Posts Tagged ‘Homo sapiens’

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


Homo sapiens is a Meat-Eater

December 9, 2018

An Hindu vegetarian didn’t like my blog post, “Native American Cannibalism and Dog-Eating,” (See: ).  In the comments section he went on a long rant, explaining how humans are frugivores (fruit-eaters) and how humans aren’t anatomically built to eat meat.  He also has a pro-vegetarian website, promoting the same pseudo-science and misinterpretations of scientific facts that he wrote about in my comments section.  He claims meat-eating has been rare throughout human history, and our evolutionary ancestors ate a plant-based diet.  While it may be true that our very ancient ancestors lived on a diet of leaves and fruit with the occasional bird’s egg or insect, humans have evolved significant differences in dietary requirements and capabilities since then.  Meat is actually much easier for humans to digest than plant foods.  For example humans digest 97% of beef but just 89% of flour and 65% of most vegetables.

The ability of humans to digest large quantities of meat helped them survive the harsh climatic conditions of the Pleistocene when edible plant foods often became an unreliable or scarce resource.  If it wasn’t for man’s ability to eat meat, Homo sapiens would likely have become extinct. The added protein also contributed to brain development, making humans more intelligent.  The human brain is a large fatty organ that requires lots of protein.  The larger brain gave humans a crucial advantage over competing species.

The vegetarian’s response to my blog article made me curious about man’s diet during the Ice Age, so I searched for scientific studies of stable isotopic analysis of ancient human remains.  Scientists can determine the past diet of organisms by analyzing their bone chemistry.  I found 2 studies and was surprised to learn just how dependent upon meat at least some populations of humans were.

Image result for neanderthals hunting rhino

Neanderthals relied heavily upon rhino and mammoth meat.

One study determined Neanderthals (H. neanderthalis) enjoyed a diet that was 80% animal and 20% plant.  The authors of this study looked at Neanderthal specimens from Troisiemo Cave in Belgium.  Apparently, Neanderthals relied heavily upon mammoth and rhino for their diet.  Other carnivores in the region fed more on horse, bison, and caribou.  Some scientists believed H. sapiens displaced Neanderthals because they had more flexibility in their diet.  But a 2nd study debunks this notion.  Scientists analyzed the bones of 3 anatomically modern human skeletons from Buran-Kay III, a rock shelter located in Crimea.  The specimens dated to between 37,000 years BP-33,000 years BP–shortly after the most recent date of Neanderthals.  They found these early humans also had a meat heavy diet, though they “possibly” ate more plant foods than Neanderthals.  This population of humans ate Saiga antelope, red deer, horse, and hare; but mammoth was their most important source of food. This study suggests H. sapiens competed with H. neanderthalis for the same food resources.

Image result for bloody sliced sirloin steak

The vegetarian claimed meat is not appetizing and kept comparing it to “roadkill.”  Meat looks appetizing to me.

Image result for dry rub ribs

I’ll eat this roadkill every time.

Humans have continued to evolve since the Pleistocene.  The agricultural revolution has made plant foods more available, and the human body has evolved to eat more of them.  So, I don’t agree with the paleo-diet fad either.  I believe in eating a balanced diet that includes all 4 food groups.


Drucker, D; et. al.

“Isotopic Analysis Suggests Mammoth and Plants in the Diet of the Oldest Anatomically Modern Humans from far Southeastern Europe”

Scientific Reports 2017

Wilburg, C.; et. al.

“Isotopic Evidence for Dietary Ecology of Late Neanderthals in Northwestern Europe”

Quaternary International 2015

6 Scariest Species to have Ever Lived in Georgia

October 30, 2016

6. The Hell Pigs

Vicious entelodonts lived on earth from the late Eocene to the mid Miocene (for over 20 million years).  They were 4 feet tall and reached weights of 930 pounds.

Entelodonts are known as hell pigs because their fossil remains represent a once terrifying animal that resembled a giant pig.  They occurred across most of the Northern Hemisphere, and there were many species over time.  Entelodonts existed between 37.2 million years BP-16.3 million years BP.  Although they resembled pigs, anatomical evidence suggests they were more closely related to the common ancestor of hippos and whales.  Enteledonts were 4 feet tall and weighed up to 930 pounds.  They were fast runners, and paleontologists believe they rammed into their prey, knocking their victims down and biting them until their bones were broken, probably similar to the way hippos kill humans in Africa today.  Fossil evidence of enteledonts has been found in Twiggs and Houston Counties in Georgia.  The tooth found in Houston County compares favorably with Archaeotherium, a once widespread species of enteledont.


Entelodont tooth found in Bonaire, Georgia.  I am not the author who took a photo of this tooth. This photo was made by Thomas Thurman and it’s from his website.

4. (tie) The Giant Short-faced Bear (Arctodus simus) and the Saber-toothed Cat (Smilodon fatalis)

I can’t decide which 1 of these was more frightening.  Giant short-faced bears were on average as large as Kodiak bears–the largest subspecies of brown bear ( Ursus arctos ).  However, they probably made a lot of noise and could be easily detected and avoided.  Saber-tooths were ambush predators and could sneak up on prey in the dark or in thickly vegetated habitat.  Arctodus was much larger, weighing about 1000 pounds compared to ~350 pounds for Smilodon.  But the latter was very powerful and sported fangs.  Fossil evidence of this big cat has been found in all of the states bordering Georgia.  Fossil evidence of Arctodus has turned up in an Alabama county adjacent to Georgia as well as several sites in Florida.  Both undoubtedly once ranged into Georgia.

Image result for arctodus simus

Giant short-faced bear and saber-toothed catThe illustration of this saber-tooth is inaccurate.  Smilodon had a bob-tail and their forelimbs were much more powerfully built than depicted here.

3. Appalachiosaurus


Image result for appalachiosaurus

Appalachiosaurus terrorized upstate Georgia during the late Cretaceous.

Appalachiosaurus was a species of tyrannosaur that lived on the eastern side of the Western Interior Seaway during the late Cretaceous (~80 million years BP-65 million years BP).  They were the top land predator, probably hunting hadrosaurs or anything else they could catch.  Fossil evidence of this species has been excavated from Hannahatchee Creek near Columbus, Georgia.  The type specimen, a nearly complete skeleton, was found in Alabama.

2. Deinosuchus rugosus

Image result for deinosuchus rugosus

Evidence suggests Deinosuchus rugosus ate tyrannosaurs.

This extinct crocodylian, a relative of alligator ancestors, grew to an estimated 36 feet long and weighed up to 17,000 pounds.  They were large and powerful enough to seize and drag a tyrannosaur into the water, and there is some fossil evidence they preyed upon them.  They likely ate dinosaurs as a significant part of their diet.  Fossil evidence of this species has also been found in Hannahatchee Creek as well as the Chattahoochee River in Georgia.

1. Man (Homo sapiens)

Image result for atomic bomb mushroom cloud

Homo sapiens is clearly the scariest species to have ever walked on earth.  Here is a photo of an atomic bomb mushroom cloud.  Humans can wipe out entire cities with nuclear weapons.

Human beings construct weapons of mass destruction capable of turning livable habitat into uninhabitable wasteland.  I can’t think of anything scarier than that.

Did Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalis) really Interbreed with Humans (Homo sapiens)?

June 26, 2015

Warning: Do not read this blog entry, if you are younger than 18.  The nude images might cause blindness.

A new study published in the scientific journal, Nature, of a 40,000 year old skull suggests Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalis) interbred with humans (Homo sapiens).  This particular specimen, found in Romania, is thought to be 6%-9% Neanderthal, and the authors of this study think this individual had a great-great-great-great Neanderthal grandparent.  He left no living  descendants, but other studies of Neanderthal DNA determined Homo sapiens and Homo neandetheralis did hybridize, and some modern Europeans and Asians might be 1%-3% Neanderthal.  The media likes this story, and a study casting doubt on the assumptions used to identify past hybridization is being ignored.  I didn’t even see the study listed in the new journal article’s references, so the scientists involved in Neanderthal DNA studies are unaware of the article or are ignoring it as well.

The ignored study, referenced below, was written by A. Ericksson and A. Manica.  They write “tests for hybridization rely on the degree to which different modern populations share genetic polymorphisms with genomes of other hominins.”  A polymorphism is defined as 2 clearly different phenotypes existing in the same population of a species.  A phenotype is the composite of an organisms observable characteristics.  For example a population of humans could consist of big blondes and small brunettes–2 different phenotypes.  The authors of this study show that examples of shared polymorphism attributed to hybridization could actually have originated before H. neanderthalis and H. sapiens diverged over 200,000 years ago.  Both species of humans evolved from H. heidelbergensis.  The population of H. heidelbergensis that colonized Europe evolved into H. neanderthalis.  The population of H. heidelbergensis that stayed in Africa until ~45,000 years ago evolved into H. sapiens.  An Asian colonization evolved into the poorly known Denisovans.

The authors of this study believe their findings don’t rule out the possibility of hybridization in Europe, but they urge “caution” when making the assumption that hybridization occurred.  To determine whether or not the degree of shared polymorphism was the result of hybridization or was part of an earlier genetic pattern from the founding population structure would require DNA from a specimen pre-dating the divergence of these 2 species.  Viable DNA can’t be extracted from specimens that old.


Representation of a female Neanderthal based on DNA studies.  Note the red hair.  Neanderthals had red hair.

Nude female Homo sapiens.  Human women are much cuter than Homo neanderthalis.  Moreover, female Neanderthals were probably considerably stronger than male Homo sapiens.  I doubt the 2 species interbred.  Genetic studies can’t discern certain hybridization without studying the DNA of the ancestral common ancestor of both species.  This is impossible because those fossils are too old to harbor DNA.

I doubt H. sapiens bred with H. neanderthalis.  The 2 populations of humans had been isolated from each other for over 200,000 years.  Behavior patterns likely dramatically differed. Facial features were significantly different, and I think they didn’t recognize each other as mating material.  Neanderthals were intelligent ambush predators that used thrusting weapons, and they were physically more powerful than humans.  But humans were smarter and had developed projectile weapons.  Humans ate a wider variety of foodstuffs, contributing to greater fertility.  I think humans wiped out Neanderthals within a few thousand years.  Assimilation was unlikely.


Ericksson, A.; and A. Manica

“Effect of Ancient Population Structure on the Degree of Polymorphism Shared between Modern Human Populations and Ancient Hominins”

PNAS 2012

Homo sapiens is the Only Evil Species

January 21, 2013

Humans bestowed the scientific name of Panthera atrox upon the extinct Pleistocene lion that used to live in North America.  The Latin word, atrox, means terrible, cruel, horror.  How arrogant and unfair for the only truly evil species to ever walk the earth to refer to another species as a terrible cruel horror.  Sure, other species besides man commit violent acts such as cannibalism, fratricide, and the killing of young sired by another male.  But these behaviors follow the rules of surivival of the fittest.  They are examples of animal behavior shaped by evolution.  Man, however, is the only species that murders and commits other despicable acts for reasons not based on activities necessary for survival.

The animal that comes closest to matching the evil of Homo sapiens is our closest living relative–Pan troglodytes, also known as the chimpanzee.  They fight intertribal wars, and occasionally kill members of their own tribes, including infants.  Upon further contemplation, these behaviors still fall within the rules of survival of the fittest.  Chimp wars are fought over natural resources, and murdering fellow troop members may solve disputes over hierarchy–again another Darwinian survival advantage.  Even ants, which are practically pre-programmed automatons, fight wars.  So I can’t really convince myself that chimpanzees are an evil species.

Man is the only species that commits mass genocide, even when resources are not scarce.  Throughout history, genocides have never followed the evolutionary rules of survival of the fittest, nor have they been based on any kind of rational thought.  Tyrants have never ordered the killings of thousands or millions of people because they were afraid they or their biological kin were in danger of starving to death.   The fight over natural resources explains, if not justifies, human wars, but there is no evolutionary explanation for genocide.  Genocide is simply used to terrorize a population, oftentimes so an egomaniac can maintain political control.  But egomaniacs are well aware that they could survive and reproduce as an individual without ever becoming a famous tyrant.  The people who aid the tyrant also know killing mass numbers of people is not necessary for their own well being and reproduction.

Victims of the Nazis–a mass grave of Jews.  No other species devotes so much energy to genocide.  Survival of the human species doesn’t require genocide.  It’s difficult to explain the evolutionary advantage of genocide.

The German people were heavily criticized after World War II for their role in the Holocaust which would have never been possible without their cooperation.  Germans convicted of war crimes claimed they were merely following orders.  Stanley Milgram, a Jewish psychologist, wondered if all humans had a tendency to submit to authority, even if it meant performing acts they knew were morally wrong.  So he designed a now famous experiment: A person was told to administer shocks to an unseen subject who could be heard.  The subject was actually an actor who was not really given electric shocks.  An authority figure (an alleged professor) gently urged the person to continue adminstering increasing levels of electrical shock, while the actor went from expressing mild discomfort to groans to screams to begging for the experiment to stop because of his heart condition to silence and assumed unconciousness or death.  Prior to this experiment, Milgram polled psychologists on what they thought the results would be.  Psychologists thought on average that only 3% of participants would continue shocking the subject til the silence implied he might have died.  The results were shocking–66% completed the experiment, though many showed signs of stress, as if they knew what they were doing was wrong.  This experiment has been repeated numerous times with similar results, most recently on a Discovery Channel special entitled “How Evil Are You?” that aired in 2011.  The experiment shows that an authority figure can influence most people to endanger and kill other people.  All it takes is a little gentle prodding.

A bizarre incident highlights this evil element that makes up part of what is known as humanity.  A man posing as a police officer used an untraceable disposable phone to call a McDonalds in Mt. Washington, Kentucky and convince the manager to strip search an employee in a backroom because she had allegedly stolen money from a customer’s purse.  Eventually, he convinced her to call her boyfriend to watch over the poor, naked, teenaged girl.  While the manager went back to work, the perverted creep convinced the manager’s boyfriend to severely spank the employee’s naked butt, then ordered the girl to give the man a blowjob.  Both complied.  A security camera captured the whole episode as seen in this youtube clip from an episode of 20/20.

The creep on the phone was a Florida prison guard named David Stewart.  Police eventually caught him but not before he (and possibly others) made over 100 similar calls.  The manager was sentenced to 1 year probation; her boyfriend received a 5 year prison sentence.  The victim sued McDonalds and won a $6 million lawsuit, later settled out of court for a lesser amount.  McDonald’s was negligent because they were aware of similar calls and had failed to alert their employees of the perverted hoax.

No other animal is capable of such evil.  A man destroyed other people’s lives because it gave him sexual satisfaction.  And people were too weak-willed to simply hang up the telephone.

This incident was recently dramatized in the movie Compliance.  Test audiences at the initial screening of Compliance unfairly accused the producer of misogyny and exploitation.  The makers of the movie were merely showing a truth about the human condition.  Outraged audience members missed the whole point of the movie.  They should save their ire for all of humanity.

Dramatic portrayal from the movie Compliance based on a real life event that occurred when a pervert on a telephone convinced a store manager and her boyfriend to strip search, spank, and rape an employee.