back to article Boffins battle over oldest European woman

Boffins are scrapping over the identity of the oldest woman in Europe after the discovery of a 1.2 million-year-old probably female jaw. Some scientists believe that the recently discovered fossil gives weight to the theory that primitive humans came to Europe shortly after leaving Africa two million years ago, passing by the ex …

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let me guess

These are the same type of archaeologists who claim that Central American corn was first grown in mountainous desert regions because that's where the oldest corn is found? With no reference to the fact that it actually grows better in lowland wet areas, but of course it also decomposes easier there too.

Until archaeologists look at the facts as they exist and not as they wish them to be, archaeology will continue to be a joke. Until they don't simply follow the lead of the most well funded researcher, archaeology will not deserve to have the term "science" applied to it in any form.

In other words, they don't have a fucking clue, and it is unlikely they ever will. They're guessing, pure and simple, and simply discard "anomalous" facts as unimportant. Archaeologists today don't fit their theories to the facts, they fit their facts to their theories.

Yes, one of my degrees is in archaeology. Why do you ask?

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Coat

So...

...if the fight between the two groups of researchers gets personal, and one buys a New York Times page to insult the other, would it be an ad hominem hominin ad?

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Thumb Up

No no no!

Every body knows that tha Ancients came here thru the Stargate, from Atlantis..

Come on people!

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Flame

Compare and contrast

Compare and contrast the following:

1) The assured self-confidence that these paleoanthro(a)pologists ('boffins' and their fanboys) display once they have their Theory Du Jour at hand - "Yes indeed, we know EXACTLY what happened 'X' millions or thousands of years ago. The first protohumans crossed the mouth of the Red Sea on a fine Tuesday morning exactly 47,017 years ago at about 10:30am (I'm sorry that we can't be more accurate than that), ate some fish for brunch, carried the shorter members of the band through the deeper sections,..." etc.

2) Their reaction when they find a new bone that changes EVERYTHING.

Paleoanthropologists - sigh... These idiots loop between State 1 and State 2 (above) continuously without even noticing the irony. Those of us that follow science closely get dizzy until we realize that this field ISN'T science. Reading prehistory bones leads to some clear individual facts (which is okay), but the detailed theories created from the sparse facts might as well come from 'reading' fresh chicken bones.

Most of the more prominent paleoanthropologist (the ones with the most detailed and imaginative theories) haven't got a clue. Seriously. They haven't got the first clue about knowing what they know, and (more importantly) knowing what they DON'T know.

If these people had gone into civil engineering, it would be lethal to live in built-up areas.

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Naming the old bird

Since this creature was not human (Homo sapiens) is it correct to call her a woman at all? Or is this a courtesy extended to all species in our genus? We certainly don't talk about bonobo women.

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Paris Hilton

A competitor for Paris!

And I thought it was Paris who was the oldest female - or maybe it just feels like that :-)

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Black Helicopters

More advanced than Europe" indeed

And it was not just 200 million years ago. Egypt anyone? True, they needed alien support to build the pyramids. But doesn't that prove that they had discovered a way to contact our intergalactical overlords? Maybe they were at the time more advanced than we are now... now where is that CoS icon?

History is a never-ending circle: how do you think Terminal 5 was build? clearly with extensive help from super-intelligent alien beings, not really "au fait" with earthy contingencies, like gravity or our lame prehistoric electronics.

This is not a copter, this is an advanced extra-galactic vessel. Coming for your fingerprints.

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Poor archaeologists

I'm sure both sides of the debate are keeping an open mind regarding their theories as everyone who practices scientific method should. Unfortunately the media don't want "well, this may be what happened, but we aren't too sure", they want definite answers. So person X is portrayed has having one opinion and person Y as having a polar opposite. I;m sure X and Y would both agree that if more evidence came along one way or the other they would have to change their mind. Opinions and theories are just what they say they are; opinions and theories.

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Dead Vulture

re: let me guess

"Until archaeologists look at the facts as they exist and not as they wish them to be, archaeology will continue to be a joke. Until they don't simply follow the lead of the most well funded researcher, archaeology will not deserve to have the term "science" applied to it in any form.

In other words, they don't have a fucking clue, and it is unlikely they ever will. They're guessing, pure and simple, and simply discard "anomalous" facts as unimportant. Archaeologists today don't fit their theories to the facts, they fit their facts to their theories."

Isn't this exactly what 99% of scientists do, not just archaeologists?

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J
Pirate

Hm...

"Yes indeed, we know EXACTLY what happened 'X' millions or thousands of years ago"

Weird. I've never seen any of those guys saying that they know exactly what happened. Ever heard of a straw man?

Getting science news from tabloids must give that impression, but in practice it's not really like that. Although I agree that the liberties taken in imagining the past are sometimes a bit too much...

"And it was not just 200 million years ago."

Er... 1.2 million. :-)

Skull and bones for obvious reasons. Can't believe I'm the first.

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@yeah, right

"Archaeologists today don't fit their theories to the facts, they fit their facts to their theories."

Gawd how bloody true that is....Sadly I can't claim a degree in the subject, but I've spent plenty of time on the various discovery/history channels baffled by how they reach their conclusions.

For example I watched something the other day where they were trying to prove that Sodom "slid" into the Dead Sea. They made a mock-up of the geological conditions on a model and then stuck it in what was basically a massive centrifuge. The loose "ground" surface was supposed to slide along the clay underneath but it all simply sank a bit, and none of their mock "buildings" fell down. However, they claimed it as a success and a proof to their theory, even though it was blindingly obvious that it hadn't done what they were expecting (they even said as much, and then said "but it still proves we're right" - or words to that effect).

That's not the only one, just the most recent example, but I could apply the same to things shown about Egypt, ancient Greece and the like.

It's like me saying my car is really sturdy because it's all in one piece, followed by a wheel falling off, and then me saying "that just proves how sturdy it is because it came off in one piece".

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Paris Hilton

Bad Science

What really gets me is that they like to base their theories and assumptions on one fossilised piece of bone that may or may not be related to our ancestors. If they had found half a dozen body formations then I could believe that something significant; but then most of the scientist in non-comercial environments that I've worked with are only out to secure their next batch of funding so it's hardly surprising that they go for attention grabbing claims! Just like the scientists on the "climate change" bandwaggon second guessing a couple of billion years worth of climate change trends based on around 150 years of accurate data.

Paris 'cos I sometimes think she knows more than the scientists!

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Anonymous Coward

Female ?

How do they know it's probably a female jaw bone ?

Just because the teeth are clean and intact but the joint is worn out doesn't necessarily mean it was female.

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Pirate

@J

"straw man"

It's not from tabloids (No, I don't get near them). It is from otherwise-respected "Science" shows such as PBS Nova and Science, and BBC WS radio, and magazines such as Scientific American and Nature. Also, TV interviews with the guilty parties. These sources are about as good as it gets for laypeople following science. It is certainly not a strawman argument. It is a clear trend. There are more than a few paleoanthropologists making up rubbish overly-detailed theories and then vigourously defending them. At least until a new bone tips up proving them wrong and then (and this is where it gets REALLY bad) the cycle repeats.

It is exactly the same cycle as the public health safety of the 'artifical sweetener du jour': "Perfect safe", RECALL!, Next!

"...I agree that the liberties taken in imagining the past are sometimes a bit too much..."

Exactly. Thanks.

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Alien

Amazing

How sharp Reg readers are with tripe archaeology but not tripe cosmology. Grrr mere Earthlings.

Alien icon, as it's also closest to Nelson's eye patch.

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