Thursday, March 22, 2012

Red Deer Cave People

Photo: BBC, Darth Vader Revealed
From The BBC reporting on a release from PLoS One journal:

“The remains of what may be a previously unknown human species have been identified in southern China.

“The bones, which represent at least five individuals, have been dated to between 11,500 and 14,500 years ago.

“But scientists are calling them simply the Red Deer Cave people, after one of the sites where they were unearthed.”

Take note of those dates. That’s just prior to the beginning of farming, and there’s nothing saying where in the lifespan of this species these remains are from. It could have survived for thousands of years after these individuals and have been around for tens or hundreds of thousands years prior.

A quick count gives us: us, the Neanderthals, the Denisovans, the Hobbits, and now the Red Deer folk roaming around together. My original prediction was for between sixteen and twenty humanoids walking around at the same time. We’ll probably never find them all, but we’re a quarter of the way to twenty with no reason to suspect we’re at the end of the trail yet.

It’s time to revisit cultural memory. Not the conscious cultural memory of history books and monuments and museums but the hidden memory of culture shared through vehicles such as language, folk traditions, myths, and religion; especially the tales of other peoples in the woods, other creatures like, but not like, us. To be sure, we’ve always had tales of bad or dangerous or merely different people, as well, but stories about others not quite human have persisted worldwide since forever. How big were those Hobbits? How tough were those Neanderthals? Think any of them could have lived under the bridge and eaten Billy Goat Gruff?

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