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Old November 21st, 2012, 04:18 PM   #41

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Originally Posted by Recusant View Post
My first question for you, Zarin, was an attempt to get you to clarify what seemed to me to be a statement which was somewhat difficult to parse. You have not helped much with your cryptic response. I will try to phrase the idea clearly, then you might tell me whether I've understood you correctly.
Although it is true that Arica is considered the birthplace of several human species, it may not be the birthplace of what is considered "language." Rather, it might be the birthplace of language which was innate to hominin species which existed previous to the migrations of such species out of Africa, and of hominin species which existed in Africa subsequent to those migrations.
I think you may be having difficulty with the term "inate laguage." This would be language of any species which is intrinsic or seemingly genetically induced to that specific species in both sounds and gestures. Somewhat like what is seen in the Chimpanzees or any other animal that expresses through sounds and/or gestures. Although the concept of associating gesture with object can be learned by Chimpanzees through sign languages. Which suggests gestures may be very important in Chimpanzee communication. This inate ability to learn sign language is not only available to primates that exist in Africa either. Which suggests that inate language capabilities might be more common than we currently understand. It all comes down to what is defined as language. And this is still a highly contentious subject. There may be more to this "inateness" than meets the eye, but this may yet have to be determined. More like instinctual sounds than language as humans seem to define it. However, this does not mean that actual "spoken language," as humans currently define it, came out of Africa. It could have evolved in a number of predecessor hominid species that migrated out of Africa and through genetic diffusion language capability moved back into Africa at a later date.

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Note that I did not ask you for your ideas and conjectures on the topic of migrations, Zarin. I specifically asked you for a citation of a reputable source from which I might learn more about what is actually known regarding actual migrations back into Africa. One would think that somebody writing in such a self-assured manner as you have on this topic would be able to cite evidence in support of their position.
I do not have a "reputable source " for any of this information. This is a speculative forum and I am merely speculating on what would seem as very possible and logical aspects which might have come out of human or hominid evolution.
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You skipped over my question regarding your apparent support for what is known as the "multi-regional model" of the evolution of Homo sapiens, and I think it's relevant to your position regarding the origin of language. So, again: Do you indeed think that the multi-regional model is the most likely? If so, what do you consider convincing evidence in support of that model? Have you considered the evidence which supports the African origin of Homo sapiens? If so, why do you think it is less convincing than the multi-regional model?
I didn't skip over this multi-regional model, as I am not specifically familiar with it. However, I assume it is similar in content to what I am proposing. That humanity did not have a linear progression of evolution. That it is far more fractal than linear. That there could have been uncountable variances in hominid evolution. Many that intermixed, interbred and subsequently influenced, advanced and promulgated what we refer to as language. I am well aware that anthropology bases its' "theoretical foundations" on what is known, provable and what has been discovered. Which is the way of science. However, no serious intelligent mind would ever deny that some aspects of human evolution may never be possible to concretely determine. Or that the migrations of many different hominid populations that existed on this planet cannot be discovered or even traced. Mainly because evidence simply does not exist. None of these species was ever fossilized. As it is, there are very few fossilized hominid remains of any kind that go that far back in time. Are we placing the cart before the horse merely because we can see the cart but not the horse?
It is quite feasible that the evidence so far discovered about human evolution is faulty, because it is based only on fossils that have been discovered. And yes, so far, indications exist for the Afro-centrist theory of the emergence of Homo Sapiens. However, this could just as easily be an illusion based only on what has been discovered. Also there are huge time gaps in this explanation. Time-gaps which offer up many yet undiscovered possibilities. Plus there is no reliable evidence that the African sourced Homo Sapiens' branching, if that is accurate; had actually acquired language as we define it. For all we know, language may not yet have evolved until after the Toba explosion of 70,000 years ago. And thus would only have returned to Africa from a Homo Sapiens variant that had acquired it. One that survived the Toba explosion and migrated out of Eastern Siberia and back into Africa.
As to information on backwards flow of human migrations into Africa, one only has to look at recorded history to see how much of this backflow has occurred in just the last 8,000 years. The Hittites, the Hebrews, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the French, The British, etc. All non-African human migrations back into this continent. How far has each of these backward flow intrusions of DNA reached into the African genome? And there is no doubt that this backflow was occurring long before recorded history. At least one major backflow had to have arrived into Africa from the Eastern Siberian migrations that occurred after the Toba exoplosion. This backflow migration could quite easily have eliminated or supplanted the resident African populations still surviving Toba, if any.
One of the most interesting things that has come out of the research into the human genome is how much of this DNA information in it cannot be classified and we simply do not know how it was acquired. Or what it is there for. And this constitutes a huge majority of the DNA information in the human genome. It would seem to be information of which the scientific community has no verifiable clue as to how it became included. Yet it is there. It is considered to be "garbage." Mainly because they cannot indicate it's purpose through what is currently known by genetic mapping. And there is a tremendous amount of this type of genetic "garbage." The day may come when we can sort through this "garbage" and reconstruct its purposes to get a clearer picture of what actually occurred along the many pathways of evolution that lead to us. If you ask me, once we truly understand the mechanics of DNA then we will know how, where and when humanity actually acquired all of its' capabilities.

Last edited by Zarin; November 21st, 2012 at 04:44 PM.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 08:24 PM   #42

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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
I think you may be having difficulty with the term "inate laguage." This would be language of any species which is intrinsic or seemingly genetically induced to that specific species in both sounds and gestures. Somewhat like what is seen in the Chimpanzees or any other animal that expresses through sounds and/or gestures.
It does help when a person who is using words in a way that is peculiar to their individual approach to a topic takes the time to explain what they mean. The fact that the phrase "innate language" is generally understood to have specific meanings (none of which seem to agree with your own) has admittedly been a stumbling block for me.

Would you say that when a bee communicates the location of a source of nectar to her hive-mates, she is using "innate language" (according to your personal definition of that term)? If so, then I guess we can definitely place the origin of human language in the continent of Africa, since there is no doubt that the non-human predecessors to the human species (who certainly would have used some sort of "innate language" according to your definition of the term) were native to that continent. Also, since Homo sapiens shares a common ancestor with the chimpanzee, and that ancestor would have had some variety of your "innate language," then the answer to the title question of this thread would seem to be "yes."

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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
Although the concept of associating gesture with object can be learned by Chimpanzees through sign languages. Which suggests gestures may be very important in Chimpanzee communication. This inate ability to learn sign language is not only available to primates that exist in Africa either. Which suggests that inate language capabilities might be more common than we currently understand. It all comes down to what is defined as language.
I would agree with the last sentence above.

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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
And this is still a highly contentious subject. There may be more to this "inateness" than meets the eye, but this may yet have to be determined. More like instinctual sounds than language as humans seem to define it. However, this does not mean that actual "spoken language," as humans currently define it, came out of Africa. It could have evolved in a number of predecessor hominid species that migrated out of Africa and through genetic diffusion language capability moved back into Africa at a later date.

[. . .]

I do not have a "reputable source " for any of this information. This is a speculative forum and I am merely speculating on what would seem as very possible and logical aspects which might have come out of human or hominid evolution.
So no source, and apparently no evidence, either. Still, I'm curious why this idea has captured your imagination. Why does it make sense to you? You mention "logical aspects." I'm actually interested in hearing about them.

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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
I didn't skip over this multi-regional model, as I am not specifically familiar with it. However, I assume it is similar in content to what I am proposing. That humanity did not have a linear progression of evolution. That it is far more fractal than linear. That there could have been uncountable variances in hominid evolution. Many that intermixed, interbred and subsequently influenced, advanced and promulgated what we refer to as language.
The Wikipedia article on the multi-regional model is not a bad place to start, if you're interested.

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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
I am well aware that anthropology bases its' "theoretical foundations" on what is known, provable and what has been discovered. Which is the way of science. However, no serious intelligent mind would ever deny that some aspects of human evolution may never be possible to concretely determine. Or that the migrations of many different hominid populations that existed on this planet cannot be discovered or even traced. Mainly because evidence simply does not exist. None of these species was ever fossilized.
So you believe that there were at one time several of species of hominins (existing more or less side by side), only a small fraction of which left any trace in the fossil record? I'm curious, given the acknowledged lack of evidence, what leads you to believe that.

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As it is, there are very few fossilized hominid remains of any kind that go that far back in time.
How far back in time?

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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
Are we placing the cart before the horse merely because we can see the cart but not the horse?

It is quite feasible that the evidence so far discovered about human evolution is faulty, because it is based only on fossils that have been discovered.
As I mentioned in my last post, we have genetic evidence that Homo sapiens originated in Africa:

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Studies using mitochondrial (mt)DNA and nuclear DNA markers consistently indicate that Africa is the most genetically diverse region of the world.

[From "Genetic Analysis of African Populations: Human Evolution and Complex Disease" (PDF)]
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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
And yes, so far, indications exist for the Afro-centrist theory of the emergence of Homo Sapiens.
Zarin, I'm willing to indulge your somewhat whimsical definition of certain terms, but really, "Afro-centrist" has a very specific meaning. The scientific model which describes the continent of Africa as the place of origin for Homo sapiens is not Afro-centric. If you take nothing else away from this thread, at least try to take that on board.

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However, this could just as easily be an illusion based only on what has been discovered.
It is not an illusion that Africa has the most genetically diverse human population of any continent on the planet.

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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
Also there are huge time gaps in this explanation. Time-gaps which offer up many yet undiscovered possibilities. Plus there is no reliable evidence that the African sourced Homo Sapiens' branching, if that is accurate; had actually acquired language as we define it. For all we know, language may not yet have evolved until after the Toba explosion of 70,000 years ago.
As you say, this thread is in the Specualtive History section, so there's nothing wrong with you filling gaps in the fossil record with any sort of fantasy your heart desires. I do find your ideas interesting. Fantasy cannot take the place of evidence, however.

I'm curious what it is you think the Toba eruption has to do with the development of language.

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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
And thus would only have returned to Africa from a Homo Sapiens variant that had acquired it. One that survived the Toba explosion and migrated out of Eastern Siberia and back into Africa.
Why Eastern Siberia? What specific event happened there which you think would have initiated or inspired the development of human language?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
As to information on backwards flow of human migrations into Africa, one only has to look at recorded to history to see how much of this backflow has occurred in just the last 8,000 years. The Hittites, the Hebrews, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the French, The British, etc. All non-African human migrations back into this continent. How far has each of these backward flow intrusions of DNA reached into the African genome?
It's not as much a mystery as you might think. The flow of human migration on this planet has already been pretty thoroughly sketched out via analysis of DNA. If there were any evidence of a pre-historic migration of a population from Eastern Siberia (or elsewhere) to Africa, scientists would be aware of it.

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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
And there is no doubt that this backflow was occurring long before recorded history. At least one major backflow had to have arrived into Africafrom the Eastern Siberian migrations that occurred after the Toba exoplosion.
When you use the phrase "no doubt," one would think that there must be evidence supporting your idea. However, you've made it clear that you have no such evidence. I wonder then, why are you so certain?

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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
One of the most interesting things that has come out of the research into the human genome is how much of this DNA information in it cannot be classified and we simply do not know how it was acquired. And this constitutes a huge majority of the DNA information in the human genome. It would seem to be information of which the scientific community has no verifiable clue as to how it became included. Yet it is there.
The human genome is being studied, and a lot has already been learned about what different parts of it do, and how different parts might have been acquired. Most gene structures are shared with other animals. Of course not everything is known down to fine detail, but it's not as much of a mystery as you seem to think.

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It is considered to be "garbage." Mainly because they cannot indicate it's purpose through what is currently known. And there is a tremendous amount of this type of genetic "garbage." The day may come when we can sort through this "garbage" and reconstruct its purposes to get a clearer picture of what actually occurred along the many pathways of evolution that lead to us. If you ask me, once we truly understand the mechanics of DNA then we will know how, where and when humanity actually acquired all of its' capabilities.
Already there are scientists who are saying that we should discard the idea of "junk DNA," though it is true that right now they only know what a fraction of the human genome does.
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Old November 22nd, 2012, 12:26 AM   #43

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It does help when a person who is using words in a way that is peculiar to their individual approach to a topic takes the time to explain what they mean. The fact that the phrase "innate language" is generally understood to have specific meanings (none of which seem to agree with your own) has admittedly been a stumbling block for me.
If I have to explain what every word I use means I would be spending the rest of my life on this singular agenda. I assumed that you understood the context and meaning of innate, but apparently I was wrong in your case. Not every persons insists on establishing the meaning of every word one uses, if this was so, nothing would really ever get communicated by language. And there are enough problems with language as it is. The word "innate" (I was spelling it wrong) means something acquired from birth or is intrinsic. In other words, a genetically induced means of communication. It is not externally acquired or "learned." Which is what language is defined as...a learned spoken process. One associated with sound.
So I have not been using this word in any way wrong as you carelessly wish to imply. You simply chose to interpret the word in some
who knows way to support your point of view. And a faulty one if you did not actually know the meaning of innate.
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Would you say that when a bee communicates the location of a source of nectar to her hive-mates, she is using "innate language" (according to your personal definition of that term)? If so, then I guess we can definitely place the origin of human language in the continent of Africa, since there is no doubt that the non-human predecessors to the human species (who certainly would have used some sort of "innate language" according to your definition of the term) were native to that continent
It seems you do not understand the meaning of innate. Since the analogy of the bee is clearly "innate" as defined by the dictionary. Unless there is some learning curve the bees have that science is yet aware of. And I do not necessarily occlude that yet to be determined potentiality.
If you are going to mistakenly confuse "language" with innate genetic instinct, then we have to first establish what language actually is. And I am open to speculation. And although indications are there that some of the predecessors to Homo Sapiens originated in Africa, not all of them may have. Homo Sapiens, as the species exists today, has had a tremendous amount of variance and evolution in the many thousands of years of its' presumed existence.
A great plasticity similar to the canines. You are still thinking essentially linear and not fractally. Fractal influence occurs when evolution
of any species outbranches and then returns and/or reaches to touch, interface or fuse with these non-speciated variants. Exactly as has occurred within the many Homo Sapiens variants.
Fractalization essentially creates the infusion of multiple adaptive
abilities or variances within a species without yet having created speciation. Once speciation occurs inter-breeding is not usually viable or successful. So the influence of fractalization begins anew. Moreover, we cannot be sure of when or even if actual speciation actually occurred in most of the related hominid variants that may have existed previous to or contemporaneous with Homo Sapiens. Modern Homo Sapiens could very well be carrying the genetic blueprints for many of these non-speciated variants...that junk DNA that no one seems to know what it is for. If you take the incredible variance within our own hominid species as represented by current human populations, there is an incredible amount of plasticity within this one species.
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Also, since Homo sapiens shares a common ancestor with the chimpanzee, and that ancestor would have had some variety of your "innate language," then the answer to the title question of this thread would seem to be "yes."
Obviously, since Homo Sapiens is believed to share a common ancestor with the chimpanzee, any "innate" form of communication, Homo Sapiens has in common with the chimpanzee might have once existed in this common ancestor. Albeit possibly less complicated or even non-existent, since we cannot be sure of this either way. Especially as would we even recognize such commonality. This is essentially an assumption based on what could be considered logical. However, one which is not provable.
Mainly because there are missing links not yet found.
DNA does not yet offer sufficient clues to how innate means of communication are established. Moreover, all of which would depend again on what communication variance has occurred in both species since departing along their own evolutionary paths from this common ancestor. Information not currently available. Homo Sapiens has clearly developed language. Whereas it is debatable what chimpanzees have originated.
All of this does not establish a yes for the OP as this being the mother of language, since "innate" communication does not necessarily equate to acquired, learned and spoken language. What has to be determined is at what point associating sounds directly to objects and processes first began. Was it in Homo Sapiens? An adjacent fractal contemporary, which no longer exists? Or a previous hominid species? One no longer in existence?
Apparently many species (including Bees) have some form of innate communication. Whether this can be called language awaits clarification of what language actually is. If communication is language than almost all life forms have it...including viruses. If language is only determined by sound transference, than this narrows the definition severely. I tend to believe that there may be many ways to classify language, but not necessarily in the same way Homo Sapiens uses it. However, what would clearly classify as a "language" is the capability of referring to any object or process in clearly distinguishable ways. Including the actual meaning of any word or its context. Which human language has the greatest capability to evolve, distort and mistranslate.

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So no source, and apparently no evidence, either. Still, I'm curious why this idea has captured your imagination. Why does it make sense to you? You mention "logical aspects." I'm actually interested in hearing about them.
You only have to look around you to witness the plasticity of our own species to accept that there must have been an incalculable number of hominid variants or species that have come and gone. Mainly because the evolution of the Homo Sapiens' physical structure required numerous steps that have not yet been found in the anthropological record. These are the so-called "missing links." One has only to look at the presence of so many different cats (that currently exist) to accept that hominids must have had at least the same amount of variation and with even more potential plasticity than the cat family. Especially in light of the incredible variations within Homo Sapiens, itself.
However, these variants no longer exist because Homo Sapiens eliminated all the other hominid competitors on this planet. And apparently has also eliminated many of its own variant offshoots that were once in existence on this planet. Moreover, within the last hundred years, certain groups of Homo Sapiens have purposely sought to exterminate other contemporary variants of our own species.

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So you believe that there were at one time several of species of hominins (existing more or less side by side), only a small fraction of which left any trace in the fossil record? I'm curious, given the acknowledged lack of evidence, what leads you to believe that.
Are you serious? Given the lack of evidence only shows how few and far between fossilized remains do exist. This lack of evidence does not automatically eliminate the existence of many other hominids. Organic remains have a bad habit of decomposing (or were you unaware of this?)
And do so in a relatively short time if left to the elements.
Moreover, it takes unusual environmental conditions to preserve organic materials for thousands of years. Let alone for millions.
There is the greatest probability or likelihood that many species and varieties have existed that we may ever find physical proof of. The only ones we do know of have been fossilized and without this fossilization, we wouldn't know about those we do have awareness of.
However, it is also well known that not every square inch of this planet has been unearthed, nor to every depth. That a community stretching over 25 hectares can suddenly become discovered, that was completely lost to history such as Gobekli Tepe offers hope that many more undiscovered finds await both archeology and anthropology. discoveries that will not only challenge our assumptions but distinctly alter them.


As I mentioned in my last post, we have genetic evidence that Homo sapiens originated in Africa:





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Zarin, I'm willing to indulge your somewhat whimsical definition of certain terms, but really, "Afro-centrist" has a very specific meaning. The scientific model which describes the continent of Africa as the place of origin for Homo sapiens is not Afro-centric. If you take nothing else away from this thread, at least try to take that on board.
If you are going to be crudely demeaning and not intelligent, than I shall not continue to have any further conversation with you. The term "whimsical" is not even remotely properly used here. My input is hardly capricious nor erratic.
Moreover, this is not some game or exercise in one upmanship or cute put downs. People who resort to such language usually have really nothing to say. In case you are not yet aware of this the adding of the term "centrist" to any geographical arena means that focus is on that particular geographical area. The same as in Euro-centrist or any other geographical arena with "centrist" added to it. It can also mean mean foci or focal point as well. Centrist is a word that originates from center or "central" which also means the point at which activity concentrates or from which something originates. Since you maintain that Homo Sapiens originated in Africa,this concept may be properly be called Afro-centrist.
However, the term "centrist" was primarily considered a political one and
usually means having moderate views.
Calling any idea Afro-centric is based on having any specific concept that is believed to have originated out of that area. The origin of Homo Sapiens is defintely an Afro-centrist concept.

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It is not an illusion that Africa has the most genetically diverse human population of any continent on the planet.
This may be true, but every single one of these diverse groups is a derivative of the Homo Sapiens species. Which only indicates that Homo Sapien diffusion, evolution or variation is either greater in Africa or such diversity comes from other consequences. It also clearly indicates that Homo Sapiens left no other hominid species in Africa to compete with it. Plus such diversity may also be explained by a tremendous amount of racial influx into Africa rather than out of it. It is usually the norm for isolated populations to be less diverse not more so.
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As you say, this thread is in the Specualtive History section, so there's nothing wrong with you filling gaps in the fossil record with any sort of fantasy your heart desires. I do find your ideas interesting. Fantasy cannot take the place of evidence, however.
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Again the wrong use of a word. "Fantasy" means the product of the imagination. You ask for my opinion and then label it with what you believe is a generalized and demeaning perjorative. One you do not know the correct meaning of. A perfect example of how language gets so distorted especially when used by those not in full understanding of the meaning of specific words. However, this is how English became such a screwed up language and one of the most difficult to grasp. Yet very beautiful
in its' over all plasticity.
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I'm curious what it is you think the Toba eruption has to do with the development of language.
The Toba eruption wiped out the vast majority of human populations all over the planet. All subsequent human beings are believed descended from around 3,000 individuals who survived this particular event. This resulted in an obviously very low sampling of genetic material. Eastern Siberia is considered to be the foci of the remaining human populations that survived this catastrophe. The subsequent language evolution of all human populations is believed to have originated from the outflow from this particular foci. There are three major foci of human migration. One out of Africa, one out of Eastern Siberia and one out of Japan. If the one out of Eastern Siberia is the main foci for all modern human populations since the Toba explosion, then it is also the foci for the emergence of all current languages as well. Language evolution over 70,000 years could have been extremely fluid and would have moved to every corner of this planet. With all the diversity and diffusion one would expecr from language as all the human populations then in existence were involved in frequent migrations. After all they were all primarily hunter-gatherers. Thus humanity
migrated to every corner of the globe. Including a re-introduction of the descendants originally from out of Africa back into it.

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It's not as much a mystery as you might think. The flow of human migration on this planet has already been pretty thoroughly sketched out via analysis of DNA. If there were any evidence of a pre-historic migration of a population from Eastern Siberia (or elsewhere) to Africa, scientists would be aware of it.
The only thing DNA evaluation offers is what current populations may be connected to each other. Over a 70,000 year period it is impossible to know all the migrations and movements of people that have occurred. Especially among the many Homo Sapien variants that disappeared or were driven to extinction. We have no way of determining when, who or what effect these missing populations had on the developement of modern humans. All we do know is what we can currently trace and that still leaves a lot to be desired. Moreover, it is impossible to determine DNA lineage when no samples of previous populations' DNA actually exists. The best that can be accomplished is through logic and implication. And FYI, anthropology is well aware of the migration from Eastern Siberia, but apparently you are not.




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The human genome is being studied, and a lot has already been learned about what different parts of it do, and how different parts might have been acquired. Most gene structures are shared with other animals. Of course not everything is known down to fine detail, but it's not as much of a mystery as you seem to think.



Already there are scientists who are saying that we should discard the idea of "junk DNA," though it is true that right now they only know what a fraction of the human genome does.
These two statements do not jell. In one you state:" it's not as much a mystery as you (I) seem to think." In the other you state "that right now they (the scientists) only know what a fraction of the human genome does." Both are basically general evaluations, which are not specific and do not support each other. There either is as much of a mystery as I seem to think (which is an assumption on your part as you have no way of determining what I think about so complex a subject. Including
all the nuances and variables).
Or the scientists have a majority of what human DNA does under their understanding. Which is it?
I am of the opinion that this junk DNA constitutes a vast record of the entire history of all life on this planet. At least everything that lead up to the emergence of modern humans and contributed to every person's distintiveness. What is very apparent is how much science has yet to learn about this huge resource of information. One, that once fully deciphered, will present many conundrums and surprises to us all.

Last edited by Zarin; November 22nd, 2012 at 12:48 AM.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 04:59 PM   #44

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It does help when a person who is using words in a way that is peculiar to their individual approach to a topic takes the time to explain what they mean. The fact that the phrase "innate language" is generally understood to have specific meanings (none of which seem to agree with your own) has admittedly been a stumbling block for me.
If I have to explain what every word I use means I would be spending the rest of my life on this singular agenda. I assumed that you understood the context and meaning of innate, but apparently I was wrong in your case.
I tried to be clear regarding this issue, Zarin, but I suppose I should have included a link to the Wikipedia page for the term "innate language." It has particular meanings, all of which are specific to humans. The word "language" itself has a specific meaning, which is again particular to humans. Language, as it is generally understood, is a product of human culture. When you say that chimpanzees have "language," let alone "innate language," you're using the words to mean something that they are not generally understood to mean. Your snide remarks about my lack of ability to understand the word "innate" are irrelevant to this; you've completely missed the point.

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Not every persons insists on establishing the meaning of every word one uses, if this was so, nothing would really ever get communicated by language. And there are enough problems with language as it is. The word "innate" (I was spelling it wrong) means something acquired from birth or is intrinsic. In other words, a genetically induced means of communication. It is not externally acquired or "learned." Which is what language is defined as...a learned spoken process. One associated with sound.
Even by the definition which you've posited above, it would seem that chimpanzees do not possess nor use language. You contradict yourself, Zarin.

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So I have not been using this word in any way wrong as you carelessly wish to imply. You simply chose to interpret the word in some who knows way to support your point of view. And a faulty one if you did not actually know the meaning of innate.
I'm not implying anything, Zarin. I'm stating unequivocally that it appears to me that you are redefining words to suit your purpose. While in some contexts that would be frowned upon, I think that if it seems helpful to you in your speculative approach to the origin of language you should go ahead and redefine words. I only ask that you share that redefinition explicitly, so that the rest of us may follow your argument with the minimum of confusion. For instance, if you want to change the meaning of the term "innate language" to mean the skreechings and gestures of chimpanzees, then you should say so, rather than just assuming that everyone agrees with your personal definition of the term. In the same vein, if you intend the phrase to mean something less specific, then you should make that clear.

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Originally Posted by Zarin View Post
It seems you do not understand the meaning of innate. Since the analogy of the bee is clearly "innate" as defined by the dictionary. Unless there is some learning curve the bees have that science is yet aware of. And I do not necessarily occlude that yet to be determined potentiality.
Your repeated assertion regarding my ability to understand the word "innate" aside, Zarin, I have a basic question for you: Do you consider the dance of the bee to be an example of language? Really, I would like a straight-forward answer here, since it would help me (and any others who have managed to follow this discussion to this point), to understand what you're trying to say. As I said, I'm willing to follow with you in this thread, going by your personal definition of important terms, because I think you may have something interesting to say. However, you'll have to be clear what you mean, because the dance of the bee does not fit any standard definition of language of which I'm aware.

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If you are going to mistakenly confuse "language" with innate genetic instinct, then we have to first establish what language actually is. And I am open to speculation.
I don't intend to speculate, since I'm content with the standard definition of the word "language." It is you who seem to have a desire to speculate. I'm fine with that, in fact I encourage it, but you should be clear that's what you're doing. It seems to me that often in this thread you've put forward highly speculative ideas as if they were established facts. That's the sort of thing I've been raising questions about.

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And although indications are there that some of the predecessors to Homo Sapiens originated in Africa, not all of them may have. Homo Sapiens, as the species exists today, has had a tremendous amount of variance and evolution in the many thousands of years of its' presumed existence.
A great plasticity similar to the canines. You are still thinking essentially linear and not fractally.
If you're referring to the ideas of Bruce Lipton, I'll be honest and tell you right off that I consider him to be a quack. Otherwise, please cite a reputable source which explains the idea of "fractal evolution." Perhaps you could at least clarify your meaning. I understand "fractal" to mean "a geometric pattern that repeats on different scales." I'm interested in learning (if you agree with the standard definition of the term) how that relates to evolution, aside from Lipton's highly speculative notions.

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Fractal influence occurs when evolution of any species outbranches and then returns and/or reaches to touch, interface or fuse with these non-speciated variants. Exactly as has occurred within the many Homo Sapiens variants. Fractalization essentially creates the infusion of multiple adaptive abilities or variances within a species without yet having created speciation. Once speciation occurs inter-breeding is not usually viable or successful. So the influence of fractalization begins anew. Moreover, we cannot be sure of when or even if actual speciation actually occurred in most of the related hominid variants that may have existed previous to or contemporaneous with Homo Sapiens. Modern Homo Sapiens could very well be carrying the genetic blueprints for many of these non-speciated variants...that junk DNA that no one seems to know what it is for. If you take the incredible variance within our own hominid species as represented by current human populations, there is an incredible amount of plasticity within this one species.
Please cite a source for this line of thought. If it's your own speculation, I'd appreciate it if you'd acknowledge that, rather than stating it as if it were some sort of uncontroversial, well known idea.

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Originally Posted by Recusant
You mention "logical aspects." I'm actually interested in hearing about them.
You only have to look around you to witness the plasticity of our own species to accept that there must have been an incalculable number of hominid variants or species that have come and gone. Mainly because the evolution of the Homo Sapiens' physical structure required numerous steps that have not yet been found in the anthropological record. These are the so-called "missing links." One has only to look at the presence of so many different cats (that currently exist) to accept that hominids must have had at least the same amount of variation and with even more potential plasticity than the cat family. Especially in light of the incredible variations within Homo Sapiens, itself. However, these variants no longer exist because Homo Sapiens eliminated all the other hominid competitors on this planet. And apparently has also eliminated many of its own variant offshoots that were once in existence on this planet. Moreover, within the last hundred years, certain groups of Homo Sapiens have purposely sought to exterminate other contemporary variants of our own species.
I'm going to assume that your phrase "to accept that there must have been" is merely a rhetorical device. Otherwise it appears to be you telling me what I must accept, and that's not going to fly. My actual thoughts on the matter are that it's possible that we will discover fossil evidence for a few hominin species which are unknown as of now, but I don't think it's at all likely that there is "an incalculable number," which phrase implies to me a very large number. However, thank you for taking the time to explain your thinking on this topic.

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So you believe that there were at one time several of species of hominins (existing more or less side by side), only a small fraction of which left any trace in the fossil record? I'm curious, given the acknowledged lack of evidence, what leads you to believe that.
Are you serious? Given the lack of evidence only shows how few and far between fossilized remains do exist. This lack of evidence does not automatically eliminate the existence of many other hominids. Organic remains have a bad habit of decomposing (or were you unaware of this?)
And do so in a relatively short time if left to the elements.
Moreover, it takes unusual environmental conditions to preserve organic materials for thousands of years. Let alone for millions.
There is the greatest probability or likelihood that many species and varieties have existed that we may ever find physical proof of. The only ones we do know of have been fossilized and without this fossilization, we wouldn't know about those we do have awareness of.
However, it is also well known that not every square inch of this planet has been unearthed, nor to every depth. That a community stretching over 25 hectares can suddenly become discovered, that was completely lost to history such as Gobekli Tepe offers hope that many more undiscovered finds await both archeology and anthropology. discoveries that will not only challenge our assumptions but distinctly alter them.
After reading all that bluster and condescension, I get the impression that you have no actual solid basis for assuming that there are many undiscovered species of hominin.

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Zarin, I'm willing to indulge your somewhat whimsical definition of certain terms, but really, "Afro-centrist" has a very specific meaning. The scientific model which describes the continent of Africa as the place of origin for Homo sapiens is not Afro-centric. If you take nothing else away from this thread, at least try to take that on board.
If you are going to be crudely demeaning and not intelligent, than I shall not continue to have any further conversation with you. The term "whimsical" is not even remotely properly used here. My input is hardly capricious nor erratic.
I calls 'em as I sees 'em. If you don't like it, nobody is stopping you from simply ignoring my posts as you've threatened to do. You seem willing to dish out condescending remarks, but when I descibe your whimsical use of vocabulary as such, you take offense. So be it.

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Moreover, this is not some game or exercise in one upmanship or cute put downs. People who resort to such language usually have really nothing to say. In case you are not yet aware of this the adding of the term "centrist" to any geographical arena means that focus is on that particular geographical area. The same as in Euro-centrist or any other geographical arena with "centrist" added to it. It can also mean mean foci or focal point as well. Centrist is a word that originates from center or "central" which also means the point at which activity concentrates or from which something originates. Since you maintain that Homo Sapiens originated in Africa,this concept may be properly be called Afro-centrist.
However, the term "centrist" was primarily considered a political one and
usually means having moderate views.
Calling any idea Afro-centric is based on having any specific concept that is believed to have originated out of that area. The origin of Homo Sapiens is defintely an Afro-centrist concept.
I gave you a reference link to the generally understood meaning of the term. If you choose to adopt a different meaning without providing an explicit redefinition for your own purposes, as you did in the previous post, you have only yourself to blame when people either misunderstand you, or choose an appropriate descriptive word to apply to the way you approach such a commonly understood term, and others. I see it as whimsical. Others might have a much less complimentary description.

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It is not an illusion that Africa has the most genetically diverse human population of any continent on the planet.
This may be true, but every single one of these diverse groups is a derivative of the Homo Sapiens species. Which only indicates that Homo Sapien diffusion, evolution or variation is either greater in Africa or such diversity comes from other consequences. It also clearly indicates that Homo Sapiens left no other hominid species in Africa to compete with it. Plus such diversity may also be explained by a tremendous amount of racial influx into Africa rather than out of it. It is usually the norm for isolated populations to be less diverse not more so.
People who have studied population genetics, and what that subject can tell us, generally agree with the idea of an African origin for Homo sapiens. The evidence that has lead to that agreement is not up for debate, though the interpretation is, given an equally plausible alternative (which you have not presented, in my opinion). The idea is not an arbitrary choice on their part, but rather is based solidly on the evidence. On the other hand, you have produced nothing in the way of evidence to support your ideas, and in fact the more you write about them, the less they seem to fit with the evidence that we do have.

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I'm curious what it is you think the Toba eruption has to do with the development of language.
The Toba eruption wiped out the vast majority of human populations all over the planet. All subsequent human beings are believed descended from around 3,000 individuals who survived this particular event. This resulted in an obviously very low sampling of genetic material. Eastern Siberia is considered to be the foci of the remaining human populations that survived this catastrophe. The subsequent language evolution of all human populations is believed to have originated from the outflow from this particular foci. There are three major foci of human migration. One out of Africa, one out of Eastern Siberia and one out of Japan. If the one out of Eastern Siberia is the main foci for all modern human populations since the Toba explosion, then it is also the foci for the emergence of all current languages as well. Language evolution over 70,000 years could have been extremely fluid and would have moved to every corner of this planet. With all the diversity and diffusion one would expecr from language as all the human populations then in existence were involved in frequent migrations. After all they were all primarily hunter-gatherers. Thus humanity migrated to every corner of the globe. Including a re-introduction of the descendants originally from out of Africa back into it.
I note that you have again stated a particular hypothesis as if it were known fact, and yet have failed to provide even a single corroborating piece of evidence or citation from a reputable source. If you had presented the above as the nearly pure conjecture that it seems to be, I would happily acknowledge it as an interesting line of thought. As it is, and given your track record on such things in this thread, I question whether anything in the above paragraph has validity. Just as a start, the idea that the Toba eruption caused a bottleneck in the population of Homo sapiens is controversial (see quote below). I find the assertion regarding the "three foci of human migration" interesting, but wonder if there is any evidence which might be cited in its support.

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In summary, we have not been able to find any evidence to support the hypothesis that the Toba super-eruption of 73.5 Ka caused a bottleneck in the human population. The direct effects of the eruption were fairly localised, and at the time probably had a negligible effect on any human population in Asia, let alone Africa. Genetic evidence indicates that the Pleistocene human population bottleneck was not hour-glass shaped, but rather an up-side down bottle with a long neck. Modern humans at that time were adaptable, mobile, and technologically well-equipped, and it is likely that they could have dealt with the short-term environmental effects of the Toba event. Finally, we have found no evidence for associated animal decline or extinction, even in environmentally-sensitive species. We conclude that it is unlikely that the Toba super-eruption caused a human, animal or plant population bottleneck.

[From "The super-eruption of Toba, did it cause a human bottleneck?" (PDF) Journal of Human Evolution 45 (2003)]

[Emphasis mine]
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Originally Posted by Recusant
It's not as much a mystery as you might think. The flow of human migration on this planet has already been pretty thoroughly sketched out via analysis of DNA. If there were any evidence of a pre-historic migration of a population from Eastern Siberia (or elsewhere) to Africa, scientists would be aware of it.
The only thing DNA evaluation offers is what current populations may be connected to each other. Over a 70,000 year period it is impossible to know all the migrations and movements of people that have occurred. Especially among the many Homo Sapien variants that disappeared or were driven to extinction. We have no way of determining when, who or what effect these missing populations had on the developement of modern humans. All we do know is what we can currently trace and that still leaves a lot to be desired. Moreover, it is impossible to determine DNA lineage when no samples of previous populations' DNA actually exists. The best that can be accomplished is through logic and implication. And FYI, anthropology is well aware of the migration from Eastern Siberia, but apparently you are not.
Cite a reputable source that describes a migration from Eastern Siberia back to Africa (or indeed, any large scale prehistoric migration from Eastern Siberia aside from the one to North America) and I'll gladly read it and learn.

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The human genome is being studied, and a lot has already been learned about what different parts of it do, and how different parts might have been acquired. Most gene structures are shared with other animals. Of course not everything is known down to fine detail, but it's not as much of a mystery as you seem to think.

[...]

Already there are scientists who are saying that we should discard the idea of "junk DNA," though it is true that right now they only know what a fraction of the human genome does.
These two statements do not jell. In one you state:" it's not as much a mystery as you (I) seem to think." In the other you state "that right now they (the scientists) only know what a fraction of the human genome does." Both are basically general evaluations, which are not specific and do not support each other. There either is as much of a mystery as I seem to think (which is an assumption on your part as you have no way of determining what I think about so complex a subject. Including all the nuances and variables). Or the scientists have a majority of what human DNA does under their understanding. Which is it?
I didn't say that, "scientists understand what a majority of human DNA does." I said that, "a lot has already been learned about what different parts of it do." Clearly these are two different statements and only the latter is true. It is also true that scientists "only know what a fraction of the human genome does." There is no contradiction in these statements, Zarin.

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I am of the opinion that this junk DNA constitutes a vast record of the entire history of all life on this planet. At least everything that lead up to the emergence of modern humans and contributed to every person's distintiveness. What is very apparent is how much science has yet to learn about this huge resource of information. One, that once fully deciphered, will present many conundrums and surprises to us all.
Though my opinion differs from yours as expressed in the above paragraph, I do agree with the penultimate sentence.

Last edited by Recusant; November 23rd, 2012 at 06:09 PM.
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Old November 25th, 2012, 01:52 AM   #45

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Yes, I seem to remember watching a documentary a couple years ago about a "feral girl", she was a teenager when they found her when the authorities found her if IIRC. Her father had kept her locked in the basement her whole life, providing her with no interaction with other people. She hadn't learned a language, or absorbed any culture. She was literally feral.

Wish I could remember the name of the documentary, it was interesting stuff.
I only read about it in the local newspaper that time. It was a Cambodian girl, if I recall correctly.
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Old November 29th, 2012, 09:51 AM   #46

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I only read about it in the local newspaper that time. It was a Cambodian girl, if I recall correctly.
There have been several instances of "feral" children raised by animals discovered over the years. One was a boy raised by a wolf pack. And he was never able to fully understand human language as his brain had locked onto "wolf language" and this lock seemingly blocked his capacity to relearn human language. The legend of Tarzan-a child raised by Apes, may have been inspired by other such children being discovered in the 19th century.
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Old November 29th, 2012, 10:46 AM   #47

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Beyond the fact that languages diverge over time, we'll never know what contributions other non Cro-Magnon men made. There's clear evidence of genetic mixing among our genus and that of other humans, so it wouldn't strike me as odd if we had linguistic mixing as well. And since they're all gone, we'll never know what they even sounded like.
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