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Late Pleistocene archaic human crania from Xuchang, China

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Science  03 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6328, pp. 969-972
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal2482

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  • Xuchang crania: no need for population interactions across Eurasia?

    This is a very interesting paper, whether the Xuchang crania were Denisovan or not. However, it is probably not necessary to suppose "some level of east-west population interaction across Eurasia", as professor Trinkaus suggests (although this possibility should not be ruled out): eastern Eurasian regional continuity in combination with adaptations in parallel with what is seen in Neanderthals (western Eurasia) might explain most of the morphology of the Xuchang crania (eastern Eurasia).
    Early-Pleistocene archaic Homo did not disperse intercontinentally running over open plains, such as the African savannahs, as is still often assumed: if this were the case, we would expect, for instance, an improvement of human olfaction versus chimpanzees, and an improvement of water-saving physiology, wheras the opposite is seen in humans (1), for instance, human olfactory bulb volume is about 44 % of the chimp's, and sweat consits mostly of water and salt, both of which are scarce in savannahs. The available evidence (fossil, comparative, nutritional, physiological, paleo-environmental and other) converges to suggest that Early-Pleistocene Homo followed the African and Eurasian coasts, as suggested by the Coastal Dispersal Model (2). Later, Pleistocene Homo spread all over the Old World, reaching Indonesia, the Cape and England, and even islands far oversea, such as Flores, Sulawesi, Crete, Cyprus and the Dodekanesos. An early-Pleistocene coastal dispersal, includi...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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