Enigma at Hopewell: The Origins of Humankind Part 1

Enigma at Hopewell: The Origins of Humankind



Have you ever seen a horror movie spoof where a guy is reading a horror story to a bunch of college girls in a cabin in the woods in the middle of dark, dank night; only to quickly realize that the story he is reading is in fact the story of those same events with those same people in that same cabin on that same night, but none of the participants realize it yet? That’s what the fields of Anthropology and human population genetics are starting to look like now. And it’s a train wreck. We are on the verge of an incredible set of discoveries that the most recent data has already shown to be rather obvious, but everyone is covering their eyes and looking away, lest they see, smell and hear the elephant in the living room; lest they reveal the rotten underbelly of our scientific institutions.

Unfortunately, it’s a long story, but one that I think can be summarized in a reasonable space. I will attempt to do that here.

Quantity versus Quality

One of the things that has, in my opinion, harmed the image of science generally is scientist’s seeming refusal to acknowledge that quantity of evidence a conclusion does not make. Only by closely examining the quality of each piece of evidence can the entire picture be put into perspective. Of course, the conspiracists, flat-earthers and many others have little regard for either quality or quantity. But I’m not directing my concerns at them right now, though there are many. Science institutions, by neglecting to take seriously the need for improved peer-review is destroying itself, in my opinion. For they do not exist without public support and failure to do basic housecleaning is a kind of brinksmanship with the best methods we have for ascertaining truth that is truly frightening. Consider the following quality-related issues that just keep seeming to come up faster and faster as each year passes:

1.)   Failure to make available all primary source material for public scrutiny

2.)   Mathematical illiteracy amongst scientists (yep, its bad).

3.)   The failure of the peer-review process to filter and extirpate common, fallacious argumentation centered around known psychological phenomenon such as confirmation bias, misinformation effect, informational influence and conflicts of self-interests (networks of researchers and how they are all related to a particular board of review).

4.)   No apparent move to rank methodologies on some common, well-accepted scoring scheme as a metric for assessing quality; and in many cases an outright refusal to subject their methodology to statistical, quantitative and causal analysis (the majority of studies published today are correlational and their authors, the media and others, all too often, seem to be deliberately trying to imply causality from it. This is an error).

5.)   Failure, as related to 4, to fully apply fallacious error checking such as the Conjunction Rule of Probability theory (more on this later), the Genetic Fallacy and to clearly define where and how in various cases correlational studies add to the body of understanding (and they can).

So, in a nutshell, if one can show that a hypothesis is most likely true using something very, very solid, well tested and “low level”, such as celestial mechanics, you can stack millions of studies performed by historians a mile high that claim the opposite and I don’t care. I’ll choose the study that relied on celestial mechanics, sans pareil, every time. That’s because I’m mathematically literate, appreciate the difference between quality and quantity, am impudent, pertly and narcissistic, and have no allegiance to any particular discipline. Indeed, depending on the study done, I might see more quality in the methodology of a history study than a physics study. It’s case by case. Science needs to clean up its act because if it doesn’t its going to start making more mistakes … which will become more visible … and which will erode public confidence even more. Listen to me now hear me later.

I’d like to start by describing one area in which the institutions and people of science could well start.

The calibration nightmare

Most people have heard of radiocarbon dating. The one that gets particular attention in discussions of human origins (as in, pre-history or just before written history) is the technique that relies on the radioactive decay of 14C. All living beings are made of 12C and all of them ingest 14C from their environment… as long as they remain alive. So, while alive, they act like a sponge picking up 14C. When they die they stop doing this, and of the total mass of C in their bodies, there is a ratio of 14C / 12C. Since 14C is radioactive (it is shielded to background by about 10 inches of air at sea level) it has a half-life, which is about 5730 years. Since I suspect most readers have taken a chemistry or physics class at some point, you will know what I’m talking about. If not, google it. Most of you know I’m a deconverter and I can tell you the academic community has been sucker punched by the literalist adherents who stoutly claim that the Earth is 6,000 years old (about). I’m going to explain why.

A pretty smart guy in the 50s realized that if you create a device to measure that ratio you could infer from it relative dates between samples. Of course, knowing the exact calendar date would require some calibrating, but one could at least take two samples and compare them to see which is older. If one specimen is A and another B, then if [14C / 12C]A < [14C / 12C]B then A is older than B, because A has a lower ratio of 14C to 12C than does B, right? This means that the 12C in that sample has been decaying for longer than the 12C in B. Of course, we can see that certain assumptions must be made, but lets grant that for the sake of discussion (like, 12C initially present, 14C in environment where absorbed, no contamination, etc.). Those things don’t worry me so much. From what I’ve seen, good relative dates can, in the main, be obtained using this procedure. But this is where the rock solid methodology remains stuck and seems to get lost in the contrails of history when we move to absolute dating. And while we’re here, I’d like to point out that I’ve even given a name to this: “incestuous rape”. So, it’s kind of like incest, in which one discipline rapes another. It’s basically using flimsy methodologies as a foundation for solid methodologies, or vice versa. In either case, the conclusion is worthless. But it can be made to give the appearance of solid science. Let me show you how.

Suppose I now decide to calibrate this method to the calendar. This way, I can tell you not just which one is older than the other, but I can tell you how old both specimens are (and to know both I really just need to know one, right?). Well, if you know anything about tree rings you know that ages of trees can be estimated by counting their rings, which tend to form once every year. By counting these rings, we can know how long a tree has been alive. And if we’re really clever, we can find some fossilized trees and match their rings to living trees, providing us with a benchmark for a calendar metric going back as far as our library of fossilized tress will allow. All we need to do is count all the unique rings then radiocarbon date the oldest ring. Then, we set the radiocarbon dating device to treat any 14C / 12 ratio it measures that is equal to that value to the same count in rings. Voila!

But wait a minute. I’ve got this sick methodological feeling coming on. Suddenly this doesn’t seem as “rock” solid as the radiocarbon dating itself. I have a lot of questions, that’s all. For example. Are you sure that exactly one ring grows every year? If it doesn’t, how would you know the correct count? Perhaps the bigger question, though, is how do you know if your overlay of rings is actually the correct overlay, and not a phantom overlay (how would you know that you overlaid the rings at the right spot)? Of course, the man or woman that specializes in this art will give you a superb answer. So then, I say, okay, let’s submit your claim to statistical and quantitative measures to see if your method is predictive. “What”, they retort? “You fool! This is ART”. So, I say again, please submit your method to quantitative measures so that all of us can see that your method is predictive. This means that I’d like to see you do this several times, say, a dozen or more times, in order to predict the calendar date of a given wood specimen. Of course, I’m tricking you because I already know the date of the sample from other means (suppose it was grown on a farm). What I’m really asking is, perform your “ART” on twelve or more of these planted farm samples and tell me how old they are. Then, the wizards that do this stuff, dendrochronologists, leave the room and refuse. That is the current state of affairs. It’s outrageous. Dates given by radiocarbon dating are made to appear as solid physics when it is, in fact, garbage. And academics fell for this scam because they were running from Creationists. That’s what I meant by being sucker punched.

Do we have any similar method for more recent dates, such as after about 50,000 ybp? Yes. A method known as thermoluminescence also relies on a “last firing” in which, in our case, it is usually pottery that is heated to a temperature high enough to eject the electrons embedded in the lattice structure of the material. These electrons get embedded in the lattice due to exposure to radiation in situ. Therefore, if we can cause these electrons to emit from the sample we can measure their quantity and calculate the age of the artifact.

The problem with this method however, is that it is known to be less “accurate” that 14C dating. This is because calculating the total radiation absorbed by the artifact in situ is laborious and requires something like two dozen variables be taken into account. Thus, the confidence level also is low. Given the lack of double-blind procedures and the tendency to “form fit” data to accepted dates as already discussed, my own confidence in this method is very low.

Let me be clear, almost all radiocarbon dating is calibrated on tree rings. Where it isn’t, other methods are employed. But in all the other cases we see the same problem and it’s a waste of my time and yours to walk through each one. Most of these techniques, such as analyzing a “geologic column” (observing the stratification layer in which a specimen is found), are for relative dating anyway. This is why trees are preferred because they ostensibly give absolute dates (I will examine the geologist’s argument that the geologic column can be absolutely dated using radioactive decay methods shortly). If you’re confused about what the terms “relative” and “absolute” mean, let me point out that observations of ground strata are “relative” because the date of the layer must be known from yet another means (there are cute Latin terms for where the first layer begins and the last layer ends, neither of which is pegged to a calendar by itself). In every case we either walk back into another “relative” technique or end up having to rely on radioactive decay dating. Contrary to what many “creationists” have claimed, there is no circularity in these arguments (the geological column is not absolutely dated, or calibrated, on fossil dates – or at least it need not be attempted. A much better approach using a certain kind of zeroed, radioactive decay dating is available).

A mindless digression

When an element is heated to or above a certain temperature unique to that element, called the closure temperature, the excess decay product is ejected or diffuses from the material and this temperature, therefore, can be used to calibrate the dating if the seminal event being dated is known to correlate with the date at which the closure temperature was last reached. This does not help us much with 14C dating as it has nothing to do with temperature, but it can be used to calibrate dating methods used for some other elements.

The mathematical expression that relates radioactive decay to geologic time, is:

D = D0 + N(t) (eλt − 1)

=> eλt = (D – D0) /  (Noe-λt + 1)

=> eλt = (DD0) /  No definitegral[e-λt + 1 / No] dt

=>  eλt = (DD0) / [N (λt + 1 / No)]

=> ln t = [(DD0) /[No (λt + 1 / No)] – ln λ

=> t = e[(DD0) /[No (λt + 1 / No)] – ln λ [will be quadratic in 3 powers]


t is age of the sample,
D is number of atoms of the daughter isotope in the sample,
D0 is number of atoms of the daughter isotope in the original composition,
N is number of atoms of the parent isotope in the sample at time t (the present), given by N(t) = Noe-λt, and
λ is the decay constant of the parent isotope, equal to the inverse of the radioactive half-life of the parent isotope times the natural logarithm of 2.

The equation is most conveniently expressed in terms of the measured quantity N(t) rather than the constant initial value No.

While looking at this equation I wondered about something. I posed this as a question to a friend of mine (who is a physicist) and his answer was that he didn’t know. So, the question is posed to anyone that can answer and is given by example.

Consider the following example:

A volcanic eruption deposits lava over the ground. Presumably, the elements of the periodic table will eventually settle in the lava flow before it cools by weight, which in this case is determined by elemental densities. Thus, Uranium, being very dense, would settle low in the lava. While Lead is dense it is not as dense as Uranium and would therefore settle in a layer above the Uranium. But, statistically, one would think that some residual fraction of Lead, by statistical chance alone, would remain co-minlged with the Uranium. How much so would depend on inscrutables such as the time it takes to cool, the geometry of the lava flow, the relative amounts of elements in the lava to begin with, etc. But the point is that the “pristine” sample of Uranium would not be pure. So, how can one calibrate a measurement of age by dating the Lead remaining in the sample as the byproduct of Uranium decay? Would it not be exaggerated (potentially considerably so) depending on the inital lay of the lava flow and its elemental makeup? My own guess, but its just a guess, the amount of Lead that is “trapped” in the Uranium after lava deposition probably tends to be fairly uniform, but knowing how much so seems an impossible thing to verify. And since this dating technique is based on a thermal event, the closure temperature, any dates of other rock would need to be calibrated on that basis, correct?

Of course, the dating method implied here makes heavy use of Zirconium (ZrSiO4), which is known to strongly reject lead (this works because this mineral often uses Uranium as a substitute for lattice atoms in the Zircon). But how strongly? Given the minute differences we’re talking about here, this seems to be a reasonable question. Besides this point, we also have to consider the possibility, right, that Zirconium might be formed long after the rock itself? Is that formation a heat process?

Apparently, Uranium-lead dating has a reputation for being incosnistent. From Berkely we get the following quote:

Uranium/lead dating provides most accurate date yet for Earth’s largest extinction   

By Robert Sanders, Media Relations | 16 September 2004

BERKELEY – A new study by geologists at the Berkeley Geochronology Center and the University of California, Berkeley, improves upon a widely used dating technique, opening the possibility of a vastly more accurate time scale for major geologic events in Earth’s history.

In a paper published this week in Science, geochemist Roland Mundil of the Berkeley Geochronology Center (BGC) and his colleagues at BGC and UC Berkeley report that uranium/lead (U/Pb) dating can be extremely accurate – to within 250,000 years – but only if the zircons from volcanic ash used in the analysis are specially treated. To date, zircons – known to many as a semiprecious stone and December’s birthstone – have often produced confusing and inaccurate results.

“Zircons have produced complicated data that are hard to interpret, though people have pulled dates out,” said Mundil, a former UC Berkeley postdoctoral fellow now at the BGC, a non-profit scientific research institute dedicated to perfecting dating techniques for establishing the history of Earth and life on Earth. “Many of these studies will now have to be redone.”

I quoted this news release from Berkely because it exposes some of the key procedural constraints when using Uranium-lead dating in geology. First, the objects dated are almost always volcanic rock since that its introduction to the atmosphere via volcanoes sets the time at which closure temperature is reached and corresponds to the seminal event to be measured … or so many think. But there is a more profound problem here that I want to address, then we’ll return to this point and put it all back together again, hopefully.


As Uranium-lead dating techniques improve, in particular with the less problematic aspect of accounting for all the lead, we see that the dates begin contracting back into areas they shouldn’t go. For example, one dinosaur has now been dated to a time more recent than the supposed KT extinction event by about 700,000 years, far beyond its margin of error. The Canadian team’s work was reported in World Nuclear News in the article “Uranium technique raises dinosaur question” published 02 February 2011.

But lets not be silly. There’s a much more serious kind of question I want to ask. So, as far as the dating methods used in the “million ybp” range, my standing question is how do we know how long igneous rock spent churning its away across the face of Earth as erosion carried it to its final resting place, where it finally met Mr. fossil? This question will keep coming up and with no answer in sight. Notice that if Earth is around 5.5 billion years old, then the production of lava flows that are 200 million years old and fossils associated with them that are much, mucy younger than that are perfectly plausible within the dating we have in the literature … as far as I can see it and until this question is answered. The reader may care to note that at this point there is nothing about the dating method itself that seems to address this question. This seems to be a question for geologists only. In other words, thus far I’ve only taken issue with the calibration of radiocarbon dating and the proximity in time of geological events, and I don’t yet see any definitive issues with any of the other methods used for dating much older specimens. Having said that, I’ll look briefly at some other dating methods to give a more complete context.

Another method uses Rubidium decay into Strontium as a dating method. This method has a very high closure temperature so something has to be added to the process to get usable dates. This method is called Isochron dating.


Using the above we can reduce this to a more practical form as t = µ x ln(β + 1) / ln(2); where t is the age and µ is the half-life.

Perhaps the dating method of greatest proimse is the Argon-Argon method. This method is good because it at least does a fair job of trying to eliminate contamination of the specimen by external sources of the daughter product, Argon 40, by testing the distribution of the element throughout the sample. It does this by irradiating the sample inside a fission reactor (for a few hours) and exciting Potassium 39 to emit Argon 39. This is a good indication of distribution within the sample because the Potassium 39 is ostensibly likely to distribute closely with Potassium 40 and Argon 39 does not appear naturally due to its short half-life of about 269 years. Therefore, Potassium 39 is a good stand-in for the mass distribution of both Potassium 40 and what should be the only Argon 40 in the sample. Therefore, when heated at successive temperatures the ratio of Argon 39 and Argon 40 emitted should remain constant for each temperature range tested (the actual ratio calculated will depend on the amount of neutron flux received when irradiated in the reactor). When contaminated the Argon 40 will not be uniform because the distribution of the contaminant is unlikely to be uniform throughout the sample, or uniform within the sample and its supposed parent Potassium 40. Differing temperatures will cause non-uniform distributions to emit in a non-uniform manner. Unfortunately, the half-life of Potassium 40 is about 1.27 billion years, which places it beyond dates we’re most interested in (which, we’ll see, are from about 200 million ybp to now). But the real value in this method is that even if contamination is not heterogenous, a statistical argument can be made that most measures will likely be accurate since most of the time contamination will be heterogenous.

For this reason I’ve concluded that overall dating of the age of Earth is probably very accurate.

I have examined the claims made by detractors, in particular “creationists” and the works of the institute for creation research, and their arguments for a significantly different age of Earth do not add up. That figure is about 5.5 billion Earth years. The only way I can see that this would be wrong is if the parameterization of natural events (time) is not constant for all t; and that time in the past was constricted. I’ll leave that for Stephen Hawking to wrestle with.

Moving forward to dates in the 200 million ybp to 100,000 ybp regime, I can conclude that due to the overlap in data obtained over several decades, in particular overlap between dating methods useful in that time period and Argon-Argon dating, absolute dating in that regime is probably likewise very accurate; with one crucial caveat. I am not yet convinced that biotic remains found in sedimentary layers were laid there at or near the same time as the rocks dated nearby or in similar layers were created. This is a crucial caveat. The geologic dates in this time regime are clearly solid but the biotic dates are not.

The quality of the evidence for overall Earth dating is exceptional. (I hedge to call it extreme because of the cosmological scale of the time frame considered and the fact that a full mathematical treatment of all natural behaviors remains undiscovered).

The quality of the evidence for geological-only dating in the 200 million to 100,000 ybp time regime is exceptional.

But surely, we can’t throw out all that fossil data of 200 million ybp to now that has so far been amassed based solely on this, can we? I mean there is, after all, a mountain (quantity) of evidence from several disciplines supporting a general, absolute chronology of fossil history, right? And, surely, there’s still a good chance the tree ring calibrations are correct, right? Sure.

But we’ve only just started.

If that were all there were to this, then I’d say its not worth it. Maybe that’s how the peer reviewers saw it, I don’t know. But my point is this:

There is enough data out now to show that our concerns about absolute, or calendar, dating in the time regimes for which 14C is appropriate are warranted. And Hopewell is the tip of that iceberg.

A brief digression: Race, Ethnicity and Nationalism

And as if that wasn’t enough, the scientific community has utterly failed to communicate much of anything to the general public about genetics, evolution, natural selection and its implications. The result is that millions become offended out of nothing more than pure ignorance; thinking they have some ethnic or nationalistic stake in a discussion about human beings that lived 5,000 years ago, which is ludicrous. We need to explain this.

The number of one’s ancestors increases exponentially, not linearly. We’ve often seen the calculation that identifies the number of our ancestors as we go back and back in time. We have two parents, four grandparents, eight grand-parents, etc. If we go back just 10 generations, we have 1024 direct ancestors just in the 10th generation; for 20 generations, we have about a million direct ancestors; for 30 generations, about a billion; and for 40 generations about a trillion potential direct ancestors. Put another way, this calculation would indicate that every person alive today would have over two billion possible ancestors about 750 years ago, based on 30 generations ago at 25 years per generation. However, the estimated world population for the year 1250 A.D. is only 400 million.

Potential Number of Ancestors



























2   Million





2   Billion

537   Million



Number of Ancestors and adjectives for each

2 Parents

4 Grandparents

8 Great Grandparents

16 Great Great Grandparents

32 Great Great Great Grandparents

64 Great Great Great Great Grandparents

128 Great Great Great Great Great Grandparents

256 Great Great Great Great Great Great   Grandparents

512 Great Great Great Great Great Great Great   Grandparents

1024 Great Great Great Great Great Great Great   Great Grandparents

All the humans who have ever lived on earth number less than 10 billion! The explanation for this contradiction is that our ancestors have married each other by the thousands and millions in the remote past (and in some cases, not very remote). We may have had a trillion ancestors 40 generations ago, but not a trillion different ancestors.

This phenomenon, the pruning of our family tree to look like a column instead of a triangle, is called ‘pedigree collapse’ or ‘coalescence’. We all share common ancestors. “We are all related: the question is how far back in time is the common ancestor.” As all family historians have seen, there are many cases where our ancestors married cousins; thus reducing the actual number of our unique ancestors.

Scientists who study population genetics have done a great deal of research on this subject. An article by Steven Olson in the May 2002 issue of The Atlantic Monthly describes some startling results of their studies:

  • In all probability, you and I are descended from English Royalty,
  • Everyone in the world is descended from Nefertiti and Confucius,
  • Everyone in the Western world is descended from Charlemagne,
  • Eighty percent of Charlemagne’s contemporaries are also ancestors of us all.

Olson based these statements on the work of Joseph Chang, professor of statistics at Yale University. Chang’s paper, ‘Recent Common Ancestors of All Present-Day Individuals’

“Everyone in the Western world is descended from Charlemagne.”,

said Steve Olson

The first part of Chang’s article is quite readable; later, when he presents the formal proofs of his conclusions, his mathematical formulation becomes quite complex. But there is a fun experiment that you can do to bring home the essence of pedigree collapse. You need a pencil, a sheet of lined paper, and a pair of dice. Imagine that many years ago there was an island on which six couples lived. Down through the years, the generations remained distinct, and the population in each generation remained at six couples (see Pedigree Collapse Chart below).

Near the top of your paper put six dots in a row and number them 1 to 6. This is Generation 1. Seven lines below that, put six more dots but do not number them. This is Generation 2. For each dot in Generation 2, throw the dice, and write the numbers from each die above the dot.

If the number is 1, put it one line above the dot; if a 2, two lines above, etc. For each couple in Generation 2, we are randomly choosing the husband’s parent couple and the wife’s parent couple from Generation 1.

Now repeat this process. Put 6 more dots for Generation 3 seven lines below the previous dots. Throw the dice for each couple in Generation 3. This time, do not record the die face number, say 4, but use that number to find the 4th dot in Generation 2 and read the two numbers above that dot. Record these two numbers above the Generation 3 dot, eliminating duplicates. Do the same for the second die.

Now we have chosen the grandparent couples for all of the Generation 3 couples. Probably by this time there will be some anomalies. Each Generation 3 couple can have at most 4 numbers above it, but some may have fewer. If there are fewer, cousins have married and the collapse has begun! It could even happen that brother has married sister.

Keep repeating this process and watch for the first time that the same number appears above every one of the couples in the latest generation. That will probably happen by about Generation 3 or 4. If that repeated number is, say, 5, it means that the 5th couple in the original generation is the “most recent common ancestor” (MRCA) of all of the couples in the current generation. Keep repeating the process and watch for the first time that all of the numbers above all of the couples in the current generation are the same. When that point is reached, and it will be reached with certainty, then all the progenitor couples whose numbers are in that list are common ancestors of everyone in the current generation. Some of the progenitor couples will probably be missing; their descendancy has winked out forever.

Pedigree Collapse Chart





































This chart shows   the first three generations in a simulation of ‘Pedigree Collapse’. Note that   progenitors 3, 4 and 5 are close to becoming common ancestors of all six   couples in Generation three. Also notice that couples 2, 4 and 5 have only   three grandparent couples because of cousin marriages.

Now imagine that instead of a population of six we had a population of one million or one billion. According to Professor Chang’s model, the same thing will happen, but it will just take longer. Not as long as you might think, though. If the constant, randomly mating population is N, the number of generations back to the MRCA is the logarithm of N to the base 2.

For a population of one million, the MRCA generation is 20, or about 500 years. For one billion population, it is 30 generations or 750 years. The time when everyone was either an ancestor of all in the current generation of an ancestor of none is roughly twice that for the MRCA.

So Charlemagne, who lived 1200 years ago, is the ancestor of us all, and you are my Nth cousin, where N is probably less than 20.

For a population of 4,000, the MRCA appears at about 12 generations, and the all-or-nothing common ancestors appear in about 22 generations. Of course, the mathematical model is idealized. But the main conclusions are being accepted as true. Humans really do become related to each other very quickly – in centuries, not in millennia, and not ever, as some believe.

At the end of the day what this is telling us is that …

it is utterly meaningless to talk about any true, distinct connection any one living person today has to any defined population that existed in the pre-historic past.

Therefore, the knee-jerk reactions over ethnicity, nationalism and race are based on ignorance and fallacy. In fact, it is a sad testament to the bankruptcy of our education system, in particular regarding mathematical literacy, that a sizable minority of those reading this require this explanation up front.

But the reader may rightfully reply by asking, “well, what about the phenotypes we see today across the full spectrum of the human population”? The answer is that these are ethnic and racial phenotypes superficially visible that have nothing to do with the races and ethnicities that existed then. Then, the ethnicities and possibly even the races were of a kind and type totally alien to any modern human. So, this “alien” nature of our ancestors takes hold in a surprisingly short period of time, say, 30 generations or more.

Focusing on 14 Carbon dating

At this point, if the calibration issue doesn’t interest you can skip this part. The reason for that is that, at the end of the day, it doesn’t change my overall conclusion, but merely informs it.

So, having cleared the air on the nature of the thing discussed, I’d like to walk through the full landscape of calibration madness. When I learned about the calibration problem I began investigating. First, I found that somewhere around one-half of the results submitted to the various labs across the world that do radiocarbon dating are rejected by the submitter because … the results don’t fit their expectation. Yes, you read that correctly. If ever one could find a cleaner operational definition of “confirmation bias”, here it is. But its worse. Second, I learned that the laboratory conducting the examination requires the submitter to submit with their sample a date range for what they are expecting. Yes, you read that correctly. So, it is obviously not “double-blind”. If something is “double-blind” it means that knowledge transfer between submitter and examiner does not occur. At that point I decided that the calibration matter was starting to get interesting. I wasn’t suspicious yet … not yet. But I did some homework.

I decided that the best way to answer questions like this and cut through the b.s. was to rely on something tried and true; basic knowledge involving math and physics. What could that be? Then it occurred to me that I could apply celestial mechanics to this question as a proxy for calibration. I learned that when I examined old records of solar eclipses I got values that were nonsense. Basically, the acceleration of the moon was not following the laws of celestial mechanics, but was moving with arbitrary accelerations. I quickly discovered that I was not the first to notice this. A guy named Robert Newton examined this problem in much greater detail. He examined records from 22 February 719 BCE to 9 April 9, 1567 CE. This constituted a total of 631 observations scattered more or less evenly over this time interval. Astonishingly, the moon’s acceleration appears to have arbitrarily changed on its own. What could be going on here? I decided to adjust the observation dates uniformly. In other words, I was going to test the absolute dating of radiocarbon dating while assuming it relative dating was reasonable. I discovered an artificial dilation of the absolute dating values by a factor of about ten.  That is, when I changed all of the dates by a factor of ~ 2.5 the arbitrary movement vanished. At that point I was beginning to hypothesize that a function, call it Q, is the generator of this value, so that Q (t) = 2.5 at a true absolute date of t ~ 1000 CE.

And now I became suspicious.

The quality of this evidence is not just exceptional, it is extreme. So, I asked a friend of mine (who is a real physicist) to check my work and he confirmed it. I used Speed Crunch but you can download stellarium.exe and do the same thing more or less automatically. The only other hypotheses available to explain this get into questioning basic paramaters of physics, a dubious approach. For example, the gravitational constant G might have arbitrarily varied at one select moment in history, then returned to its expected value. This seems just as arbitrary as arbitrary acceleration. Imainge, for example, an airplane turning in flight, then arbitrarily, for no explicable reason, suddenly going from 1 g acceleration in the turn to 10 g acceleration, then back again to what Newtonian mechanics would have predicted; i.e. 1 g acceleration. This is preposterous and desperate as hypotheses go.

Is it more likely that the soft sciences and the human beings that recorded their absolute dates are wrong or that objects move and behave without any explicable, Newtonian or relativistic explanation?

I soaked up more primary sources on celestial observations from the past. What is important to understand is that these sources are unimpeachable for two primary reasons. First, in the case of that which I just described, 631 observations were made, so fraud or forgery would not explain all of them agreeing. Second, one cannot just “make up” a valid celestial observation. If you try you are likely to find that it will have no solution; that is, that what you described could only have occurred far, far outside the time frames you are looking at.  In other words, one must actually be there at that time and make that observation in order to know what to record so that what is recorded is mathematically sensible.  And the people in these ages clearly did not have the ability to do these calculations up front. Only since the advent of computers in the 1980s and 1990s have computers become fast enough to do this. Considering both of those limitations, it was clear to me that this was a real, physical event that must be explained. The only way to do that was to move the absolute dates and “recalibrate” the carbon 14 dating calibrations presently assumed. So, when I expanded my search for celestial observations I found more of the same: the calibration of radiocarbon dating appeared to be off by a factor of about Q (t) = 2.5.

Table 1 — Quantitative observations. These are the events observed by over 631 sources. y represents the degree with which each one deviates from what standard celestial mechanical calculations would give. They should vary by no more than |10|.

Average Date Type of Observation



-567 Moonrise and moonset -10.5 5.8
-567 Lunar conjunctions -22.6 6.4
-441 Moonrise and moonse0t -38.3 7.8
-378 Moonrise and moonset -22.9 13.3
-378 Lunar conjunctions -25.5 3.6
-373 Times of lunar eclipses -22.7 0.4
-321 Times of solar eclipse -22.1 0.9
-252 Moonrise and moonset -29.0 6.0
-252 Lunar conjunctions -19.1 1.3
-250 Moonrise and moonset -25.1 5.2
-250 Lunar conjunctions -20.3 2.8
-135 Times of solar eclipse -22.8 3.3
-88 Times of solar eclipse -24.8 2.7
364 Times of solar eclipse -28.4 5.0
506 Lunar conjunctions -20.0 4.6
622 Mean lunar elongation -15.7 6.3
932 Magnitudes of solar eclipses -19.8 2.8
941 Times of solar eclipses -16.5 0.8
948 Times of lunar eclipses -19.7 0.9
979 Lunar eclipse at moonrise -18.8 2.4
1000 Mean lunar elongation -19.3 9.2
1092 Time of lunar eclipse -5.4 11.7
1221 Magnitude of solar eclipse -1.4 25.0
1260 Mean lunar elongation -46.9 40.0
1333 Mean lunar elongation -30.9 16.3
1336 Measured lunar longitude +29.1 21.5
1472 Times of lunar eclipses -23.2 7.9
1480 Times of solar eclipses -24.2 7.8
1790 Modern solar data -9.1 2.8

Consider the three famous eclipses of Thucydides recorded by human beings and Scaligarian chronologists as having occurred ~ 400 BCE (“History of the Peloponnesian War”: Bks.ii, 27-28; iv,51-52; vii,18-19,50). They can be dated using modern methods.

There are only two exact astronomical solutions: the first solution is August 2, 1133 CE, March 20, 1140 CE, and August 28, 1151 CE, whereas the second is August 22, 1039 CE., April 9, 1046 CE, and September 15, 1057 CE

This pattern of forced date advancement well forward of what traditional history tells us is strong and replete with examples. Absolute dates since 40,000 BCE have been calibrated incorrectly by a factor of about Q (t), exaggerating antiquity considerably. We shall see later, however, that Q is not likely constant. The value Q (t) increases as we progress back in time, experiencing a cusp and jump to even greater exaggerated values at the point that C14’s half-life reduces the radiation to instrument background tolerances, about 50,000 ybp.

And should we be surprised? For the same reasons just explained regarding race and ethnicity, humans have always had an obvious tendency to want to extol and even exaggerate the grandeur and antiquity of what they perceive to be their culture. All this is telling us is that we are viewing ourselves through a looking glass.

We’re not really that important after all. None of us are, but we all think we are. When attempting to date specimens older than 40,000 years before present (ybp) scientists use something with a longer half-life and dating in that regime is usually done on natural, geologic processes and systems (though there is considerable biological research of non-humans that goes on in those time frames as well).

But even now we’ve only just begun. There is so much more that makes this case overwhelmingly clear. So, what else hints at absolute dates versus relative dates? Well, there are the quasi-anecdotal things that I count as the weakest, so before hitting those, a brief divergence into molecular biology, linguistics and human population genetics is in order. But first, let me point out that, having suggested that Q might not be constant, I want to focus first on the factor in the true absolute time frame of about 50,000 ybp to the present because there we will see a bifurcation in the data, the earlier dating only becoming clearly established after the latter is made clear.

Molecular biologists have learned how to determine approximate ages, given certain assumptions, of a seminal evolutionary event by tracking the number of mutations found in DNA, which in turn can provide an estimate of the number of generations that have occurred since that event. Much to their surprise, they found that homo sapiens is a remarkably genetically homogeneous population, suggesting a much shorter time elapsed since speciation than what conventional absolute dating suggests. Results derived of a pretty solid science in Molecular biology and radiocarbon calibrations are beginning to diverge … by a factor of Q. While consanguinity could also explain this, I for one doubt that it was occurring on a large enough scale to make this plausible. This is more likely reflective of a real anomaly favoring an absolute dating that is much more recent. This gains further support when we consider the fact that the total number of genes carried by the homo sapiens was much smaller than originally thought (and which was originally inferred partly on the basis of absolute dating), by a factor of Q.

The quality of this evidence is exceptional.

In a similar vein, linguistics is coming up with similar divergences. First, language diversity, while still disputed by some, appears highest in the Americas. But this is not what standard linguistic understanding would suggest. Diversity of language is indicative of great age. But why then, are the languages of Africa seemingly less diverse than those of America? There are two obvious possibilities that come to mind straight-away. First, we could reverse the current position and claim that homo sapiens originated in America or, we could simply claim that language developed first in America, even though homo sapiens originated from Africa. But these are just naïve insta-answers that we obtain by taking this evidence by itself. Ultimately, it must be put into context with other evidence suppporting the “Out of Africa” theory. We’ll revisit this later, but the real direction I’m going with this is that linguists have from some time been studying the origins of human language (“true” language). One of the earliest they’ve identified was the Proto-Indian-European language (PIE). But more recently more ancient languages have been proposed, including a leading but controversial contender called the Nostratic language. I mention this particular proffer because it exemplifies yet again the calibration factor of Q. The key contention in the debate over whether this language is the one, proto-language from which all others evolved is one of time. Those that argue against it argue that its impossible because the Nostratic language hypothesis requires that certain “kernel” words (words in a language that are most resilient to change over time) remain constant for too long, in some cases for thousands of years. But when divided by Q (t) = 2.5, as a first-order approximation, the dispute ends. Even detractors have commented on how well everything else about the language makes sense. The only real issue seems to be resistance of a kernel to change over the large time intervals necessitated by the currently accepted C14 calibration.

The quality of this evidence is good.

In molecular biology the genetic material transferred through generations is typically tracked using what are known as mtDNA (which stands for mitochondrial DNA) and Y-Chromosome DNA. The former is passed only from mother to child while the latter is passed only from father to son. The latter has a far richer store of genetic information within it, making analyses of it more intriguing in many cases. With the former one can trace maternal lines; paternal lines with the latter. When population geneticists track the origins of humankind they do so by identifying mutations in genetic material characteristic of a given population. Over time, a specific, identifiable mutation in genetic material will occur and get passed down from father to son by his Y-Chromosome DNA. Using this strategy, once can identify to what historical population group (which carries a specific, identifiable mutation in its Y-Chromosome) an existing or exemplar DNA sample belongs. This grouping is called a haplogroup and they are designated first with a letter of the English alphabet. Sub-groups within that group are identified with numbers and additional letters. These sub-groups are called sub-clades for clades. So, in one haplogroup, call it A, one might have a specific, identifiable mutation occurring in the Y-Chromosome DNA in question. Of all the individuals that carry that mutation, there may be other, different, but still distinct and identifiable mutations of genes also occurring in only some of that halplogroup and not all of them. That is a sub-clade. So, the first step in tracking down human origins is to identify all these haplogroups in two classes of populations; the living and the dead, or the present and the ancient. If we have ancient DNA we can examine it to find to what haplogroup it belongs. And we can do the same for a living person by examining their DNA. Of course, DNA changes over time, so one haplogroup can give rise to another inasmuch as the one carrying a haplogroup, say A, can be thought of as the progenitor of a haplogroup, call it B. If A has no sub-clades it is called undifferentiated and is designated “A*”. But if we are speaking of any individual testing positive for the A haplogroup, regardless of their clades, we designate it simply “A”. So, A* is the haplogroup with no sub-clades and A is the haplogroup with any combination of sub-clades, but with at least one.

So, obviously then, if you want to track the origins of humankind the first thing you want to know, among others, perhaps, is to what haplogroup the sample belongs. But once you know this, a different kind of question is posed to find out how that haplogroup actually migrated. And that’s where the confusion is beginning to set in. To find out how one has migrated, we are typically asking who is the progenitor of the haplogroup being examined? For example, in the case of haplogroup P it is believed that haplogroups Q and R derive of it. How does one know this? The pat answer you get is that it is known by discovering the order in which the mutations occur in the Y-Chromosome. So, if the mutation characteristic of the haplogroup P appears before Q, then P is the progenitor of Q. But this is misleading. Mutations are, by definition, random events, so there is no “order” to them. It is either there or it is not. Its physical location on the Chromosome only depends on the randomly determined location of the mutation. When biologists speak of “ordering” they are really talking about inferred order. It is inferred because we know, for example, that allelic frequencies increase in certain ways in certain directions (alleles are the delta, or difference between two genes in two different populations) of breeding. But for this to infer directionality certain basic assumptions are required that, for every species besides human beings, the assumption would be reasonable. But it is not reasonable to make this assumption for human beings. The reason for this is complicated but is related to what some call “stratification” and how that is resolved. Stratification occurs when mutations are picked up more than once in a population.

Consider the following example:

Suppose haplogroup A is the inferred progenitor of haplogroup B. Then, this means that haplogroup B is carrying the mutation for both haplogroup A and haplogroup B. There is no particular physical “ordering” of these mutations on the Chromosome. It just means that B contains the mutation characteristic of A and B and A contains the mutation characteristic only of A. This can tell you a lot about pigs but nothing about humans. Humans have complex social structures that can lead to all kinds of odd possibilities (which we’ll find are, in fact, not so odd). For example, males from haplogroup B can be steadily “fed” as studs to a population of haplogroup A, even though B is phylogenetically older than A. As long as this supply is continuous and is not discontinued for more than a few generations, the representation of the B haplogroup in the A population will obviously increase … up and until the males of B living amongst A become highly consanguineous, at which point this representation halts. After about 5 generations the representation of B in the A population vanishes. At some time in the future the caste-branded B’s living amongst A’ might leave; either returning to the original B population or going elsewhere. If they remain highly consanguineous, the representation of A in these Bs also continues. Therefore, directionality is in reality from B to A, not the reverse, which is what population geneticists would, under the current models, assume. But lets take this a step further. The same thing could just as well happen with females. Women of B could enter a population of As, take male consorts of A and consanguineously perpetuate an AB line alongside their male counterparts. But let’s back up. Suppose the population of A is in fact a result of this process, not what you started with. In other words, suppose we’re talking about A* being the progenitor of A. Now, it all fits. But it is true, pigs would never do this. Only a highly complex sociocultural organization would allow this. I will show in what follows that this likely has happened, with female consanguineous lines representing, at least in one case, about 25% of B (a placeholder here) and males the other 75%. Watch the jaws drop.

And whenever the base assumptions used for determining directionality are employed, another error will crop up. Not only is the progenitor confused for the descendent, the ordering of migrations between them will reverse from actual. So, for example, if you suppose that there were three primary migrations into a region and that the first was the largest, your inference is wrong if you are using the standard assumptions and the consanguineous, caste system above is in place. In that case, the first migration and last migration swap places, both in temporal order and numeric size. The second migration remains as is. The horror story in the cabin in the woods will reify momentarily.

So, given this possibility, one might ask, “is there evidence for something hokey going on when trying to assess directionality alone”?

Yes, there is. First of all, it is seldom discussed publicly how exactly this is done. Let me share with you something not a little conspicuously suspicious. When attempting to identify ancestral haplogroups population geneticists do indeed use random mutations of the Y-Chromosome. But when attempting to assess migration direction they, suprise, use a proxy instead. The proxy is called the JC Virus.

In a paper published in 2006 and enttiled “JC Virus evolution and its association with human populations”; but apparently buried (since it continues to be used unabated) authors Laura A. Shackelton, Andrew Rambaut, Oliver G. Pybus, & Edward C. Holmes wrote in the journal Journal of Virology [80: 9928-9933 and doi: 10.1128/JVI.00441-06]:

JC Virus has been used as a genetic marker to infer early human migration patterns. But new analyses show that it may be an unreliable indicator: this ubiquitous virus evolves much faster than previously thought and its evolutionary trees do not reflect known patterns of human population divergence.

This means that it will generate dates that are, surpise, consistent with the erroneous calibration I have hypothesized exists in the literature. This is because it is suggesting that the number of generations in a given time, t, is far greater than it actually was. The effect of this is to dilate t to make it fit. Thus values of Q (t) for some defined interval on t increase, not decrease.

Most of us contract JC virus (JCV) during childhood, from our parents. Only rarely does infection cause disease; mostly, it remains unnoticed, and we pass the virus on to our children in turn. JCV has at least 14 genetically distinct subtypes, some of which are associated with specific human populations — for example, type 7A predominates in Southeast Asians, types 3 and 6 in Africans, and types 1 and 4 in Europeans.

The parent-child transmisison route, together with the population specificity of particular subtypes, has led some researchers to use JCV as a genetic marker for tracing early human migration patterns. Furthermore, rates of JCV evolution have been inferred by assuming co-divergence with human populations over the last 200,000 years.

However, Laura Shackelton, Eddie Holmes and collaborators report that JCV and human evolution are not tightly coupled after all. When the researchers examined JCV from a variety of human populations worldwide, as well as mitochondrial genomes from the same set of human populations, they discovered that:

  • JCV is evolving much faster than previously thought
  • Much of JCV’s genetic variability stems from a population expansion starting around 350 years ago, much later than early human migrations;
  • Evolutionary “trees” for JCV do not map at all closely onto the evolutionary history of humans inferred from mitochondrial sequences.

From Wikipedia on Dec 5, 2012:

The virus is very common in the general population, infecting 70 to 90 percent of humans; most people acquire JCV in childhood or adolescence. It is found in high concentrations in urban sewage worldwide, leading some researchers to suspect contaminated water as a typical route of infection.

Minor genetic variations are found consistently in different geographic areas; thus, genetic analysis of JC virus samples has been useful in tracing the history of human migration. 14 subtypes or genotypes are recognised each associated with a specific geographical region. Three are found in Europe (a, b and c). A minor African type – Af1 – occurs in Central and West Africa. The major African type – Af2 – is found throughout Africa and also in West and South Asia. Several Asian types are recognised B1-a, B1-b, B1-d, B2, CY, MY and SC.

An alternative numbering scheme numbers the genotypes 1-8 with additional lettering. Types 1 and 4 are found in Europe and in indigenous populations in northern Japan, North-East Siberia and northern Canada. These two types are closely related. Types 3 and 6 are found in sub-Saharan Africa: type 3 was isolated in Ethiopia, Tanzania and South Africa. Type 6 is found in Ghana. Both types are also found in the Biaka Pygmies and Bantus from Central Africa. Type 2 has several variants: subtype 2A is found mainly in the Japanese population and native Americans (excluding Inuit); 2B is found in Eurasians; 2D is found in Indians and 2E is found in Australians and western Pacific populations. Subtype 7A is found in southern China and South-East Asia. Subtype 7B is found in northern China, Mongolia and Japan Subtype 7C is found in northern and southern China. Subtype 8 is found in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

The quality of this evidence as explanatory of the hypothesized calibration error is exceptional.

Now, we are about to see why scientists are fleeing the scene like a bunch of scared chickens. As it turns out we won’t be able to bypass the dinosaur discussion. Yea, I know. But it is what it is. A woman in Montana a few years ago was researching dinosaur fossils in that area and came up with some startling findings. Like most who do that she suffered the fire and condemnation of colleagues. So much so that researchers now don’t even mention her name anymore. In a recent New York Times article she was “cleansed from the discussion and a guy was given all the credit. But funny thing was, this guy recast her findings with a ludicrous explanation for the find.

In a nutshell, the woman found dinosaur DNA inside of presumptively fossilized dinosaur bone. What the general public might not know is that most dinosaur fossils are not in fact fully fossilized and it has been found that most consist of some degree of actual bone. Yes, you read that correctly.

About the Second Law of Thermodynamics

The Second Law of Thermodynamics, in lay terms, informs us that a closed physical system’s order will tend to decrease with time. Of course, a “closed” system is virtually impossible to find, so usually scientists think of semi-closed physical systems when speaking of this law. The question up for debate then, becomes one of how closed the system really is. For, if sufficiently closed the order will decrease with time. So, in the context of paleontology, where is this threshold of closure? What is the physical boundary over which semi-closure is “perfected”? Generally speaking, it is usually in the immediate physical vicinity of the fossil lying in situ in the region of space that contains the fossilized sample and everything outside of it being earthen material. What one needs to show in order for something as complex and ordered as Deoxyribonucleic Acid to persist for very long values of t is that this boundary represents the opposite; that is, that it is unusally well opened in a particualr way. For example, in Siberia heat energy is taken out and kept out of the physical environment by the weather systems of Earth. This opens the system so that strange things can occur, such as preservation over long periods of time of complex and well-ordered biological material. At the interface of Earth’s atmosphere and space and Earth’s atmosphere and Earth’s magnetosphere, the system abruptly reverses and tends to close Earth. Having said that, it is still not fully closed. But the point is that this closure is the “backstop” of the Second Law in that it ensures compliance.

But the key to understanding why this discussion of ordered biological material in dinosaur fossils is built upon a gross and disturbing ignorance of physics is in understanding that the threshold we’re talking about is not merely a three dimensional space. It’s a 4-D metric tensor. So, you see, the degree to which the system is closed also depends on t, the time interval over which “preservation” is considered. An easier way to understand this is to imagine ourselves trying to artificially preserve a biological sample for as long as possible. What we are really trying to do is to retard disorder as much as possible in the 3-D space defined and within the interval t, defined. And the county morgue does this every day; primarily with referigerant. Cooling things down tends to slow disorder and thus what we perceive in the macroscopic as biological decay. But notice what we were taught in high school physics still holds true: in order to refrigerate a space a greater amount of disorder must be created outside that physical space and time to compensate and satisfy the Second Law; in other words, we dump heat energy outside the building from the compressor that is removing heat energy from the human remains. Siberia is doing the same thing. As solar energy tries to intrude into the area, the weather systems there remove that heat energy and dump it back outside the Siberian region. Now, go to the coroner’s office and ask them, if refrigerated to -100 F for 100 years, how much of the body will be left after that time is up? Most of them will tell that a great deal will remain. The person will probably be recognizable.

But some amount of deterioration will in fact occur.

So, you suggest, what if you embalm them? Emblaming is a chemical process that simply does the same thing the refrigeration does: it tends to retard the natural disordering of a biological system by using energy applied to create or process the chemical outside the interval t (before) to prevent the breakdown of the specimen by energetic sources from outside that physical envrionment (think of gamma radiation, which wil break down DNA faster when it is not otherwise protected. The very fact that a particular chemical can “store” up this kind of rigidity before the considered time interval is what makes it a good embalming chemical. The reader should understand that I am speaking very low level here and the verbiage need not match that of any particular discipline.

So, whatever we do, artifical or naturally caused, the end of all these conditions serves to retard the disordering of the system. Egyptian mummies (we’ll get to that later) underwent a process to retard the disordering of their bodies that seemed to work incredibly well. But no one will disagree that decay occurred once the sarcophagus is lifted. What I’m trying to get at here is the relative nature of a system undergoing disorder, or its “Entropic” rate, in real world terms. Let us suppose we applied the very best preservation techniques technology and nature allowed. How long do you think a mummy would be recognizable as a human being? Suppose we put them in an acid neutral bath, embalmed them and took them down to say, 100 Kelvin. The mummies are supposedly no more than 20,000 years old. Anything more than that will result in greater disorder than most of us have seen in pictures. Suppose we isolate the sample from minerals. So, no fossilizing occurs. Take the decay you see and multiply by ten. Its not hard to see that even under our ideal conditions there will likely be nothing but dust left on the slab, a slab we’ll say is made of granite. But lets say our improved, outlandishly idealistic preservation techniques remain in force for the entire time, t. Multiply by ten again. Now, we are at an age of 2 million years. Again, dust. Under fossilizing conditions there would be only minerals remaining; i.e. a pure fossil. All this talk of biological material that is 65 million years old is starting to sound like a religious fable. Why? Because the Second Law of Thermodynamics is why houses that are 300 years old look old. It’s why under normal conditions all biological material is gone within 100 years (lack of preservation means bacteria can consume the remains). But even when bacteria is denied access,

the Second of Law of Thermodynamics is the fundamental force at work, not bacteria.

Bacteria is merely a high-level representation of the disordering of a physical system. Regardless of conditions or specimen, our attempts to explain decay are almost always just high-level descriptions of an underlying natural phenomenon called the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Every physical system is susceptible to it, eventually. Talk of ordered base pair sequences of 65 million years age is an exchange of ignorance and nothing more. The upper bound and most outlandish date for DNA structure preservation is about 2 million Earth years unless preservation techniques unknown to us now are at play (biological systems that continually retard disorder can do this, but they would have to be alive for that time).

The quality of this evidence is exceptional.

So, the article referenced starts by saying:

A Montana paleontologist and his colleagues believe they have found red blood cells in the fossilized leg bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex and say they have high hopes of extracting DNA from the dinosaur’s cells.

These people are living in the dark ages of deep ignorance if they really believe this.

Which is more likely, that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is, for all practical intents and purposes wrong, or that the calibration of dating techniques is wrong?

Since the Montana revelation biological material, to include cells and DNA, has been found in numerous other “fossils”. And note the subtle problem here: it isn’t just that we have to assume that these cells survived this long, but entire expanses of bone survived because none of them are fully fossilized. No one was looking before because they correctly assumed you would not find it in a specimen that is 65 million years old (actually, the Montana fossils were dated to 80 million years ybp).

Back in 2005 an article was published in “Science News” that related another one of these discoveries. Now, not only cells, DNA and bone fragments were found, but entire sections of flesh:

Mar. 25, 2005 — Conventional wisdom among paleontologists states that when dinosaurs died and became fossilized, soft tissues didn’t preserve – the bones were essentially transformed into “rocks” through a gradual replacement of all organic material by minerals. New research by a North Carolina State University paleontologist, however, could literally turn that theory inside out.

Dr. Mary Schweitzer, assistant professor of paleontology with a joint appointment at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, has succeeded in isolating soft tissue from the femur of a 68-million-year-old dinosaur. Not only is the tissue largely intact, it’s still transparent and pliable, and microscopic interior structures resembling blood vessels and even cells are still present.

In a paper published in the March 25 edition of the journal Science, Schweitzer describes the process by which she and her technician, Jennifer Wittmeyer, isolated soft organic tissue from the leg bone of a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex.

But what about stratigrapy? Once we get into the realm of time preceding that which can be dated using the decay of 14C as a marker, we see a discontinuity. But … upon what basis are absolute dates of stratigraphic analyses more recent than this threshold (about 50 Kybp) made? Yep. They’re based on the absolute dates given by 14C calibrations. Circular, but even worse it is a circular argument that then undermines all the absolute dates used by other methods as well. So, the geologic column is calibrated using its most recent layers, not its oldest, precisely where stratigraphy is needed to provide absolute date calibration into the past. This calibration problem, as we can see now, is a Frankenstein that won’t quit. For this reason, we cannot assert with confidence whether or not homo sapiens and the creatures that left their fossilized remains lived at the same time or not. Now, we see what I mean by running from Creationists. It’s a train wreck. The Creationists are dead wrong in the main but scientists over-reacted to them. Though I am a deconverter, I’m honest enough to see this for what it is. A train wreck.

If you will recall from a previous section, we found that the calibration of dating technqiues in this time regime using methods such as Uranium-Lead decay showed signs of vulnerability to error, exactly what these findings imply. We have no confidence regarding the temporal proximity of dates of closure temperature and animal death and preservation and claims to the contrary appear to be based on uncomfortably subjective analysis.

At one time this information would have fallen into the anecdotal, but that changed when the research was initially challenged and the biotic material was said to be a “biofilm” of earlier origin. Subsequent research finally disproved this as numerous examples of biological tissue continued to be found. The “biofilm” hypothesis was also directly challenged by studies designed to do that. It is now clear, as the photos below show, this biological material belonged to the dinosaur. Subsequent testing by molecular biology labs confirmed the presence of proteins and elastic tissue was a hallmark of the find. Collagen, elastin and laminin were also found. The desperation seen in trying to explain this away, especially by scientists who understand the Second Law of Thermodynamics, is palpable. Once the “slime” theory didn’t play well they tried this one, “well, maybe the bones just fell in some kind of magical, chemical stew that preserved them for 80 million years”. Magical stew? This, of course, was proposed before this work was globally replicated. The story-reading in the cabin becomes more lucid.


Image A: “Fossilized” remains of a 68 million year-old T-Rex, closely related to Image B: birds. According to the current institutions of “Science”, it appears as though The Second Law of Thermodynamics has been rescinded. Look at Image A and remember that full sections of bone survived; this is utterly preposterous.

The anecodatal evidence

I am being generous to the conventional understanding by referring to these anomalies as anecdotal because, in reality, the quality of this evidence is extremely high. “Anecdotal” is a term applied primarily because the volume of evidence for it is relatively low. These data are primarily of a purely logical kind that do not admit of “volume”.

About Cocaine

Apart from the growing realization that many people continuing to support the existing calibration are probably using cocaine, there is something more interesting about the role of Cocaine in this train wreck.

Several years ago a German researcher decided to test Egyptian mummies at a German museum for the presence of nicotine and cocaine in their bodies. As you might have guessed, they tested positive for both. To make a very long story short, the tests were repeated, refactored, and repeated ad nausea, to include testing by an international team to finally settle the issue. The final verdict was that both nicotine and cocaine were in fact present in several mummmies of genuine Egyptian provenance. Moreover, the consumption rates were high and indicated consumption during their lifetimes, by lung ingestion in the case of nicotine. The problem with this is that the only way to explain this, something also examined ad nausea, was if Q (t) ~ 2.5. Funny how that matched what celestial mechanics tells us. So, mummies living around 3000 BCE (supposedly) were in fact, apparently only 2300 years old. This places them at a calendar date of, at the earliest, around 300 BCE. Why?

Nicotine and Cocaine did not exist in the Old World around 3000 BCE and, in fact, it was not believed to have existed there until well after 300 BCE. But we shall see later that trade with America likely did open up around 300 BCE and that the use of these drugs was a kind of royal, secret luxury not known to the general public at that time. Nicotine and Cocaine were known to have grown only in the Americas, especially South America. Botanists joined the fray and concluded that, though unlikely, its possible some unknown species of tobacco existed in the Old World that is now extinct. The only problem with this, of course, is that not one scintilla of evidence for that exists. And even if it had, curiously, no one has bothered to examine the nicotine more closely to see if it might have come from a different species that that living today. This sounds like special pleading.

But lets assume the presence of nicotine in the Old World can be explained by the presence of a now extinct form of tobacco that grew in the Old World at that time. Then what of the Cocaine? The problem with the cocaine is that this pat proposition won’t wash. Cocaine requires a fairly complex chemical process to extract it from the Coca leaf. You don’t just squeeze or burn the leaf and have cocaine pop out. It requires what was until the 1800’s fairly sophisticated chemical processing in order to extract it. Of course, while it is conceivable that this fairly involved process could have been developed by trial and error and limited knowledge of formal chemistry, it certainly didn’t happen before 300 BCE.

Mummies had tobacco plant leaves found in wrappings as well as nicotine inside hair strands. These plant leaves not, to my knowledge, been checked for direct match to tobacco plant species in the Americas, but Coca plant botanists say there is no explanation, even if just theoretical. Quotes such as these from the botanists that were asked to look into it shut down the entire “explanatory” conversation.

A great documentary on the matter can be found here:

So, the mental gymanstics began. Once everyone realized that the “only” explanation was that an international trade route must have existed, discussion on the topic kind of flamed out and no one could explain it. Of course, they missed the botanists point entirely: the chemistry required to process it was not available in 3000 BCE. It was one of those rare moments in academia where everyone had to admit they were clueless because conventional historians and archaelogists could not accept a global trade route that early and didn’t know what to say about the chemistry question. No one considered the possibility that C14 dating had been miscalibrated. The simpler explanation is usually the correct one (see my deconversion posts about the Conjunction Fallacy and Genetic Fallacy). The Pharoahs are not that old. And our discussion of preservation of remains tends to support that. Remember when I said people have a natural tendency to exaggerate and extol the anitquity of their own culture? You’re seeing it again. But there’s more, so much more.

Pyramid construction in Egypt

The ubiquity of pyramid construction around the world has fascinated many conspiracy theorists for years. We’d like to submit a simpler explanation for this seemingly inexplicable reading of minds. Perhaps they aren’t nearly as old as the Scaligarian Chronology suggests? This simple observation has been overlooked for so long I find it astonishing. That these pyramids are not nearly that old is obvious. It reminds us of the nicotine problem: most historians simply take it as evidence that trade existed much earlier than previously believed but won’t discuss it because it is only one line of evidence for that supposition. The story-telling in the cabin grows more and more lucid.

To share a personal observation, when I visited the Sphinx the first time I remember it as an indelible moment. And it was indelible not because the Sphinx was such a wonder but because of something else entirely. I was at the Cheops Papyrus store (where they sold papyrus reproductions to tourists) and the store was at the end of a road on a tourist strip that looked kind of like one of those Old West towns in the United States. After checking out the papyrus shop I stepped outside and around the corner to look out beyond the end of the road. There, in the bright desert sun was a massive stone edifice. The “Great Sphinx of Giza”. I was a bit shocked, really, because seeing it in real life gives an impression that can’t be conveyed in pictures. Have you ever had a weird moment where you are talking to someone and both of you know that an event is true because you both witnessed it together? Yet the other person flatly and confidently states it didn’t happen? At times like that you sort of “share a moment” of crystal clear bullshit. It’s a kind of experiential certainty that trumps all other truths. Well, when I looked up at that massive Sphinx we also “shared a moment” of bs, the Sphinx and I. It was obvious to me and Mr. Sphinx that this thing wasn’t nearly as old as all the tourists around me believed. The Sphinx knew and so did I. In fact, the Sphinx was laughing at all the tourists below. Spirits of the past were speaking to me. The stone was worn, sure, but it was still pristinely carved and intricately detailed. And all still in one piece. I figured this thing would be two or three hundred years old in North America, and maybe five to seven hundred years old in a sterile desert environment. How did I guess that? I don’t know. It was just a gut instinct; a “shared moment” of bs. Something just wasn’t right about it. And I was very young at the time and knew nothing about all this stuff I know now. There was no reason intellectually to think this, it was just instinct.

After visiting the pyramids later and going inside one of them I got the same sense, though not as strong. Something wasn’t right here. I was and am astonished at how gullible people are. There was no way this stuff was 5000 years old! It was comical. I felt like the tour guides were the same guys in Alexandria who were trying to sell me fake Timex watches. It was all a con job. So, years later I came to realize what was driving that instinct.

And my instincts had nothing to do with geology or archaeology, but human nature. The primary erosive force over such a long period of time would be human activity, not the weather. It’s the same realization that hit me at the Acropolis. Carvings of such magnificent work would never be left in place like that. They would be in the highest demand imaginable to the “dark age” folks who had no idea how to make this stuff themselves. It would be in pieces strewn all over the desert for miles. Sure, cultural taboos may exist, such as the belief in “curses” on those that deface these things, but we all know cultural mores don’t last much more than two or three hundred years. There would have had to been literally hundreds of years where human beings simply acted out of pure pragmatism and used whatever materials they could find to construct God-knows what. There is no way in hell the Sphinx has just been sitting there all this time without numerous people over a very long span of time tearing it to rubble. And if those perfectly shaped recatangular stones used on the pyramids could be lifted 100 feet into the air, I’m sure that some “savages” could have figured out how to haul them back down given 5000 years of time to think about it. And believe me, down is much easier than up in this case. Imagine if we parked a brand new Boeing 777 in some primitive culture today and left it there for 5000 years with no substantial change in the culture’s technology over that time. How many seats would be left in that plane 5000 years later? Would the wings still be attached? How about the engines? Forget about weathering; we all know the plane won’t last that long. That’s not the point. That plane would vanish into thin air within 500 years solely as a consequence of human activity. Now, imagine the same exercise with perfectly hewn stone stacked in a pile. How many houses, damns, streets, etc. could be built from that? Same argument. It’s obvious to anyone with a lick of social skills and understanding of the way “common” people think and act.

Sir Isaac Newton himself thought the Scaligarian Chronology (new in his day) was not only wrong but comical. He cited some of the same common sense objections we have here.  On the other hand, large, heavy granite structures of an age of 5000 / Q (t) = 2000 ybp seems much more plausible. And that is exactly what celestial mechanics tells us (we shall see in what follows that Q is not constant and that the actual age of Giza is closer to 1500 ybp, while the Sphinx is closer to 2000.

Greek constructions

The same logic applies to the great Greek architecture. Of course, authorities in Athens have noticed that the columns have been quickly eroding in the last 100 years they surmise due to … severe automobile pollution. The Empire State building in New York City was built in the 1930s of softer, thinner stone and shows no such signs. Indeed, the examples are endless. But, if Q is a factor here, then what we are seeing is the natural degradation rate of the stone it has always had. But thats not what really worries me here. There is something especially suspicious about these works.

image061It is as it appears; The Acropolis photographed before it was heavily modified for display to the public in the late 1800s, one of the few photographs taken as it was initially found. A large medieval tower stands directly behind it. The “ancient” Greek building sits on the same foundation as the tower does. As you can see, there is a medieval foundation upon which it sits. This is not easy to explain unless we assume a function Q.

image047The tower to the right is a medieval construction and is on the same grounds. It was demolished.


A close-up of the medieval tower. Notice the apparently “ancient” building on the left. Notice the medieval parapets on top, and the similarity in stonework between the tower and the foundation in the first picture.

The observations about the Pyramid and Greek constructions are admittedly anecdotal and inconclusive by themselves, but still worth mention.

The Denisovans’ hop from Siberia (ancient) to Australia (modern); indicatiions of a later displacement.

At this point we might ask, is there anything in more recent times to which more reliable dating calibration methods can be applied? We have ice cores that are fairly unambiguous back to about 100,000 ybp, but I know of no calibrations performed on 14C dating using that. Argon-Argon dating has been used to date at least one historical event, the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. This seems promising until we realize that there were over 50 eruptions of that same volcano since 79 A.D., so its unclear how the samples tested were obtained., But assuming the “correct” samples were used, again this only tells us that an eruption in 79 A.D. occurred. But is that the same eruption that is correlated with the discovery of ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum? That is a fascinating story by itself since these sites were originally discovered in the 1700s and kept a secret by European royalty for many years. The “chain of evidence” is therefore specious for any and all artifacts found there: the problem of archaeology before the standardized application of scientific principles to exploration is that results obtained before that have often been found to be in error. Therefore, rather than assuming that the sites at Pompeii and Herculaneum are associated with some arbitrarily selected eruption (which was necessitated by Scaligarian chronology assumptions) I’d like to test our celestial calculations to see if the dates we obtain match with the most or one of the most powerful eruptions of Vesuvius. Given the destruction found Pompeii and Herculaneum, and estimates from that indicating a very powerful eruption, this seems reasonable. And since we have over 50 to choose from, the vast majority of which were minor by comparison, this should be an informative exercise.

Let Q (t) = 2.5 as calculated from lunar motion and stellar observations. Then the date given as 79 CE is 2012 – 79 ybp. Thus, (2012 – 79) / 2.5 = 773.2 ybp, which is about 1239 CE. And alas, what was probably the strongest Vesuvius eruption ever occurred on 1 June, 1139 CE. This gives a margin of error of about 11.5%, which seems perfectly reasonable given that we’ve acknowledged that Q is not constant. In what follows we will see that we can determine the exact function in play and it will be a familiar and interesting one.

Several sources refer to the 1139 CE eruption as a strong explosive eruption (Falcone Beneventano, the Chronicle of the Monastery of Cava dei Tirreni, John of Salisbury). It lasted eight days and ashes covered Salerno, Benevento, Capua and Naples. If Naples and Salerno were covered in ash then Pompeii would have been completely buried in it. And the eruption of 79 CE lasted only three days. Ironically, the accurate Argon-Argon dating of the eruption of 79 CE serves only to provide further support of the Q factor.

The public interest in Pompeii was intense and all public access to the sites was barred by order of the King of Naples in 1715 CE. In 1734 his successor, Carlos III de Borbón (1716 – 1788), assumed the title of King of Naples and began private excavation of both Pompeii and Herculaneum in 1736 CE. He assigned the task of “treasure hunter” more than excavator to Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre (1702 – 1780). Up to the time he died, little scientific or publicly transparent work was done at these sites. Thus, from 1736 to 1780, the earliest period of excavation, not only was the work done mostly in secret objects removed from the sites had no record of the location in which it was found.

We are now beginning to zero in on Q. Noting that the oldest trees in Europe for which rings can be clearly distinguished are about 300 to 400 years old. This places the first opportunity for calibration error at the time of the oldest such example available (recalling that dendrochronological analysis began some 100 years ago). Based on what I was able to find, this yields the deepest historical dating using non-ambiguous tree rings in Europe at exactly 515 ybp (2012). We can construct a Q based on at least two dates so far as a first-order approximation that is, for now, linear. As we add more dates we may find that it is non-linear. However, for now, this will improve our application of Q.

Using the earlier date for the Thucydides account of lunar eclipes we get August 22, 1039 CE as a true date and 400 BCE as the purported date. The value of Q at 1039 CE is then 2012-1039 / 2012+400 = 2.4789. At 1139 it is 2012 – 1139 / 2012 – 79 = 2.2142. Therefore, over a 100 year span (1139 – 1039) the change in Q is 2.4789 – 2.2142 = 0.2647, increasing with greater antiquity. Since we know that calibration can be established correctly up to 515 ybp, the year 2012-515 represents the earliest point at which Q would have any value other than 1. Therefore, in 1497 CE the function Q “begins” at its origin and proceeds at some unknown rate for 358 years into the past, back to 1139 CE. Here it takes on the value 2.2142. At 1039 it takes the value 2.4789. Thus, folloiwng the linear slope of this graph, in 939 CE it takes on the value of 0.2647 + 2.4789 = 2.743. Extrapolating in the other direction, we calculate that 2.2142 – 0.2647 = 1.9495 for Q in 1239 CE. Lets build a table:

Putting the battered trains back together

As we shall see shortly, it is worth our time to take a brief digression into the “Out of Africa” theory of human origins and consider other possibilities. Since 2010 the academic consensus surrounding the Out of Africa with total replacement hypothesis has vanished and a fever pitch of activity is occurring in efforts to try to figure out what happened, though it won’t be characterized that way publicly. Stroll down to you nearest university campus and start talking to anthropologists. It will be an enlightening conversation, I promise.

There are two possible hypotheses that might explain human origins in the earliest phases, the first one being a first pass on where this new information is taking us and the second being the more likely one:

I. Out-of-America, with human origins from New World primates. This idea was first put forth by the Argentinian anthropologist and paleobiologist, Florentino Ameghino (1854-1911). Dismissed by Ales Hrdlicka and the rest of the scientific community, the New World primate (Platyrrhine) origin of modern humans is now championed by Alvah Hicks, a California-based self-taught anthropologist and a one-time member of the Mother Tongue group. He was profiled in the Los Angeles Times in 1993. Out-of-America I has no fossil evidence to support it. This may not be the most serious argument against it because, up until 2005, we didn’t have any fossil remains of African apes either and we still have no gorilla fossils. And the primate fossil record in the New World is poor compared with other mammals:

“Considering the extensive living radiation in the Neotropics today and the relatively good fossil record for other South American mammals, the fossil record of New World monkeys is relatively poor. Until recently, a large show box could contain the primate fossils from all of South America and the Caribbean from the last 30 million years.” (Fleagle, John G., and Richard F. Kay. “Platyrrhines, Catarrhines, and the Fossil Record,” in New World Primates: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, edited by Warren G. Kinzey. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, p. 3).

More importantly, out-of-America I runs into a host of insurmountable biological problems such as the presence of a range of synapomorphies between humans and great apes (e.g., two premolars in Old World monkeys, apes and humans vs. three premolars in New World monkeys; opposable thumb in apes and humans vs. non-opposable thumbs in marmosets and pseudo-opposable thumbs in Cebidae). It’s also contradicted by primate gene phylogenies, which place humans squarely with Hominidae in a sister clade with Pan (see below, from Perelman et al. “A Molecular Phylogeny of Living Primates,” PLoS Genetics 7 (3), 2011).

For out-of-America I to be correct, all the genetic and biological similarities between Hominidae, Hylobatidae and Cercopithecidae need to be reinterpreted, very implausibly, as homoplasies or products of convergent evolution. At the same time, under a closer inspection, some of these physical traits can be polymorphic in New World primates: for instance, trichromacy is fixed in Catarrhines – the parvorder comprising Old World monkeys (Cercopithecines), apes and humans – but is polymorphic in New World primates, so that howler monkey matches Catarrhines in having trichromatic color vision. The Late Pleistocene fossil monkey Paralouatta varonai from Cuba shows the surprising presence of semi-terrestrial skeletal features (all living Platyrrhines are almost exclusively arboreal) plus supraorbital torus and low vault (these traits are co-present in Homo erectus and Neandertals) suggesting a unique evolutionary path different from the other Platyrrhines (McPhee, R. D. E., and Jeff Meldrum. 2006. Postcranial Remains of the Extinct Monkeys of the Greater Antilles, with Evidence for Semiterrestriality in Paralouatta. New York: American Museum of Natural History). Cebus are unique among Platyrrhines in having all the neural and physical components of superior manual control (including precision grip achieved through pseud-opposable thumbs) otherwise found only in macaques and humans. Even chimpanzees may not be as dexterous as Cebus (see below, from Padberg, Jeffrey, et al. “Parallel Evolution of Cortical Areas Involved in Skilled Hand Use,” Journal of Neuroscience 27 (38): 10106-10115).

The plot thickens when we discover that New World monkeys have pronounced forms of pair bonding (a stable monogamic reproductive unit), paternal investment in offspring and cooperative breeding (a social system whereby infant care behaviors are exhibited by all group members, not just the biological mother of the infant). As an example, below is the distribution of conspicuous paternal care across primate branches (from: Fernandez-Duque, Eduardo, Claudia R. Valeggia, and Sally P. Mendoza. 2009. The Biology of Paternal Care in Human and Nonhuman Primates. Annual Review of Anthropology 38: 115-130.)

As it can be observed, siamangs is the only Old World primate species that has conspicuous paternal care. Otherwise, modern humans and New World monkeys are unique in having this trait. The only case of attachment between mammal infant and father, outside of humans, is attested in dusky titi monkey (Callicebus moloch) (Hoffman, K. A., S. P. Mendoza, M. B. Hennesey, and W. A. Mason. 1995. “Responses of Infant Titi Monkeys, Callicebus moloch, to Removal of One or Both Parents: Evidence for Paternal Attachment,” Developmental Psychobiology 28 (7): 399-407).

Pair bonding, paternal investment and cooperative breeding are unknown among the great apes. Levels of body size sexual dimorphism among Australopithecines, an indicator of the intensity of male-male competition and rates of polygyny, are more similar to those of other apes (Plavcan, J. M., C. A. Lockwood, W. H. Kimbel, M. R. Lague, E. H. Harmon. 2005. Sexual Dimorphism in Australopithecus afarensis Revisited: How Strong Is the Case for a Human-like Pattern of Dimorphism? Journal of Human Evolution 48 (3): 313-320). Alternatively, pair bonding, paternal investment and cooperative breeding are central to human kinship and social behavior. The influential book by primatologist Bernard Chapais, Primeval Kinship: How Pair-Bonding Gave Birth to Human Society (2008), defines pair bonding as a threshold separating the promiscuous and male-dominant society of great apes from human society. Pair bonding and cooperative breeding are fundamental to the evolution of prosociality, cognitive development, economic cooperation and reduction of intragroup violence (see more here). As anthropologist Kim Hill put it, “Humans are not special because of their big brains [the trait we supposedly inherited from great apes.-G.D.]. That’s not the reason we can build rocket ships — no individual can. We have rockets because 10,000 individuals cooperate in producing the information.” Pair bonding, paternal investment and cooperative breeding (allomothering) form an interrelated functional whole with a common physiological foundation.

“Long-term behavioral and demographic data strongly indicate that direct, conspicuous and frequent paternal care tends to occur simultaneously with the development of a pair-bond between the mother and the putative father providing care. An association between pair-bonds and paternal care is further supported by our understanding of the proximate mechanisms underlying these aspects of the social behavior of primates. There seems to be a common biological substrate with similar neuroanatomical and neuroendocrine processes regulating the manifestation of pair-bonds, monogamy, and paternal care. Following the lead of the rodent research, it is increasingly likely that neurobiological processes underlying paternal behavior are related to mechanisms that promote social behavior generally” (Fernandez-Duque et al. 2009, 123).

Notably, the most compelling examples of parallels to human speech (high phonetic variation, categorical perception, turn-taking, lexical syntax, metacommunication, babbling, etc.) among primates come not from the great apes but from the New World monkeys. Whereas the vocal repertoire of great apes is impoverished, New World monkeys are extremely vocal, maybe most vocal among all primates (gibbons are a close second). Unlike Old World monkeys, New World monkeys are exclusively arboreal. Dense vegetation of the tropical forest makes visual cues hard to perceive, plus arboreal primates use their limbs for locomotion and gesturing is limited among them. Hence their adaptation necessitates that they rely not so much on visual as on auditory cues. (See an important paper by Charles T. Snowdon “Is Speech Special: Lessons from New World Primates” In New World Primates: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, edited by Warren G. Kinzey. Pp. 75-93. New York: Aldine de Gruyter. 1997.) It will be interesting to see the results of the sequencing of FOXP2 gene, which is known to be implicated in language abilities in birds and humans, in Platyrrhines.

Another striking parallel to human culture involves duet singing, which achieves high development in such species of New World primates as titi monkeys (Müller, Alexandra E., and Gustl Anzenberger. (2002). “Duetting in the Titi Monkey Callicebus cupreus: Structure, Pair Specificity and Development of Duets,” Folia Primatologica 73 (2-3): 104-115). Although duetting is observed in Old World monkeys (siamangs) and African apes (bonobos), it’s not found in common chimpanzees and in bonobos it doesn’t seem to be as developed as in New World monkeys and siamangs. There are strong reasons to believe that speech and promusical vocalizations in monkeys are ways to reinforce and facilitate pair bonding and allomothering (see, e.g., Matasaka, N.,, and M. Kohda. (1988). “Primate Play Vocalizations and Their Functional Significance,” Folia Primatologica 50 (1-2):152-156; Geissmann, Thomas, and M. Orgeldinger. (2000). “The Relationship Between Duet Songs and Pair Bonds in Siamangs, Hylobates syndactylus, ” Animal Behaviour 60: 805-809). Also, as evolutionary musicologist, Joseph Jordania (Jordania, Joseph. (2009) “Times to Fight and Times to Relax: Singing and Humming at the Beginnings of Human Evolutionary History,” Kadmos 1, 272–277), points out, music is a risky behavior, as predators can easily determine the whereabouts of a singing individual. Consequently, the species known to produce music are either arboreal (birds, New World primates, siamangs) or aquatic (whales, dolphins, sea lions). The same selective constraint would apply to speech, hence it’s not surprising that both music and speech are attested in exclusively arboreal New World monkeys. Humans is the only species that combines speech and music behaviors with terrestrial adaptation.

Judging from the well-established primate phylogeny, manual control, pair bonding, paternal investment, cooperative breeding and their communicative outcomes (speech and duet singing) must be homoplasies between New World primates and humans. Convergent evolution is fairly typical in mammals and primates: elephants resemble humans by having such features as large brains, empathetic social bonds, high intelligence, and prolonged development and long life span, not found among their fellow Afrotherians (Goodman, Morris, et al. “Phylogenomic Analyses Reveal Convergent Patterns of Adaptive Evolution in Elephant and Human Ancestries,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (49): 20825-20829); brain size enlargement developed in parallel in stem Catarrhines and stem Platyrrhines; encephalization increased further in great apes, some Old World monkeys and some New World monkeys (Cebus) (see Goodman, Morris, and Kristin N. Sterner. 2010. “Phylogenetic Evidence of Adaptive Evolution in the Ancestry of Humans,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107, Suppl. 2: 8918-8923.) But the parallels in the very specific domain of social breeding, communication and social intelligence between humans and Platyrrhines, if fully confirmed, would be a rather unique case, as this convergence is, arguably, species-defining for humans. Ultimately, if convergence is responsible for everything humans are famous for (bigger brains, superior manual control, pair-bonding, collective breeding, paternal investment, language, music), then our “kinship” with chimpanzees, however true genetically, is a rather empty idea. It’s also noteworthy that the earliest Catarrhine fossils in the Old World are essentially Platyrrhine-like in cranial and post-cranial morphology (Fleagle and Kay 1997, 20), which suggests that Platyrrhines are not only diverse but also conservative and, consequently, their “human-like” behavioral features may represent retentions from the last common ancestor (LCA) of Platyrrhines and Catarrhines. Better preserved in some species of New World monkeys, these ancestral features got lost in the Old World among such Hominidae as chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans.

If taken in isolation from the primate molecular phylogeny, this “calculus of humanity” could be viewed as supportive of Out-of-America I. Correspondingly, such aspects of modern African human social organization as high rates of polygyny (especially among farmers) will be homoplastic with great apes and Australopithecines. Do we have the seeds of a major scientific controversy here comparable to the relentless “flying primate” debate in mammalian biology? When DNA supports the megabat-microbat grouping, while brain structures support megabat-primate grouping, science is put into an uncomfortable zone of having to make an “executive decision” because straight facts lead to hung jury. Primate research has been dominated by the “myth of the typical primate” (see Strier K. B. “Myth of the Typical Primate,” Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 37 (1994): 233-271) that obfuscates the biological and behavioral diversity of New World monkeys (they display a full range of primate blood types, forms of locomotion outside of bipedalism, diet, vision, social organization) and forces an idealized ape and an idealized human into the Darwinian “hidden bond of connexion.” As Warren Kinzey (“New World Primate Field Studies: What’s in It for Anthropology,” Annual Review of Anthropology 15 (1986), 137) wrote, “Anthropologists have tended to overlook the New World primates because they are not in the mainstream of hominid evolution.” Ironically, as I pointed out in The Genius of Kinship, this is exactly what happened to the study of American Indian cultures and kinship systems, so we may have here a general pattern of reductionism and bias driven by Old World-centric assumptions.

The reality is complex, and, regardless of whether language, pair bonding and cooperative breeding are homoplastic or not, using living New World monkeys as models of the origin of human language and sociality may be more productive than trying to piece together fragmentary paleobiological and archaeological evidence from Africa without the luxury of observing language among living apes. An intriguing question can be posed: is human language an extension of tool use, as the evolution from great apes through Oldowan to Acheulian technologies and further suggests, or it’s primarily a means of social recognition? Are words rarefied stone tools or, instead, stone tools are thickened sounds? Is human language the final product of millions of years of tool perfection, or stone tools are just regional adaptations of language-based early human populations? Is the fact that the Upper Paleolithic package, which archaeologists use to define behavioral modernity, is not as clearly visible outside of Europe and Africa indicative of an extensive non-lithic system of adaptation (let’s call it Paleolinguic) that spanned America, Asia and the Sahul from 100,000 / Q (t) to 10,000 / Q (t) ybp and is still manifested in the exceptional richness of kinship systems, language families, grammatical structures, mythological narratives and musical traditions east of the Movius Line? If so, can it ever be pinned down by archaeological methods, or it’s linguistics, folkloristics, social anthropology and ethnomusicology that are the true archaeological sciences? Is technological evolution progressing from more perishable (wood, bone, fiber) to less perishable materials, and hence archaeology is capable of documenting only later stages in technological evolution? Is it possible that the lithic system of adaptation well documented in Europe and Africa is the product of admixture between intelligent but non-lithically minded modern humans and archaic hominins, so that the latter furnished the old-world “hardware” but the former brought with them an entirely new “software”? At the end of the day, modern humans are young, fast, innovative and expansive and they don’t fit the mold of a slowly progressing African primate.

II. Out-of-America, with human origins from an East Eurasian hominid. While intriguing, the first pass has problems that will become more evident as we proceed. In the second pass we consider an Out-of-America hypothesis in which behaviorally and anatomically modern humans, aka “we,” originated from a population of East Eurasian humans such as Neanderthals (whose geographic reach stretched all the way to the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia and, possibly, beyond the Arctic Circle in the northwestern Urals), Homo erectus or Denisovans (the newly-discovered hominid species attested through a tooth and a pinkie from the Denisova Cave, South Siberia). Between 200,000 / Q (t) and 100,000 / Q (t) years ago, a subset of this original hominid population migrated to the New World (via the Bering Strait Land Bridge),

where speciation into modern humans occurred. While, under the second pass hypothesis, the unique social behaviors shared between modern humans and New World primates (pair bonding, paternal investment, cooperative breeding and speech) are interpreted as homoplasies, the fact that such key aspects of human social and cognitive behavior are shared with Platyrrhines suggests that the immediate ancestors of modern humans were exposed to the same New World environment as the New World monkeys.

This migration into a new continent via a relatively narrow land bridge resulted in a population bottleneck still visible in the human genome (as compared to other primate genomes) and in the Amerindian genome. With the next retreat of the ice shield, our ancestors migrated back to the Old World and replaced, possibly with some admixture, all Old World hominids in Eurasia and Africa. As a result of this re-expansion in the Old World, all human populations, with the exception of American Indians (and arguably such isolates as Papua New Guineans, the peoples of the Caucasus and the Hadza of Tanzania), somewhat rebounded from the original bottleneck due to population size growth, waves of intraspecific admixture and, possibly, admixture with archaic hominids in Eurasia and Africa. This replacement of Old World hominids by the modern humans coming out of America corresponds to the emergence of signs of early modern human behavior all over the globe around 40,000 / Q (t) years ago. One clear advantage of Out-of-America II over Out-of-Africa is that prolonged geographic isolation is an absolute prerequisite for a speciation event to occur. Africa had been well settled by ancient hominids to allow for the easy and matter-of-fact speciation into modern humans in Africa that’s assumed by the mainstream science of human origins. The emergence of a new hominid species with a radically different, worldwide adaptation based on an advanced system of symbolic thinking and social cooperation followed by the dramatic replacement of pre-existing hominids all over the world is best explained as having its origin in a unique original environment – on a continent previously unexplored by hominids. Another advantage of Out-of-America II over Out-of-Africa is that it’s consistent with ancient DNA results: while we don’t have a single ancient DNA sample to ascertain whether modern African populations are directly related to ancient “anatomically modern humans” (e.g., Omo, Herto, etc.) and hominids in Africa, we do have ancient DNA data (X chromosome, autosomes, blood groups) that document matches between Neanderthal and Denisovan genetic variation, on the one hand, and modern humans in the New World (and in Melanesia). While these matches are currently interpreted as a sign of admixture between Africa-derived modern humans and in-situ hominids, they are the only signs of continuity between archaic and modern humans known to science at this moment.

We will also see in what follows that another “back migration” from the New World to the east might have occured much later, and that migration is responsible for both anatomically modern humans and civilization itself.

As we begin repositioning America from the ultimate destination of human dispersals in the Late Pleistocene-early Holocene to their source, it immediately challenges the central role of Africa in human prehistory. It’s therefore important to revisit the existing versions of the out-of-Africa theory.

I. Out-of-Africa with Complete Replacement. This theory, which dominated the science of human origins from the early 1990s to 2010, posits that modern humans expanded out of Africa 50-40,000 / Q (t) years ago and completely replaced, without admixture, Eurasian hominids (Neanderthals and Homo erectus).

II. Out of Africa with Complete Replacement and with a Back Migration. The only difference between Out-of-Africa I and Out-of-Africa II is that Out-of-Africa II admits small migrations back to Africa after 40,000 YBP. This model is based on the presence of derived M (M1) and N  (U6, N1a) mtDNA lineages in Africa.

III. Out-of-Africa with Archaic Admixture and a Back Migration. This model based on the studies of ancient DNA obtained from archaic hominids is currently supported by the majority of academic scholars. As behaviorally and anatomically modern humans fanned out from Africa, they experienced gene flow from the in-situ archaic hominids such as Neanderthals and Denisovans. Sometime after 40,000 / Q (t) ybp there was a small back migration of modern humans back into Africa, as supported, again, by a few minor M and N mtDNA lineages. Out-of-Africa III is a mirror image of Out-of-America III (see above): both allow minimal back migrations, from Asia to Africa and from America to Asia, in relatively recent times.

IV. Out-of-Arabia/India with Archaic Admixture in Eurasia and Africa. This model shifts the origin of anatomically and behaviorally modern humans away from Africa to Arabia or even further to India. Africa remains the source for a population that has been undergoing modernization since 200,000 years ago. But to fully evolve into anatomically and behaviorally modern humans our ancestors needed an extra-African geographic locus to actually shed off the last archaic morphological and behavioral features and speciate into “us.” This model dates the founding out-of-Africa migration of proto-Homo sapiens sapiens to 120,000-100,000 / Q (t) ybp, which is roughly 50,000 / Q (t) years or two times earlier than the dates provided by the out-of-Africa with Complete Replacement model (Model 1 above). What happened at roughly 40,000 / Q (t) ybp is a back-migration into Africa. So, after speciation had occurred, early Homo sapiens sapiens colonized not only Eurasia but also Africa replacing and admixing with local hominids. This model uses Y-DNA evidence, namely the phylogenetic position of the major African E clade as a subset of the non-African DECF clade, as evidence for the extra-African origin of modern humans. Back in 1998, the Michael Hammer lab published a paper entitled “Out of Africa and Back Again: Nested Cladistic Analysis of Human Y Chromosome Variation,” in which a major back-migration into Africa accounting for the majority of African Y chromosomes was proposed. Haplogroups A and B found exclusively in Africa are explained as either the product of admixture between African hominids and the incoming modern humans or as retentions from the earliest, purely African phase in the modern human evolution. Archaeologically, the presence of sites such as Dabban, with clear Upper Paleolithic roots, in North Africa around 40,000 / Q (t) ybp supports the back-migration idea. From the paleobiological perspective, the Hofmeyr skull in South Africa dated at 36,000 YBP clusters with Upper Paleolithic Eurasians, which, again, suggests that Africa was peopled from Eurasia, not the other way around. Another argument in favor of an extra-African origin of modern humans is the fact that skulls with archaic features survived in various part of Africa (e.g., the Iwo Eleru skull dated at 11-16,000 / Q (t)) almost into the Holocene. If there was indeed continuity between “anatomically modern humans” in Africa that begin to show up in the paleontological record from 200,000 / Q (t) on and today’s anatomically and behaviorally modern humans, we would not expect archaic hominins to survive in Africa for almost 180,000 years. Outside of Africa, modern humans needed only a short window to replace all of the Neanderthals. It’s also noteworthy that African megafauna was largely spared in Africa: only 14% (or 7 out of 49 genera) of African megafauna went extinct in the Late Pleistocene. Outside of Africa, megafauna extinctions were much more dramatic, with 86% of megafauna going extinct in Australia, 80% in South America, 73% in North America, 60% in Europe. Under the anthropogenic theory of megafauna extinctions, modern human hunting and ecological disruption are the causes of the extinctions. If Africa was the least affected continent, it’s possible that it was peopled by modern humans later than other continents and/or by smaller numbers of modern humans. But genetics predicts otherwise – Africa must be the oldest and most populous continent, hence modern Africans are more diverse than populations outside of Africa. If anatomically and behaviorally modern humans originated at a place in Sub-Saharan Africa and expanded first across all of Africa (as the distribution of “basal” mtDNA and Y-DNA lineages in current phylogenies seems to suggest), then it’s unclear why the megafauna was not affected by their new and improved hunting practices. But the anthropogenic theory of megafauna extinctions is just one theory out of many and climate change may have been a bigger factor.

The Out-of-Arabia/India model advanced by Dienekes (e.g. here, here, here and here, see especially the Comments section; also here in the Comments section) provides an elegant counterpart to Out-of-America IV. Out-of-Arabia/India explains the excessive diversity in Africa observed across multiple genetic systems not as a result of greater antiquity of modern humans in Africa than elsewhere but as a result of admixture between archaic hominids in Africa and modern humans who arrived from Asia. In a manner of continuing this logic, the low diversity of American Indian populations are consistent with the absence of archaic hominids in the New World. Genetic diversity levels have, therefore, nothing to do with a populations antiquity but with the degree of admixture with archaic humans. New World populations represent the “purest” type of modern humans that have never admixed with archaic hominids in the Old World (but are ultimately derived from an archaic hominid population in East Eurasia). As unadmixed modern humans, they naturally become the source of modern humans in the Old World. Dienekes rejects America as a possible homeland for modern humans, but his logic is circular and is driven by inertia, rather than by actual data. For instance, he writes, “The evidence is slowly mounting for the place of origin of fully modern H. sapiens, as region after region strikes out by having archaic humans present when they are not supposed to be there. Both Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia have struck out, and Europe had already struck out because of its documented Neandertal population. Australasia is not a valid option due to the lack of precursors, and the Americas because of the their late settlement.” Needless to say, one shouldn’t be rejecting out-of-America on the premise that America was settled late. As I noticed, my comments on Dienekes’s site over the past two years helped Dienekes shape his Out-of-Arabia/India model (as well as his out-of-the-Caucasus theory for the peopling of Europe) to mimic some properties of the out-of-America thinking. Lower intragroup genetic diversity and high linguistic diversity are plausible indicators of antiquity of modern human populations in a given region. What gives Out-of-America IV an edge over Out-of-Arabia/India is America’s unparalleled linguistic diversity suggestive of the great antiquity of a defining characteristic of behavioral modernity there. India and especially Arabia have nothing to offer in terms of linguistic diversity.

There’s an important take-away from the discussion above. It shows how genetics data can be very deceptive. High genetic diversity does not solely imply an origin. It can also imply a terminus of “back migration”. As populations move westward from Alaska they pick up more and more genetic diversity as they displace other populations until their descendents in Africa, the westernmost and furthest extent of migration, become highly diversified genetically.

Continued in Part 2

– kk

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