[Indo-Eurasia] Claimed population boom & Neandertal replacement
- 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
> Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1992 Aug 29;337(1280):225-34.Beware old theses presented as new ones. It's easy to get away with
> Archaeology and the population-dispersal hypothesis of modern human
> origins in Europe.
> Mellars PA.
> 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
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:
> 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:
> Plain text of the abstract only below. There is also a Science Daily
> overview here, based mainly on a press release, as usual:
> 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.
> 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.