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The skull in Georgia: a head is always a beginning

A 1.8 million year old skull sheds new light on the origin of man

A new classification of the early human species. Skull no. 5 at the time of its discovery. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia
A new classification of the early human species. Skull no. 5 at the time of its discovery. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia

Our ancestors, as we know, came from Africa. However, a new study raises the possibility that our closer ancestors actually came from Georgia. In Daminisi, a Georgian village from the Middle Ages, four broken human skulls dating back 1.8 million years were discovered in recent years - the earliest evidence of human presence outside of Africa. The most important discovery came two years ago - the fifth skull discovered on the site is a completely complete skull of Homo erectus, from which we, Homo sapiens, evolved. The person who was invited to lead the study of the skull is Prof. Yoel Rak, an expert on human anatomy and evolution from Tel Aviv University. Reck and his colleagues from Georgia, Switzerland and the USA determined that it was the skull of a very old man, whose height was about 1.65 m, and whose brain size was only about a third of that of a modern-day man. Reck and his colleagues estimate that the complete skull is an ancient form of Homo erectus, and perhaps even a connecting link between it and the earlier African Homo habilis.

More articles on this topic on the science website:

Origin of Species

The relatively small number of such ancient human remains, scientists have so far divided into no less than 24 different species. The findings from Georgia may change this classification, strengthening the argument that the actual number of species is much smaller. A better acquaintance with Homo erectus allows one to correctly assess the degree of variation between individuals of the same biological species. Thus, skulls that until now were thought to belong to different species can now be classified as different individuals of the same species, just as the skulls of basketball player Shaquille O'Neal and Woody Allen are apparently quite different, even though both belong to the species Homo sapiens.
"The link that was discovered in Georgia is very important in terms of time and in terms of geographic location," says Prof. Rak. "The very fact that the five individuals were found so close to each other, strengthens the assumption that these are representatives of one species, and even family members. Equipped with this assumption, we scan the world collection of skulls, and thus we come to the conclusion that there are far fewer species than people have suggested." Strengthening the argument that the number of primitive human species is smaller than thought, and the finding of the ancient skull in Georgia, strengthen the assumption that modern humans evolved from one species that originated in Africa, and weaken the claim that some primitive human species were transit stations on the way to the appearance of Homo sapiens. The one who could finally settle the dispute is the DNA of the ancient man, but the genetic material did not survive in these bones. The oldest DNA extracted so far from bones is several hundred thousand years old. If in the future a way is found to extract DNA remains even from such ancient remains, we will be able to get a definitive answer regarding the path our ancestors took from Africa to the rest of the world, and also discover that so far we are close to species that split from those ancestors, such as the Neanderthal man.

A new classification of the early human species. Skull no. 5 at the time of its discovery. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia

17 תגובות

  1. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth"
    To all the respondents, don't you have a home? People you love?.. that you engage in such nonsense?

  2. Joseph

    I would not suggest you learn evolution from the historian Harari. He has no authority on the subject and this leads him to unfounded evolutionary conclusions.

    In particular, I think that the assertion that there was a linguistic revolution only 70 years ago is a very dubious assertion, because it is a figure that cannot be identified using fossils of hundreds of thousands of years.

    The ability to speak requires far-reaching changes in the way the brain works: for example, the ability to abstract concepts at lightning speed, for example, the ability to draw conclusions by comparing abstractions to each other, and so on. It is much more likely that the ability to speak evolved gradually over at least a million years (but this too cannot be proven or disproved).

    There is no particular reason to assume that the Neanderthal virgins were because their intelligence was lower than that of the Spies. Even small cultural advantages enable the overwhelming victory of one culture over another, for example the enslavement of blacks in America or the extinction of most of the Indians in America. The book "Guns, Bacteria, Steel" is dedicated to the subject; The book demonstrates how a tiny cultural advantage (or disease resistance) is enough for such an overwhelming victory. According to my memory, when the Spies met in the decisive meeting with the Neanderthals about 60,000 years ago, they had remotely operated weapons (such as bows) while the Neanderthals only had face-to-face weapons. This gave the Spaniards a decisive advantage over the Neanderthals, both in the ability to hunt and in the ability to conflict between them; Such preference could have been enough to push the Neanderthals into geographic niches too small to survive over time. Besides, there is a hypothesis that the Neanderthals were from the beginning a small minority compared to the Spines, therefore some of them were completely assimilated into the population of the Spines (a genetic test shows that among the Caucasian and Mongolian races there is a percentage to 3 percent of Neanderthal genes).

    incidentally. Breeding between species of Spines is even greater in the meetings of the Denisovan species (a species very close to Neanderthals) with the Spines species in the "Australia, Guinea, Papua" region. It will be found that the natives in those areas have about 6 percent in common with the genes of the Denisovan variety.

    Clarification: The Spines is a species that probably includes the Spines-Spines (us), the Neanderthals, the Denisovans.

  3. Joseph
    We are told that Homo sapiens beat the Neanderthals because of the ability to speak. Maybe, but according to morphology and genetics, it is almost certain that the Neanderthals spoke. Destruction of populations does not have to rely on cognitive-mental-genetic abilities. Numerical precedence, coincidences of various kinds are more useful.

  4. Still, it seems a little strange to me, according to what I knew until now (or so I thought) for 7 million years (since the split) the volume of the brain gradually increased until it reached its current volume. But according to the finding in question for three quarters of the time the volume of the brain remains as it is, then suddenly in the last quarter of the way it suddenly triples its size.

    Looks a bit strange.

  5. Eyal:
    Think about it seriously:
    Life on Earth began at least three and a half billion years ago.
    The first vertebrates came on stage only 525 million years ago.
    With the logic you are trying to rely on it could be argued that the first vertebrates should have already had brains 6/7 the size of ours.
    And think about it from another angle: would you even begin to consider such a consideration in connection with the heart or the legs?

  6. Something I don't understand, if the splitting of us and the chimpanzees from a common ancestor happened 7-8 million years ago, and the skull is only 1.8 million years old (relatively very close to our time) how is it possible that the volume of the brain in it is only about a third of the brain size of a modern human?

    Wasn't it expected that a person who is already 3/4 of the way to us would already have a brain with a much larger volume? (The brain of chimpanzees for example is one third the size of our own).

    I would love an explanation, thanks.

  7. Yehuda:
    To say that interbreeding between different species is impossible by definition is to stick to a very specific definition of the word "species".
    In the conventional usage of the word "species" there are cases where hybridization between species gives fertile offspring.
    You can get a broader picture on the subject here:

    They never managed to clone a monkey with a man:

  8. There is a mistake in the article. These are not our ancestors but our cousins, the exodus of early man from Africa began long before our ancestors left there. When our ancestors left Africa, it was already homo-sapiens and not homo erectus (from which they evolved), and outside of Africa they met different human species (at least two that I remember) that evolved from the same homo erectus that came before them.

  9. A head for the discussion on Yehuda's words, here we are talking about Homo erectus, which is a monkey that walks on two, and not Homo Spines - which is a thinking person. From a certain gap between two species, the ability to reproduce together is usually blocked. The study of the DNA of the Neanderthal man in contrast (40000 years ago and not 1.8 million) shows that there are Neanderthal genes in us in a very limited proportion but certainly not zero. In a transition species between two species it is not certain that there is a blockage in the first tens of generations.
    In the laboratory they succeeded in cloning a monkey with a human, and stopped the process. In this case you provoke correct reflections in my subjective opinion. The findings on the subject are rare. It is not clear if the finding is a noise fluctuation or a clear direction. We have an unknown story and we sample it at discrete points in time. You are talking about 1.8 million years ago. In total we see a subspecies similar to Homo erectus of Africa (Miss Lucy?) in Georgia Europe. The story between the subspecies all the way is still completely gone. In the book Abridged History of Humanity written by the historian and not a geneticist, it is about the existence of 5 human subspecies about 70,000 years ago and not 1.8 million for the sake of Kabbalah, and about the rise of one of them: Homo sapiens, thanks to the linguistic revolution. The genetic difference between us and the Neanderthals, for example, is about 1% if not less than that. And it creates a fatal gap for the other races. A difference in the ability to speak creates an ability to plan ahead that does not exist in others, an ability to pass on a cultural heritage and an ability to live in huge groups. Also in the aforementioned book, the author subtracts the relative genetic wealth of the Spines group that came out of Ethiopia and resulted in its survival in the extinction that occurred 70,000 years ago due to famine.

  10. By definition, a male and a female of two different species cannot produce a fertile joint offspring. Therefore it is not possible to merge species as nature does (perhaps genetic engineering techniques are possible). Therefore, the origin of Homo sapiens for all its races (genetically meaningless separation) must be from one species and not from some dubious process of "convergence" of several species into one. The many question marks about the origin of modern man and the enormous diversity of ancient remains of different members of his family cannot cancel the above insight, and therefore we have no choice but to accept the paradigm of "leaving Africa". The skulls in Georgia only prove once again that even before Homo Sapiens became the head of the hominids, other species of "Homo" came out of Africa and looked for sources of livelihood in spaces where ecological "niches" remained unused. It is also clear that the distribution of species was not unidirectional, from Africa through Asia to Europe and America, but "stochastic". Individuals migrated to places where their survival was considered better without taking into account the multi-year trend. Therefore, it is likely that during almost 2 million years the genetic cards were mixed many times and thus the genetic compatibility between different "races" of Homo sapiens was preserved, despite the external differences in skin color, hair type and other insignificant details that are so conspicuous to the eye that it is difficult for us to ignore them. What cannot be ignored is the "black hole" between the Deminisi people and the first Sapiens. Almost any scenario is possible when a million and a half years separate them. More "connecting links" are needed to solve the mystery: how the different races of one species got clear and distinct geographical characteristics. For example, why do East Asians have a unique pattern of eyelids? It doesn't seem to have an origin in local survival conditions, but is it nothing more than random drift? Or at some point was "artificial selection" done here through murder, or "mating selection" through rape?

  11. agree. A short and well done article. Welcome with me. Without detracting from the work of Avi Blizovsky, thanks to whom we are
    Belgians here, and we don't have another site in Israel at such a level.

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