PIE vs. Proto-World (Out of Africa)

X99Lynx at aol.com X99Lynx at aol.com
Tue Aug 24 16:47:24 UTC 1999

I quoted:
"Researchers have long believed that the ability to make modern human speech
sounds did not develop until about 40,000 years ago."

In a message dated 8/24/99 2:43:15 AM, larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk wrote:

<<*Some* researchers.  Not all, not most, not even -- I think -- a bare
majority.  Just some, and most of the ones I have encountered have been
anthropologists or archeologists, not linguists or biologists.>>

I can only believe this is a confusion in terms.  Paleoanthropology is really
paleobiology and nothing else.  (Cultural anthropology really doesn't have
much to say or go by at the time periods we are talking about.)
Fundamentally we are talking about nothing but bones.  And proof of "modern
human speech" is not exactly recoverable from the very small sample of
hominid bones we are talking about.

The UCal paper I took the quote from I believe reflects the view that the
robustness of earlier jaw formations (weak chin) that is evidenced in early
homo sapiens sapiens is indistinquishable from much earlier specimens and
does not approximate modern form until about 40,000BCE

<<*Some* researchers, in fact, want to assign language to our hominid
ancestors, *Homo erectus*.  But, so far as I can judge, the majority
view is still that language most likely arose with our own species,
100,000-200,000 years ago.>>

Are you saying "language" or are you saying "the ability to make modern human
speech sounds?"  I can pull at least 50 papers by "biologists" that use
"language" not in reference to humans, but to apes and birds.

If anyone - not a creationist - is identifying "modern human speech" with
100,000 years ago, they are surmising - and nothing more - based on the Out
of Africa theory, which has its problems.

As far as your term 'our own species', I think that is the core of the

"Homo sapiens" does not first magically appear at a magical @100,000BP.
Homo erectus apparently in many places dies out as early as 250,000BP.  But
there is a whole category of remains labeled "Homo sapiens (archaic)" dating
from as early as 500,000BP that early on share erectus and sapiens
characteristics.  There is no reason to think Homo sapiens archaic was not
'our own species."  There is no clear "moment of creation" demarcation
between "Homo erectus" and "Homo sapiens" or between "Homo sapiens (archaic)"
and "Homo sapiens sapiens."  (That perception is really a result of the DNA
tests that put the day of creation sometime in the middle of Homo sapiens
archaic period.)

It's important to remember that the hominids of these periods may not
represent different species at all.

If we generally define "species" as the ability to reproduce, then you may
not even be able to exclude Neanderthals from "our own species."

See Duarte C., Mauricio J., Pettitt P.B., Souto P., Trinkaus E., van der
Plicht H. et al. (1999): The early upper Paleolithic human skeleton from
the Abrigo do Lagar Velho (Portugal) and modern human emergence in
Iberia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 96:7604-9.
(24,500-year-old skeleton of a young boy found in Portugal contains
characteristics of both modern human and Neandertals, and is evidence that
the two groups interbred.)

And it is not clear that the shared characteristics of early Homo sapiens and
later Homo erectus do not represent interbreeding.
See Swisher C.C. III, Rink W.J., Anton S.C., Schwarcz H.P., Curtis G.,
Supryo A., and Widiasmoro (1996): Latest Homo erectus of Java: potential
contemporaneity with Homo sapiens in southeast Asia. Science

There is however evidence from DNA apparently recovered from Neanderthal
remains of separate speciation.  (Kahn P. and Gibbons A. (1997): DNA from an
extinct human. Science, 277:176-8.
Krings M., Stone A., Schmitz R.W., Krainitzki H., Stoneking M., and
Paabo S. (1997): Neandertal DNA sequences and the origin of modern
humans. Cell, 90:19-30.)

However its not clear that this justifies a separate species status for Homo
sapiens neanderthalensis, if interbreeding is the test.

The conclusion that modern humans made some kind of a biological leap, not
part of a continuum of expected development from prior forms is not justified
by the evidence.  Even if we found evidence of a Garden of Eden or
extraterrestials, the patterns are of gradual transition from one form to
another and that's all that we have in front of us.

<<Given the apparent biological centrality of our language faculty, it is
for many of us exceedingly difficult to imagine biologically modern
human beings without language.>>

Once again, what do you mean by language?
1. the ability to communicate?
2. the act of speaking?
3. Saussurian language systems?

The apparent "biological centrality of our" ability to speak in general may
send us back 500,000 years or earlier.  Our ability to communicate goes back
much further - the apes have it.  Language systems (as opposed to the act of
speaking) - many of us believe are not biological and that we thought them up
- like we did other complex enhancements to what nature gave us.  She didn't
give us wings, but we can fly.  She didn't give us fins, but we can swim
under the polar caps.  And who would have expected even 20,000 years ago that
with what was given us, we could have invented the modern hotel piano bar -
much less modern language systems.

<<...it is for many of us exceedingly difficult to imagine biologically modern
human beings without language.>>

I say this with respect.  As difficult as it would have been for the writers
of Genesis to picture homo erectus instead of Adam and Eve, so it is
difficult for us to picture humans not looking typically human, speaking and
even noticing they were naked on day one.  This is a natural anachronism.
The trouble is that there was no day one.

Unless there was a reasonably long period when humans could not speak in a
modern sense and reasonably long periods when humans could barely 'speak', we
are dealing with an unaccountable aberration in how such traits - biological
or not - normally evolve.

<<But the multiregional hypothesis requires that our species should have
emerged, not in a single location, but over a vast area of the globe, by
continued gene-flow.  And I have never heard of a *single* other species
which is known or believed to have originated in such a way.  Has anybody

I think you've misunderstood.

Multiregionalism merely means that the modern human population can be traced
back to multiple locations in the past - not one - UNLESS you go back about
say 2 million years.  That's all it says.  Picture a species dispersing,
evolving into different strains, and then interbreeding along the way.

An example?  Think dogs.  First picture the original wolf-dog.  Call him
"Adam".  Then picture a dispersal of dogs here, there, everywhere.  Then
simply recall the fact that a Chinese Pug and a Great Dane (or maybe a
Chihuahua and a St Bernard) can mate and reproduce.  (But don't picture it,
please.)  It doesn't mean there was more than one "Adam".  But it does mean
that what we call "the modern dog" - the dog species - has changed a great
deal, and that those changes happened in many different locations (i.e.,
multiregionalism), since Adam came along.

Steve Long

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