Anthropology anthropogeny 2012

Anthropology 2012-th brought many discoveries. For example, continues to confirm the suspicion that the person is the result of a complex evolutionary process, involving inter-species breeding, and for the main part of its history, co-existed with other Homo. And this is not the fun part!

Where did we come from and what are, strictly speaking, does the word "such"? Here are questions to try to answer anthropology — a complex, diverse, rastekshayasya discipline on the tree, which "Kompyulenta" tried to give a little more definite form, concentrating on anthropology (not just physical) and the most general works describing something fundamental in man. Rest are under the heading "Psychology", "Neuroscience", "Science", "History" and so on, but now it's time again to cook hodgepodge. So, all the most anthropologically interesting, as we write, read and debated in 2012.

First, as usual, most of the general trend.

In the era of "the historical materialism" science and philosophy were interested in a person that set him apart from the natural world. XX century philosopher Merab Mamardashvili, summarized this line of thought: "Man, in my opinion — is a creature that is the extent to which it is self-creating some means, not in the nature of the data. Or, in other words, man is man, that is, it is not a natural being, and in this sense he is not descended from monkeys. People do not happen out of nothing, which operates in nature in the form of a mechanism, including the mechanism of evolution. He stands out clearly against the background of objects that make up nature and the cosmos, that we intuitively call it human, and this can not be attributed to its origin is no mechanism or in the world, either in biology or in man. Again, man is a creature that is the extent to which it is self-creating. "

Anticipating the fury of our dear readers-techie ("Idealizm!"), We hasten to translate this statement with a more philosophical language Russian: Man is the only thing in nature that has a consciousness, and consciousness can not be described by any physical, biological or psychological tools. On the contrary, "primitive" language of symbols (myth, art) copes with this perfectly. (Just to understand it is not easy: it takes the destruction and interpretation — in other words, a little thinking, you thinking about thinking.) It's not that the so-called idealists anticipated consciousness is separate from the person, and that talking about consciousness so it is very convenient, as if consciousness (God, the Self, the world of ideas) — a sort of prohibitive area in which, as it dives dilapidated human "I", and comes up is the new "I" that is, having an idea, thought, understanding (and, more importantly, getting to know the thought or idea as such.)

In this sense, the person said it was in ancient times (not much of a secret — people). But there remains the problem of understanding what was said. Moreover, the characters are often taken literally, that is, not as symbols, but as an indication of real-world objects and the individual (the same God). We have to all the way to decipher, explain, and in the process, to invent and develop a distinct language, is incomprehensible to the uninitiated — the language of philosophy, in which the ambiguity eliminated. Moreover, between us and the symbolic meaning of philosophical statements of the past is always a very thick screen — culture. For example, we hammered that, say, Plato (Descartes, Hegel) was an idealist, that is to say a fool, believed in the world of ideas, while any normal person it is clear that such a world is not and can not be. And as long as you did not implement some experience of thinking (no reading does not guarantee this to you), you can not remove the cultural mask, put on Plato. Some of this experience for themselves become philosophers: take at least Schopenhauer, who was well aware that will not say anything new, calling, in the preface to his main work to read Kant, and even better — Plato, and even better — "Upanishads."

Partly due to language symbols and philosophy, in part because of interest in the knowledge of all aspects of reality distinction of human and animal (or — in the religious systems — the divine and the human, the highest and fallen) nature of man began to disappear from the science (and to some extent of philosophy). The man began to be perceived as a special, but still part of the animal world, and in the last decade (in the background success biology and neuroscience, psychology and primatology), strengthened the belief that a detailed description of the physical processes in the human body (especially the brain) We got to work independently of the body mind and consciousness. Established a project to transfer the human person in cyberspace (discussing this subject for a long time, it should be noted). Neuroscientists argue about localization consciousness and free will in the brain, and primatologists — the identity of the chimpanzee, after studying separate instinct and thinking. All this is reminiscent of the time of Laplace scientists hope that by describing every particle in the universe, we obtain a complete picture of the past and the future. As you may remember, some time, the theory was brutally bury quantum mechanics. This quantum mechanics in the science of man already — is metaphysics. But today it is not taken to understand and make fun (at the same time reject it fails, and here and there thinkers accepted resurrect old ideas under the guise of new philosophies such as existentialism, structuralism, etc.).

Of course, to a large extent we are all animals, and is very difficult to distinguish to what extent the work of consciousness (the philosophical term in much the same psychological term "psyche", but not with the psychological term "consciousness", not to be confused) is caused by neurophysiological processes, and in which, on the contrary, acts on them. It seems that the physiological discipline go to the same (with its "materialistic" side), to which metaphysics came before Christ and expressed in the language of the supernatural. Here we should point out the very interesting research being undertaken by Andrew Owen: He and his colleagues are trying to communicate with people staying in the so-called vegetative ("vegetable") state. Experiments seem to hint that the brain retains the ability of these people to neurophysiological processes characteristic of conscious (here the word "consciousness" is used in a medical sense). Unfortunately, it is impossible to check whether people, plants have consciousness or their brain automatically responds to external stimuli — including as difficult as asking relatives to remember or imagine a game of tennis. Obviously, in order to clarify the boundaries and extent of interaction of the neurophysiological, psychological and mental processes should actively explore the sleeping people and obviously unconscious. Something like this has been done, because the interest in the brain was not born yesterday, but yesterday was not such equipment as it is today.

Now let us apologize to Cyril Stasevich for having stirred up his diocese (I warned: Anthropology — a piece branched), and proceed to the tables of the most interesting news in 2012. Scientists have tried to offer answers to almost all questions in this discipline. So, in chronological order.

Skull of a young male Australopithecus sediba (image Lee Berger).

When our ancestors climbed down from the tree?

The analysis of the teeth of the mysterious species Australopithecus sediba, discovered four years ago in Malapa cave north-west of Johannesburg (South Africa), has shown that this is a strange creature that is considered by some intermediate between Australopithecus and humans (Homo), feed mostly leaves, fruit , wood and bark. Scientists is very surprised, because at that time (about 2 million years ago) all other gomininy grass pitch in the African savannah.

It should be noted that there is, as a giraffe, Au. sediba not forced: spread around the vast grasslands. These individuals, having adaptations for climbing trees and for bipedal locomotion, chose life in the forest. So do chimpanzees today, and in ancient times — 4.4 million years ago — a similar lifestyle led Ardipithecus ramidus.

What follows from this conclusion? Apparently, the australopithecines have tried to take all appropriate ecological niches, unaware of the fact that a couple of million years later, they will attribute the desire to become our ancestors. Perhaps, Au. sediba (not all scientists are ready to recognize the legitimacy of allocation of these samples as a separate species) was the branch that does not have any relation to Homo.

Meave Leakey and Fred Spoor collect fossils near the place where he was found KNM-ER 62000. (Photo by Mike Hettwer / National Geographic.)

Where did the people?

Experts forty years suspect that straight as an arrow, the line of succession from Homo habilis to Homo erectus by Homo sapiens — the oversimplification. And this year was presented, perhaps the most solid evidence that leads us to a few evolutionary paths. Analysis of three samples found near Lake Turkana (Kenya), showed that 1.7? 2 million years ago in East Africa alongside Homo erectus lived for at least two of the genus Homo.

One of the skulls (KNM-ER 62000), with a relatively large cavity and a long, flat face remarkably similar to the model 1470, which was discovered in the same area in 1972, which allowed almost the first time suggested that the large number of our ancestors. Judging by the new discovery, such traits are not a coincidence.

Attempt to reconstruct human Deer Cave (picture Peter Schouten).

Neanderthals denisovtsy … How many of them was?

A cohabited with Homo sapiens is clearly more species Homo, than we had imagined. In the south-western China in the Cave of the red deer (or in the deer) were found the remains of four individuals who may be members of known prehistoric species. Striking is the fact that the bones of just 14.5? 11.5 thousand years: so far the youngest representative of the genus Homo, and other than sapiens discovered in mainland Asia, was 100 thousand years.

Scientists point to the mixture of archaic and modern, unique features: rounded skull with protruding eyebrows, a flat, but a short person with a broad nose and protruding jaw, but without the human chin. The brain is a very moderate size, the frontal lobes appear in a modern way, and parietal — primitive and small. But the molars than in people.

It is worth noting that in 1979, China has found a similar skull. We are waiting now full anthropological and genetic analysis, as well as the results of further excavations. By the way, some experts in the past warned that once start digging all over the world, we shall see at once pathetic incompleteness of our conception of anthropology.

Museum model of a Neanderthal (photo Wikimedia).

Interbred with Neanderthals are we?

After decoding the Neanderthal genome, showing that modern humanity (except for Africans) is 1? 4% of the DNA of their evolutionary cousins, the question of the cross of our ancestors with this rose especially sharply. The fact is that the common genes could inherited from a common ancestor, and not be the result of cross-breeding. Moreover, there are suspicions that the Neanderthals died out, and not having time to meet people in Europe (people, according to this view, simply to occupy the vacated space), but the position of this hypothesis are weak, and our ancestors interbred, probably not in Europe, and the Middle East, that is, immediately after leaving Africa. Finally, challenged the possibility that humans and Neanderthals had children, the offspring of which has survived to this day.

But where there is doubt archeology, genetics is in its: interbred. And the calls for specific dates: 37-86 thousand years ago, and the highest probability to the period 47-65 thousand years ago, which clearly points again to the Middle East. Analysis of the genes associated with pale skin, also made it clear that we have got it themselves and, more recently, not received as a gift from his marriage to Paleface European Neanderthals. And last year, we recall, it was shown that the crossing (and not only with Neanderthals but also with denisovtsami) even went to the benefit of the people, for the people from Africa, not yet familiar with Eurasian pathogens through these contacts received protective genetic mechanisms.

Traces of paint on the wall of El Castillo (photo Pedro Saura / Agence France-Presse — Getty Images).

Is it true that Homo sapiens to other procedures smarter Homo?

The idea that anatomically modern man came to Europe, Neanderthals suppressed not only the number but also the ability to vigorously contested. Some scientists suggest that Neanderthals also was an expert in art, jewelry, navigation (although it is possible that it was not the boat, and garbage) and the manufacture of complex tools. Perhaps the discussion will soon complete the victory of one of the parties, because there are problems in the first place, the dating of artifacts, and secondly, assign them to one or another form (the ax is it written that it has made such a Neanderthal) thirdly, the borrowing of cultural and technical innovations from the neighbors. While most experts are inclined to think that Neanderthals have learned from our ancestors, for complex products appear just in the period of settlement of Homo sapiens in Europe.

Now you can appreciate the sensation that nearly produced a new dating of rock art in 11 caves in the northwest of Spain. Uranium-thorium method showed that a small spot of the cave of El Castillo 40.8 thousand years, which is the most ancient example of the fine arts in history (he is four thousand years older than the figures in the French Chauvet cave, which was considered a record.)

Hearing this, some scratched their chins and exclaimed: "Excuse me, but when the man came to the Pyrenees, and when there gone Neanderthals?" This question of strict answer. According to the archaeological evidence, Neanderthals lived there for at least 42 thousand years ago. Given the huge gaps in the paleoanthropological record, experts admit that the infamous circle could be applied to the wall by hand Neanderthal.

Statement, of course, is very controversial, but also to laugh at him is not necessary. Here is why. In 2012, we also learned that Neanderthals used the ocher (why — is unknown, but her had far to go, and that means that it is highly valued). And learn about rock art, which may be even older than the El Castillo. The dating of charcoal residue next to the picture of the Spanish caves of Nerja near Malaga found that they 43,5-42,3 thousand years (Neanderthals note disappeared from these places around 37 thousand years ago). Unfortunately, the dating patterns themselves (that is, the pigment that they are applied to the wall) is not made, and there is no guarantee that a person has not reached by that time to Andalusia.

Prehistoric alphabet? (Image Genevieve von Petsinger.)

When did the modern mind?

Philosophers (and envied note: only philosophers are allowed to issue baseless allegations which are subsequently correct) suspect that the man was the way it is today, at the beginning of its history. Of course, it is less known, less able, but tens of thousands of years ago, just like today, had the ability to learn the laws of nature, to overcome the natural resistance of the material to create the necessary tools for survival and conditions and to transfer knowledge to new generations, to invent things and think images, which are not found in nature, to lead complex social lives, etc. And for those tens of thousands of years, I was only filling the cognitive, social, language, cognitive activity, that is, people learned something new, something new is tried, learned to new and it changed his life, his image of himself, allowed to escape from the clutches of natural selection, but did not change his human nature. What is this essence is that? Socio-cultural cooperation? Intelligence? The issue is very complicated and thankless. Philosophers prefer to use the term "consciousness", but in the circumstances of historical research it is too arbitrary.

First characters appear in Africa 70? 90 thousand years ago. Researchers have even compiled a catalog of characters, repeated on the walls of European caves ranging from 30 thousand years ago (see above). Some of them resemble African prototypes. What is it — a reflection of the mechanisms of thinking, which are universal for all mankind, or the memory of ancestors?

The invention of the bow and arrow pushed further and further back in time. The oldest microlites reminiscent tips, now give 71 thousand years, bringing the date of the cognitive processes of the modern era of the first ornaments and symbols.

Perhaps, they were isolated glimpses of reason, that failed to develop into a long cultural tradition. But it is becoming increasingly clear that in any case, a kind of cognitive revolution, which marks the onset of the Upper Paleolithic, occurred not in Europe 40 thousand years ago (and it did not Cro-Magnon), and in Africa, at least 20 thousand years before. That is, relatively speaking, the event has become the key to a successful migration of Homo sapiens from Africa (though the first groups began to leave the continent for tens of thousands of years earlier), and the colonization of the planet with the displacement and (or) the assimilation of all other species Homo.

It should point out the few publications that caveman knew the movement of the world and even tried to portray, demonstrating a good knowledge of complex techniques of art.


Here it was possible to move on to the present and talk about, for example, on how the laws that determine the success of the reproductive strategy of our ancestors (the rejection of alpha males in favor of the miners, landlords, especially as macho also bad sperm), are so far as religion tries to keep winning (for men) strategies by women being relegated to the status of a walking incubator, but here we are on shaky ground even more hypotheses than neurobiological, paleoanthropological and historical. So let's just finish the case.

Happy New Year! And please be people!

Category: Science

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