Ancient Human DNA Found: Old World Similar to Lord of the Rings

ancient humans

Humanity is just starting to get interesting . ancient humans

Scientists have discovered a femur that contains 400,000 year old DNA from an as yet undiscovered ancestor of modern day humanity.  It was discovered at Sima de los Huesos, or “the pit of bones,” in Spain. This same pit has offered 28 other samples of ancient humans. The femur contains DNA that is similar to that of Denisovan, an eastern Eurasian sister group to Neanderthals, and a being which shares a common ancestor with you and I.

The only other evidence of the elusive Denisovan, the ancient human sub species, is DNA from a finger bone and tooth dated to 41,00 years ago, which was found in Siberia, 4,000 miles away. How did this type of DNA get all the way to Spain, and which hominid does the ancient human DNA actually belong to?

Related Article: Women Who Give Birth to Men Have Male DNA in Brain for Life


Humans mated and spread like rabbits all over the globe.

Humans mated and spread like rabbits all over the globe.

Scientists are able to answer far more questions regarding our origins and early migration patterns out of Africa due to the constant improvements in DNA reading technology and genomic sequencing. According to Juan Luis Arsuaga, a paleoanthropologist at Universidad Complutense de Madrid and a co-author of the paper,

This would not have been possible even a year ago.

One of the reasons this study is so profound is due to how far back it allows us to peer into our past.  In 1997, scientists made a breakthrough by sequencing 40,000 year old Neanderthal DNA. In 2006 the record became 100,000 years. Only 7 years later the record has quadrupled to nearly 400,000 years. That is incredible progress.

Of course, more progress means more questions, and it seems that the more accurate our view of the past becomes, the stranger history turns out to be. Our ancient human predecessors were not so similar to us as imagined.

Related Article: Watching Evolution Occur

What we know about modern humanity is that it left Africa in 3 migrations, with each migration separated by two hundred thousand years or more. This theory as a whole is dubbed the “out of Africa hypothesis,” and is generally accepted by the anthropological community.  The theory is based on a near endless amount of archaeological studies, genetic, and anatomical studies, and works like this:

  • Around 4 – 8 million years ago (still debated)  humans, chimpanzees and bonobos began evolving as separate lineages from a common ancestor. This common ancestor shares an older common ancestor with gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons.
  • This separated lineage evolved into  homo habilis 2.3 million years ago. This is the first early human species to use tools, and walk on the ground on only two legs, instead of living in trees and depending on all 4 limbs for transportation.

    That is one weird looking tree!

    That is one weird looking tree!

  • Around 1 million years later, ancient humans evolved into homo erectus (or maybe habilis and erectus lived side by side?) Homo erectus had double the cranial size of its ancestors and was the first human species to walk fully upright. It was also the first species to leave the nest: Africa. Homo erectus left Africa between 1.3 and 1.8 million years ago, and spread through Africa, Asia and Europe. This was the first major migration out of Africa.
  • The second major migration involved an evolved form of homo erectus that had remained in Africa called homo heidelbergensis. This migration occured around 600,000 years ago.  Homo heidelbergensis is the direct ancestor of neanderthals, denisovan, and homo sapiens.
  • Around 200,000 years ago humanity, still in Africa, had evolved into homo sapiens. Homo sapiens left Africa in the third major migration around 125,000 years ago and spread all around the world.  Homo sapiens evolved into homo sapien idaltu, now extinct, and homo sapien sapien, commonly referred to as cro magnon. Homo sapien sapien is the only species of human alive today; congratulations, we made it.

This is a very simple, linear explanation, and the truth is that nothing in life, especially when it concerns ancient humanity, is ever that simple. Studies like the first one we discussed have proven that our past is far less linear and extremely complex, leaving anthropologists in constant debate.

Related Article: DNA Ancestry Checking Is as Cheap as $99

The above explanation doesn’t take into account the countless as yet unnamed ancient human sub species that DNA tests have discovered, nor does it take into account other sub species that existed between the several hundred thousand year gaps between the major evolutionary stepping stones. Examples include homo antecessor , homo ergaster, or homo floresiensis, which scientists have dubbed ‘hobbits’ due to their incredibly small stature yet fully developed brains.


Human Mark II and Mark V

As a clearer picture of our past is revealed, the name ‘hobbit’ becomes increasingly more apt.  According to Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London,

we’re looking at a Lord of the Rings-type world … there were many hominid populations.

Dozens, maybe even hundreds of undiscovered ancient human sup species may have lived side by side, some with a culture and anatomy similar to modern day humans, and others markedly strange. So far, evidence shows that at least 5 different sub species of ancient humans spread throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia, and lived on the planet at the same time. Scientists even found denisovan, neanderthal, and modern human bones all in the same cave.

Related Article:Deep Storage Project

Probably the most interesting part of our history is that all of the different ancient human sub species interbred like British royalty, with mystery human sub species spicing up the sex life of our great human ancestors. This is why the DNA of many modern humans is actually a mix,

All modern humans whose ancestry originates outside of Africa owe about 2% of their genome to Neanderthals. Certain populations living in Oceania, such as Papua New Guineans and Australian Aboriginals, share about 4% of their DNA with Denisovan.

These sub species of ancient human were so close that there is 500,000 year old neanderthal and denisovan viruses in modern human DNA.  

Skulls of: 1. Gorilla 2. Australopithecus 3. Homo erectus 4. Neanderthal (La Chapelle aux Saints) 5. Steinheim Skull (Archaic Homo sapiens) 6. Anatomically modern Homo sapiens

Skulls of: 1. Gorilla 2. Australopithecus 3. Homo erectus 4. Neanderthal (La Chapelle aux Saints) 5. Steinheim Skull (Archaic Homo sapiens) 6. Anatomically modern Homo sapiens

Ancient human history is far more complex, and incidentally, contains far more inter-sub-species-sex than anthroplogists and historians ever gave it credit for.  The recent research discussed above represents the very tip of the iceberg regarding the incredible potential that improved DNA testing has. It’s only a matter of time before we reveal the full truth of our origins and ancient human history.

Related Article: Bonobo Makes Tools Similar to Early Humans

Hopefully we will find out all of the answers one day, but for now, Matthias Meyer, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany thinks that,

We’ve basically generated a big question mark.



Ancient humans were more awesome than any of us imagined.



Fungus Feeds on Radioactivity: The Rise of Space Fungus

fungus mushroom radioactive

I think this fungus makes me taller…

Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AEC) have found fungus feeding on radioactivity within the Chernobyl nuclear reactor.  Scientists suspect that melanin, the same UV filter in our skin, is responsible for allowing these fungi to consume a mutant-creating-level of gamma radiation.

Microbiologist Arturo Casadevall learned years before this discovery that a robot had been sent into areas of intense radioactivity and had returned with samples of  black, melanin rich fungi growing on the walls. He and his colleagues later saw reports that the cooling water in some working nuclear reactors turns black from colonies of melanin-rich fungi.

Related Article: Watching Evolution Occur 

radiotrophic fungus

Don’t you see? A nuclear device would only make radiotrophic fungus stronger!

Casadevall explains that,

I found that very interesting and began discussing with colleagues whether these fungi might be using the radiation emissions as an energy source.

Despite the lethal gamma radiation lingering at the Chernobyl reactor, many microorganisms find a way to survive. Casadevall thought that maybe the radiation was aiding the fungi’s growth.  According to Casadevall,

The thought was that biology never wastes any energy source.

Sure enough, Casadevall’s hypothesis was correct, and after a series of tests involving 500-times normal radiation levels, electron spin resonance, close-up melanin observation, and a melanin-less albino fungus, the radiotrophic fungus was born into the minds’ of mankind. Researchers also speculate that the fungi aren’t feeding solely on gamma rays, but X-rays, UV rays and other rays as well.

Related Article: New Ecosystem Discovered: Glacier Mice

Want to know how I know reality is batshit crazy? There is life on this planet that feeds on something we can’t even see, but will destroy us from the inside out with cancer nonetheless.  There is life that feeds on death!

types of fungus

And these would be specimens from which planet?

Fungus has far more uses than you might have realized:

Related Article: The Evolutionary Leaps of Snails

Fungus is also cooler and better at life than you. Certain fungus species can eject their spore mass

at 35 feet per second (10.8 m per second) to a height of six feet (2 m), and lands as far away as 8 feet (2.5 m).

Fungus species pump out spores at an extremely high rate as well.

A single mushroom can launch 31,000 ballistospores per second, adding up to some 2.7 billion spores per day.

Some types of fungi can even control the air around them to create a spore-scattering breeze where there was only still air before. Check out the following videos. The first one shows a great example of spore dispersal, while the second one contains footage of a spore launch filmed with a high speed camera.

Let’s get back to the melanin study. Do you realize the study serves as a more stable foundation to support the strange, albeit utterly possible supposition that mushrooms came from outside Earth?  Is it really that hard to imagine though? The notion  that mushrooms came from space may be too ‘out there’ for some, but is it really that much weirder than:  Lake life surviving in isolation under ice for 2800 years, the atmosphere of Titan making DNA, or sugar floating around stars?  As they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

fungus space

Hi, my name’s fungi, I’m a fun guy, let’s hang out in your spacecraft!

Related Article: Climate Change Too Fast, Evolution Can’t Keep Up

Just like fungus, life shows up in the strangest places and in the most bizarre forms. To end this article on an even more incredible note, would you believe me if I told you there are space mushrooms in the night sky peering into your soul?! How about mutated space mushrooms eating away at space stations? Yup, that’s a thing.

Space fungus has been growing on and within the Russian Mir-Space Station since the late ’80s. While the fungus and other microorganisms are normal terrestrial forms of life that were brought up from Earth with the cosmonauts, they fear potential mutations that 500-times higher gamma radiation exposure can induce in the fungi.  After all, the fungi’s corrosive fluids are already eating through metal, plastic, and other essential materials on the space station. I wonder how much gamma radiation it takes to mutate space fungus into delicious truffles on my dinner plate…

Remember, depending on the observer, all of reality and life is strange and unexpected. To make life even more unpredictable your utterly limited self perceives less than one-billionth of reality, and that’s just the light spectrum. If fungus can teach us anything it is to never underestimate the strangeness of reality and the possibility that there may exist anything we can imagine and more.




Morals or More Rails To Guide Us: Science Vs. Religion

The virtues of right and wrong have been around since the first creature felt what would be later called pain and responded to it. When something hurts, you try not to do it again. It is a relatively simple concept that has evolved unobstructed for one life time (one life time being from the start of all life, until now). There are many different sources of morality. Each of these sources share one major thing in common: They all believe that they are the most right. I’m not here to call your god a shape-shifting molester of women (unless you pray to Zues) or tell you how to live your life but rather, I would like to examine a few schools of moral thought. I’ll leave the conclusion making to you, our Wondergressive readers.


Before I begin I would like to address a euphemism. You see, There are No Morals in Science but what science lacks in morals, it makes up in “ethical concerns” which if you ask me, is a science’d up way of saying that even scientists have morals.

Science believes, whole-mindedly, that the answers to everything are measurable. Using analysis, a scientist decodes the world. There is nothing that cannot be measured. The things that are not yet measured are only not yet measured because we haven’t found a way to measure them yet. Science will find a way to answer every question through precision measurements. From What is Science:

Science is continually refining and expanding our knowledge of the universe, and as it does, it leads to new questions for future investigation. Science will never be “finished.”

Logic is the pride of science. Every decision must be logical. Since I’m in the habit of asking google what things are, I decided to ask “What is Logic?”

Briefly speaking, we might define logic as the study of the principles of correct reasoning. This is a rough definition, because how logic should be properly defined is actually quite a controversial matter.

Basically logic is the refinement of thinking in order to achieve perfectly scientific results.


Fables, Fiction, and Fantasy:

Guided by both the imagination and the wisdom of everyday life, invented stories are another means of instilling morality. This time, when I searched the rules of fiction, there is nothing concrete. There are limitless ways of expressing good/evil dichotomies when you use your imagination. There are a few guiding points in writing a good piece of fiction. Each work must have elements of plot, setting, character, conflict, symbol, point of view, and some sort of a theme to tie it all together.

That is just from the standpoint of the author. The great thing about these three ‘F’s is that the infinite imagination of the reader is coupled with the infinite imagination of the author to create unparalleled sharing of ideas. Reading fiction challenges the morals, or-if you prefer-ethical concerns, through vivid imagery. A good author is capable of projecting feelings through the work that has been created in order to engage the reader in a decision making process. Did things turn out the right way? But what happens when you pair both science and these three ‘F’s?


Unlike any of the aforementioned morality boosters, religion deals primarily with what happens after you die. Some philosophies approach the matter more scientifically and some choose to use time-tested stories in order to explain the whatnots and whyfors of morality. Religion asks its followers to fully believe that there is no other way than the path that they are on. Relying on a sense of community to herd the masses into doing what is right, religion gives security to the faithful.


Secular ethics and the World Around You

Speaking as somebody who has a terrible time deciding what class to choose in RPGs (I often choose the druid or shape shifting class), I think that we all have a responsibility to find our own moral code. Religion, Science, and Fables/Fiction/Fantasy all give us ways to learn something new, or really.. really old. It is up to us to decide to be kind and charitable to each other whether or not we share the same values. At the core, we all want to be happy and that is all that matters.

In closing, as Kurt Vonnegut puts it best:

God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.

Source List:
What is Science?
What is Logic?
There are No Morals in Science
There are a few guiding points in writing a good piece of fiction
This is a great part of Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Life, It’s All Over The Place



UFOs, aliens, de-materialization, anti-gravity, velocities beyond that of light; it’s all incredibly fascinating as well as being some fantastic enigmas. I’ve just finished watching a movie on Google Videos entitled UFO: The Greatest Story Ever Denied. It documents a myriad of possible evidence, physical and spoken, that sheds some light on the existence of extra-terrestrial life, as well as the knowledge the human race currently and historically has had of life beyond our little planet.  The presenters in the video are not Joe the farmer by the way.  They hold such titles as brigadier general, former chief executive of NSC, astrophysicist, varying classes of military, including black ops, and more.

I think it’s a bit naive and downright ignorant to think that out of all the infinite space that the cosmos entails, Earth is the only planet that harbors intelligent, let alone minimally complex life. The very thought that life would be so rare is ignorant in and of itself. Life is found everywhere on this planet, even places where, by definition, it shouldn’t exist.


Did you know there are tiny organisms living in sulfuric acid within most limestone caves inside of the Earth? They even consume iron, and use the element as a building block for its cellular protein! How weird is that?? Very weird, which is exactly the point. Just because it’s difficult to imagine a life form that doesn’t breathe oxygen and isn’t bound by the traditional hierarchical consumption of sunlight (the food chain) does not rule out its existence. Some life forms even redefine what we think of as normal geometry in life.


And check this: scientists have speculated that it is not out of the realm of possibility that Venus, a planet once thought of as inhospitable for life could in fact be teeming with it!


All it takes is a bit of imagination and observation, and suddenly the universe seems far less lonely, and a whole lot more active!