We all know Homo sapiens evolved in Africa and then spread across the rest of the world. But scientists have recently demonstrated that, around 1000 B.C., an astoundingly large group came back. This “backflow” brought so many people from Eurasia that today’s East Africans get as much as 25% of their genes from Middle Eastern ancestors. In other words, about a quarter of their ancestors were Middle Eastern migrants. And even in far Western and Southern Africa, more than 3,000 miles away, the people get at least 5% of their genes from backflow migrants.
We know because of a genetic study on a man who died in East Africa around 2500 B.C. His genes tells us what the pre-backflow genome looked like, so scientists can compare that population to modern Africans.
What could have caused such vast numbers to move? No one knows.
Interestingly, the backflow migrants were related to the population that had migrated in large numbers from the Middle East to Europe around 5,000 B.C., bringing farming with them. So Europeans and Africans share the genes of these restless Middle Easterners — particularly Europeans on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, which has been partly isolated from the rest of the world for millennia and so preserves much of its original migrants’ genome.
Illustration: A Nobleman of Tigre, T. Lefebvre and others, 1849
© 2015 by David W. Tollen. All rights reserved.
In the wake of terrorist attacks like Friday’s mass killings in Paris, we often call our enemies “barbarians.” They are not. Barbarians like the Vikings, Huns, and Xiongnu lived on the fringes of civilization and preyed on their richer and more settled neighbors. But they did not hate their victims. If fact, they often admired them and adopted their ways. The barbarians were not intolerant. Nor were they even immoral by the standards of their times, since few pre-modern societies condemned violence against outsiders. Barbarian raiders were just opportunists; looting and pillaging offered their fastest route to wealth. Read more…
Says Yoda things like: “Powerful have you become; the dark side I sense in you.” Sounds it like speaks he an old dialect of English. Yet uses not Yoda “thou hast” or “erstwhile” or “thee” — or any other word or phrase found no longer in English. Old English does not speak Yoda, nor even Middle English. Speaks Yoda Modern English, except that one rule he breaks. Alters Yoda noun-verb order. That same one rule this post breaks too (more consistently than Yoda). Read more…
The legend of Atlantis comes from Plato. In Timaeus and particularly Critias, written around 360 B.C., the Greek philosopher describes an island society ruling a great empire. But the Atlanteans’ pride angers the gods, who destroy the island with floods and earthquakes, sending it beneath the sea. Read more…