Failed introduction

Failed introduction

Paradisaea apoda at home on Aru Island: “footless” because they were thought in Linnaeus’ day to have no hind limbs, alighting only in death. (Photo by Loïc Degen, originally published in Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 14: 441)

The literature on human-facilitated biological invasions can easily read like a litany of catastrophic successes — a Domesday of negligent liberators and well-meaning wreckers,  … ⇒

Lippold et al. (2014): Sex-biased demography across human history

Mark Stoneking and colleagues capture 500kb of NRY sequence (yielding a reasonably ascertained 2.2k SNPs) and sequence whole mitochondrial genomes for a globally diverse set of modern human males (623 HGDP individuals, 51 populations) to shed light on some truly fundamental issues in effective population size dynamics and sex-biased demography. A few quick points:

(A) Among the most interesting (though oddly unremarked-on) inferences is a roughly mid-Holocene crash in male Ne — not evident in the female trajectory — everywhere but Oceania and America,  … ⇒

An Andamanese negrito in Victorian London

An Andamanese negrito in Victorian London

I have also often heard, though I am not aware on what original authority the statement rests, that an Andamanese has for many years been carrying on trade as a Tobacconist in London ; and that, as his story is not known there, he passes for a stunted African.

Rev. Henry Fisher Corbyn, Chaplain of Port Blair (6th Oct. 1863)

In: Portman, M.V. (1899). A history of our relations with the Andamanese.  … ⇒

The blood wireless

Skertchly, J.A. (1874). Dahomey as it is: Being a Narrative of Eight Months’ Residence in that Country, with a Full Account of the Notorious Annual Customs, and the Social and Religious Institutions of the Ffons; also an Appendix on Ashantee and a Glossary of Dahoman Words and Titles. London: Chapman & Hall.

One of the “notorious annual customs”:

The king’s strong names were then called out,  … ⇒

Suggestion: LGM occupation of eastern North America

Stanford et al. 2014, Fig. 5.1: Last Glacial Maximum Susquehanna River drainage

New Evidence for a Possible Paleolithic Occupation of the Eastern North American Continental Shelf at the Last Glacial Maximum

Dennis Stanford, Darrin Lowery, Margaret Jodry, Bruce A. Bradley, Marvin Kay, Thomas W. Stafford, & Robert J. Speakman (2014)

This chapter in a recent book on continental shelf archaeology stars the Cinmar biface,  … ⇒

Endgame Sahul

Endgame Sahul

When was it last possible to walk from New Guinea to Australia (or vice versa)?

Voris 2000: Fig. 1h (depth contours of 10m below present sea level) [1]

As recently as 7–8 thousand years ago! [2][3] Up until now, I’d always thought of it in terms of maritime contacts, but such a late inundation of the Torres Strait land bridge strengthens my suspicion that even pre-colonial samples from northern Australia (especially Queensland) might exhibit discordance — e.g.,  … ⇒


There exists in population genetics the notion of a “ghost population” [1] – one with which one or more of our sampled populations has experienced gene flow but which itself remains unobserved. A famous example would be the “ancient northern Eurasian population” inferred by Patterson et al. 2012 to have “contributed genetic material to both the ancestral population of the Americas and the ancestral population of northern Europe” but apparently no longer exist in unadmixed form [2].  … ⇒

Helimski: Early European Avars were (in part) Tungusic speakers

Exposition of a minority viewpoint by the late linguist Eugen Helimski [1]:

The paper discusses various indications in favor of the assumption that the language — or one of the languages — spoken by Early European Avars (6th-7th cent.) was a Manchu-Tungus (MT) idiom close to Proto-MT (possibly an early pre-Manchu/pre-Jurchen dialect). This assumptions [sic] seems to deserve at least as serious consideration as the Turkic and the Mongolic versions of the origin of the European Avars.  … ⇒