Grotto Mandrin is not a vast cave; it’s just a deep canopy in the south of France providing protection from the weather. But from the shelter, nestled inside the cliff, there is a panoramic view of the Rhone Valley, once teeming with deer, buffalo and horses. Thus, Neanderthals found the place attractive enough to call home, at least seasonally, for tens of thousands of years. And they were not the only species that settled here. A broken molar and complex stone tips suggest that the first known humans in Europe may have lived here 54,000 years ago, subsequently alternating settlement with Neanderthals over thousands of years of European prehistory.
Now the striking resemblance between these finds and tools from the Middle East, posted Wednesday at PLOS Onemade the Grotte Mandrin the epicenter of an intriguing theory that could write new chapters in the history of how humans populated Europe and what their arrival meant for the Neanderthals who lived on the continent.
A provocative new theory suggests that modern humans colonized Europe in three separate waves of migration from the Middle East, intermittently interacting with Neanderthals over thousands of years as they tried to gain a foothold. French archaeologist Ludovic Slimac believes that the complex stone tools found in France were made using systematic technical methods very similar to those homo sapiens in Lebanon that they must have come from the same culture.
A comparison of thousands of tools and one amazing human tooth led Slimak to theorize that human migration from the Middle East began about 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. And because gun technology went through three very similar stages in each region, Slimak believes it spread from the Middle East to Europe in three different waves of migration. He suggests that it was not until after the third wave, around 45,000–42,000 years ago, that Neanderthals began to die out.
“All this time H. sapiens were there, and we just didn’t see it, because human remains are absolutely rare,” says Slimak from the French National Center for Scientific Research. “Therefore, we were unable to really paint the real story of what happened during the migrations and interactions between homo sapiens and Neanderthals.”
Slimak’s research will no doubt spark controversy and lay the foundation for further research that has much to say about how humans came to power in Europe, what our ancestors’ relationship with Neanderthals was like, and why these Neanderthals, the original inhabitants of Europe, eventually disappeared.
“What I’m suggesting here is predictive, not a definitive demonstration,” he says, noting that future research will determine whether these predictions are correct.
Since excavations began in 1990, the dated archaeological layers of the Grotte Mandrin have created intriguing records of Neanderthal occupation of the site for over 80,000 years. Numerous tools and nine teeth from at least seven people were found in the rock shelter. While most of the teeth appear to be Neanderthal, one 54,000-year-old molar is clearly human. This is surprising because, before this tooth was described in 2022, the earliest widely accepted evidence of modern humans in Europe were tooth and bone fragments from a Bulgarian cave called Bacho Kiro, which contained human DNA dating back to about 45,000 years ago.
Not everyone is entirely convinced that the Grotte Mandrin tooth is definitely human, and not perhaps an unusually shaped young Neanderthal tooth. “It would be so cool if it were true… but it’s not a joke,” said Shara Bailey, a paleoanthropologist at New York University. The science in 2022. And, at least for now, scientists have not been able to recover DNA that could confirm the origin of a molar.
But the tooth is also from a short time layer, about 54,000 years ago, which contains complex stone tools called Neronian, very different from the typical Neanderthal tools found in the surrounding layers, both older and younger. Slimak believes that the nature of the tools and their systematic production represent a completely separate line of evidence from the tooth, which also points to their human origin.
The small, complex flint points are unlike anything else known in Europe at that time. They show standardized technical development, unlike Neanderthal tools, which tend to be more unique than uniform. In a 2023 study, Slimak and others even used local flint to create replicas of various arrowheads and tested their effectiveness using them on dead goats. They found that the smaller ones only proved useful when delivered at the speed of a bow and arrow, although the next evidence of European archery does not appear until 40,000 years later.
Since there was no evidence of human presence in France at the time, some have suggested that the Neanderthal population of the region may have included a unique group that adapted to the production of these complex tools. But at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, Slimack stumbled upon a treasure trove of ancient artefacts from Ksar Akil, Lebanon — a key Paleolithic site a few miles from Beirut — leading him to a very different conclusion.
“You can read flint like a book,” he says. “This is not just a final product, you can see the technical stages of production. When I opened these boxes, I was very surprised: it was the same technical process. All production steps were the same as in the Grotto Mandrin.”
There are countless ways to emphasize flint, and Slimak emphasizes that it is extremely unlikely that two unrelated groups will use the same system of steps and techniques. “It’s almost impossible, unless you are the same people,” he says. “It was very clear to me that I was facing the same people and the same culture.”
“I think the data for this first phase, its links between the neron at Grotto Mandrin and the lower Upper Paleolithic sequence at Ksar Akil, work very well,” says Gilbert Tostevin, a University of Minnesota archaeologist who was not involved in the study. study.
If sets of tools from areas about 1800 miles apart are indeed indicative of the first human migrations to Europe, Slimak further suggests that the later evolution of toolmaking in these same disparate regions is in fact also indicative of a second wave of migration. According to Slimak, thousands of younger flints known as “sharp blades” at Xar-Aquil show the same uncanny resemblance to another tool tradition from Burgundy to Spain known as Châtelperron. The Chatelperron industry is often (though not unanimously) considered to be Neanderthal, the level of technological progress showing that Neanderthals were influenced by humans who were then beginning to appear in Europe. But Slimak suggests that this is so closely related to human technology from the Middle East that it is probably also the work of people – those who migrated to Europe during the second wave. This assertion is likely to run into problems.
If evolving tool technologies mirroring each other across Europe and the Middle East are indeed indicative of a second wave of human migration, this idea may have implications for our theories about how Neanderthals adapted to the arrival of humans. “The way we understand the last Neanderthals is that they adapted to a completely different lifestyle before their extinction,” says Slimak. But if they didn’t adapt and embrace change with transitional industries such as Châtelperron, could that point to new reasons why they didn’t survive alongside humans?
Our human ancestors and their Neanderthal relatives not only shared space and time during evolutionary history; they also interbred in different places and at different times. Today, most people living outside of sub-Saharan Africa carry Neanderthal genes, between 1 and 4 percent. But scientists aren’t sure how often these groups actually came into contact, or how much they learned from each other at places like Mandarin Grotto, where archeology suggests they likely met.
Tostevin suggests that while such human-Neanderthal hybridization may or may not have occurred at the Grotte Mandarin, it is a key part of the dynamics of Paleolithic Europe that is not recognized in the new theory. “After this first phase of modern humans, most of the Upper Paleolithic was also created by hybrids, humans and Neanderthals,” he notes. Tostevin points out that many key European sites of the era have provided such evidence, from ancient DNA at Bacho Kiro in Bulgaria and the Cave of Bones in Romania to hybrid teeth left in the Channel Islands off the coast of France. “All these sites show people who are only a few generations removed from the admixture between humans and Neanderthals.”
Other scientists say the new theory opens up many opportunities for future research in a number of areas.
“This model is nothing short of a provocation,” says Christian Tryon, an anthropologist at the University of Connecticut and the Smithsonian Descent of Man who did not author the new report but received Slimak credit for helping with the research. “Archaeologists love to connect dots on a map. There is a lot of empty space between the points on these maps,” says Tryon. “What lines of evidence can we find to really connect these dots?”
Tryon notes that finding more places between Lebanon and France might not be easy, partly because the world has changed in the last 50,000 years. “One of the implications of connecting these dots in Lebanon and France is that there must have been people living along the Mediterranean coast, sea travel that we don’t count,” he says. “The problem is that since the sea level rose about 20,000 years ago, these key coastal sites could be under water.”
Other information can be gleaned from ancient DNA, a technology that is rapidly advancing. Marie Soressy, an archaeologist at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, hopes DNA will help test what she calls an interesting, stimulating and much-anticipated hypothesis. This week Soressi and colleagues published a new method successfully extract human DNA from 20,000-year-old bone and tooth artifacts, revealing who made and processed them in the ancient past. “Applying this new technique to the time period discussed by Slimak will be of great help in testing and developing the theory he put forward,” she says.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson sees artificial intelligence as a much-needed stress test for modern society, as it will force humanity to upgrade some of its more outdated ideas and systems now that the “genie is out of the bottle.”
“Of course, AI will replace jobs,” Tyson said in a Fox News Digital commentary. “Entire sectors of our economy have become obsolete in the presence of technology since the beginning of the industrial age.
“The historical fallacy in reasoning is to assume that when jobs disappear, people will have no other occupations,” he said. “There are more people employed in the world than ever before, but none of them are involved in the production of buggy whips. Just because you don’t see a new employment sector on the horizon doesn’t mean it’s not there.”
AI has become a catalyst for public fears and hopes as OpenAI has released ChatGPT-4 for testing and interaction. AI relies on data to improve, and like a large system of language models, this data comes from conversations, prompts, and interactions with real people.
HARRIS TAKES LEAD IN AI MEETING WITH TECH EXECUTIVES AS BIDEN EASIES HIS WHITE HOUSE SCHEDULE
Neil deGrasse Tyson at the 23rd Annual Webby Awards on May 13, 2019 in New York City. (Michael Locchisano/Getty Images for the Webby Awards)
Some tech leaders have raised concerns about what’s next for such a powerful AI model and have called for a six-month pause in development. Others have discussed AI as potentially the most transformative technology since the industrial revolution and the printing press.
Tyson spoke more consistently of the positive potential of AI as “a long overdue, long overdue–expected strength” of “reform”.
“When computing power quickly exceeded the human mental capacity for computing, scientists and engineers did not rush to the mountains: we accepted it,” he said. “We learned it. Continuous advances have allowed us to think about and solve ever deeper and more complex problems on Earth and in the Universe.”
AI MAY BE “NAILS IN THE COFFIN” FOR THE INTERNET, ASTROPHYSICIST WARNING
Gayle King and Neil deGrasse Tyson at Y 92nd Street on October 10. December 19, 2022 in New York.(Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)
“Now that computers have mastered the language and culture by feeding on everything we put on the Internet, my first thought is cool, let him do ungrateful language things that no one wants to do anyway and for which people are almost never visible. for example, writing manuals, brochures, figure captions, or wiki pages,” Tyson added.
He argued that teachers worried that students are using ChatGPT or other AI to cheat in essays and term papers may instead see it as an opportunity to change education.
“If students cheat on their term paper, forcing ChatGPT to write it for them, should we blame the student? Or is it the fault of the education system that we have honed over the last century to value grades more than students value learning? Tyson asked.
ChatGPT artificial intelligence software that creates human conversation.(Getty images)
“ChatGPT could be a welcome force that will change how and why we value what we learn in school.
“The push to say ‘this time is different’ is strong as AI is also starting to replace our creativity,” he explained. “If it is unavoidable, then act.
“If an AI can compose an opera better than a human, then let it do it,” he continued. “This opera will be performed by people, it will be watched by a human audience, occupying positions that we do not yet foresee. And even if the opera were performed by robots, that in itself could be an interesting spectacle.”
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While some worry about the lack of oversight and current legislation to govern AI and its development, Tyson noted that the number of countries with AI ministers or czars is “growing.”
“At such moments, one can unsuccessfully try to ban the development of AI. Or instead push for the rapid development of tools to tame it.”
Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter specializing in national and global news.
When two rivers meet they are sometimes shy to mix. The muddy load of sediment carried by one keeps a distance from pure blue-green of another. Each one reflects a color the landscape he carved, sometimes with caution and sometimes with turbulence.
The steep walls of the canyon testify and scars of steady descent water molecules attracted by gravity destroying crystals and grains, craving clay particles that fall and drift in the stream. Rivers come out and meander away from the harsh mountains and to each other begin to unload their cargo.
Separate paths become one and a thicker stream dives, hiding your sedimentary past along the mixing line where whirlpools test the water. Clouds and clarity complement each other, and, over time, dispersion and mixing shift the current into balance.
This article was originally published as Confluence in Scientific American 328, 5, 24 (May 2023).
doi: 10.1038 / scientific American 0523-24
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(AH)
Marianna Karplus, a geophysicist and associate professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, was inspired to write poetry during her scientific field trips to the US west, the Himalayas and Antarctica. Her poems have been published in several literary magazines.
Last year, President Joe Biden surprised forest scientists by ordering an Earth Day inventory of public holdings of mature and old-growth forests. This sparked a fight from the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to create a formal definition of what constitutes “mature” and “old growth” forests and apply those definitions to millions of hectares. Meeting the April 22 deadline last month, the agencies released their findings in a report noting that of the nearly 72 million hectares of forest they manage, 45% are mature and 18% are old-growth. Figures that exceed estimates published by non-federal researchers include 9 million hectares of pine-juniper forest (pictured here in Utah), a type of forest rarely previously classified as old-growth. The report’s findings are likely to spark a heated debate on how to manage old forests and make them resilient to climate change.
The chemist received house arrest
United States District Judge Last week, former Harvard University chemist Charles Lieber was sentenced. to 6 months house arrest and fined $50,000 for lying to federal agencies about his dealings with a Chinese university and failing to report payments from it. The ruling ended the most notorious case of about two dozen recent prosecutions of American academic scientists with research ties to China. In December 2021, Lieber’s connections with Wuhan University of Technology led to his conviction in court. Prosecutors have asked for a 90-day jail sentence and a $150,000 fine for 64-year-old Lieber, who has terminal blood cancer and left Harvard earlier this year. His lawyers requested that he not be sentenced to prison due to his poor health. The case was initiated by the Chinese government, aimed at curbing economic espionage by the US rival. The campaign was renamed last year to clarify that it applies to cancerous subjects from anywhere in the world. The government has a controversial reputation for harassing academics; several were acquitted or had their cases dismissed, while several were found guilty of offenses similar to Lieber’s and sentenced to prison.
Scientists suspect they have described less than 10% of the marine species on Earth. To learn more about the ocean’s remaining inhabitants, researchers, businesses and philanthropists have teamed up to identify some 100,000 new sea creatures from an estimated 2 million as yet unidentified species over the next decade. V ocean census, launched last week, will combine DNA sequencing with machine learning to create a kind of cyber-taxonomy, classifying organisms collected on expeditions across the world’s seas. The results could help conservation and give scientists a better understanding of the role marine life plays in oxygen and food production, and in the carbon cycle. With financial support from the Nippon Foundation, Japan’s largest philanthropic organization, the British Institute of Marine Science and Conservation, called Nekton, will coordinate the collection of ships, divers, submarines and deep-sea robots. Ocean Census will make its data, along with 3D digital images of all new species, available to both researchers and the public. With the disappearance of corals, sharks and other marine species in recent decades, “we are in a race against time,” says project leader Alex Rogers, a marine biologist at the University of Oxford.
Welsh fossils highlight early life
In Wales, paleontologists have discovered a rich source of 462-million-year-old fossils that show a greater match than expected between animals that evolved in the Cambrian explosion 40 million years ago and the ancestors of modern species. The researchers thought these ancestors had replaced the Cambrian creatures, but the new site – a small quarry in a sheep field – shows a much more gradual transition, say Jo Botting and Lucy Muir of the Amgedfa Simru National Museum in Wales. Among the many fossils, the couple cataloged 170 marine species, including glass sponges, crustaceans called horseshoe shrimp, and six-legged arthropods that may have given rise to insects. Nearly all of the animals are tiny, many ranging from the size of a sesame seed to a pencil eraser, and their soft bodies are perfectly preserved, giving insight into what they ate and how they lived, the research team reports this week in Ecology of nature and evolution. The quarry, according to Julien Kimmig, a paleontologist at the Karlsruhe State Museum of Natural History, who was not involved in the work, “could certainly be as famous” as the famous Burgess Shale in Canada, a rich source of Cambrian fossils from 500 million years ago.
Indian classes got rid of Darwin
Scientists in India are protesting the decision to exclude discussion of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution from the textbooks used by millions of ninth and tenth graders. More than 4,000 people have signed a petition from the Society for Breakthrough Sciences to recover the material. The non-profit advocacy group for science reports that the National Council for Educational Research and Training, an autonomous government group that sets curricula for India’s 256 million primary and secondary school students, has dropped the theme as part of a “content rationalization” process. The removal “distorts the idea of a comprehensive secondary education,” says evolutionary biologist Amitabh Joshi of the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Science. Others fear it indicates a growing interest in pseudoscience among Indian officials and see it as unlikely that NCERT will back down.
EU trial defense fund blown up
The European Union was ill-prepared to increase funding for defense research report published last week own financial supervisory authority. Between 2017 and 2019, the EU spent around €90m on 18 projects under the Defense Research Preparatory Action, a fund designed to “pave the way” for the much larger €8bn European Defense Fund, which began operations in 2021 and will last until 2027. But the European Audit Chamber report says the previous pilot fund did not fully function as a “test bed” for the larger program as projects were shelved and made “limited progress”. The auditors also warned that the European Commission is too understaffed to cope with rising spending on defense research.
Condor feces reveal their history
To find out how the Andean condor’s diet has changed over millennia of environmental change, researchers climbed a cliff in Argentina’s Patagonia region to collect samples of bird droppings from a donut-shaped mound. Based on radiocarbon dating and other clues, scientists have found that condors have nested on this slope for about 2,200 years. However, guano has shown that between about 300 and 1300 AD. Andean condors became scarce as ash from nearby volcanic eruptions covered the landscape and killed the animals whose carcasses they hunted. The scientists also learned that the careers of condors have changed over the years. Traces of llama DNA predominate in older layers of guano deposits, while introduced sheep and cattle are more visible in more recent layers. The researchers say the findings illustrate the value of studying long-term nesting sites for reconstructing a species’ ecological history.
Demand for Canadian PhDs on the rise
Thousands of scientists across Canada left work May 1 to protest against the low wages of graduate and doctoral students. At an event on Parliament Hill in Canada, Sarah Laframboise, Ph.D. in Biochemistry, University of Ottawa. A student and executive director of the grassroots organization Support Our Science cited a study that found 86% of graduate students were stressed and worried about their finances. The organization behind the one-day protest is asking the federal government to increase pay for graduate and postdoc students, who are funded by federal scholarships and fellowships. In August 2022, he sent an open letter to the government asking for more investment in the next generation of scientists. But there were no such changes in this year’s federal budget, released in March.