“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The first face of European man or woman.

35,000-year-old skull fragments found in Romania are made flesh by scientists

Revealed: the face of the first European. Forensic artist Richard Neave used skull and jawbone fragments found in a cave to build this likeness of an early European

By Steve Connor, Science Editor Independent
Monday, 4 May 2009

This is the face of the first anatomically-modern human to live in Europe. It belonged to a man – or woman – who inhabited the ancient forests of the Carpathian Mountains in what is now Romania about 35,000 years ago.

The artist's reconstruction – a face that could be male or female – is based on the partial skull and jawbone found in a cave where bears were known to hibernate. The facial features indicate the close affinity of these early Europeans to their immediate African ancestors, although it was still not possible to determine the person's sex.

Richard Neave, the forensic artist who reconstructed the facial features in this clay model, based his assessment on a careful measurement of the bone fragments and his long experience of how the soft tissues of the face are built around the bones of the skull.

The reconstruction was made for the forthcoming BBC 2 series The Incredible Human Journey which documents human origins and evolution, from our birthplace in Africa to the long migratory routes that led us to populate the most distant parts of the globe. It is impossible from the bones to determine the skin colour of the individual, although scientists speculate it was probably darker than modern-day Europeans, reflecting a more recent African origin.

Mr Neave's clay head of the "first modern European" now sits on the desk of Alice Roberts, the Bristol University anthropologist who will introduce the BBC series, which is scheduled for screening next Sunday evening on BBC 2. "It's really quite bizarre. I'm a scientist and objective, but I look at that face and think 'Gosh, I'm actually looking at the face of somebody from 40,000 years ago', and there's something weirdly moving about that," Dr Roberts told the Radio Times.

"Richard creates skulls of much more recent humans and he's used to looking at differences between populations. He said the skull doesn't actually look European, or Asian, or African. It looks like a mixture of all of them. And you think, well, that's probably what you'd expect of someone who was among the earliest populations to come to Europe."

Potholers discovered the lower jawbone of the first modern European in 2002 in Pestera cu Oase, the "cave with bones", located in the south-western Carpathians. The remaining fragments of skull were unearthed in 2003.

Scientists have dated the bones using radiocarbon analysis to between 34,000 and 36,000 years ago when Europe was occupied by both Neanderthal man, who had lived in the region for tens of thousands of years, and anatomically-modern humans – Homo sapiens – who had recently arrived on a migratory route from Africa via the Middle East.

Although the skull shares many modern feature of human anatomy, it also displays more archaic traits, such as very large molar teeth, which led some scientists to speculate the skull may belong to a hybrid between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals – an idea discounted by other experts.

Erik Trinkaus, professor of anthropology at Washington University in Missouri, and one of the first specialists to study the bones in detail, said the jaw was the oldest, directly-dated modern human fossil. "Taken together, the material is the first that securely documents what modern humans looked like when they spread into Europe," he said.

Neanderthal man

*Lived in Europe for 300,000 years, surviving a number of ice ages before dying out 25,000 years ago. No one is sure why. Original fossil remains were found in 1856 in the Neander valley, near Dusseldorf, Germany. Socially advanced but left no signs of art, decoration or jewellery. But archaeologists have discovered a flute and have tested their toolmaking skills, suggesting a higher level of sophistication than first thought.

Homo sapiens

*Arrived in Europe some 35,000 years ago, competing with Neanderthal man for 10,000 years. DNA studies suggest the two species did not interbreed. First remains of Homo sapiens – modern humans – found in 1868 in a cave in the Dordogne, France, and known as Cro-Magnon man. Left cave paintings at Chauvet, Lascaux and Altamira, suggesting a sudden development of art.


  1. Has to be a man. An ugly man, but a man.

    If that was a woman the species would never have survived.

  2. Imagine it with a little hair on her, kinda looks like Michelle, no?

  3. Especially with those running shoes.

  4. What's with the candles?

  5. Next time you give in to that craving for a chocolate bar as your energy levels take a mid-afternoon dip, you could be justified in saying that your brain made you do it.


    In the study, a group of self-reported dieters were shown pictures of 50 foods — everything from chocolate bars to Jello to cauliflower. The participants were asked to rate each food according to how good they thought the food would taste.


    A recent study by researchers at York University in Toronto found that binge eating might be a factor of your genes.
    Blame the Brain

  6. Mr Rudd says the Government has embraced the views of the Australian community in developing its new package.

    “We have listened to calls from the business community for a later, more gradual start to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and additional assistance to help manage the impacts of the global recession,” he says.

    “We have listened to Australian households who have raised concerns that their individual efforts to reduce emissions had not been adequately taken into account under the CPRS.
    Scheme Compromise

  7. You remember Kennewick Man--


    Seems all those folks were bald, back then :)

    I recall reading it wasn't a big thing to live in a cave with a cave bear, because they weren't that active, and slept most the time. The bears, not the humans. I don't know if this is true or not. If we had a cave bear, we could lock Ash in the cave with the bear, as an EB experiment.

  8. I'm not absolutely certain about this, but I've read both Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon had more cranial capacity than we 'moderns', on average.

  9. I think I've read that also. And that the brain was full of just raw primeval survival data. And that's basically it.

  10. First among the features of the great caves that are of paramount importance to our study is the fact that these deep, labyrinthine grottos were not dwelling places but sanctuaries, comparable in function to the men's dancing grounds of the Aranda; and there is evidence enough to assure us that they were used for similar purposes: the boys' puberty rites and the magical increase of the game. And just as every shrine and ceremony in the ancient world, as well as among the primitive tribles whose customs we know, had its origin legend, so must these sanctuaries of the Old Stone Age have had theirs. The enigmatic figures painted into the crypts and deepest recesses of the caves almost certainly hold in their silence the myths of the ultimate source of the magical efficacy of the magnificent shrines.

    The dwellings of the people, on the other hand, were either in shallow caves and under ledges, or out on the open plains, in various kinds of shelter. A number of the paintings suggest the forms of their shacks or houses; while under many ledges abundant remains have been found of Old Stone Age life. In fact, in the beautiful valleys of the Dordogne people are dwelling under those same ledges to this day. They are great ledges, left by the wash of mighty glacial rivers; and the same rivers now being much smaller and lower than they were, they have left a beautiful grassy area between their present banks and the tall cliffs into which the ledges curve. One has to climb a little to reach the comfortable French homes that nestle against the overhanging walls. And just beneath the earth of these modern homes there is to be found a stratum of Gallo-Roman remains, from the period of Vercingetorix and Julius Caesar; below that, remains of the earlier Gallic culture world; still lower, the neolithic of c. 2500-1000 B.C.--and then the paleolithic, level after level: Azilian, Magdalenian, Solutrean, Aurignacian, even Mousterian; some fifty thousand years of human living in one amazing cross sectional view. On the topmost level you may find a broken bicycle chain; on the bottom a cave-bear tooth two inches long. And the concierge who is showing you the cut is herself living in a house with the solid rock of the cliff for its back wall, and she will tell you what the advantages are of a building with such a wall; it is cool in summer and warm in winter. The rock, sheer mother rock, affords good protection. Meanwhile, out in front, there is to be seen the graceful sweep of grass down to the lovely river, and one cannot but recognize and feel that for millenniums this has been a fine place for the raising of children. Paleolithic men hunted for their food instead of growing it, and they walked or ran from place to place instead of bicycling or riding in a car. But otherwise? They had their youngsters, and their wives sewed clothes--not of cloth, but of leather. The men had their workshops for the chipping of flint, and their men's clubs in their secret caves. They were living, in the main, just about as people do now. And so it has been for some fifty thousand years. The tick of time in such a situation does not sound quite as loudly as it once did.
    Joseph Campbell "Primitive Mythology"

    We have our rock shelters here to, but I can't find a good picture of the Weis Rock Shelter.

    The Nee-mee-poo (Nez Perece) used it forever.

    I've been there, looks like a great place to hang out, to me.

    Weis Rock Shelter

  11. A terrible picture of the Weis Rock Shelter, which I remember as quite large, big wide area, is Here--


    This pic doesn't really show anything at all. But it's all I can seem to find.

  12. Around here the Native Americans always wintered by the rivers. Warmth, food, relaxation, what's not to like? In the warm months they would go to the higher country.

    Even over to Montana to the buffalo grounds, where they'd always get in a fight with the Blackfeet.

    They had a myth, or legend rather, about how you just can't get along with a Blackfoot. :)

    No shit, whose buffalo are they, anyways? :)

  13. Blackfeet's buffalo. On their land.

  14. I remember it as being a lot bigger than that. I'll drive down there one of these days. It isn't far. Take a pic.

  15. Quiz:

    What's the largest reservation in Washington?

  16. They were mystagogues, conjuring the minds of men.

    And so it is, I believe, that we can say that in the mythogenetic zone of the Franco-Cantabrian caves the rendition in art of the mythological realm itself was acheived for the first time in the history of the world. All cathedrals, all temples since--which are not meeting houses but manifestations to the mind of the magical space of God--derive from these caves. And I would say the fertilized masculine spirit, the upbeat to La Divina Commedia and to all those magical temples of the Orient wherein the heart and mind are winged away from earth and reach first the heavens of the stars, but then beyond. Though within the earth in these caves, we have left it, on the wings of dream. And this, already, is the wonderous flight so beautifully rendered in Gregory of Nyssa's image of the "wings of the dove," as the primary symbol of the Holy Spirit, whereby our nature, "transforming itself from glory to glory," moves on without bound or ultimate term toward no limit. "For the soul turned toward God, fully committed to its desire for incorruptible beauty, is moved by a desire for the transcendent ever anew, and this desire is never filled to satiety. That is why the dove never ceases to move on toward what is before, going on from where it now is, to penetrate that further to which it has not yet come." If flies into the shadows, and the shadows continually recede, yet are ever there; for the shadows through which the doves is flying--now and forever--are neither more nor less than "the incomprehensibility of the essence or being of the divine."
    J. Campbell "Primitive Mythology"

    I never seem to tire of this theme.

  17. I've been to Kinko's, but Ginkgo doesn't ring a bell.

    Largest reservation in Washinton?



    Or Yakima?

    Not sure.

  18. John Lott "More Guns, Less Crime" is on Coast to Coast. Says when the secret ballot came along, about a hundred years ago, the percentage of voting dropped off quite a bit.

    Reason: why buy votes when you don't know how the seller is really voting :)

    Makes sense.

  19. Ginkgo Sate Park on the shores of the mighty Columbia in Vantage. Ginkgo trees/petrified wood/petryglypghs.

    You got it. Colville. With Yakima a close #2.

    Washington Reservations

  20. He's got a Hawaiian Birth Certificate that's been placed under seal by the Governor.

  21. I've taken Ginkgo biloba.

    Shit, I should have sparked on that by Vantage.

    They used to have a magical house there, where you'd go in, and it would seem like you were standing at a tilt of about 45 degrees.

    Great fun for kids.

    I remember the petrified trees.

    In fact I recall we bought a little piece of petrified wood there.

    When we came through a few months ago, a quik stop gas station there now, maybe an RV Park, no magical house.

  22. Wonder how Xena did gambling at Coulee City this weekend. May have gotten washed right through the spillway.

  23. The Globe says the parent company is seeking $10 million in savings from the Newspaper Guild -- the paper's largest union -- as well as $5 million from the mailers, $2.5 million from the drivers and $2.2 million from the pressmen.

    Negotiations were disrupted when the Times Co. acknowledged a $4 million accounting mistake in the talks, requiring the Guild, which represents 600 editorial, advertising and office workers, to dig even deeper for savings.

    The Globe quoted the head of the Teamsters local, which represents the newspaper's drivers, as saying his union had come up with the $2.5 million in salary and benefit cuts demanded by the company. But the Times Co. is also said to be seeking to eliminate seniority rules and lifetime job guarantees for some union members.
    Tentative Deal

  24. Largest reservation in the country?

  25. More on the new AshHealthCare--

    5. Dan Smith:

    It’s refreshing to read a piece written by someone who really gets it. I am a family physician who graduated from medical school in 1979 and finished my residency in 1982. At the time, medical education was indeed a bargain. I had a total debt of $11,000 and the interest was forgiven until I finished residency. Then it was something like 3%. After a few years in practice I simply wrote a check for the balance.
    Family medicine was on the make in 1980. The U of Minnesota Medical School, where I trained, encouraged careers in primary care and really cranked out graduates who selected family practice. At one time there were seven residency programs in the Twin Cities alone and I think there were about 40 doctors produced each year. Now those numbers are greatly reduced and the programs, in spite of being downsized, are having trouble filling.
    Yes, medical tuition debts are higher, but that doesn’t tell the full story. What has depressed me and my colleagues is the utter contempt with which our specialty is treated and the increasing hurdles of paperwork and non-reimbursed care we are providing. Most physicians I know value autonomy more than anything. As more and more of a pseudo-business model is adopted in health care( cookie cutter care guidelines, exaggerations about medical errors, over-reliance on technology and electronic medical recors) we become more and more estranged from the patients, the people we used to work for. Now we work for the government and private health care insurance companies. I don’t distinguish between the two. Specialists are seen as having more autonomy, not just money, by medical students. If we wanted to make money, there are ways to do that that require less time and effort. What I forsee is the dilution of the talent pool by poorly educated health care extenders who will use committee-designed protocols to treat patients and “save” money while expanding the numbers of people eligible for health care benefits. The health of the American public will not improve except in carefully designed studies in which the outcome is pre-ordained by the bias of the planners. We will start to see health care access rationing in a more overt sense. Now it is covert. Remember the death of Natasha Richardson? That was caused by the inadequate medical infrastructure of Quebec. No rapid CT scan, no air ambulance, though she was wealthy enough to have paid for it. If an illegal immigrant crack addict is turned away from a hospital in Texas, the ACLU is all over it. I think the priorities of the so-called progressives are obvious to anyone with one eye open. The baby boom generation is about to be handed the biggest slap in the face by the architects of the re-designed health care system in the US.
    Heal Thyself

  26. Largest concentration of Swedes in the country, per square mile?

  27. Largest reservation by population - Cherokee.

  28. Perhaps the largest concentration of Swedes in Minnesota can be found in the St. Croix and Rum River valleys.I don't know the answer. I might have guessed Rockford, Illinois.

    Swedes In Minnesota--
    They must be dumb bastards, having elected, it looks like, Al Frankenstein.

    With help from the O So Pure Libertarians.

  29. Later, Bob.

    Talk to you tomorrow.

  30. I would like to see the skull fragments, the forensic artist was working from.

    Yes, I admit, I'm skeptical.

  31. Whit, I was waiting for that comment. I am surprised it does not look more like Obama.

  32. You would think that evolution would respect a larger nose for protection in a fight and a better sense of smell, but why would nature favor small flat ears that would clearly put you at a disadvantage for sound gathering and identification of sound direction?

    It make no sense.

  33. I just pulled my ears. Far as I can tell there are no bone fragments there, just some soft tissue and cartilage. The artist may have it wrong.

    An elephant has big ears, but how is their hearing? Don't really know.

    It's the big brain that counts, and like Trish says, the all important thumb. Plus, eyes to the front, gentlemen.

  34. Evolution is a strange thing. Some forms have hardly changed at all. Aren't sharks pretty much the same now as millions of years ago? But, I quess conditions in the seas don't change all that much either.

  35. That's Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics. I knew he was getting a little long in the tooth, but...

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