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Do you think it worthwhile to separate African and Asian Erectus, i.e. Homo ergaster and Homo erectus?

No, I share in the broad consensus view that the fossils of Asian H. erectus and African H. ergaster are so similar that there is no basis to consider them as separate species. In modern terms we would call them different races, they are no more different than are African and Asian fully moderns living today. We now know that H. erectus were global, populating the world from Southeast Asia to Europe and Africa - a single relatively homogeneous species with regional variance in morphology that reflects the variance we see in modern humans across geographic regions today.

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I fail to see how it falls under the "fact" category at all as to do so changes many of the very "facts" human speciation is built on in which it is these very differences that give classification to many of the different species and sub-species. Its ok to do away with this and chalk it up to variation, but to do so I think means the entire hominin line needs to be reevaluated all the same. To look at the Dmanisis skulls again, this is quite the motley crew:


Homo ergaster cranial capacity is between 700-900cc which I believe only skull 1 of the Dmanisi finds fall in this range at 780cc, whereas all the others are well below, around 600-650cc, with skull 5 at a meager 546cc. This kind of variation is found across other species as well, sometimes greater, including modern humans, so these differences in and of themselves are not enough regardless of the fact most are well below what is to be expected, but in conjunction with these are stark morphological differences which taken together I do not believe constitute variation within a species, but rather different species entirely. Further to consider is that such differences would be expected to be found across a large sample of the population, but this is the population at Dmanisi, all found together, which I do not believe such variance has ever been found in any species before, across the whole let alone within one group. Highly unusual.

You are right that this, if the academics at Dmanisi are correct, should prompt a rethink of the entire model we currently call the 'human family tree'. I am of the strong opinion that we need to completely update our model and do away with up to a dozen named species. The reality appears to be that Homo erectus ranged the planet in great numbers, they shared with modern humans a high degree of morphological diversity, indeed it may have been higher across regions as small groups broke off and moved into more isolated areas, preserving snapshots of the existing diversity at the time of separation. They also would have lived along side hominins that exhibited what we think of as archaic morphological traits, assuming they could breed with these (and we have no evidence against that and every reason to suspect they could) we would also see individuals with 'extreme' features preserved from non-erectus relatives included in their lineage. What we call genetic throwbacks.

The Dmanisi archaeological site is really out in the middle of nowhere, far from any other known hominin site that can be thought of as in any way related to it in any direct sense. Nobody even expected to find early hominins in the Caucasus region - it was a stunning site and a stunning blow for the consensus models. 1.8 million years ago the most advanced character in the field was Homo erectus, and it was supposed to be isolated in Africa. The leading experts have examined the skulls and concluded that they represent early Homo erectus, they do not all agree that these can be used to absorb the many named African hominins considered to have been co-existing, but they do agree these are Homo erectus. The fact that the five skulls are from a single small site and age a few thousand years apart makes it unreasonable to argue they can be from different populations, no matter how different they look, what population could they be from? We have found nobody else nearer to them than Africa - to suggest one or two might be another species would be REALLY hard to argue - imagine digging up a remote isolated cave in lion territory and finding four sets of ancient lion skeletons, and then a fifth that looked different. If we claimed this additional skeleton was a tiger rather than an odd looking lion I suspect our lapse in logic would be pointed out by all comers. Why would a lone tiger end up so far from its territory and be living among lions, how could it have ended up in the same grave site etc.

Could it be just possible another hominin species was around, maybe, but all of the leading experts that examined the skulls seem to be in agreement that they are five examples of Homo erectus - no matter what any of us may suspect. As I have stressed, I can't see a logical argument against this finding and I am not qualified to fully assess the morphology.


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Right, but how does Homo habilis or the like get out of Africa let alone so far out of Africa? It makes no sense unless he (the "Dmanisi Habilis") originated outside of Africa as well which is not something most scientists, at least Out of Africa proponents which is the dominant view, are willing to consider.

It is no secret that I am very sympathetic towards the possibility that early humans, including Homo erectus, evolved outside of Africa. Indeed, I rather suspect all hominins share a non-African root, my suggestion would be they emerged in Southeast Asia - where early ancestral primates lived over 40 million years ago. The Dmanisi site alone is not enough to take down Out of Africa and re-position the origin of Homo erectus. The counter argument is that we have a long line of hominins in Africa, tool using early humans existing from 3.3 million years ago. The earliest accepted fossils of Homo erectus are in Africa, dated to 2 million years ago and of course the ancestor of these, Homo habilis (which I call early Homo erectus) is present 2.5 million years ago. This gives hundreds of thousands of years for a group of these beings to make there way out of Africa and up into the Caucasus. Much as it surprised academics, all they have to do is say, "oh well we missed the evidence of yet another earlier out of Africa migration".

Only by presenting hominin sites older than 1.8 million years that exist outside Africa can that argument be countered. It certainly also helps to find evidence of very early hominin forms outside Africa. For these reasons the best argument for the Dmanisi hominins being non-African comes in the form of the Masol hominin site in India (2.6 million years old) and the understood lineage of the Homo floresiensis 'hobbits', now that they have been fully assessed and attributed direct lineage to Homo habilis or a similar archaic lineage.

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But why are they universally accepted as Erectus? This is what I am driving at as the only reason this is offered is to explain why they are all found together outside of Africa. If you took these skulls and placed them in different areas around Africa I guarantee they would not all be considered the same species with some being Habilis or the like and at least skull 1 being Erectus, with some I bet would even be hailed as a "new intermediary species" from Habilis to Erectus.

Apart from the logical argument already brought up, to which you are raising a finger here, there is another good reason why the skulls were accepted as a single species (in this case Homo erectus).

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Were Earliest Humans All 1 Species? Oddball Skull Sparks Debate - LiveScience
The level of variation seen in Homo fossils is typically used to define separate species. However, the scientists found the level of diversity now seen between the five sets of fossils at Dmanisi — Skull 5 and the four other specimens — is no greater than any seen between five modern humans or five chimpanzees.

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Christoph Zollikofer, a neurobiologist at the Anthropological Institute and Museum in Zurich
"If you take the biggest skull there and compare it to the smallest, the smallest one is 75 percent the size of the bigger one, and that's absolutely standard in what you would see in modern humans,"
Source

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It is this very morphological diversity that the multiple species (and sub-species) model is founded and if it is to be abandoned for the Dmanisi finds all other species need to be reevaluated as well.

Well, that really is the debate. One camp says we need to rethink the entire mess of early humans, the other says that until we have skeletons, rather than just skulls, we should not be so hasty.

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This is true and many arguments have been made in this regard to other species, namely the myriad of sub species classifications, but also different genus i.e. Australopithecus and Paranthropus.

I am for merging the various Australopithecus together into one evolving lineage with extreme morphological variation in its midst, I call it Homo australopithecus (as tool use goes back at least 3.3 million years).

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At this point either the morphology is enough to classify them separately, which personally for some I think it definitely is, or it isn't, though to some degree I would say the tool industry found has some say in this which in Homo erectus's case maybe the qualifier needed to distinguish them is "archulean" and "non-archulean" perhaps.

As we will never have DNA older thn 1.5 million years it does seem that morphology will remain the key criteria for identifying human species.


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Though technically each can be assessed separately, I would say most definitely behavioral though they would appear to be directly related as it is not just how they "look", but rather it is this very morphology that allowed the human brain to develop to achieve such modernity, namely the higher vertical transition of the frontal bone that allowed the frontal lobe to more fully develop. Regardless, it is not our anatomy that sets us apart from other hominins but our behavior, ultimately the definition of what it means to be to be "human". To paraphrase James Shreeve from Neanderthal Enigma, the maddening thing about all species of hominins is that despite their long existence, they did not progress, i.e. build on previous successes, and if anything regressed towards their ends. Homo sapiens were no different as despite "modern humans" having been around for supposedly 200,000yrs he didn't start acting like a modern human until around 45,000yrs ago with the arrival of Cro-Magnon in Europe, who also just so happens to have the tell-tale cranial morphology of what we consider to be fully anatomically modern, something which is not present in Africa before. This means something.

It certainly makes most sense to look to behaviour, we see some very archaic looking fossils at very young sites and as such we can't say these people were not fully modern humans. Clearly they were part of fully modern human groups and we must imagine them doing all the same activities as individuals with more modern looking anatomy.


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The consensus so far is sometime between 800,000-300,000yrs ago with recent analysis of a tooth suggesting this may have been earlier:
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The new study contradicts this idea. The tooth reconstruction of the last common ancestor of humans and Neanderthals created by Gómez-Robles and colleagues doesn't match the teeth of H. heidelbergensis.

In fact, the researchers found that none of the human species living during the time predicted by genetic data fit the tooth pattern generated by the new study. More than that, "European species that might be candidates show morphological affinities with Neanderthals," Gómez-Robles says, which hints that these humans were already on the Neanderthal side of the split.

This suggests that the last common ancestor of H. sapiens and Neanderthals lived sometime earlier, perhaps as far back as one million years ago.
Much Earlier Split for Neanderthals, Humans?

The consensus used to include early dates, the 300,000 year old divergence being one. This has gone out the window following the Sima de Los Huesos genetic study (550 - 765 KYA) and indeed the University of Indiana comparative fossil research that gave the conclusion you are referring to when you mention the ancient tooth (1,000,000 YA). They actually looked at a very large number of teeth and jaw bones before concluding that there was no Homo sapiens ancestor in the fossil record of Europe and therefore also discounting Africa as the candidate species are reflected on both continents (Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis). If you also factor in the research at the Denisova cave site, which concluded Denisovans were diverging from our lineage by 800 KYA, you see why I point to 700 - 900 KYA.

To quote paleoanthropologist Maria Martinón-Torres of University College London, "researchers should now be looking for a population that lived around 700,000 to 900,000 years ago.”


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Without the behavior-what does it matter as otherwise we are no different than any other hominin?

Indeed.

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I have to say, as interesting as this may be, I really do not think it matters as whatever our "line" may have been, or how old it may be, it is otherwise no less far removed from fully anatomical and behavioral modern humans as any other species of hominin.

Perhaps, perhaps not. There is evidence that suggests we made some good use of the extra time

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Can you give examples? I assume I know what you are reffering to. I would address Blombos cave from a previous thread:
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The problem with Blombos cave, supposedly occupied from 100,000-70,000ya and again around 2,000-300ya, is that it is wholly unique-nothing like it found before or after anywhere prior to Eurasia c. 40,000ya. Even the style of tool is extremely similar to a kind not found until 20,000ya in Europe. Beads and bone tools found in the cave aren't convincingly found until after 40,000ya as well yet there they are in Blombos cave completely isolated from the rest of the world for 30,000yrs? Here is the "revolutionary" Blombos "artwork":

A bit of a leap with virtually nothing in between from that to this:


Regardless, Blombos cave is arguably the most out of place discovery in the history of anatomically modern humans as before and after, a time spanning at least 100,000yrs, there is nothing but a veritable wasteland of progress with nothing leading up to it and nothing following it for at least 30,000yrs. Even if this discovery is valid, there is a quantum leap between what is found here and what occurs after 40,000ya with nothing to show for it in between which has hardly anything to do with "climate". There is still a large gap between anatomically modern humans and behaviorally modern humans which despite Blombos cave its beginnings still point to the arrival of Cro-Magnon in Europe c. 40,000ya. Whatever progress was made by the Blombos culture it lived and died with them in that cave. And for what its worth, no bones have yet to be discovered there either.

You are correct that Blombos cave seem to be a place outside of space and time when it comes to the continuous story of human evolution and migrations. We suddenly find signs of fully modern humans just appear there 70,000 years ago (approximately). I tackle this in my book, my argument is that modern humans used watercraft to reach the coast of South Africa from Australasia and/or Southeast Asia. This was a small party of refugees escaping from the devastation caused by the Lake Toba super volcano, 74,000 years ago. The timing fits like a hand in glove, and as we will see in a moment so does the artwork at Blombos.

I was not actually thinking of the Blombos rock and that early art, but instead an almost identical engraving on a shell from Java, dated to over 430,000 years ago and assumed to be produced by Homo erectus, my money is on it being made by early Homo sapiens, but it exists and somebody made it long before that rock in the Blombos cave.


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This is interesting, but the dating seems rather up in the air so to say it is in fact much later in reality is unknown. It may well not be, but to be fair it does have a close parallel with the Ngandong hominid of Java (Homo erectus), also controversially given a relatively young date. But what these seem to point to is not necessarily later dates for archaic traits in Homo sapiens, but rather a longer existence of Homo erectus, also quite interesting. Also to be considered is the geography of the Pleistocene in these regions were much different with much more land mass. If the artifacts found on Socotra are in fact Homo erectus (based on nothing more than the period of dating), this means they would have had to have traversed open water which conditions to do so would be even more favorable in the Pleistocene to get to Australia. Then you have the Crete finds dated to 130,000yrs which also suggest crossing open water, though the Mediterranean at the time would have been significantly different as well.

WLH50 has been closely analysed, as have other very archaic looking skulls from Kow Swamp and the morphology is outside the range of Homo erectus they are all a accepted as fully modern human beings. The Kow Swamp skulls are from recent times, some being no more than 10,000 years old.

Hope that all helps, thanks again for getting the debate rolling!

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Subject Views Written By Posted
The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 4621 Bruce R. Fenton 01-Jun-17 11:19
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 1150 Susan Doris 02-Jun-17 05:45
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 829 Bruce R. Fenton 02-Jun-17 06:56
Related threads on GHMB 899 drrayeye 02-Jun-17 17:06
Re: Related threads on GHMB 733 Bruce R. Fenton 03-Jun-17 10:19
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 772 laughin 05-Jun-17 21:06
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 765 Bruce R. Fenton 06-Jun-17 04:03
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 769 SallyA 07-Jun-17 02:28
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 647 Bruce R. Fenton 07-Jun-17 04:40
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 993 Thanos5150 06-Jun-17 14:29
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 777 SallyA 07-Jun-17 02:55
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 731 Bruce R. Fenton 07-Jun-17 05:47
... 760 SallyA 08-Jun-17 04:00
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution ..-_-.. question one 673 Bruce R. Fenton 08-Jun-17 04:37
... 769 SallyA 08-Jun-17 06:51
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 655 Thanos5150 07-Jun-17 16:15
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 787 Thanos5150 07-Jun-17 19:38
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 752 Bruce R. Fenton 08-Jun-17 03:20
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 637 Bruce R. Fenton 07-Jun-17 05:33
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 1016 Thanos5150 07-Jun-17 16:08
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 695 SallyA 08-Jun-17 05:17
... 771 SallyA 08-Jun-17 06:06
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 736 Bruce R. Fenton 09-Jun-17 02:19
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution -- thank you 695 SallyA 09-Jun-17 03:47
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 858 Thanos5150 11-Jun-17 16:13
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 643 Bruce R. Fenton 12-Jun-17 09:26
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 665 Bruce R. Fenton 09-Jun-17 02:03
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 746 Thanos5150 09-Jun-17 23:54
OOA strikes back - the sequel 792 laughin 08-Jun-17 13:09
Re: OOA strikes back - the sequel 694 Bruce R. Fenton 08-Jun-17 15:37
Re: OOA strikes back - the sequel 700 Thanos5150 08-Jun-17 17:23
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 678 Robert Jameson 11-Jun-17 06:13
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 686 Bruce R. Fenton 11-Jun-17 11:46
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 830 Robert Jameson 12-Jun-17 05:34
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 685 dong 12-Jun-17 06:51
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 752 Robert Jameson 12-Jun-17 13:32
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 765 Bruce R. Fenton 12-Jun-17 09:19
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 653 Robert Jameson 12-Jun-17 12:40
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 720 Susan Doris 14-Jun-17 05:02
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 727 Robert Jameson 14-Jun-17 05:45
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 750 michael seabrook 13-Jun-17 22:09
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 756 Robert Jameson 13-Jun-17 00:51
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 654 SallyA 13-Jun-17 01:03
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 635 Robert Jameson 13-Jun-17 02:44
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution. -- off topic .. senmutt tomb. .. Giza hosts an inland sea 828 SallyA 13-Jun-17 02:59
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution. -- off topic .. senmutt tomb 618 Robert Jameson 13-Jun-17 03:39
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution. -- off topic .. senmutt tomb 686 SallyA 13-Jun-17 04:04
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 740 Thanos5150 14-Jun-17 15:55
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 811 Robert Jameson 14-Jun-17 17:54
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 638 michael seabrook 16-Jun-17 21:03
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 659 Robert Jameson 16-Jun-17 22:47
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution Excellent and ... 728 SallyA 16-Jun-17 23:39
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution Excellent and ... 726 Robert Jameson 17-Jun-17 09:44
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 633 Susan Doris 17-Jun-17 14:17
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 693 Robert Jameson 18-Jun-17 02:43
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 647 Susan Doris 18-Jun-17 09:24
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 719 Bruce R. Fenton 18-Jun-17 11:04
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 706 Robert Jameson 18-Jun-17 11:14
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 616 Robert Jameson 18-Jun-17 11:04
Unfair diversion 546 drrayeye 18-Jun-17 21:35
Re: Proto-sumerian ... Ukraine ... a bit late for into Africa I fear, probably mis-posted 817 SallyA 19-Jun-17 03:00
Re: Unfair diversion 746 Susan Doris 19-Jun-17 05:20
Unfair diversion for sure 636 drrayeye 19-Jun-17 05:47
Re: Unfair diversion for sure 696 Susan Doris 20-Jun-17 04:56
Robert's challenge 748 drrayeye 20-Jun-17 07:24
Re: Robert's challenge 630 Robert Jameson 26-Jun-17 11:17
Tangential 622 drrayeye 27-Jun-17 05:03
Re: Tangential 631 Robert Jameson 27-Jun-17 06:12
Wrong board 649 drrayeye 27-Jun-17 06:38
Re: Wrong board 604 Robert Jameson 27-Jun-17 08:03
Re: Tangential 647 Eddie Larry 27-Jun-17 15:59
Re:Susan, do you know of a time line? 649 SallyA 19-Jun-17 17:48
Re: Unfair diversion 714 Thanos5150 19-Jun-17 13:44
Re: Unfair diversion 632 drrayeye 19-Jun-17 15:40
Re: Unfair diversion 744 Robert Jameson 19-Jun-17 23:14
Re: Unfair diversion 641 drrayeye 20-Jun-17 00:31
Re: Unfair diversion 704 Robert Jameson 20-Jun-17 10:19
kicking a dead horse 649 drrayeye 20-Jun-17 14:36
Re: kicking a dead horse 558 Robert Jameson 20-Jun-17 23:49
Staying on topic 641 drrayeye 21-Jun-17 01:15
Re: Unfair diversion 646 Thanos5150 20-Jun-17 15:24
Hominids vs Homo. most obvious difference -- thumbs on feet 580 SallyA 20-Jun-17 15:59
Re: Hominids vs Homo. most obvious difference -- thumbs on feet 563 Bruce R. Fenton 26-Jun-17 10:21
Interesting 629 drrayeye 27-Jun-17 06:50
Re: Interesting 519 Bruce R. Fenton 27-Jun-17 22:32
Re: Hominids vs Homo. most obvious difference -- thumbs on feet 518 Eddie Larry 28-Jun-17 04:37
Re: Hominids vs Homo. most obvious difference -- thumbs on feet 869 Bruce R. Fenton 28-Jun-17 04:41
Re: Unfair diversion 595 drrayeye 20-Jun-17 15:59
Off Topic: re: factors which alter .. Earth's shields don't block cygnets ... nor neutrinos, ... 568 SallyA 20-Jun-17 21:13
Re: Unfair diversion 546 SallyA 21-Jun-17 01:37
Focus 644 drrayeye 21-Jun-17 07:30
Re: Focus 722 Bruce R. Fenton 26-Jun-17 10:26
Re: Focus 612 Susan Doris 26-Jun-17 16:51
Re: Focus... ah, my bad ... 519 SallyA 11-Feb-18 19:40
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 721 Bruce R. Fenton 17-Jun-17 12:12
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 648 Robert Jameson 26-Jun-17 06:32
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 637 Bruce R. Fenton 26-Jun-17 11:57
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 771 Robert Jameson 26-Jun-17 13:59
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 459 lalbee 16-Feb-18 13:39
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 441 lalbee 17-Feb-18 02:25
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 467 Bruce R. Fenton 17-Feb-18 04:13
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 438 lalbee 17-Feb-18 05:56
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 484 Bruce R. Fenton 17-Feb-18 06:27
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 611 lalbee 18-Feb-18 15:17
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 471 drrayeye 21-Feb-18 13:48
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 451 lalbee 22-Feb-18 16:45
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 445 Robert Jameson 22-Feb-18 19:39
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 863 Bruce R. Fenton 22-Feb-18 23:07
Re: The Into Africa Theory of Human Evolution 473 Bruce R. Fenton 22-Feb-18 23:00


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