We all know Homo sapiens evolved in Africa and then spread across the rest of the world. But scientists have demonstrated that, starting around 5000 B.C.E., 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 genome from Middle Eastern ancestors. In other words, about a quarter of their ancestors were Middle Eastern migrants. And even in southern Africa, thousands of miles away, the people get about 5% of their genes from backflow migrants. In fact, the Khoe-San of southern Africa get some of their pale skin genes — an advantage in sun-poor lands far from the equator — from these Eurasians. Continue reading “The Backflow into Africa”
A virus circles the world, killing 1% of the population or more, particularly the elderly … and people just go about their business. Even in countries that understand contagion, no one healthy stops working, and neither do most of the sick. In fact, if you suggest staying home, most people think you’re crazy. Why manufacture an economic disaster? That’s how our ancestors would react to coronavirus, from the ancient world through early modern times. Their lives already involved a steady risk of death from acute, fast-acting disease, so this comparatively mild new illness would hardly set them back.
My new novel just went on sale! Secrets of Hominea is a magical middle grade fantasy novel: a tale of giants, gnomes, queens, and adventurers — and of science and history. It’s for readers age 9 to 14.
My first novel, The Jericho River, won multiple awards, including wins at the Next Generation Indie awards and the London Book Festival, as well as a bronze medal in the Readers’ Favorite awards. Continue reading “My New Novel, Secrets of Hominea!”
This is fun …
This is fun …
Many Americans doubt man-made global warming because they don’t think humans could so fundamentally change the world. Some believe only God could alter the climate. But small groups of Homo sapiens have been re-engineering the environment on a massive scale for thousands of years, using only primitive tools. Many scientist think that includes ancient man-made global warming.
Most of us know that humans have been cutting down forests and wiping out animal species for millennia. But we rarely recognize the scale of past people’s impact Continue reading “Ancient Man-Made Global Warming and Environmental Engineering”
During the past year, genetic studies have revealed some surprises about European prehistory. One study in particular analyzed DNA from 230 skeletons, dating from 6600 B.C. to around 300 B.C. It tells us that Europeans evolved many familiar traits far more recently than we’d thought. Continue reading “Black Europeans, Short Spaniards, Tall Swedes, Milk, and Recent Human Evolution”
The Walking Dead offers some good prehistory. In the show’s post-apocalyptic world, humanity returns to the key life stages of our prehistoric past: [SPOILER ALERT for Seasons 1-5!]
[As of 2020, I’ve changed my mind. This post is wrong. /DT] Continue reading “The Walking Dead: A Tour of Prehistory”
Research on sweet potatoes suggests the Polynesians reached the New World centuries before Columbus. Continue reading “Polynesian Canoes Reached the Americas”
Polynesians settled Hawaii during the 400’s C.E. They came by double-hulled sailing canoe from the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific. The trip probably took months, and survival required substantial supplies of food and fresh water. Even then death loomed for any canoe the gods didn’t favor with rain, fish, and good winds. It’s hard enough to imagine making the trip when you know the destination. But how did the Polynesians ever discover Hawaii in the first place? Continue reading “Stone Age GPS and the Discovery of Hawaii”