Q7. Rebecca Wragg Sykes; The misunderstood Human Being

The last book in my "summer series" is by Rebecca Wragg Sykes and has the exciting title "Misjudged Man" and the explanatory subtitle "A New Look at Neanderthal Life, Love and Art".

The book is so important, indeed groundbreaking, in the long series of books dealing with Neanderthals that I would like to write a longer polemical description of the theses of the highly competent author. Most of these theses are new, even highly topical. The important problem that also runs through this valuable book is the lack of a global theoretical time scale that allows the various artefacts and events from the past to be arranged in a correct relationship to one another. This is also closely linked to the most important weakness of every previous theory of evolution, namely the lack of theoretical and practical time spans for individual species, genera, families, orders, etc. It was only thanks to my unified science that these time spans could be precisely defined.
I'll start with a few sentences from the first sections of the book. Rebecca Wragg Sykes writes (on p.45).
RWS(p.45-46) "It also shows how wrong 19th-century scientists were to see Neanderthals as the missing link between humans and the other apes. ... Over twenty hominin species are known from the past 3.5 million years alone. ... When the Great African Rift opened up and the earth cooled down, the broad diversification of the great apes took its course. Between 15 and 10 million years ago, at least a hundred species emerged."

I will place my comment (if necessary!) directly below the quoted sentence and mark it with my initials.
PJ. It wasn't as big a mistake as people think today. The question remains, however, at what point in primate evolution did the first family of the "family group Homo" (which Rebecca Wragg Sykes continues to refer to as hominins; with which I also agree) separate from the order Primates.

Our primate order (with its standard time span of life on Earth of 24.31 million years) has so far completed 16.36 million years.

During this time, eight evolutionary splits to smaller but more advanced groups of families of organisms could theoretically have taken place. According to the facts known today, the first family of hominins was the Australopithecus family. It must therefore be regarded as a descendant family of a family of gorillas that existed 4.34 million years ago. The families of apes that are still around today have found their niches in which they were not subject to further evolutionary constraints. However, our first ancestors, the australopithecines, were forced to make such an evolutionary leap. I suspect that it was the discovery of the possibility of sustaining naturally ignited fire that ensured the survival of the representatives of this family in the world of that time. This leap separated them from the apes once and for all.

We still know far too little about this brave family because we have found far too few fossils. Rebecca Wragg Sykes estimates the number of ape species at one hundred in five million years. In reality, however, there were many more. According to our Universal Time Scale, there should be at least 75 species in every million years. To date, therefore, it would have taken not a hundred, but a thousand (~75x16) fossils of different species to feel the whole "fan of apes".

RWS(p.48) "It is not clear which of the early hominins gave rise to the genus Homo, but the first confirmed common ancestor of Neanderthals and sapiens entered the scene about two million years ago. It was Homo ergaster (the African Homo ergaster was long referred to as Homo erectus, but this name is now reserved for the Asian representative) and a million years ago it was already living as a true hunter-gatherer and was technically much more advanced than earlier species. They were already using carefully crafted stone tools known as bifaces or hand axes, and carried them further and further out into the countryside as their lives were characterised by greater planning and expanding social networks.
Homo ergaster had an essentially human body. They were tall, good runners without a trace of prehensile feet, and the relatively flat face, diminishing teeth and well-proportioned limbs identify them as direct ancestors of Neanderthals and sapiens. Their large brains are particularly striking: they were the most intelligent, versatile primates that had ever walked the earth."

PJ. The australopithecines lived out their entire family life span (of 2.002 million years), producing about 150 different species. The last of these species also mastered the cosmic "quantum leap" 2.34 million years ago to such an extent that it did not break the evolutionary chain of generations and individuals and passed on its genes, its knowledge of the environment and technology to the first generation of the new genus of the new family Homo erectus (or Homo ergaster, as today's scientists want to call it). What Rebecca Wragg Sykes does not write very clearly, however, is that this new family (which also populated the earth for its entire life span between 2.34 and 0.34 million years before today) was not a "common ancestor of Neanderthals and Sapiens", but only the ancestor of Neanderthals. Only Neanderthals were the ancestors of sapiens (I'll write more about that in a moment). What Rebecca Wragg Sykes also wrongly adopted from traditional research was the term "the genus Homo of early hominins". There never was such a genus. As we can see from the drawing above, the last (the third family) of hominins to split off from the primate order 337 thousand years ago is the family Homo sapiens. This family, like every other family before it, will theoretically be able to split into twelve genera one after the other. So far, however, only three of them have actually evolved. None of these genera can be described as the genus Homo. It would be a misunderstanding of the nomenclature.

Then, on page 49, Rebecca Wragg Sykes asks the all-important question.
RWS(p.49) "But where exactly did Neanderthals come from?"

PJ. In the picture above I have named the first "realised" genus of the Homo sapiens family as the genus Homo sapiens Heidelbergensis. The author writes about this on page 50.

RWS(50). "It is possible that more than one hominin species lived in Europe at that time, but many of the bones found from the next 100,000 years bear some resemblance to fossils of the same age from Africa, including a massive mandible found in Heidelberg in 1907 and named Homo heidelbergensis. These hominins were long thought to be direct ancestors of Neanderthals, but recent finds at a third archaeological site in Atapuerca, the Lima de los Huesos, have sharpened the picture somewhat."

PJ. I'm more of the opinion that you shouldn't jump around with the old name too often, because you can't be sure that the next excavation site won't point us in the old direction after all.
In the picture above we can now see a direct answer to the crucial question of the book: Where did the Neanderthals come from? The Neanderthals were not a single species. They were a full genus, with (at least) 13 different species that successively felt the life span of the genus (of 164878 years). They were probably even slightly different species that lived on different continents at the same time. However, each of these species only ever had 13578 years of life on earth at their disposal, and never longer. All Neanderthal research must be adapted to these new theoretical, but in many areas of geophysics, astrophysics and climate research also "experimentally" clearly confirmed, time periods of our evolution from the first primates to us today. Rebecca Wragg Sykes' magnificent book shows how important every accessible update of our general knowledge can be and is.

Schreib einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert