Caveman Ancestors and Woke Politics

After yesterday’s travel, today was a day of rest.  I decided to look around for something fun to think about.  I found an article from August that explored the relation of archaic humans to us and to each other.  A lot of it was a rehash of discoveries made over the last few years in Siberia concerning Neanderthals and Denisovans.  If you’ve read about this, DNA analysis has shown that several of the fossils they found have mixed Neanderthal and Denisovan parentage.  Even this discovery alone is revolutionary.  But the story gets more and more complicated.  Apparently modern humans cross-bred with both of these hominid cousins back before they went extinct.  Apparently, all non-African humans have small but significant amounts of both Neanderthal and Denisovan genetic heritage.  This is due to the fact that both these species left Africa before the dawn of Homo sapiens.  Modern humans caught up with them in Eurasia.  And also interestingly, there are three separate populations of Denisovans and they have each interacted with humans differently.  One group has a more significant genetic residue among Australian aborigines and neighboring islanders than with any other human grouping.  While the genetic trace of another Denisovan population is detected more strongly among East Asians.

Then there are the other archaic humans who have not yet been shown to have left any mark on the human genome but survived to very recently, barely missing historic times.  The diminutive species Homo floresiensis and Homo luzonensis lived in Southeast Asia and may have survived until as recently as ten thousand years ago.  No DNA evidence has been recovered yet for these species but the way things have been developing I would be surprised if it didn’t.

All of this stuff is fascinating just as science.  But what it also does is open a window on the complicated history of the human family.  By the standards of current biological science humanity is a series of populations that include varying genetic donations from different species.  At the very least we are a hybrid species.  And this is based on just the first few years of ancient DNA analysis.  And if we were unafraid of outraging the always outraged, we would refer to human races as subspecies as we do with every snake, frog or mouse species that has local variants.  After all every hill in a rain forest is allowed to have a separate frog subspecies based on color or how many spots they sport on their backs.  Either that or we should go the other way and eliminate subspecies from these other animals and just group all these creatures together.  But that would wreak havoc with the endangered species grift that the government uses to restrict people from draining the puddles in their yards for fear of wiping out the nineteen-spot salamander that lives adjacent to the eighteen-spot salamander in the next puddle.

But I digress.  The point is that humans are in no way, shape or form homogeneous.  Even in highly isolated populations people are individuals.  And they differ in a million ways.  Even within a family someone is smarter, taller, stronger, funnier or happier.  The bigger the family, the more obvious this is.

The fact that we haven’t been able to come to terms with this at the global level is pathetic.  This whole idea of equity is obviously dishonest.  The idea that somehow a secret society of white supremacists is keeping down everyone else is moronic.  What has happened is through propaganda and reverse racism we’ve disincentivized the under-class from applying themselves at honest work.  The fact that there are plenty of African Americans succeeding in various professions disproves the white supremacy trope.  And allowing this lie to exist is horribly destructive.

It occurred to me that if we found some corner of the Amazonian jungle where by some miracle of fate a last village of Denisovans had survived in isolation we would try to force them to become doctors, lawyers, engineers and tech company CEOs in the carefully calculated demographic ratio.  Even if they couldn’t fathom what a CEO was.

There’s a blindness that I assume is intentional.  And now we’ve extended it to such absurd ideas as allowing men to compete in women’s sports to keep up the pretense that transgenderism is a real thing.  Well, anyway, it was a good read.  Back to the salt mine.

Dragon Man – The Human Family Tree is Getting More Crowded and More Interesting

A recent report describes a very well preserved skull that was discovered in China in the 1930’s during the Japanese occupation and hidden away until the last couple of years and then handed over to paleontologists.  It is believed to be the skull of one of the species of human relatives of modern man.  It is a “hominin” species that is being described as Homo longi, or Dragon Man.

The skull is very reminiscent of the Neanderthal Man skull although it seems even closer to modern man in ways.  It has the prominent eye ridges, larger teeth and large brain cavity that characterizes Neanderthals.  But the face is flatter, the jaw more human-like.

What is in dispute is whether this represents a complete skull of the Denisovan Man.  The Denisovans were another early human species whose remains and DNA have been found in Siberia and Tibet.  The fossil evidence available is currently very limited.  It consists of a few finger bones and a small amount of jaw and teeth.  But interestingly, there is enough DNA material available to show that Denisovans have left some of their DNA in us and in fact cross-bred with both humans and Neanderthals.

The speculation is that the first homo sapiens or its close ancestor reached the north and split into two populations the Neanderthals ended up in Europe and the Near East.  The Denisovans went East and inhabited Asia.  And this is a simplification because there are several other species of hominins that were still extant in Eurasia.  Homo erectus, H. luzonensis, H. heidelbergensis and H. naledi existed in that same period of time (from a million years ago to fairly recently).

Later waves of Homo sapiens would then meet up with this first wave and then coexist, compete, mix with and ultimately displace these near relatives.  What is clear from this story line is that humans have constantly evolved to adapt to their changing environment as they migrated from Africa to Eurasia.  What is less comfortable for people today to discuss is the amount of genetic diversity that exists in the family of man.  In any other animal group, we would describe the existing races of man as species, or at least subspecies, that intergrade into each other at the edges of their geographical ranges.  And of course, the reality of the cosmopolitan nature of modern human civilization means that all these subspecies are rapidly mixing to form new variations.  And what the DNA evidence has shown us is that the migratory tendencies of human groups have repeatedly stirred the pot of human genetic groupings.  When the people that would become the ancestors of the Indo-Europeans began their treks westward and eastward, they spread their language and their genetic material from India to Britain.  Similar migrations have occurred right into nineteenth century with the colonization by the Europeans around the world.  And the present mania over diversity has further mixed things up.

But regardless of the semantic description of human genetics, it is fascinating to see just how dynamic our lineage is.  Apparently, the changes in terrain, climate and food resources have quickly selected for changes in the human form and physiology.  Some people have claimed that human technology has now eliminated the possibility of human physical evolution.  But that is simply not true.  In the last ten thousand years the human brain has evolved based on selection for complex thinking needed in more complex human societies.  This leads to further refinements and selects for individuals that can survive and thrive in the complex and changing environment that is our human world.  What this tells us is that we become what we need to be in order to adapt to our environment.  What this tells me is that we need to choose wisely how we organize our society.  It would be a shame to see our remarkable species end up as an ant colony.