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Human evolution (longish, semi-off-list)



Re the recent Neanderthal / Cro-Magnon thread:

May I recommend to those interested  _Self-Made Man : Human Evolution from
Eden to Extinction?_  by Jonathan Kingdon.  Amazon.com page with reviews &
synopses at:
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ts/book-reviews/0471305383/ref=qid_900590
485/002-5189509-4522605>

This book fills in a gap in popularly-accessable treatments of human
evolution by concentrating about 90% on Homo sapiens sapiens, with
Australopithecus, H. erectus, Neanderthal, in only the first chapter or two.

Points I found especially interesting:

A shoreline habitat and technology was very important to the spread of genus
Homo, probably permitting even erectus to travel along the Indian ocean
coast and beyond as far as Indonesia.

The modern "races" which to many people seem so important developed quite
recently. Depigmented ("white") "Caucasians" in particular are only about
40,000 years old, possibly as few as 20,000.

Dark pigmentation (darker than "medium-tan") probably originated in the
Indonesian area, and then spread back to Africa. African humans have the
greatest genetic diversity of any area.

ALSO - my understanding is that Cro-Magnon is "out of Africa" (N. Africa
and/or Middle East) -> into Europe. (I think Kingdon mentions this). Bjorn
Kurten says that a) Neanderthals lived in glaciated Europe for a LONG time -
much longer than modern Caucasians - so were probably very light (skin,
hair, and eyes), while Cro-magnon were probably at least medium-dark & may
well have been darker (see his _Dance of the Tiger_, especially appendix).

Jeffrey Willson <jwillson@harper.cc.il.us>