Thursday, August 15, 2013

Homo Erectus in North America

This excellent article makes the explicit argument that Homo Erectus surely entered North America early on.  In fact it is surely safe to assume that he simply followed the elephants.

And that was that.  Like all others, he was a hunter – gatherer without a larger social structure capable of producing a larger impact outside of making hunting tools.  So that is what we largely find when evidence is acquired.  In fact, the wealth of artifacts associated with agricultural man has misled us in terms of predecessor populations whose footprint outside of specific work sites is nearly zero.

It is thus reasonable that mankind entered with the elephants.  He may not have hunted the large animals but that never affected the San nor the Australian Aboriginals.  I also think that they exploited riverine resources and coastal resources preferentially anyway.

Again we simply have not either looked for the evidence or simply rejected and ignored what is readily available. 

The Pleistocene’s most well-traveled creature

By Tom Baldwin

I just was reading where they sequenced the genes of a 700,000-year-old horse. Seems they found it frozen in some permafrost in the Yukon Territory of Canada. Prehistoric horses really got around. They were found from Europe to North America. A lot of other large animals: saber toothed cats, bison, buffalo, camels, wolves, mammoth, mastodon, and the list goes on, managed to wander back and forth across the Bering Sea land bridge called Beringia. They called both Asia and North America home.

Yet while these megafauna were wandering between continents modern day dogmatists in the archaeological community tell us the most widely traveled of the Pleistocene’s creatures failed to make that crossing. Homo erectus (and/or a few of his contemporaries) managed to leave his bones scattered from Europe to Indonesia, from China to South Africa, from India to England, from Siberia to Spain.

As the continent of Australia has pushed north over the last millions of years it has managed to maintain a separate ecology. This is because - Challenging the tenets of mainstream scientific agendas - a ‘subduction zone’ formed (a large trench) where the Australian plate butted up against the Asian continent and started to slide under it. Even at the peak of the Ice Ages when sea levels dropped hundreds of feet, this trench was so deep and wide that it stayed full of water. It formed a channel approximately 20 miles wide that was an obstacle to life crossing from Asia to Australia.

The first person to note that fresh water fish as well as small land animals found on islands to either side of the barrier were different was an Englishman named Alfred Russell Wallace. Since he was the first to notice this, the dividing line has come to be called the Wallace Line in his honor.

Only two large creatures managed to cross the Wallace Line and live on either side of it. The first was elephants (Fig. 1), and the second, Homo erectus. Both accomplished the feat about a half million years ago. And we are not talking some unlucky individual washed out to sea on a tree during a flood.

Sufficient number of Homo erectus crossed to form viable groups or tribes. This took both daring and planning. Evidence is now surfacing that Homo erectus also found his way to Crete in the Mediterranean, an even greater trip by water.

It is a safe bet to say that Homo erectus—with his hunger for new land—was the most well traveled creature of the Pleistocene. Nothing else found its way into every corner of Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The animals mentioned in the first paragraph above, as well as many others, were going back and forth between Alaska and Siberia—the land bridge becoming a veritable megafauna superhighway—yet we are led to believe by archaeological authorities that early man stopped and did not make that same crossing, at least not until a relatively few thousand years ago when the Paleo-Indians did. In other words, the Wallace Line (twenty miles of open sea) couldn’t stop early man but Beringia did.

I find this difficult to understand and find myself asking a big “WHY?” Then I realize it isn’t I who has to answer that question. It is the Archaeological Powers That Be.

They are the naysayers. Therefore, they are the ones who have to show us why the Pleistocene’s most well traveled creature, didn’t do what animals by the thousands were doing. In fact, there is ample evidence that Homo erectus did cross over. He left his tools at the Calico Early Man Site in California’s Mojave Desert (and at the Caltrans mastodon kill site also in California). He left them at Valsequillo in Mexico. He left them other places too. This is as should be expected. If he was here we should find evidence of that presence.

What should not be expected is to hear scientists screaming “geofact” when presented with artifacts and tools from Calico, stones that if found anywhere in Asia, Europe, or Africa would be quickly embraced as man made. Yet they are forced to do just that because they already believe that early man did not make the crossing and therefore could not ave made the things that were found at Valsequillo—and are still being found in and around Calico. They must turn a blind eye on items that nature could form only in a world where monkeys on typewriters produce the works of Shakespeare. It may be an apocryphal tale, but I’ve heard it told that one of Calico’s greatest critics, Vance Haynes, was confronted with one beautiful black graver, obviously man made and found about ten feet deep in one of the Master Pits at Calico. It was too finely made to be a geofact.

He couldn’t admit the artifact was what it obviously was and that it was found where it was because that would turn American archaeology on its ear. Nor could he accuse a fellow archaeologist of Leakey’s stature of fraud. What was he to do, he was trapped. So he came up with the claim that the artifact must have been accidentally kicked into the pit. Kicked into the pit! None are so blind as those who will not see.

Given Homo erectus’ wellknown penchant for travel and the fact that Beringia was a major highway with all kinds of large animals crossing back and forth regularly it is logical to assume that Homo erectus did find his way to the Americas. Those who believe otherwise need to come up with reasons why not. Oh, and those reasons should be better than artifacts being kicked into pits.

TOM BALDWIN is an award-winning author, educator, and amateur archaeologist living in Utah. He has also worked as a successful newspaper columnist. Baldwin has been actively involved with the Friends of Calico (maintaining the controversial Early Man Site in Barstow, California) since the early days when famed anthropologist Louis Leakey was the site's excavation Director (Calico is the only site in the Western Hemisphere which was excavated by Leakey). Baldwin's recent book, The Evening and the Morning, is an entertaining fictional story based on the true story of Calico. Apart from being one of the core editors of Pleistocene Coalition News, Baldwin has published five prior articles focusing on Calico and early man in the Americas.

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