There are skeletons in the closet of Anthropology. I think we can all agree on that. Not unusual at all. In fact, quite normal for scientific disciplines to have remnants of thought, theories that are hiding back behind the stylish new clothes we take out to wear every day. Kinda the nature of it isn’t it?
Understanding into the nature of our world is accomplished by using the building blocks of past knowledge and the insights of new revelations. Ever try to build a house of cards? Of course you have. I never got very far myself. It’s really hard to do. One thing you notice right away is if one of the cards is bent or damaged it really makes it much harder. Better to get that one out of the deck while you can. Other wise you could get the pyramid going up pretty high and that card would be the cause of the collapse. Then you start over but you aren’t going to use that card again.
That is basically why the earth is not the center of the universe. For all of human history the earth was considered to be the center of the universe. Pythagoras in the 6th century BCE and Aristotle in 330 BCE had figured the earth was a sphere and that pretty much began the geocentric model of the cosmos. It was not until 1514 and that whole Copernicus thing blew up in the press and caused a revolution that the Ptolemaic model came crashing down like a house of cards.
Because of the times it was a slow-motion fall but what do you do? You take that card out of the deck and you set it aside and move on that’s what. It’s in the nature of progress that some ideas fall by the way side of life as they are proved to be outdated by new empirical data.
Here’s one for you. Homo sapiens were birthed only 200,000 years ago and never left Africa until 100,000 years ago. That is one skeleton in the closet we are kicking out right now.
While it might seem a little surreal, the Dali skull I am talking about here is not from the artist. It is from China.
Discovered in 1978 in Dali County of Shaanxi Province this skull dated at 260,000 years old was initially dubbed a Homo erectus. Although wanting to call it an archaic human it seemed too radical at the time. After all, in 1978 modern man was only thought to be 100,000 years old.
Just in the past year we’ve had the Jebel Irhoud remains analyzed to be between 300 and 350K years old. We’ve had modern man tool kits in India dated at 385,000 years old and we’ve proof of modern man in the middle east at 250,000 years ago.
The Dali Skull
You don’t have to see a melting clock to know what time it is.
Early humans in China 260,000 years ago.
New findings from Texas A&M and The Chinese Academy of Sciences find the Dali skull remarkably similar to the remains at Jebel Irhoud.
Believe me, this opens up a whole new can of worms. Did these early humans influence the direction of man’s evolution by a back and forth gene pool flow? Did early man evolve in Eurasia after all? Did the Asian humans evolve in parallel but separately? Have some fundamentally human characteristics developed in Asia first? Has the case for multiregional evolution taken a big step forward? Will Jon Snow ever sit on the Iron Throne?
We don’t know all the answers yet but we are getting closer and closer. The pace of discovery in the past year is faster than our ability to absorb and assimilate the new data. Since the year 2000 there have been amazing finds with new hominin species being discovered at an unpresented rate but the last year has been incredibly delicious.
Wherever we are going, keeping an open mind will get us there faster than holding on to outdated theories. After all, at the end of the day we want to arrive at a place where we can be certain the house we built is with solid brick and not some house of cards.