The First of the Mohicans

I talked about some pieces of this puzzle earlier: Patterson and Reich found an Amerindian-like component in Europeans, especially northern Europeans.  Their first calculations showed such admixture in all Europeans other than Sardinians and Basques: later calculations found that all Europeans had this admixture, with the Sardinians and Basques having the least.  Europeans (those they looked at) averaged around 25-35%  of this Amerindian-like component.  It might be higher in Scandinavia and the eastern Baltic.   This is all theory, based on existing populations.

Eske Willerslev and Kelly Graf have brand-new ancient DNA results that bear on this question. They sequenced genetic material from the skeleton of a boy that died near Lake Baikal about 24,000 years ago.  Turns out that the kid was  related to modern Europeans and  Amerindians, but not to East Asian (excuse me, Oriental) populations  like the Chinese or Japanese.  The kid had U mtdna, and an R y-chromosome.

We already knew that the old European hunter-gatherers extended very far to the east, as far as the Urals: looks as if this population extended well into Siberia. Amerindians – the main old original population,  all the way down into South America – are a mix of this ancient northern population (about a third) and some Chinesian population.

Amerindian groups show the same relatedness to this Mal’ta culture boy all the way down into South America, so the admixture happened in early days – either before the Paleo-Indians arrived south of the glaciers, or very shortly thereafter.  Judging from some anomalous early skeletons, like Kennewick Man, that don’t look at all like East Asians or modern Amerindians, it may have happened in America.  Sequencing Kennewick Man would likely answer that question.  Looking at the Y-chromosome data, we may be able to get an idea of who conquered who.  Judging from a quick and incredibly superficial look, Amerindian Y-chromosomes look closer to some European lineages than to  East Asian ones..  while Amerindian mtDNA lineages  (except for X) don’t look close to European mtdna lineages.

Then we could talk about Joe Greenberg and Merrit Ruhlen’s impression that Amerindian languages have a very ancient connection with Indo-European,

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132 Responses to The First of the Mohicans

  1. Jaim Jota says:

    Should Scandinavians be reclassified as Amerindians and Latino and Mexican mestizos, Europeans (Whites)? Should “West Hunter” be renamed “The Mal’tese Hunter”?

    • Wanderer says:

      Then all of us Scandinavian-derived whites can claim minority status. Where’s me casino?

      • Jaim Jota says:

        Sure you Scandinavians are entitled to minority status. Finns specially so, they speak an Uralic dialect and are Haplogroup U5 (the oldest mtDNA haplogroup in Europe) and acording to the wiki, the closest to Cro-Magnons. That should be enough to grant you a tax-free casino. I stop here, the Administrator frightens me.

    • TWS says:

      A gene map bleeds the color across the Atlantic as if there was contact/connection only Clovis first and PC keeps people from noticing.

      I’m not saying they were Caucasians (they probably hadn’t diffrentiated much from Asians at that point) I’m just saying they probably came the short route first.

  2. M. Möhling says:

    Chinesian‎? “An object that is designed for the purpose of looking Chinese.”? “A cooler way of saying chinese”?

  3. Kennewick Man seems close to the Jomon-Ainu stock that has been present in Japan since the Paleolithic, and Birdsell was of the opinion that such a stock present among indigenous Californians. If he was right then Kennewick Man is hardly as unique in the Americas as people presume, but rather it is the case that pre-Columbian human biodiversity was until recently downplayed to fit with an oversimplified ‘Clovis first’ model.

  4. TWS says:

    As far as I know Kennewick Man will never be sequenced. Too political. None of the local tribes have any connection other than geographic and myth to the bones yet the feds are dying to get them interred or better inurned. If they can burn the remains it can hide the truth.

    The law is BS if Kennewick Man was a lost Japanese fisher or Viking trader he’s still presumed to be native and related to the local tribes.

    • dearieme says:

      “if Kennewick Man was a lost … Viking trader”: thank you for brightening up a dull afternoon.

      • TWS says:

        Obviously he’s not. I was pointing out the graves repatriation act treated them the same.

        Kennewick Man is obviously a time traveller from Starfleet stranded in the past. Duh.

  5. Toddy Cat says:

    I don’t know a lot about the peopleing of the Americas, but I know that DNA testing is now proving a lot of Joseph Greenberg’s theories to be correct, even what seemed to be his wilder flights of fantasy. If Greenberg hypothesised a connection between Amerind and Indo-European, I’d say that he was probably on to something.

  6. Patrick Boyle says:

    I liked the movie so much I read the book. That was a revelation.

    In the Michael Mann movie Nathaniel lives amongst the Indians and nature. The movie is a music video of idyllic harmony with the “Noble Red Man”. But that’s because they took the story from the earlier Randolph Scott movie not from Fennimore Cooper’s book.

    In the book Natty Bumpo (some name huh?) is always spontaneously testifying as to his racial purity. He sounds more like a Hitler Youth than an egalitarian man of the frontier. He keeps referring to his pure blood lest anyone think that he is actually related to any of the Indians he consorts with.

    BTW the movie suggests that the title means the last of the tribe as a kind of endangered species genocide – i.e. we have lost the whole Mohican tribe forever. But that’s not what it means at all. A Mohican is a kind of chief. The title means “The Last of the Chiefs” sort of like Elizabeth the First was “The Last of the Tutors” not the “The Last of the English”.

  7. dave chamberlin says:

    It’s too bad that fool that Razib finally banned from GNXP isn’t around to pipe up with his zany thoughts on modern man originating in the America’s. I think his name was German Drivel or something like that. The way Cochran would brow beat that guy was really funny. Nobody could talk sense to the guy, he just went on and on until finally Razib had had enough.

    • The Web does weird things to people: not only that they tend to hide their own names, they also tend to distort the names of others. I’ll have to be the guardian of truth again: 1. As far as I remember, I brow beat gcochran 10 out of 10 times; 2. It’s not Razib “Cat Lady” Khan who had enough. I had enough with Razib’s ostensibly drunken stupor in the comments section; 3) Dave Chamberlin is a secret fan of out-of-America.

      • gcochran9 says:

        You are an idiot, and we already have enough. Banned.

      • Sandgroper says:

        You are a tiresome tedious crackpot who wastes hours of people’s valuable time with your incoherent ramblings, and people were tolerant of you far longer than they should have been, I assume out of some misguided sense of fairness or live and let-live. I would have torpedoed you on day 1, no explanations given. Your attempts to discredit Razeeb, who is vastly your intellectual superior and always will be, are derisory and headed straight into the trash can.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        I’m absolutely with Sandgroper on this. We are both really grateful for all the hard work Razib put into his excellent blog and we don’t appreciate you insulting him after he bent over backward to tolerate you. I wish you well German, I never thought you an idiot, but you need to seek help for your obsessive thinking. Good luck.

  8. Difference Maker says:

    This admixture was deduced from physical anthropological studies in the past as well

    • Difference Maker says:

      “deduced from physical anthropological studies”

      That is, of archaic skulls from central Asia and northern China

  9. That Guy says:

    If you still pine for more of Dr Dziebel’s perspective, there’s a whole lot more here:

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Thanks, he’s an original. I’m a fan of conspiracy theorists actually. I’m easily amused.

      • gcochran9 says:

        You want conspiracy theories, I have a doozy for you. It explains both the Hapmap and the Iraq War.

      • Spike says:

        Indeed, I think Razib kept him around so long because he was entertaining in the way illustrated by this quote:
        “Incredulity doesn’t kill curiosity; it encourages it. Though distrustful of logical chains of ideas, I loved the polyphony of ideas. As long as you don’t believe in them, the collision of two ideas — both false — can create a pleasing interval, a kind of diabolus in musica. I had no respect for some ideas people were willing to stake their lives on, but two or three ideas that I did not respect might still make a nice melody. Or have a good beat, and if it was jazz, all the better.”
        -Umberto Eco from Foucault’s Pendulum

      • dave chamberlin says:

        Theories if well crafted and not slapped together or defended illogically by some stubborn fool can be beautiful. Scientists as a whole disappoint me. They rarely pipe up with new ideas. There are plenty of speculative ideas out there that everyone stays away from because, well, they are long shots. But many of them when turned in your mind and examined various ways are actually testable. And that ladies, gents, and tweeners, is the whole idea of science, or the very least, the fun part. Ill bet Cochran could write a blog based solely on theories he has come up with since yesterday. Tis is sad boring world we live in where memes are real. Meaning that damn few people have new ideas and wait to become infected by a new one that someone else came up with. A conspiracy theory that explains the hapmap and the Iraq war, hmmmm. Do tell. Obama campaigned for us to send troops to Syria but the public overwhelmingly vetoed the idea. Just when I write off the general public as functional simpletons they actually surprise me and stand up for the right choice.

      • gcochran9 says:

        I’ll regale you with that theory, if you want. It’s gotten a lot better since yesterday. But it’s like a vampire entering a house: you have to ask first.

      • TWS says:

        please tell us the hapmap Iraq war theory, even if it involves Haliburton.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        Please tell us any of your conspiracy theories, serious to highly unlikely. Some of your best writing is playful stuff that isn’t meant to be taken literally.

  10. That Guy says:

    On 23andMe,and all other admix analyses, my mother – who lives in Ireland – shows as 1% or so South American Native – when her ancestry is almost exclusively Irish, with a dash of Northern English and French Huguenot…

    • TWS says:

      I read I think at iSteve that Native American was the default with ‘noise’ or unidentified parts of the mix. Could be wrong it was a while ago.

    • dearieme says:

      “when her ancestry is almost exclusively Irish, with a dash …”: but how could she know?

      • That Guy says:

        Very simple, ‘Cos she’s not an American… all her ancestors lived in Ireland for the last 300 years

  11. bob sykes says:

    Someone offered a modified Solutrean hypothesis that had the pre-Clovis people walking from France to America following the herds on the Eurasian steppe/tundra, which at that time spanned Eurasia from the Atlantic to the Pacific. No need for an Atlantic crossing.

  12. That Guy says:

    Also worth remembering is that the North Atlantic at the time would be like the Arctic ocean of yesteryear, in that it would be ice-bound for much of the year. So you could simply walk across the ice – no need for open ocean going vessels or advanced navigation etc.
    So let’s suppose your diet is sea mammals – whale, seal and so on – you could get very far our of site of land and still be on solid ground for much of the year…

    • gcochran9 says:

      If the Eskimos walked out far onto the ice, I’ve never heard of it. I think this doesn’t work. Not that infeasibility would shut people up.

      • TWS says:

        Any contact would have to be either a long walk or a short boat ride. But on the maps (to my colorblind eyes) it looks like the kind of connection seen on the pacific side.

      • TWS says:

        I was just thinking that if a wave did split from the eventual Europeans that perhaps a replacement wave following after might leave the most ‘signal’ on the Atlantic side.

      • That Guy says:

        Well in later times, the people in Ireland had Atlantic Ocean crossing “Currachs”, am I the only one to notice that Currach – pronounced “KURR-OK”, sounds similar to KAYAK – after some vowel shifts? Both vessels are skin coated and ancient.
        I remember reading an article on Kayak years ago, and someone linked the word to a Turkish word for boat, that later morphed into “Caique” among others.

      • Toad says:

        Carrack carraca caraque

      • dearieme says:

        Monks from Ireland or Scotland had got to Iceland before the Vikings pitched up, but ‘… had Atlantic Ocean crossing “Currachs”’ is a bit rich. There’s no evidence that I’ve ever heard of that they crossed the Atlantic, in the sense of landing in the present-day Canada or the US. The evidence that Vikings did is pretty persuasive.

  13. Jim says:

    Toddy Cat – Why do you call Greenberg’s views “fantasy”?

    • Toddy Cat says:

      I didn’t, or at least didn’t mean to. What I meant was that Greenberg put forward some theories that seemed reasonable to many people, such as his three-wave theory of the peopling of the Americas. He also put forward ideas that seemed either fantastic, or that reached so far back into the past that they were virtually untestable, such as the hypothesized connection between Amerind speakers and Indo-Europeans. Well now, lo and behold, DNA testing is confirming many of Greenbergs theories that were once dismissed as fantasy. So that’s what I meant by “Greenberg’s flights of fantasy” – his speculations about relationships that I’m sure that even he thought could never be proved or disproved. I didn’t mean to imply any lack of respect for Greenberg – quite the contrary, in fact. More and more, he seems to be emerging as the most influential linguist of the 20th Century, rather than that other guy….what’s his name? Chomly? Bombski?

      • Greenberg’s theories about the common ancestry among Amerindian languages, let alone relationship between Amerindian and other language families, have never been accepted by most historical linguists, and these theories about the genetic history of American Indians do nothing to support his theories. This is because you don’t inherit specific languages through your genes; you learn them from the community of your upbringing. If there is any correlation between genetic and linguistic ancestry, it is an artifact of the genetic continuity of speech communities, i.e. you usually learn your native language from your parents, who also happen to give you your genes.

        I am not qualified to discuss the competence of the genetic studies purporting to show three waves of American settlement, but as a trained historical linguist I can tell you Greenberg’s theories are buck and continue to be bunk.

      • reiner Tor says:

        @Jonathan Gress: Actually, you learn your language both from your parents and from your peer group, but in most cases the two mostly overlap. The large majority of the cases when it doesn’t are all relatively modern (post-agriculture) phenomena: slaves’ children speaking the language of their slaveholders, immigrants speaking the language of the adoptive country, elites imposing their language on larger populations, deported populations starting to speak a common tongue (like the spread of Aramaic after the forced deportations by the Assyrian or Babylonian empires), or Bangladeshi children adopted by white American couples.

        I think it’s reasonable to suppose that in prehistoric times the only way a language could spread into a genetically distant population was by slow expansion (which allowed for some admixture), where the admixed population spread further, leading to further admixture, and so on until the language was carried by a group genetically quite distant groups, who were genetically much more related to their neighbors (speaking a different language) than to the original speakers of the language.

        However, such events must have been rare, and also such expansions (probably driven by superior technology) wouldn’t have stopped. So in pre-agriculture times most time periods in most places in the world the assumption should be that related genes mean related language, and that roughly in proportion to relatedness: more genetic distance, more linguistic distance. I cannot see how this logical conclusion could be questioned in the absence of post-agriculture inventions like slavery, elite domination, forced deportations, etc.

        And I cannot come to any other conclusion than that once you accept that there is a close correlation with genes and languages, you have to find it compelling if using an independent (linguistic) method you keep coming up with results that later on turn out to closely match the genetic results.

      • @RT

        Yes, you are quite right that language is also acquired from a peer group. But in most pre-modern societies, your childhood peers will also be close genetic relatives, so my point stands.

        Suggestive similarities between Na-Dene and Yeniseian were noted before Greenberg, so he was not crazy to believe that Na-Dene was part of a different linguistic phylum from the other Amerindian. The problem is whether the non-Dene Amerindian languages can be said to form a coherent phylum. The linguistic evidence is not sufficient, and I submit that that the genetic evidence is not sufficient, unless we have reason to believe all Amerindians descend from a single community occupying a small area, which then rapidly spread throughout the continent, i.e. if the original Amerindians all traveled over the Bering Strait within a short span of time (a few centuries at most). If they took cross, as seems to be the case, there is no reason to suspect they continued to speak the same language over all that time. Without a single language, there is no reason to believe all modern Amerindian languages have a common ancestor.

        For the same reason, I don’t believe that Proto-Indo-European came with the first European agriculturalists. Farmers took several thousand years to spread throughout the continent, and their language would certainly have changed and diverged over that time, which would make it impossible to reconstruct a single proto-language. Since we are able to reconstruct Proto-Indo-European, this supports the hypothesis that the Indo-Europeans spread rapidly through Europe and Central Asia, and indeed we find evidence for such rapid population displacement in the early Bronze Age.

      • gcochran9 says:

        We have genetic evidence that there were three distinct migrations that gave rise to the Eskimo-Aleuts ( most recent), Na-Dene (older), and everyone else ( oldest).

        Most of the Amerindians did indeed arrive in a single migration and then rapidly spread over North and South America. That’s pretty much what you’d expect to see in the colonization of a virgin land.

        See “Reconstructing Native American Population History“.

        Key sentence: ‘ Most descend entirely from a single ancestral population that we call “First American”. ‘

  14. Interesting stuff – did they jump or were they pushed?

    Personally i like the idea of my ancestors being white Iroquois.

  15. off-topic question: if you had two brothers who were both married to a 1st cousin and the two wives were also first cousins to each other and each couple had two kids and each loaned their kids to the other couple so they could could claim welfare for four kids – could the closeness of the relatedness lead to passing a parental dna test – at least a simple one?

  16. unladen swallow says:

    What is the legal status of Kennewick Man now? Can DNA testing be performed?

  17. Pingback: Kunstkamera: A Sample of the Web’s Mental DNA

  18. a very knowing American says:

    Cavalli-Sforza et. al.’s 1990s population tree based on classical gene frequencies found a North Eurasian cluster, {Caucasoid, {Northeast Asian+Arctic, American}}, distinct from a Southeast Asian cluster (including South Chinese), {{East/Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander}, Oceanian}. This isn’t the way most racial typologies based on current variation would divvy people up, but it looks like C-Sf et al could have been picking up a signal from a time when North Eurasian and East/Southeast Asian were meaningful races — not necessarily in their current ranges of course.

    A lot of readers know this already, but Greenberg’s last book proposed a Eurasiatic language superfamily, including Indo-European, Uralic-Yukaghir, Altaic, Japanese-Korean-Ainu, Gilyak, Chuckchi-Kamchatkan, and Eskimo-Aleut. Greenberg thought the closest external relation of the family was probably another hypothetical superfamily, Amerind. (Eurasiatic differs somewhat from Nostratic, proposed by Russian researchers, which is more-or-less Eurasiatic plus Kartvelian, Dravidian, and maybe Afro-Asiatic.)

    Greenberg’s book got some very negative reviews from some heavy-hitting linguists (“One is seldom asked to review a book that proves to contain nothing of value, but that is unfortunately true of this volume.” Don Ringe, J Linguistics, 2002), but, as C-Sf et al noted, it does seem to show pretty interesting correspondences with non-linguistic variation.

    • Greenberg’s original controversy was a lumper’s categorization of African languages which was dismissed angrily at first but is now regarded as standard. On his three-wave hypothesis for the Americas, his critics are now reduced to saying that three waves of genetic difference which match up darn well with his linguistic tree don’t PROVE linguistic relation.
      “A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Max Planck

      • Regarding African languages, no serious linguist disputes the validity of Afro-Asiatic or Niger-Congo, but the common ancestry of Nilo-Saharan is not generally accepted. Like “Caucasian”, the term is often simply used to refer to those languages that have not been assigned to AA or NC.

        And no, the three-wave genetic history of Amerindians (if valid) does not prove linguistic relation, because languages are not inherited through your genes; they are learned from your parents (for the most part), and THAT is why you get a correlation between genetic and linguistic ancestry.

        If the so-called Amerindian group could be shown to have common genetic ancestry, I could accept that as circumstantial evidence for common linguistic ancestry IF you could show that they must have been a small enough population in which all or most members were in mutual contact for a period of some centuries, since those are the only conditions under which we can plausibly attribute a common language to them. I.e. you’re looking for quite a severe genetic bottleneck.

        However, even if the circumstantial evidence were present, it is impossible to reconstruct this proto-language. There has been too much lexical replacement over the millennia.

  19. David Epstein says:

    This is consistent with the Dene-Yeneseian linguistic hypothesis, which is accepted by many. The Ket, whose language is the last remnant of Yeneseian, also look like Navahos and Apaches, more than they do their Uralic and Turkic speaking neighbors. Google the images of the Ket . . .

  20. Anonymous says:

    Why the obsession with Kennewick Man? Would it be some elaborate attempt at disguising closet racism by trying to contend that the possibility (or even proof, if that unlikely event occurred) of just ONE ancient Caucasian skeleton somewhere in the Americas, somehow justifies an invasion of a peaceful land initially described as a ‘paradise’ when Columbus arrived in Hispaniola, the theft of TWO ENTIRE CONTINENTS, and FIVE CENTURIES of genocide of around a HUNDRED MILLION SOULS.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Properly understood, looking at the ultimate implications, the fact that bears shit in the woods is an existential threat to the entire edifice of modern liberal thought.

      Go buy some diapers.

    • “somehow justifies”

      Why would it justify anything? If one brother kills another is it legal because they’re related?

    • reiner Tor says:

      an invasion of a peaceful land initially described as a ‘paradise’ when Columbus arrived in Hispaniola, the theft of TWO ENTIRE CONTINENTS, and FIVE CENTURIES of genocide of around a HUNDRED MILLION SOULS.

      Let me point out that the peaceful land looked less peaceful upon further inspection (meaning the Amerindians conquered and exploited and mass murdered each other just as, or in most cases, way more happily than Europeans conquered and exploited and murdered them), that the two entire continents were conquered, not stolen (a significant difference, especially once you understand that many Amerindian tribes got to where they were in 1492 by the conquest and displacement of other Amerindian tribes), that the population size of the Americas at the time of Columbus is largely unknown, but the recent consensus is closer to 50 than 100 million (and of course not all of them died), that most of these people died a few decades within the arrival of Columbus (and in many cases decades before the arrival of the first Spaniard), that they died because of pathogens, so in most cases you cannot even talk of a proper genocide, especially since the Spanish court – alarmed at the prospect of a depopulating New World – desperately tried to stop the depopulation (in the absence of antibiotics, this was of course futile). As a consequence of all this, you emotional tirade is pure bullshit.

    • Ian says:

      Peaceful land? Mwahaha! Were Aztec human sacrifices a mutually consented relationship? Did the Incas created their kingdom by convincing people around? Oh, my goodness, I always though this kind of liberal was just straw men created by wicked minds like mine…

    • TWS says:

      I don’t think the Clovis folks and Na Dene were able to kill that many people. There simply weren’t that many people in the Americas then. To get to deliberate industrial level genocide you need to wait for the Aztecs before..wait you mean -Europeans-.

      No you’re just ignorant, sorry. We’re interested in KM because he represents new knowledge. Indians care because it’s more proof that they wandered all over the continent and most tribes conquered the land they were on when recorded history arrived. They believe that weakens their cultural myths and their claim to unique status. You see the same in Australian Aborigines denying dna testing or anything that contradicts the single wave idea.

      You see the left assigns status to people based on their ancestor’s dna/history. The rest of us gave that up with kings and caliphs.

      No one wants to change history or abrogate treaties. We do want to know the truth as far as we can.

    • Patrick Boyle says:

      I’m curious as to what your remark ‘five centuries of genocide’ refers to.

      It sounds as if you mean slavery but if so, the math is wrong. The first African slaves in the English speaking colonies were introduced around 1610 by Abraham Piersay a prominent settler in Jamestown. Piersay was of course English. He had brought a number of white Londoners as indentured servants with him to work the fields but they died too quickly in the Virginia climate. The local government asked him to charter a ship and bring back some blacks. As it happened the blacks did far better in the Virginia fields although they later failed to prosper in colder New England.

      The British of course abolished chattel slavery almost exactly three hundred years later. So black Africans were slaves of white British colonists and later Americans for only about three hundred years.

      Most historians think slavery began with the Neolithic revolution roughly six thousand years ago. Prior to that time Paleolithic hunter gatherers just killed their captured enemies (or ate them). But with agriculture there was a new demand for field hands and a new use for prisoners.

      Until the fifteenth century Sub Saharan Africa was isolated from everywhere else. Europe was engaged for millennia enslaving other Europeans but black Africa was not enslaved except perhaps locally until rather recently – post Age of Discovery.

      So black slavery was quite short compared to that of most other peoples. Wang Mang for example in the first century tried to abolish slavery in China. That’s well over a millennium before blacks became slaves in any real numbers. I’m named after Saint Patrick who was himself a slave in the fifth century . There would be no black slaves in Europe for another thousand years or so.

      Americans associate blacks with slavery but that makes little historical sense.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Ah the peace loving indians. The five tribes of New York of which the mohawks are the best known were given guns (really primitive ones) and given the instructions to go get us beavers, lots and lots of them, Europeans at that time just loved their beaver hats. The Beaver Wars were the result when these five tribes almost completely depopulated the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and were working on Illinois when their military successes were reversed. Now they didn’t necessary have to kill everybody because they found slow torture to be lots of fun and highly rewarding to boot. Tribes by the dozens fled their homelands to the west so that they too were not staked to the ground and slow roasted for days, it seems that the entertainment value of very slowly torturing the captured just never got old. Ah those peace loving indians, farther west the Apaches carved out for themselves (literally and figuratively) a vast happy hunting ground through similar tactics.

    • If Anonymous was a troll, this would have been a masterful “dumb comment” play.

      But I doubt she was.

  21. Jaim Jota says:

    Why the obsession with Kennewick Man? asks Anonymous. Think of the implications: Should the Man result Maori, we all – you, me, them, everybody… – have to evacuate this land of theirs.

  22. Wild speculation but interesting to me…

    If you simply look at the geography and imagine routes out of Africa to the Siberia crossing there’s three obvious ones (depending a little on if/when the Sahara was a barrier or not but not much in this case imo).
    1) West coast of Africa then along Atlantic coast to Scandinavia then across the short land route (because of being a globe) near the pole
    2) Via Egypt (or through the middle more generally but still with main weight of thrust into Egypt/Middle East) and then via one of multiple potential long land routes
    3) East coast route maybe hopping over at the Horn of Africa and following the coast all the way around India, SE Asia, China etc

    Purely guessing but route 1 seems like it might have been the quickest with the people following route 3 coming up behind. (And even if it was similar speeds the people following the far northern route would have been adapted to the crossing environment.) Then as the population following route 3 increased they pushed into Siberia and over-wrote the northern eurasian population east of wherever the cut-off line was. Dunno if that fits the genetics.

  23. TWS says:

    Now on a serious note. Can we estimate how old the (possibly) Native American connection is to Europeans?

  24. Jim says:

    A glance at a map of the distribution of Nadene languages(taking note of the fact that the Southern Athabascans are known to be very recent migrants to the American Southwest), together with their great differences from other American Indian languages is enough to suggest that they are probably descendents of an independent migration from Siberia.
    Regarding the number of Indians north of Mexico, Kroeber’s estimate published back in the fifties was about roughly 1 million. Nowadays much larger estimates are given. Does any know what are the most likely estimates of the number or Indians in the New World and north of Mexico at the time of Columbus?

  25. Jim says:

    Kroeber seems to have done a lot of work putting together his estimate of approx. 1.1 million Indians north of Mexico at the time of Columbus. No doubt there’s a lot of room for error but I’m puzzled that he could have been so far off if the numbers suggested today are correct.

  26. Jim says:

    Dearieme – There’s a Viking Settlement in the far north of Newfoundland at L’ans aux Meadows. I lived in Newfoundland for a few years when I was a child. At that time the existence of the settlement was unknown.

  27. Patrick Boyle says:

    There are at least two other major theories as to how native Americans got here that haven’t been mentioned yet. Personally I consider both to be whacky nonsense – but tastes differ.

    The first of course in the Mormon notion that the Indians are a lost tribe of Israelites. There is a reference to this ideas in the comedy western “Cat Ballou”. The guy I voted for to be President in the last election probably believes this theory quite literally.

    The other one is Barry Fell. Fell has found Ogham writings all over New England. Ogham is Celtic. Runes are Germanic. So my Irish ancestors were here first. This is consistent with the Saint Brendan voyages theory too. Fell also quotes Caesar in the Gaelic Wars to the effect that the Celts had huge ocean going ships. I looked it up and indeed Caesar did say something very much like that.

    Fell has all sorts of transcriptions from American rocks which have text like “I am Patrick and I have sailed here from Ireland”. Of course the actual inscriptions tend to look like random scratches but he assures us that that is what they say.

    Not all of Fell’s ancient mariners are Irish. As I remember some were Carthaginian. In any case he demonstrates (?) that what we call American Indians were really the descendants of Europeans.

  28. dearieme says:

    Oh no, my Irish ancestors were there first.

  29. Jim says:

    Dearieme – Thanks for mentioning that book. I ordered a copy of it. When I lived in Newfoundland I lived on the south coast where most other people lived. Almost no one lives up in the northern part of Newfoundland. It’s too bad that the Viking settlement at L’ans aux Meadows was not known at that time but it would have been a very long trip from where I lived to L’ans aux Meadows – more than 400 miles.

  30. Jim says:

    There’s no question that L’ans aux Meadows was a Norse settlement. They found iron spinning whorls there looking exactly like kinds found in Scandanavia. These show that the settlement there was a permanent settlement with women and children not just a winter encampment or something temporary.

    • dearieme says:

      I’m fully persuaded that “my Norse ancestors” reached America. I very much doubt that “my Scots, Irish or Welsh ancestors” did. It’s not impossible but there’s no evidence worth tuppence (i.e. about a dime).

  31. Fire Haired says:

    Native Americans in mtDNA, Y DNA, and autosomal DNA group with other Mongoloids in Asia. Showing no west Eurasian(Caucasian) ancestry except for extremely rare mtDNA X2. There is almost no Mongoloid admixture in Europeans in autosomal DNA. Except ones with known admixture with Mongoloids like Finnish and Tatars. Y DNA R1 over 6,000 years ago was non existent in most of west Eurasia. R1a1a M17 most likely originated in eastern Europe and spread with Indo European languages specifically Indo Iranian and Balto Slavic but maybe partly with others. It did not become widespread and popular like today till 5,000-3,000ybp. R1b most likely originated around the Near east and first arrived in Europe 6,000-10,000ybp as R1b1a2 M269 or R1b1a2a L23. The western European subclade R1b1a2a1a L11 is estimated to be only 6,000-5,000 years old. And spread with Germanic and Italo Celtic language mainly in the bronze age. R1 tells nothing about the overall origin of Europeans or any other western Eurasians it is just a paternal line that randomly became very popular mainly in the last 5,000 years. Y DNA R most likely did not originate in west Eurasians(Caucasians) because all descendants of its grandfather K(Xlt) are exclusive to Mongoloids and Oceania except R. So even if it did originate in West Eurasians its ancestral form got to them through Mongoloid inter marriage. I am sure this 24,000 year old Siberian has west Eurasian ancestry in autosomal DNA is not because he had a Y DNA R father but because he had a mtDNA U mother. I really don’t see how this connects Europeans and Native Americans the mtDNA U and west Eurasian ancestry just as likely came from Near easterns as Europeans.

    • “I really don’t see how this connects Europeans and Native Americans”

      I may be missing something but i thought the idea here was there *was* (past tense) a *very old* connection between the (very low population density i assume) inhabitants of north america at one point in time and the (very low population density i assume) inhabitants of the whole of northen eurasia at that time but east of some eurasian dividing line e.g. around the Altai, those inhabitants were displaced.

      (I may have misunderstood it though.)

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  34. marcel says:

    Almost completely off-topic… and probably too late to this post to get a response.

    East Asian (excuse me, Oriental)

    What is this about? I’m not esp. up on appropriate usage; in this case, my understanding is that “Oriental” applied to people is offensive, and I had thought that East Asian is an acceptable substitute to describe people from China, Mongolia, Japan and Korea, much like South Asian and Southeast Asian for other regions. Am I wrong?


    • marcel says:

      “describe” s/b “refer to”

    • gcochran9 says:

      “oriental” means Eastern. A bunch of idiots decided that it was offensive. The powers that be go along with nonsense like this all the time, when they aren’t originating it. Screw them.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        Note to self; use word “Oriental” wherever possible…

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Of all the words that have squashed by political correctness, this was the least useful. We’re better off without it.

        Words meaning “eastern” aren’t precise and their meaning jumps around. Asia used to mean Anatolia. Oriental used to mean the Middle East. Even Middle East used to be farther east than the Near East. West is even worse. “The West” has meant everything from Caucasoids to California.

  35. Jim says:

    Too Dave Chamberlain – The Apaches were not interested in wiping out the people they raided. They were interested in stealing horses and cattle and generally tried to avoid actual fighting or taking captives. They would however make vengeance raids if some of their own kin were killed.

    The Apaches were highly dependent on raiding and would have faced starvation if they had ceased. They were well aware of their dependence on raiding the Spanish and Pueblo Indians and had no desire whatsoever to wipe them out.

    In addition to their direct use of loot obtained from raids on the Spanish and Pueblo Indians the Apaches had extensive contact with Anglo traders who provided them with tools, guns, etc. in exchange for cattle and horses stolen from the Spanish and Pueblo Indians.

    After the Mexico War the US took over the rule of the Southwest. As part of the peace treaty between Mexico and the US the US promised to end Apache raids on the Mexicans. When US officials told the Apache chiefs that they must cease raiding the Mexicans the chiefs were astonished. “How do expect us to survive if we cannot raid the Mexicans?”.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      The general story that has been suppressed because it is not politically correct is that Indians receiving superior weaponry were more than happy to brutally crush their neighboring tribes whom had not received or mastered the use of European technology. Apaches were masters of shooting the bow and arrow from horseback and wasted little time in expanding their original territory into that of neighboring tribes. They did a whole lot more dirty deeds than filching cows and horses, these were some world class bad asses.

      • The way I heard it the Commanche were even worse. These folks would make raids well afield from their bases just to sow terror.

        Torture, gang rape, and killings in general were very common. In these raids men were usually murdered outright or tortured, while women were gang-raped and infants got killed.

        Not only were they a massive thorn in the side of the US, they almost exterminated the Apache, who were of course fierce killers themselves.

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  37. Jim says:

    And whatever name for an ethnic group replaces an older name now considered offensive it too becomes offensive in due time. So in this country we’ve been through “Negro”, “coloured”, “black”, “African-American” in just a few decades and who knows what comes next. We’re not supposed to say “Eskimo” because it is an Algonkin word not an Eskimo word so we’re supposed to call them Inuit but it turns out that the Yupik resent being taken for Inuit so who knows what to call them.

  38. Coasts and food.
    It seems to me giant turtles may not have been the only coastal creature not adapted to humans. A lot of coastal creatures who fed in the sea but bred onland would have been mostly adapted to their marine predators so when early humans came along these in-between creatures may have been the easiest to hunt (as land creatures are used to being hunted on land by land predators) – thus leading to a bit of a massacre and a kind of slash and burn hunting where humans followed the coast as they massacred the local coastal fauna.

    • Meant to add the problem if the above was the case being that the coasts aren’t necessarily in the same place they used to be hence evidence would be sparse.

      • TWS says:

        There’s a resort community from the thirties on the beach near my home. After a series of fires in the early 20th C. the park service kicked out the remaining folks and forbid rebuilding.

        The former community is nearly invisible now. In a hundred years it’ll be completely forgotten. I imagine any viking settlements oh the coast would be nearly impossible to find after a thousand years.

    • Although the terrestrial testudid and meiolaniid tortoises were hit by humans, no sea turtles have ever died out as a result of human exploitation and coastal nesting, marine tetrapods seem generally to have withstood human ecological impact very well prior to the modern historical period.

      As far as I can remember less than ten coast nesting but otherwise fully marine animals have been driven to extinction by humans and five of them are flightless seabirds. These are the great auk (Alca impennes, ex. mid 19th C), Steller’s spectacled cormorant (Phalacrocorax perspicillatus, ex. mid 19th C), two poorly known penguins from New Zealand (Megadyptes waitaha, ex. c.1500? and a Eudyptes species ex. late 19th C?) and the flightless ‘diving goose’ (Chendytes lawi, ex. 400-450 BCE) from the Pacific coast of North America. In the latter case, although the diving goose is sometimes reckoned as a victim of Pleistocene overkill, these unusual eiders actually persisted way into the Holocene despite a period of continuous human exploitation lasting millenia.

      The only phocid species ever thought to have gone extinct because of human impact is the Caribbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis, ?ex. mid 20th C) though as sightings continue in the Caribbean they may not even be extinct. Though that detail is somewhat irrelevant because monk seal populations actually seem vulnerable to human impact in a way that other phocid seals are not and the worst human impact occurred during the modern period. In addition to the monk seal in the Caribbean, in Japan populations of sealions may represent a distinct species (Zalophus japonicus, ex. 1970s) that was formerly exploited since the Jomonese period until its extinction. Nonetheless extinction followed intensive exploitation after the ‘modernisation’ of Japan along American lines. Lastly, though its inclusion may be stretching the definition of a marine mammal, there was a durophagous sea mink (Neovison macrodon, ex. late 19th C) inhabiting Atlantic North America, where it had been exploited by indigenous Americans, until the European fur trade drove it into extinction. Another borderline marine species that shared the sea mink’s distribution was the Labrador duck, (Camptorhynchus labradorius, ex. late 19th C) although in this case the cause of extinction is yet unknown. As far as I know the Labrador duck was the only flighted seabird thoughr to have become extinct as a result of human activities. Out of all the Holocene marine tetrapod extinctions, the disappearance of the anatids is the most mysterious of all and probably requires in both cases a separate explanation.

      Apart from the Waitaha penguin and the diving goose, all of these species were hit in the modern historical period and not by people following traditional subsistence economies.

      • In addition to the above I discovered there may be four anthropogenic extinctions of marine Charadriiformes (an auk and three seagulls) plus an uncertain number of tubenose seabirds are claimed to have vanished during the correct timeframe necessary to implicate human activity.

        There was a puffin (Fratercula dowi) in the Channel Islands off California that is known only from bones and may not even made it into the Holocene. Later in island ecosystems disappeared a gull (Larus utunui) in the Society Islands and two other Larus gulls identified from bones unearthed in Saint Helena and Kaua’i. The gulls, two of which are not described as new species by diagnostic material, all conform to the fragility of island ecosystems. The gulls that nested on the mainland were the ones that survived.

        Earlier I forgot that humans have impacted the tubenoses and potentially over 20 species are thought to have disappeared through human agency, but all of them were island nesters on ie. Easter Island, the Canary Islands, Saint Helena etc. Fortunately extinct tubenoses have a high probability of being rediscovered and some of the supposed extinct species are not even based upon diagnostic material in the first place. For example, in 2005 the bones of a gadfly petrel were unearthed from first millenium CE archaeological sites in the Hebrides and Orkney. Although they were fit the hypodigm of a known species (Fea’s gadfly petrel, Pterodroma feae), that is not presently nesting in these islands certain sources since state with certainty that a previously unknown and endemic species, the Scottish gadfly petrel (Pterodroma c. feae), became globally extinct during the first millenium CE. Unless DNA samples from the bones of such ‘extinct species’ demonstrates their distinctiveness, or new material proves more diagnostic, they should be regarded as zoological speculations at best.

        But it doesn’t really matter how many species of petrel went extinct during the Holocene, merely the situations in which they were vulnerable to humans. The entire seventh chapter of Holocene Extinctions (ISBN 978-0-19-953509-5) is devoted to the procellariformes and explains why they have been so affected by man. Their problem is that they are (mostly) specialised so as to use the power of flight to reach islands that are relatively free of predators as suitable safe nesting grounds, an evolutionary strategy that helped them to survive with few extinctions until Homo sapiens began using watercraft to reach such islands and to bring across mainland species disastrous to the tubenoses. (It is especially notable in the case of the Pacific that tubenose populations are vulnerable to pigs.) Petrel extinctions clearly conform to the vulnerability of insular fauna to human subsistence practices in such a way that continental fauna are not.

        I hope this isn’t too off topic but anthropogenic extinctions are of interest to Greg and some people on here, and are useful for dating human migrations. However a large question mark exists over how far the later extinctions of island fauna can be used as models for the Pleistocene extinctions.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        The subject being discussed by Bones and Behaviors is worth a book which I would love to read. The bones of our ancestors, particularly going back in time to clearly archaic hominids are frustratingly scarce. To illustrate how rare they really are all the bones of archaic humans found up to 1995 could fit in one coffin. This is no longer the case only because of 28 skeletons of homo heidelbergensis have been found at one site called Sima De Los Hoesos. As man progressed in his killing prowess he was able to exert greater influence on his environment and one of the first species we know he exterminated from specific locations was the giant tortoise. I am no expert but John Hawks is and we know when homo erectus arrived on the scene at specific locations 700,000 years before present because that is when giant tortoises made their sudden exit from specific locations. Man left his mark in many ways, animals went extinct, pollen radically changed when man used fire and favored the distribution of specific food providing plants, it is evidence that as far as I know hasn’t been put together in one book.

        Hey does anyone around here know of anyone capable of writing such a book?

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  40. reiner Tor says:

    @Jonathan Gress:

    Yes, you are quite right that language is also acquired from a peer group. But in most pre-modern societies, your childhood peers will also be close genetic relatives, so my point stands.

    Actually your point was also my point, I just elaborated it to close all possible routes around the “related genes mean related languages” point. Yes, in most pre-agriculture societies your childhood peers will be close genetic relatives, and no, there was no large-scale language loss or acquisition back then.

    Suggestive similarities between Na-Dene and Yeniseian were noted before Greenberg, so he was not crazy to believe that Na-Dene was part of a different linguistic phylum from the other Amerindian. The problem is whether the non-Dene Amerindian languages can be said to form a coherent phylum. The linguistic evidence is not sufficient, and I submit that that the genetic evidence is not sufficient, unless we have reason to believe all Amerindians descend from a single community occupying a small area, which then rapidly spread throughout the continent, i.e. if the original Amerindians all traveled over the Bering Strait within a short span of time (a few centuries at most). If they took millennia to cross, as seems to be the case, there is no reason to suspect they continued to speak the same language over all that time. Without a single language, there is no reason to believe all modern Amerindian languages have a common ancestor.

    I don’t quite understand your point. No matter how long it took them to cross, we can be sure the peoples in Northeast-Asia were not replaced during the process, because we know that all of them from the first wave were genetically related (maybe not very closely related, but nevertheless related), and therefore they probably spoke related languages (see above, our point on the correlation between genes and languages). There is no way a population is going to change its language in prehistoric times without wholesale population replacement (which we know didn’t happen), in the absence of elite domination, forced deportations, and the like.

    Now if they spoke related languages, then we can say that most Amerindian language descend from those related languages. But if we can know with reasonable certainty that they descended from related languages, then sure they could be traced back to an ultimate Proto-Amerindian Language, albeit not in the Americas, but in Northeast Asia or Siberia or some other area. Am I missing something here?

    Since my understanding of linguistics is limited to having read books mostly written for the general public, it is possible I misunderstand something.

  41. Jim says:

    The linguistic families of Amerindian languages which are nearly universally accepted number over 200. If there are no genetic relationships among these families that are more recent than the migrations into the New World than that implies the migration into the New World of more than 200 different unrelated groups. That’s hard for me to believe.

  42. Jim says:

    To Dave Chamberlain – It took a long time for Apaches to learn to ride horses. For a long time they simply ate the horses they captured or traded them for guns and metal tools. Their victims were mostly the Spanish and Pueblo Indians. They certainly had no desire to crush them and indeed that would have been disastrous to them as they were totally dependent on both raiding and trading with the Spanish and Pueblo Indians. They did not expand into the territory of other Indians after the arrival of the Spanish. On the contrary the expansion of the Comanche and the Kiowa drove the Apaches out of most of the Southern Plains into the harsher land of New Mexico and
    Southwestern Texas. Coronado reported the Jicarilla in the Texas Panhandle but the Comanche and Kiowa drove the Jicarilla into New Mexico and drove the Lipan deeper into Texas.
    The Comanche and Kiowa raided throught Texas, parts of New Mexico and deep into Mexico. On occaision the Spanish were able to recruit the Comanche for campaigns against the Apaches and these joint ventures were some of the most successful Spanish campaigns against the Apaches. However the Comanches were not very reliable allies. Much more reliable were the Pima who in Arizona often constituted the bulk of the manpower under Spanish command. The Pima took very well to Spanish culture but still retained enough of their traditional culture to be very effective in tracking down the Apache bands.
    The word Apache is a Zuni word meaning “enemy” and was applied by the Zuni to the Navaho who at one time lived just to the west of the Zuni. The Spanish adopted it as a general term for the nomadic raiders of Arizona and New Mexico who were mostly Southern Athabascan but the trem was also sometimes used for raders in western Arizona who were actually Mohave or related to Mohave. Also there seem to have been some Southern Athabascans in northern New Mexico who were more sedentary than most of the others and who were not generally descrided as “Apacheria” by the Spanish.

  43. Jim says:

    The Comanches did not raid “just to sow terror”. They raided mostly for cattle some of which they ate but most of which they traded with Anglo traders for metal tools, leather goods, guns etc. Originally the Comanches and Kiowa were bitter enemies but in 1780 the Anglo traders arranged a peace treaty between the Comanche and Kiowa which brought peace for some time to the plains of Northwest Texas except for some occaisional fighting between the Kiowa and Wichita. Thereafter both the Comanche and Kiowa concentrated on raiding the Spanish and Coahuiltecan of Southern Texas and Northern Mexico, driiving the cattle north and trading them to Anglo traders for all kinds of goods. In the early nineteenth century the Comanche were the largest supplier of beef to the American market.
    After the Comanche were finally subdued some of them were able to adapt to white ways and become successful ranchers on the western plains. Quanah Parker in particular was able to succeed as a cattle rancher. One of his fully white uncles who escaped from Comanche captivity also became a very successful rancher in South Texas.
    In traditional Comanche culture a man who had not participated in at least one raid had little status and had a difficult time acquiring a wife. Nevertheless some Comanche men choose not to join any raiding parties preferring a more peaceful if less prestigious life.

  44. Jim says:

    Correction – I said “Southern Athabascan in northern New Mexico”. I meant to say “Southern Athabascan in northern Mexico”. These were the Toboso and related people. Little is known of them but their language appears to be Southern athabascan.

  45. Richard Sharpe says:

    I think all the world’s problems are close to being solved!

    If we can cure heart disease in 90 days then surely we can boost everyone’s IQ and performance on intellectual tasks and physical tasks so everyone is equal!

  46. OK, let me clear up a few misconceptions:

    - Traditional historical linguistics has a very rigorous approach to proving language relationship. This means that there may be language relationships out there that really exist, but can’t be proven. In fact, this must certainly be the case, given that all the language families currently accepted can’t have arisen by separate evolutionary events. Rather, modern linguistics operates under the assumption that language as an innate mental faculty evolved once in the history of the species, and that all observable linguistic diversity is simply surface variation supervening on the same set of underlying grammatical principles.

    - Thus, it may be possible that all non-Na-Dene, non-Eskimo-Aleut Amerindian languages have a common ancestry. Most historical linguists argue that we just can’t prove this in any rigorous fashion.

    - I believe that rigor is essential to scientific progress. If results don’t meet some criterion of statistical significance, they are junk results and shouldn’t play a part in formulating scientific explanations. The statistical insignificance of the results of mass lexical comparison was demonstrated back in the 1990s in a series of articles by Don Ringe.

    - Even if we can attribute specific migration events to modern Eskimo-Aleut or Na-Dene speakers, that doesn’t mean the rest must also have a common linguistic ancestor. The biological ancestors of Amerindians may themselves have spoken unrelated languages. This is more likely the longer the migration took to occur. According to this paper in PNAS, by Achilli et al, the first migration event has a range of about 2,000 years. It’s possible these people spoke closely related languages, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    - We actually expect a lot of linguistic isolation and diversity in neolithic societies. Just look at Papua New Guinea: genetically they have common ancestry, but linguistically they are extremely diverse, with many isolates and unrelated families, even in cases of geographical proximity. This is the same situation we expect for aboriginal societies in the Americas, and also appears to have been the case in ancient Europe, with many non-Indo-European languages surviving alongside Indo-European speakers well into recorded history. Johanna Nichols wrote the definitive book on neolithic language diversity in her 1992 book Language Diversity in Space and Time.

  47. @Bones and Behaviours
    “Apart from the Waitaha penguin and the diving goose, all of these species were hit in the modern historical period and not by people following traditional subsistence economies.”

    Well we know lots of megafauna went extinct and megafauna seems like it would be an example of species not adapted to being hunted by packs of clever monkeys. I’m guessing we only know about the megafauna by the bones? So the point about evidence of early human activity along coast-lines stands imo as the coast isn’t where it was 100,000 years ago.

    But either way reeling back a bit

    From the paper about Native American Population history linked above

    “We show that the initial peopling followed a southward expansion facilitated by the coast, with sequential population splits and little gene flow after divergence”

    How about theory option #2 – differential early human expansion rates along coastlines relative to the interior cos

    1) Starting Rainforest Zone
    Pros: lots of gathering
    Cons: prey animals are adapted to being hunted

    2a) Adjacent Interior Zones
    Cons: less easy gathering
    Cons: prey animals are adapted to being hunted

    2b) Adjacent Coastal Zones
    Pros: same or more gatheriing potential
    Pros: critters not as adapted to being hunted onland

    3) Coastal Zones adjacent to the original coastal zones
    Pros: as above

    So not necessarily humans following an extinction tour of the world’s coastlines (although maybe there was more coastal megafauna than giant tortoise whose bones haven’t been found yet?) but simply coastlines providing more food per unit area so human expansion along coasts outstripped expansion further inland.

    Anyway just speculatin’ but if so then there *ought* to have been a relatively early Out of Africa expansion following the seafood trail along the Atlantic Coast possibly up as far as Scandinavia.

    Any evidence would be under wherever the coastline was at the time.

    Pure guess though.

    • Hmm, saying

      1) Starting Rainforest Zone
      2a) Interior Zones adjacent to (1)
      2b) Coastal Zones adjacent to (1)
      3) Coastal Zones adjacent to (2)

      might explain what i mean better.

      nb just from the geography i think this alternative route would have been relatively minor compared to the east coast / nile route but i think it would have existed at some level.

    • I don’t know why you think giant tortoises were coastal fauna because all testudids are inland species. The same goes for the meiolaniid horned tortoises in Australasia.

      As far back as the the Paleolithic, Solutrean people were exploiting the great auks but they didn’t go extinct till the 19th C. And Paleolithic and Mesolithic occupation sites reveal the bones of coastal prey animals, so species that are now extinct ought to have been recognised if they ever existed in the first place.

      • Oops, turtles.

        “The largest ever found, however, was over 3 metres (9.8 ft) from head to tail, including a carapace length of over 2.2 metres (7.2 ft), and weighed 916 kilograms (2,019 lb).[11] That specimen was found on a beach on the west coast of Wales.”


        “so species that are now extinct ought to have been recognised if they ever existed in the first place”

        Fair enough.

        However the main point was
        - easier food-getting for early humans along coast-lines (extinction tour or not)
        - (above also applies to rivers except for disease)
        - i don’t believe creatures adapted to one environment generally move into a different one and then adapt. i think they adapt in hybrid environments first where their current adaptations allow them to survive long enough.

        i.e. creatures adapted for the rainforest who *also* live on the coast become separately adapted to the coast and can expand along it if the food-getting is relatively easy even if they leave the rainforest part of the habitat behind

        so out of africa (really out of the tropics imo) ought (at least partly) to have been an H shape where the horizontal bar is/was the rainforest belt and the two vertical bars are/were the coastlines east and west i.e. i think it will turn out that east asians are descended from an eastern coastal version of bushmen

        not a big deal but i haven’t heard people talk much about a (probably smaller) western coastal strand of out of africa and i think there would have been one.

  48. Jim says:

    Jonathan -

    Traditional historical linguistics is fine. But I think it is perfectly reasonable to also consider genetic evidence.

    I know that a lot of work has been done in recent years on clustering algorithms to model complex data. I’m curious if you know about any work to apply these methods to linguistic analysis. I realize that creating the databases for such algorithms is extremely difficult and time-consuming.

    • Actually, yes, phylogenetic tools have been used for subgrouping of Indo-European languages:

      Regarding genetic evidence, I would hesitate to rely solely on genetic evidence to reconstruct linguistic family trees, simply because there often isn’t a correlation between genes and languages (though certainly sometimes there is). For instance, that PNAS paper I cited points out that while Inuit and northern Athabaskan speakers share certain genetic traits, southern Athabaskan speakers (Navajo etc) do not; rather, they show the same genetic profile as other North American Indians.

      • gcochran9 says:

        You have to evaluate the genetic evidence, and in order to so you either have to know some genetics or have a trusted collaborator who does. The paper I cited relied on autosomal DNA, SNPS, which give you the state of a person’s genes at hundreds of thousand of variable loci. The Achilli et al paper relies on mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA, which is one locus. You’ll get a better picture of history from autosomal DNA than from mtDNA. In the first place, for these purposes, you want neutral genetic markers, not influenced by selection: mtDNA may be not always be that neutral, while the vast majority of SNPs definitely are. Next, not only are there vastly more SNPs to look at, the effective population size is four times lower for mtDNA than for autosomal DNA – so chance plays more of a role. mtDNA can give you unique info – it can tell you something about historical maternal ancestry, if genetic drift hasn’t mangled the signal – but in general it is not nearly as good a guider to population history as autosomal DNA. People used to use it because it was technically easier, but today, you wouldn’t want to lean on it.

  49. Jim says:

    Actually I can’t recall now from reading Greenberg’s Language in the Americas whether he even mentioned the possibility of a Ket – Nadene connection.

  50. Jim says:

    The Comanches never “almost exterminated the Apache” . They drove the Jicarilla and Lipan out of the Texas Panhandle and fought with the Apaches in eastern New Mexico but the Apaches further west were not much affected by them

  51. Jim says:

    The Apaches were raiders but describing them as “fierce killers” – any more than a lot of other people including the Spanish? Were the Pima “fierce killers”.? They killed a lot of Apaches..

  52. GoneWithTheWind says:

    The obvious probability is that Europeans settled in the new world and merged with the existing cultures thousands of years before Columbus, AND that their route was the North Atlantic and not the Bering Sea.

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