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[Indo-Eurasia] Claimed population boom & Neandertal replacement

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  • Steve Farmer
    Resent to fix a Yahoo formatting error - SF **** I d like to add an important addendum to my last post. I haven t read any major objections to the paper by
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 30, 2011
      Resent to fix a Yahoo formatting error - SF


      I'd like to add an important addendum to my last post.

      I haven't read any major objections to the paper by Mellars and French
      yet, but there are going to be a lot of them, and they are going to
      appear quickly, since the paper accepts without qualification d the
      once-standard model the late dispersal of modern humans out-of-Africa
      that has been under severe attack from many sides in the last half
      decade. None of the popular discussions of the paper being turned out
      from the press releases (predictably) backing the paper mention this.

      I looked at John Hawks' Webblog (Hawks is an influential
      paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin, and one of the
      many sharp critic of the out-of-Africa model and related modern human-
      Neandertal replacement models), expect to read a critique of Mellars
      and French, but Hawks is apparently traveling on an expedition and
      hasn't weighed in yet.

      Expect it, however, since the Mellars-French thesis is hardly a new
      one, as Science magazine (and in even more predictably Science Daily)
      imply, but simply a new skirmish in a battle that goes back many

      The general thesis was, in fact, published already by Mellars many
      years ago. You can find the essence of it in a paper he wrote back in
      1992, published in Philosophical Transactions:


      Remarkably, the wording of that 20 year old abstract is very similar
      at points to the wording of the new abstract published yesterday of
      Mellars' work:

      > Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1992 Aug 29;337(1280):225-34.
      > Archaeology and the population-dispersal hypothesis of modern human
      > origins in Europe.
      > Mellars PA.
      > Abstract
      > The transition from anatomically 'archaic' to 'modern' populations
      > would seem to have occurred in most regions of Europe broadly
      > between ca. 40 and 30 ka ago: much later than in most other areas of
      > the world. The archaeological evidence supports the view that this
      > transition was associated with the dispersal of new human
      > populations into Europe, equipped with a new technology
      > ('Aurignacian') and a range of radical behavioural and cultural
      > innovations which collectively define the 'Middle-Upper Palaeolithic
      > transition'....

      Beware old theses presented as new ones. It's easy to get away with
      that these days due to the massive increases in data flows we all have
      to deal with.


      On Jul 30, 2011, at 7:39 AM, Steve Farmer wrote:

      > Yesterday I pointed to a new paper just published in Science arguing
      > that a population boom was a main cultural driver of civilization in
      > Neo-Lithic times - not all that controversial a thesis, really:
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/15323
      > This morning I read a much more dramatic and controversial paper in
      > the same special issue on demographics that argues that an earlier
      > population boom was a critical factorr in the replacement of
      > Neandertals in Europe by modern humans beginning ca. 40K BP.
      > Link to the full paper here:
      > http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6042/623
      > Plain text of the abstract only below. There is also a Science Daily
      > overview here, based mainly on a press release, as usual:
      > http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110728144928.htm
      > Steve
      > *******
      > Science 29 July 2011:
      > Vol. 333 no. 6042 pp. 623-627
      > DOI: 10.1126/science.1206930
      > Tenfold Population Increase in Western Europe at the Neandertal�to�
      > Modern Human Transition
      > Paul Mellars, Jennifer C. French
      > Department of Archaeology, Cambridge University, Cambridge CB2
      > 3DZ, UK.
      > E-mail:
      > pam59@...
      > ABSTRACT
      > European Neandertals were replaced by modern human populations from
      > Africa ~40,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence from the best-
      > documented region of Europe shows that during this replacement human
      > populations increased by one order of magnitude, suggesting that
      > numerical supremacy alone may have been a critical factor in
      > facilitating this replacement.
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