appeared.

Analysts on the television show speculated the pygmy belonged to a surviving band of the Mante tribe that was thought to have gone extinct through interbreeding with the general population. However, analysts noticed the figure was too small even for a pygmy but could not be a child because it was built like an adult. Instead, they speculated the figure could be an individual related to the extinct species of human known as Homo floriensis. This species is believed to have been a dwarf offshoot of Homo erectus that lived on the Indonesian island of Flores between 190,000 years BP-50,000 years BP when they were probably wiped out by newly arriving Homo sapiens. H. floriensis grew to 3 feet 7 inches tall, and they used stone tools similar to those used by Australopithicus. Some anthropologists speculate H. floriensis might still exist and recent survivors are the source for a local legend, the ebu gogo–the cannibalistic grandmother. According to the legend, the ebu gogo are a tribe of small people who ate everything including farmer’s crops and the farmers themselves. They had a mumbling language, and the women had long breasts that they draped over their shoulders when they ran.

I carefully analyzed the video (watch it here ), and I suggest it is some form of digital fakery. The video is shot by a man in a trailing motorcycle. He is filming straight ahead and comes upon the lead motorcycle which allegedly crashed when first encountering the pygmy. There is something suspicious about this scene–the pygmy is nowhere to be seen in the frame.

Supposedly the cyclist crashed when he saw the pygmy man come out of the forest, but there is no pygmy man in this frame.

Next, the trailing motorcyclist briefly points the camera at the ground and when he points it straight again, the creature is suddenly in the frame. This is a clever trick because it disguises the insertion of a phony 3-D animated figure into the frame. The figure runs faster than an Olympic sprinter while the motorcyclist follows. The figure is wearing some kind of weird hat reminiscent of a video game character based on the Greek God Mercury. The hat doesn’t fall off, despite his amazingly fast sprint down the road. Finally, the figure disappears into the grass. The Indonesian government actually wasted money looking for this tribe in order to determine how to protect a people who don’t really exist. Maybe someone who plays video games will recognize what game this figure is from.

This is the first shot of the pygmy man. Just before this frame, the camera man cleverly points the camera to the ground before pointing it straight again. This is so the video doesn’t obviously look fake when they insert this image into the video.
Note the size comparison. The figure is too small to be a modern day pygmy, leading some to speculate that it is a surviving individual of an extinct species of dwarf man known as Homo floriensis. Instead, I suggest it is totally fake.
He’s clearly wearing some kind of weird hat. Why doesn’t the hat fall off when he is running this fast?
The figure slips into the tall grass never to be seen again. I suggest the figure is an image from a video game inserted into this video.

Middle Pleistocene Man (Homo heidelbergensis)

January 29, 2021

Many late Pleistocene animals evolved from middle Pleistocene ancestors that were different enough to be considered separate species.  Columbian mammoths (Mammuthus colombi) evolved from the southern mammoth (M. meridionalis), a shorter elephant with straighter tusks. Jefferson’s ground sloth (Megalonyx jeffersoni) evolved from Wheatley’s ground sloth (M. wheatleyi), and Smilodon fatalis evolved from the more lightly built S. gracilis, among many other examples.  The same is true for humans.  Both Homo sapiens and H. neanderthalis evolved from H. heidelbergensis, also known as Heidelberg man after discovery of the first specimen in Heidelberg, Germany during 1907.  Genetic evidence suggests modern humans diverged from Neanderthals between 750,000 years BP-550,000 years BP.  The population of Heidelberg man that lived in Europe evolved into H. neanderthalis, while the population of Heidelberg man that lived in Africa evolved into H. sapiens.  (The poorly known Denisovans diverged from Neanderthals.) Fossil evidence of Heidelberg man dates to between 600,000 years BP-300,000 years BP, though undoubtedly it occurred earlier than the fossil evidence indicates.  The oldest evidence of humans in Europe dates to 800,000 years ago and was found in Spain, but these specimens are considered an extinct sister species of Heidelberg man known as H. ancessor.

Homo Heidelbergensis: Forbears of Homo Sapiens - The Human Journey

Artist’s depiction of Homo heidelbergensis.  They were about the same height as modern men and had the same average brain capacity, but their jaws were distinctly different.

New insights on the wooden weapons from the Paleolithic site of Schöningen - ScienceDirect

The Schoningen spears, 330,000 year old projectile weapons used by Homo heidelbergensis.  They were found in a strip mine in Germany.  Archaeologists found 9 spears, 1 lance, a stick pointed on both ends, and a burned stick along with the remains of butchered horses next to a lakeshore.

Heidelberg man evolved from H. erectus.  Heidelberg man had a more human-like face and a larger brain capacity (averaging 1200 cc compared to 973 cc).  They had the same average brain size as modern day humans, and the main difference between the 2 is the shape of the jaw which was distinct.  Heidelberg man was the first species of human to colonize regions with cold climates.  To survive in harsher climates, they evolved to eat more meat.  In Europe this diet included elephant, rhino, bear, deer, boar, and horse; and in Africa they ate antelope and zebra.  They surely ate many different kinds of plants, but nothing is known of the vegetal part of their diet.  Heidelberg man had control of fire and used tools such as stone hand axes and wooden spears. In 1994 nine spears made of spruce wood were found in a German strip mine, and they dated to 330,000 years BP.  They are known as the Schoningen spears, and they were found associated with butchered horse bones.  Rapid rise of a lake level covered all this evidence in sediment and helped preserve it.

I have no doubt Heidelberg man could speak, though a minority of scientific opinion believes they could not.  The hyoid bone, important for speech, is well developed as are the middle ear bones used for understanding speech.  There is also evidence for right brain/left brain lateralization–one side of the brain is more dominant.  Brain lateralization suggests a brain used to speak and understand speech.  Heidelberg man hunted large mammals, an activity requiring cooperative hunting and therefore speech.

Specimens of Heidelberg man have been found in sites located in Germany, England, France, Greece, India, Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa.  I tried to find out exactly how many specimens have been discovered worldwide, but as far as I can determine no study has catalogued them all.

Heidelberg man likely occurred in low population numbers, fluctuating with boom and bust climatic conditions, and whole tribes often perished  when important members died.  One site in Germany where Heidelberg remains were found also yielded bones of saber-tooths (Homotherium), lions, leopards, hyenas, bear, elephant, red deer, and horse.  Unlike modern humans, Heidelberg man didn’t always win in competition with the predators they shared the landscape with.


Schoch, W.; G. Bigga, W. bohner, P. Richter, and T. Terberger

“New Insights on the Wooden Weapons from the Paleolithic Site of Schoningen”

Journal of Human Evolution 89 December 2015

The Pleistocene Christmas Tree

December 24, 2020

I’m hosting family this week for Christmas, and I don’t have time to work on a new blog article. Here is a rerun.


Christmas is a pagan holiday that probably originated during the Pleistocene.  Many of the pagan traditions associated with Christmas are rooted in northern European mythology, and they predate written records, so historians have no way of knowing for sure when they began. However, the celebration of the winter solstice was widespread throughout the ancient world, and people enjoyed this holiday thousands of years before the Judeo-Christian bible was ever written.  The wise men of the primitive world believed that the sun was a God.  This actually makes more sense than what the Abrahamic religions claim because life on earth does depend upon the sun.  The Abrahamic religions propose that a Supreme Being created the sun, but this belief leaves one to wonder who created the Supreme Being.  In a culture without scientific knowledge paganism seems just as logical if not more so than Judeo-Christianity.

The ancient thinkers noticed the days became shorter during…

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Cave Paintings of Megafauna in the Amazon Rain Forest

December 5, 2020

Archaeologists have been studying ancient paintings on cave and rock shelter walls in Cheribiquete National Park for over 30 years, but last year they discovered an 8 mile stretch that includes rare images of extinct megafauna.  Cheribiquete National Park is located in Colombia and covers 17,000 square miles–the largest tropical forest park in the world.  The newly discovered rock shelter walls are illustrated with images of a giant ground sloth and young, horse, llama, macrauchenia, gompothere, and perhaps bear.  An extinct species of horse known as hippidion lived in South America over 10,000 years ago.  The llama depicted on the wall maybe an extinct or extant species.  All the images are crudely drawn and don’t depict adequate details to distinguish species identification.  These may be the only images of a gompothere and macrauchenia that have ever been drawn by people who actually saw them alive.  Gompotheres were a mastodon-like animal, similar to elephants, but nothing like a macrauchenia lives today.  Their closest living relatives are rhinos, horses, and tapirs; but genetic evidence suggests they diverged from those odd toed ungulates 66 million years ago when dinosaurs became extinct.  Macrauchenia were adaptable animals capable of living in many different kinds of habitats, and they likely occupied a giraffe-like ecological niche because they had long necks.  Fossil remains of macrauchenia are not found anywhere near Cheribiquete National Park, showing how inadequate the fossil record is.


Rock art paintings of pre-historic megafauna.  The art work is poor, but I think they depict a ground sloth and young, gompothere (an animal similar to a mastodon), a llama, an horse, and a bear or another ground sloth?, and a macrauchenia.  It looks like a man is hunting the gompothere (a juvenile?) with a club or atlatl.  It also looks like a man has his armed raised at the ground sloth, but the atlatl isn’t drawn.  In another image it looks like the man is stabbing the bear in the side.

Colombia expands Chiribiquete National Park

The Natives must have used ladders to paint these figures on some of the rock shelters.  They are much higher than a human can reach.  Archaeologists used drones to photograph some of them.

Archaeologists suggest the natives scaled the high rock shelter walls to paint these images.  I think it is more likely they used ladders to reach these heights.  The paintings are thought to vary in age from about 15,000 years BP to the 16th century.  Apparently, natives stopped painting walls shortly after European contact perhaps because the culture shock of this interaction destroyed American civilizations.  The paintings themselves can’t be radio-carbon dated because the substance used was inorganic.  European cave paintings were drawn with charcoal and can be radio-carbon dated.

Some of the articles reporting this discovery are written by people who assume the presence of the animals depicted on the rock shelter walls is evidence of a different local environment during the Late Pleistocene than occurs there today.  This is not necessarily true.  Macrauchenia was a generalist species, and gompotheres likely preferred dense forests.  Clearings in the forest created by gompothere foraging may have sustained populations of horses and llamas.

In addition to the extensive rock shelter drawings, Cheribiquete National Park is home to 82 species of mammals (52 of them bats), an astonishing 410 species of birds, 60 species of reptiles, 57 species of amphibians, 238 species of fish, and over 200 species of butterflies.  Notable animals include jaguars, cougars, monkeys, armadillos, peccaries, tapirs, scarlet macaws, emerald hummingbirds, and harpy eagles.  The park has great potential as a tourist destination.  Unfortunately, it is also an hideout for thousands of FARC rebels.  FARC is an organization that basically is a bunch of communist gangsters who kidnap people for ransom and sell cocaine.  FARC battled the Colombian government for 40 years before finally signing a peace agreement recently, but the region is still not safe enough for tourism.

Pleistocene Alcohol

November 28, 2020

Our evolutionary ancestors accidentally got drunk when they binged on fermented fruit. This still happens to modern day species of monkeys and apes dependent upon fruit for a major part of their diet. In warm tropical regions the sugar in overripe fruits naturally ferments into alcohol when airborne yeast attaches to mold growing on the fruit. Modern humans discovered the fermentation process during the Pleistocene, though evidence is scant. The oldest known evidence of humans deliberately manufacturing alcohol comes from Raqefet Cave near Haifa, Israel, and it dates to 13,000 years BP. Archaeologists actually call the site a brewery. They found traces of barley and wheat beer in stone containers. Bread is likely just a byproduct of beer-making. The euphoria from alcohol consumption is addicting and far more motivating than satisfying hunger with bread when they had plenty of fish and venison to eat and could cook grains into cereal. Archaeologists also discovered evidence of early wine-making in northern China that dates to 9,000 years ago. This wine was made with honey, rice, and grape and/or hawthorn fruit. The latter is a small apple-like fruit that grows on scrubby bushes.

Microscope World Blog: Kids Science Microscope Activity: Yeast

Natural yeast present in the atmosphere converts sugar to alcohol and also makes bread rise.

13,000-Year-Old Brewery Found in Israel | Archaeology |

Location of Raqefet Cave and photos of the actual stone mortars used 13,000 years ago to store beer.  This ancient beer tasted nothing like modern beer.  It was sour and yeasty tasting.  Hops weren’t added to beer until the Middle Ages. Image from

Humans probably discovered, forgot, then rediscovered how to make alcohol dozens of times during the Pleistocene.  Humans have independently discovered the fermentation process at multiple sites around the world just in the past 6,000 years.  However, Pleistocene humans mostly used skins or wooden containers.  Evidence from such organic materials has long since decayed into dust, and the hypothesis that humans commonly manufactured alcohol for tens of thousands of years is impossible to prove.

I think alcohol is the most wonderful all-purpose medicine ever discovered by man.  For myself I prescribe alcohol to treat depression, anxiety attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, Parkinson’s tremors, insomnia, back-ache, stomach-ache, tooth-ache, and erectile disfunction.  If I ever went to a doctor, he would prescribe 9 different drugs to treat each of these different problems.  Imagine how much that would cost.  I’d be spending half my life waiting in the pharmacy.  Oh yeah, and I also use alcohol to get high.  It’s what helps me get through the daily drudgery of my pathetic existence.


Alex, Bridget

“The Search for the World’s Oldest Alcohol”

Discovery Magazine June 2019

McGovern, P. et. al.

“Fermented Beverages of Pre-and Proto- Historic China”

PNAS December 2004


Monsters from Georgia

October 31, 2020

The natural world scares many people.  They freak out when they encounter a snake or a spider.  Not me.  I think they are interesting creatures and not something to fear.  For my annual Halloween blog article I could write about snakes or spiders or some ferocious dinosaur or pre-historic mammal that formerly roamed Georgia, but I don’t consider them monsters.  They killed for food, territory, or mates; and their behavior was largely instinctual.  The most terrifying monsters in the history of Georgia are our fellow human beings.  Below is a short summary of the most heinous monsters in Georgia history.

All Confederate soldiers were monsters.  They were fighting, whether they realized it or not, for the institution of slavery.  The Confederacy used extremist militias to take over an entire region of the country, sparking a 5 year conflict that included family members and relatives killing each other.  After the Civil War was over, southern sympathizers imagined and put into writing a revisionist version of what the conflict was about.  The war was over slavery and nothing else.  All the southern state legislatures and governors admitted they were seceding from the Union to preserve the institution of slavery. (You can find these historical documents online.) I believe their confessions. Later revisionists were simply a bunch of cry babies who wanted to pretend  southerners were victims, even though they brought their destruction down upon themselves.  The Confederate soldiers were not victims–they were all slave-owners, sons of slave-owners, or poor shmucks who aspired to be slave-owners.  

Georgia Confederate Muster Rolls |

Confederate soldiers from Georgia. They claim they fought for States Rights.  Yeah, the right of states to keep slavery legal.

The next generation of Georgia monsters included racists who lynched innocent black people.  Now, most of the monsters on my list in this article look like ordinary people, but the monsters in the below photo look like refugees from the movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Just think.  Their grandchildren post pro-Trump propaganda on Facebook today.  Facebook won’t let them use the N-word on their platform, but they have enough influence with Facebook for the platform to ban the word, White Trash, as if it is an equivalent.  (I am currently blocked from posting for 24 hours for saying conservatives = White Trash.)  It’s a false equivalency.  The word, White Trash, refers to a mindset more than a race.

The lynching of a black man in Royston, Ga., around 1935.

Scary bunch of rednecks.

Eugene Talmadge served as Georgia’s governor from 1933-1937 and from 1941-1943.  He won re-election in 1946 but croaked of liver cirrhosis before he could serve in office a third time.  In the 1946 election he lost the popular vote but won the election anyway because Georgia had a rule that whoever won the most counties won the election.  Sound familiar?  Talmadge was an ardent segregationist who believed in slave labor.  He claimed to be a populist (like Trump) but supported the interests of wealthy landowners (like Trump).  He had striking textile workers arrested and put into POW camps.  He complained to President Roosevelt about New Deal public works programs that paid better than local farmers who were used to cheating poor people into working for obscenely low wages.  Talmadge wasn’t much of a reader, but he did read Hitler’s Mein Kampf 7 times, and he sympathized with both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  In turn Germany’s Nazi Party praised Talmadge.  Talmadge attended KKK meetings and bragged about how he flogged black sharecroppers.  As governor, he fired de-segregationists serving on the University of Georgia’s Board of Regents, setting back integration there for decades.  Talmadge was also behind a lynching that resulted in the deaths of 2 young African-American couples.

Eugene Talmadge, Georgia Governor.jpg

Eugene Talmadge, Georgia’s governor for 2 terms during the 1930s and 1940s, read Mein Kampf 7 times and was praised by Germany’s Nazi Party.  He was an ardent segregationist.

William Calley commanded the platoon that murdered 504 old men, women, and children at the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.  He personally shot 22 of them.  Of the 14 men who took part in this war crime, he was the only 1 convicted.  He received a slap on the wrist–3 years of house arrest.  He should have been given the death penalty.  He went on to work in his father-in-law’s jewelry store in Columbus, Georgia.  Most of his customers hade no idea they were buying rings and wristwatches from a monster.

I sent them a good boy and they made him a murderer' - The Pulitzer Prizes

William Calley was found guilty of killing 22 innocent civilians during the My Lai massacre.

Wayne Williams raped and murdered at least 23 teenaged boys during the late 1970s in Atlanta.  He still claims he is innocent, and some of the victim’s parents believe him, but the evidence against him is overwhelming.  He posed as a talent agent to lure his victims into trusting him.  Police caught him throwing a body off a bridge into the Chattahoochee River in the middle of the night, and the murders suddenly stopped when he was taken into custody.  Moreover, 2 witnesses identified Wayne as the person who attempted to sexually assault them before they escaped.  Some additional murders attributed to Wayne may have been committed by other unknown monsters.

Where Is Wayne Williams, Suspect From Atlanta Child Murders Now?

Wayne Williams raped and murdered dozens of black teenagers.  He still claims his innocence, though the police caught him throwing a body off a bridge and the killings stopped once he became incarcerated.