Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Peri-Tethys hominoids

The Caspian never dried out, it is more than 1km deep at its south portion, the south shore is always warm (never colder than 10 deg C), about 3ma it included the Aral sea.

Peri-tethys/para-thetis Euxine-Caspian prehistory

Some 50-60 million years ago, before the beginning of the Tertiary Period, a vast oceanic basin extended from west to east across Southern Europe and Central Asia, linking the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. It was the salty Tethys Sea. By the middle of the Tertiary Period, as a result of crust upheavals, the Tethys Sea had become separated first from the Pacific Ocean and later from the Atlantic.

Major crust movements led to mountain-building in the Miocene (from 5 to 7 million years ago) and the formation of the Alps, the Carpathians, the Balkan Mountains and the Caucasus Mountains. As a result the Tethys Sea shrunk in size and became divided into a number of brackish basins. One of them, the Sarmatic Sea, stretched from the present location of Vienna to the foothills of the Tien Shan Mountains and included the modern Black Sea, the Azov Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea. The Sarmatic Sea was separated from the ocean, and gradually its salinity fell as a result of the inflow from rivers. It is assumed that the salinity in the sea was even lower than in the modern Caspian Sea. Much of the marine fauna endemic to the Tethys Sea became extinct. However, it is interesting to note that typically oceanic animals, such as whales, manatees and seals, continued to inhabit the Sarmatic Sea for a long time, before they too disappeared.

The Caspian Sea's bed is below sea level and this is true of the land on some of its shores because this is still a low spot on the earth, unlike Death Valley, of course, it is filled with water. The drawing I made from the satellite photos shows clearly how Arabia, as it is shoved harder and harder into the last of the Tethys' basin, has raised a ridge of mountains on one side of this basin and the European side is also high mountains, the Caucasus range. It is interesting that the point where these continents collide still has a deep depression instead of it just building up as mountains directly.



The Akchagyl reservoir emerged approximately 3m years ago, right at the beginning of the Pliocene and can be regarded as the brightest page in the history of the Caspian. The waters of Akchagyl Lake penetrated into the Aral depression, which at that time used to occupy the Black Sea or Euxine basin via the Manych hollow drained into brackish Kuyalnits basin. Extensive lowland stretches of trans-Caspian, Azerbaijan, Dagestan and Volga were flooded. It is believed that northern border of the reservoir lied in region of the river Kama. Obviously, that Akchagyl Lake had the highest level and area, and by its sizes considerably exceeded, for example, Khavalyn Lake, which emerged in the Later Pleistocene epoch. Akchagyl Lake existed for a bit less than 1m years and left a thick complex of deposits relating to a lower layer of the Upper Pliocene. Akchagyl strata were discovered in the beginning of the 20th century by N. I. Andrusov, who showed that they contain fossil fauna of a semi-marine type. This fauna originally lived under the salinity of 20-25 gr/l, however, later, as a result of large inflow of fresh waters, Akchagyl lake desalinized up to 5-12 gr/l. The character of microsculpture of shells of Cyprideis torosa testifies about very low paleohalinity, not higher than 5-6 gr/l. Thus, the paleohalinity of Akchagyl Lake, reconstructed using this method, appears to be a little bit lower than that determined using fauna fossils, mainly, molluscs.

Speaking about Akchagyl fauna and flora, it is necessary to note that there are two points of view on their origins. In the first case, when a semi-marine type is postulated, implying a genetic connection with Sarmatian fauna and flora is implied. In the second case, a marine type is defended assuming introduction of fauna and flora from the Arctic Ocean, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean or Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The obtained data on rather low - 4-6 gr/l salinity in Akchagyl Lake prove that Akchagyl fauna and flora is mostly of semi-marine origins rather than marine. This point of view is also supported by the fact that endemic development of Caspian malacofauna in the Pleistocene was always characterized by survival of more ancient relicts in successive basins (Starobogatov 1970). In our opinion, basic elements of Akchagyl fauna and flora lived in Balakhany Lake, which later freshened and turned into a huge Akchagyl reservoir.

The post-Akchagyl reservoir appeared more than 2m years ago. It used to occupy only basins of the Middle and Southern Caspian, and it should be regarded as the maximum regression of the Akchagyl basin. It is difficult to say how long post-Akchagyl lake existed, as its deposits have been very poorly investigated. Most probably, the low level occurred for a short period, approximately 50-150 thousand years, and it was supplanted by the next transgression. Unfortunately, we did not manage to find valves of Cyprideis torosa in available collections, in order to determine paleohalinity of this lake based on their microsculpture. However, it is possible to suggest with confidence that the salinity of post-Akchagyl lake was much higher than that of Akchagyl, but lower than the salinity of Balakhany.

The Absheron reservoir emerged approximately 2m years ago. By its sizes, the lake was less than Akchagyl, however, its waters also penetrated into the Aral basin and drained into the Black Sea or Euxine depression which was accupied by the Guriy basin at that time. The cis-Caspian lowland was completely flooded and the Kura lowland and Karakum were partially inundated. Absheron Lake existed for more than 1m years and left a thick complex of deposits relating to an upper layer of the Upper Pliocene. Fauna fossils show that it had similar salinity to Akchagyl lake i.e. within 5-12 gr/l. It is also believed that the waters of Absheron Lake occupying the Aral basin were the most desalinized the salinity of about 5 gr/l. Those representatives of Absheron fauna, which were able to survive the greatest level ofdesalinization, occured here (Federov, 1983; Rubanov et.al. 1987). The character of microsculpture of valves of Cyprideis torosa shows the salinity level of about 7 gr/l. The materials from Absheron deposits, discovered in northern regions of the Aral basin, were analysed in addition to shells from the Caspian basins. These shells were found in detrital limestone of the Absheron epoch in the region of the gulf Shevchenko and peninsula Kokturnak of the Minor Aral Sea. The microsculpture of valves of Cyprideis torosa corresponds to the paleohalinity of 3-4 gr/l, and even about 1 gr/l.

The Turkan reservoir emerged a bit less than 2m years ago. It developed on the background of climate aridity and drastic reduction of freshwater inflow. Obviously, by its sizes, it resembles the post-Akchagyl reservoir i.e. occupied only basins of the Middle and Southern Caspian. Abrasive surface of Turkan lake is situated at the depth of 200-300 ì of the present Caspian Sea (Aladin, Carpenters, 2000). However, it would be a mistake to consider that the level of this ancient water body was so low. In Federov’s opinion (1983), such deep location is accounted for recent tectonic subsidence, and the real difference of levels of the present Caspian and Turkan lake does not exceed 100-150 m. Apparently, this lake, as well as post-Akchagyl, existed for a rather short period of time. Such a low level could have persisted for some scores and may be hundreds millennia, and it was ensued by the next transgression. Speaking about Turkan Lake, we should especially note that original Caspian brackish fauna of molluscs appeared in this lake for the first time. Thus, the turning point in development of fauna took place during a regression, instead of a transgression (Federov, 1983). The microsculpture of valves of Cyprideis torosa refers to the paleohalinity of 26-30 gr/l.

The Baku reservoir emerged later, some 1.7m years ago, on the background of climate moistening and cooling. It was less than Absheron Lake, and its waters did not penetrate into the Aral basin, but along the Manych hollow drained into the Black Sea or Euxine basin, where at this time the Chaudine basin was situated. Baku Lake occupied western stretches of lowland Karakum, completely Caspian and partially Kura lowland. It existed for about one million or half-million years, leaving a thick stratum of marine deposits, which was named the Baku layer. This layer is of the Quaternary age, and these deposits are usually compared to those of Likhvin glaciation on the Russian plain. However, we should note that lower part of Baku layer, probably, belongs also to an earlier period. Baku Lake went through three transgressions and two regressions. The long developing Early Baku transgression followed by the Late Baku and Urunjick transgressive phases. These phases were divided by two small regressions: post Early Baku and post Late Baku. It is considered that Baku lake had the biggest surface during the Urunjick transgressive phase and Early Baku had the smallest surface. The Late Baku transgressive phase took an intermediate position. As it was mentioned above, during all three transgressive phases, Baku Lake was bigger than the present Caspian and use to discharge its waters into the Chaudine basin. However, this discharge ceased during the Post Early Baku and Post Late Baku regressive phases. We can assume that during a low level period, the surface of Baku Lake was to that of the present Caspian Sea or even a little bit less. Unfortunately, because of short duration of these regressive phases of Baku Lake, it is very difficult to identify precise boundaries of the reservoir. Speaking about Baku Lake, it is necessary to note that except for the rivers, traditionally feeding the Caspian, such as the Volga, Ural, Emba, Atrek, Kura, Samur, Terek, Kuma etc., the Amu Darya also used to be its tributatry. At that time, this river did not flow into the Aral, but flowed through the lowland Karakum and entered Baku Lake at eastern part of the cis-Balkhan lowland.


Oreopithecus, island, ape, hominins
They are characterized by lack of predators and limitation of space and thus of trophic resources (23, 24). Whereas the absence of predation removes the need for adaptations related to predator
avoidance, intraspecific and interspecific competition for food resources increases (23, 24). Both factors impose specific selective pressures that favor, on the one hand, adaptations linked to low
energy expenditure, namely those related to energetically less expensive locomotor activities (flightless birds, ref. 25), and to reduction of bone mass in the locomotor apparatus at the expense of mobility and speed (26) (reduction of limb lengths in all mammals, fusion of limb elements in ruminants, elephants, and hippos, ref. 23).
On the other hand, they select for feeding strategies that increase the efficiency of resource utilization (increase in hypsodonty, rodent-like continuously growing incisors in bovids, reduction of premolars in many groups, etc.) (23). These adaptations are universally found in all mammal faunas of small islands. These selective pressures probably played a crucial role in the evolution of Oreopithecus, too, because the accompanying bovid fauna clearly exhibits the typical traits of insularity (27), such as strongly reduced limb bones and continuously growing incisors (28). In
Oreopithecus, the lack of predators may have led to a decrease of energetically expensive (29, 30) and risky (31) climbing activities, while favoring significant terrestriality. Bipedal standing while foraging, combined with bipedal shuffling during frequent short distance travel during food gathering [in water], as recently described for wild chimpanzees (32), could have increased the
harvesting efficiency for this ape. The postcranial morphology of Oreopithecus clearly reflects such bipedal terrestrial activities. The peculiar feet, less suitable for fast walking or running than
those of early hominids, yield, however, an especially well designed platform for stable postural harvesting, as the tripod formed by the deviated metatarsals and the widely abducted hallux provides a large area of support. Short legs further increase stability during bipedal stance because the center of gravity is low. Both features, short legs and short lever arm of the feet, indicate short stride length and low speed and suggest bipedal shuffling.

This sounds right, bipedal shuffling in freshwater swamps, while holding overhanging branches or cane stems, using one hand to hold it and the other to peel/pluck the bark/skin/fruit/oyster off and eat. This would select for better balance when reaching one hand above the head while the foot or feet were on soft substrata, rather than for walking in a straight line like at Laetoli. The straighter feet of apiths and Homo probably reflects predation, but doesn't eliminate wetland wade foraging in them similar to Oreopith.

The straighter feet (= adducted hallux?) (also?) suggest more swimming (paddle).

The long fingers and short toes of Opith may reflect crocs, where the ability to quickly get above the water was more significant than tree canopy climbing for food where long toes would be useful, as in siamangs.

Humans also have very short toes, but elongation hind feet, which makes the foot sole larger/longer for paddling?

Vegetation rafts may lack pure clay mud, but might have rotting organic material and very stinky & slimy mucky mud. But this does depend on the local environment, possibly it wasn't so bad. I know that cattail swamps are mucky and mosquito filled, I used to duck hunt in them autumns after it got cold. Significantly, being in a shallow boat was ok, it was the wading that was nasty. This was in the upper Mississippi river bottoms, somewhat equivalent to the Sudd, not
the Nile Delta. Elephants & hippos have extremely thick skin AFAIK, humans don't, neither do furry chimps. Mosquitoes, leeches, ticks, lice, fleas, parasitic worms, Schistomiasis, are all freshwater - forest related, they can't survive repeated saltwater submersion & sunlight UV
drying AFAIK.

I'm sorry if this sounds too negative. Perhaps the Mesopotamia marsh & Sudd was better than this, especially 5 Ma, who knows? I'm just saying that freshwater swamps are good for people but GREAT for some nasty things that are not good for people. Maybe the apiths had special adaptations that we don't know about, like manatee-style dense collagen skin or thick fur that was bug proof. Or maybe they had controlled smoky fires. Or push-pole rafts?

We don't know whether apiths were naked, but it's not unlikely: great apes are born with naked bodies.

If any hominoids became naked, it occurred in brackish/saline water I'd think, or else had very dense skin much thicker than humans. The infant apes I've seen have fluffy fur after the mother licks off the birth mucus. AFAIK apes have no other protection against mosquitoes and other parasites.

I guess it occurred at the Tethys coasts somewhere between 18 & 14 Ma or so. At first they lost body hair but kept head hair & pubic hair: this could have been where the hominid louse split into scalp louse Pediculus & pubic louse Pthirus.
Their estimate for the Pediculus-Pthirus divergence is 13 million years. Thirteen million is as much as twice the age of the human-gorilla common ancestor. This estimate is probably biased toward the recent side, since it is calibrated against a divergence between hominoid and baboon lice assumed at 22.5 million years ago -- probably more recent than the true hominoid-baboon divergence.
I don't know if the lesser apes have lice, but the orangutan doesn't IIRC. The Asian apes have sternal gland/pit which may be anti-mosquito anti-lice secretion (or possible attractant to bring mosquito/lice towards the chest to kill/eat).

A guess: the LCA HPGPo lived in the Caspian/black/Medit. and Tethys coast and had long red-brown body/head hair (mammoth like) and light skin. Po, Hn & Hs with red hair is primitive, black hair is derived from Africa post-fur loss.

To add to this, 700ka hippos were in London.

So about +/-20ma, the PeriTethys may have been subtropical, and the early Hominoids (various spp.) there may have had long thick red body hair, and fed on the AHV and reeds/sedges along the brackish but freshwater-fed inner sea coasts along with the woolly mammoths and hairy rhinos, all of which probably had some SC fat deposits (note fat pads of adult dominant male orangs, which may have assisted the then-growing laryngeal air sacs for flotation. Baby Asian elephants and young Sumatran rhinos have long red hair so are probably derived from the PeriTethyan kin after following the Tethys coast to India and Malay peninsula, possibly migrating along routes which were blocked during the ice ages and periodic droughts,
forcing alternate routes.

I don't know if European miocene ape (Dryopith, etc.) vertebrae have been found to compare with the Morotopith, they may have been identical or similar. Oreopith may have been a western variant, merely continuing the wetland foraging.

At some point, a "wetland bridge" connected Africa to Eurasia (elephants, rhinos, dryopith-HPG), much later a dry land bridge connected (ostriches?), resulting in two directional traffic. Today, the vast reed marshes of the Caspian, Aral and Black sea are on
the northern side of the seas, at that time perhaps also, with the caucasus mountains being small hills.

If true, the Dmanisi Hg may have had long red hair, and may have been more closely related to Hjava or Hflores or Hpeking than to derived HAfrica. The color of dried reeds is yellow/brown, not black, the flowers are light toned, so red/blonde hair on head would camoflage well. If If
the Miocene-Pliuocene-Pleistocene anthropoids did weave and sleep on reed nests, it would explain woven nests/baskets in HPGPo. Since lesser apes don't make nests, they may have been a dwarf ape specialized for eating the umbrels (flower/nut) at the stem top,rather than eating the lower pith and rhyzomes like the larger ones, that would explain why the gibbons prefer the canopy. Again, perhaps a parallel to some coastal lemurs.

I credit Falasha with part of this idea, since she brought up the sedge habitat concept and great illustrations.

My guess is HPG lost body hair while adapting to reed nests and float foraging but retained scalp hair (now lowland gorilla red patch, black body fur is new) to protect head while air sacs were inflated in water, but before entering Africa they had no lice (like the orang).

The LCA HPG lost both the sternal organ and long red fur coat due to long period of brackish immersion feeding of sedge rhyzomes and inverts./oysters while vert. sit/floating at tethys coastal wetlands. Upon contact in Africa or Arabia with OWM baboons, got head lice.

Increased hanging fruit foraging and improved tree climbing developed more and melanistic body hair with associated axillary/pubic apocrines due to sleeping in tree nests. Gorillas moved inland, getting a new black fur coat except on the chest (which attracts mosquitoes for killing?
Gorilla habit of slapping their chests?), gorilla fur is most similar to human pubic/axillary coarse hair, rather than human long scalp hair. HP at mangrove coasts, scalp hair became selected for black due to camouflage in shaded lower tree trunks and waterside foraging. P eventually moved more inland losing the tidal effect permanently but staying often at the lower understory rather than the upper canopy except to sleep in the thin branches at night. H stayed at shores most
of the time, dipping but not yet diving, so H head hair was more similar to P head hair until H began diving and backfloating, when the head louse evolved to attach to nest/net/clothing or long hair.---

When they got a fur again later, in gorillas the pubic louse replaced the scalp louse, in chimps the scalp louse replaced the pubic louse. Human kept a naked body, with scalp & pubic hair apart, so
scalp louse & pubic louse stayed where they were (but our pubic louse got recently
a sidebranch that adapted to clothing).

I accept periodic treks to freshwater cane/forests for ancient human ancestors, as in the Sudd, but not as permanent residents, until they had reed houses & reed boats. There's good reasons that apes don't spend so much time in freshwater, and choose a few selected spots, as opposed to hippos, elephants, pigs, rhinos which just make their own water holes in swamps, so as to avoid hidden crocs.

Lowland gorillas often spend a few hours in swamps.

Ndoki swamp seems to have no crocs for some reason? Nor hippos?

I have no idea. Elephants in deeper swamps are aggressive towards hippos & crocs??

I think that apiths, like apes, gave birth out of the water, though not sure. I think that Homo spp gave birth in calm saltwater lagoons, ringed by wave-stopping reefs. Possibly, they (a midwife/aunty) made a birthing pool with pebbles or used a tidepool. They weren't ignorant,
probably had a bunch of people with weapons around to watch out for predators. The afterbirth could be buried in the sand, I think thats what sea lions do. The blood dissipates within minutes in the sea. I just think that cane would be convenient to cut & bundle & float downstream to a bay or lagoon, maybe the first deliberate rafting? If a cane stem is broken or cut off with a sharp blade, and stored, how long will it last if unpeeled? Probably the cut-end would seal up,
and the pulp will stay moist for quite a while. Many people eat seaweed today, coconuts too.

The big toe of O'pith is an adaptation for verticle climbing for a species that never developed opposable hallux. Perhaps there was a particularly tastey fruit high up in a tree on their predatorless island?
Mosquitos could be alleviated by mud dressing such as elephants & hippos have accomplished with far lesser intelligence. If their rafts broke up they could just find another. Apparently
there are so many they create problems. I have a hard time imagining a mother giving birth to a baby in the ocean. Elaine has proven, to my satisfaction, that we went through a period of water births.

Did she? AFAIK she's not fond the hypothesis? It seems a better fit for a mother to have
food and protection at her disposal. If a mother gave birth in the ocean she would attract predators galore! And would have to hunt for food; either catch fish, bust open shellfish, smething! I have not seen any evidence that we consumed seaweed. How could a mother do
Sudd (Arabic for Dam) is a floating papyrus island that can be 20ft deep and miles across. It is so strong that men AND ELEPHANTS can walk across. It's called plant rafts.
http://www.fao. org/DOCREP/ 006/X7580E/ X7580E08. htm

Ok, I misunderstood your meaning. You are saying that the hominids could climb onto the vegetative rafts of papyrus (not that they could climb up stems of papyrus) in order to escape predators such as leopards, hippos and crocs? And this parallels other areas like the Nile estuaries & the swamps of Mesopotamia & other areas like that. But a fur coat would seem mandatory since the mosquitos & water pathogens are thick there, and also the divergent big toe of Oreopithecus would seem advantageous for balance, just like wading & swimming birds have which frequently nest on floating vegetation rafts. I didn't see any mention of trees or wood on these isles, so wading stick spears & stones & shells would need to be gotten elsewhere.
If these types of vegetative rafts are washed into the ocean,they tend to break up quickly, unlike timber rafts.The once annual rainy season (per one site) & stagnant waters differ from the tidal coastal swamps & wetlands which flush daily bringing oxygen & nutrients. If Australopithecus was furred like a chimp and possessed airsacs, as Dik-1-1 indicates, then perhaps this type of habitat might have been productive foraging environment, in association with climbable
waterside trees. Despite the C4 food link, I have difficulty seeing how this Sudd habitat as primary home could have led to human descendants. Australopith did not lead to Hs, but to the Afr.apes lowland gorillas are still +-abundant in swamp forests, where they eat aq.herbs. Yes, I don't know if any hominoid or OWM lives in the Sudd swamps.

The mosquitoes alone would be problematic for altricial infants, thin yet furless skin would be an invitation for them, well scented adults would draw them in. Smoky fires would prevent them, but that requires fuel, fire making gear & knowledge.

In Egypt papyrus was a fuel for fires. Re our ancestral line, I can imagine with dugouts or reed bundle boats going there to harvest papyrus & fish, but not staying there. Before boats, perhaps foraging bundles of sedges, to be carried to the seashore at times, to supplement their seashore/frugivorous diet and provide bedding at shore caves? Perhaps inland apiths did develop at these wetlands.

Yes, likely: early gracile apiths (4-3 Ma) in denser swamp forests, later robust apiths (2-1 Ma) in more open wetlands. Thick enamel (not super-thick) in all hominids = part-time sedges?
I still have no idea what the thick enamel was for: protection against small
snails etc on aquatic herbs? a diet of hard-shelled invertebrates? for racking nuts? parts of palms? of sedges?? of bamboo?? It's usu.thought it was for very hard (not tough) plant foods, but another possibility is very calorie-poor plant parts. Orangs eat nuts, heard exocarps etc. Why did robusts (& Ouranopith in Greece) have even thicker enamel than the gracile
apiths & humans & orangs?
The late-Miocene apes in Africa also had (very?) thick enamel: Chorora-, Nakali- & Samburupith, but Samburupith is doubted by some to be hominid

See also"Phyletic affinities of Samburupithecus kiptalami: a late Miocene proconsulid"
AJ Olejniczak, DR Begun, E Mbua & J-J Hublin 2009 AAPA abstracts... Results reveal many characters in common between Samburup & early Miocene proconsulids ... The unique combination of these traits suggests affinities to proconsulids & precludes a close relationship to
Afr.apes & humans ...

http://books. google.com/ books?id= Vj7A9jJrZP0C& pg=PA227&
lpg=PA227& dq=papyrus+ taxonomy& source=web& ots=zr-_qizBLt&
sig=mr-jFNSsxV7K JRaszFlDpzpqaSg& hl=en&sa= X&oi=book_
7&ct=result# PPA227,M1
"shallow rooted, small feeble stalk, large head," unlikely to have grown in the main stream of the Nile, due to current. doesn't sound easily climbable for a Hominid (with non-divergent big
toes). (Apparently Papyrus cyranus is not a biological taxon.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Marine monuments & Wing diving


Establishment of the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument


kanaka haoli maoli
pakeha maori
papalani fufu
matsaleh bule

If any female (as dive partner) would like to join me in starting Islamarina Dive Clinic, partly based at Rose Atoll, American Samoa, USA, please email me at daud.deden@gmail.com, entitle it "DIVING". Rose Atoll is the southern-most land of the United States and the easternmost isle of the Malayo-Polynesian Samoan islands, and located south of the equator. I am very motivated to begin testing of the ARC there due to the warm clear lagoons and pristine environment. Collaborative non-competitive dive partnership preferred, the focus will be on natural aqua-photic respiratory cycle diving while evidence foraging, theory testing and photo-videographing. An internship may be possible in future, haven't worked out administrative details or funding yet. Come make a dream happen.

wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.