Sapiens controversies 

by Prof. Govert C van Drimmelen


Chapter 1

Philip Tobias ( 1998 ) said, that " Humanity " was a gift from Africa to the World. Mitochondrial DNA studies are in agreement. In his book " Becoming Human " Ian Tattersall (1999) reviewed the evidence of mankind's origin in Africa. Now-a-days, almost all Palaeo-anthropologists agree, that al over the globe, a single species represents mankind. The name of this species, " Homo sapiens ", has been in use for more than a century, because it was assigned to this species, in France after 1868.

Chapter 2

Modern human beings revealed their human characteristics, in only the last fifty millennia (50 000 years). The appearance of these modern human characteristics, so long after the evolutionary acquired anatomical capabilities of the moderns, is quite a usual occurrence in evolution. The human phenotype is generally estimated to have evolved about the time of the penultimate Ice Age, (The Riss Ice Age, 240 000y 180 000yBP). But the oldest site for this species, known at present, was discovered at Omo in Ethiopia, ( dated 130 000yBP ). It was here that the earliest, Slender built, Large brained, Brachyocephallic, Speech specialized, Modern type people, with upright foreheads and prominent chins, were first discovered. A number of discoveries, such as those in Klasies River Mouth Cave near the Cape of Good Hope, and at Qafseh and at Skhúll in the Levant, revealed the spread of moderns. They had moved out of Africa, northwards, to the central regions of the great Afro-Eurasian continental land-mass. By 50 000 yBP, some of these modern type people, phenotypical H.sapiens,had settled down in the region where the continents are joined and the underlying tectonic plates meet, around Turkey and the Balkan. This is an area particularly prone to volcanic activity and earthquakes. Here in the temperate zone of the earth, they produced traces of settlements shown in fossil evidence today.

Here it was discovered, that a change in the habits of the modern groups of people, had taken place exceptionally " sudden " (if a few millennia can be so described in archaic history). A phenomenal increase in productivity, coincided with continuous innovation of better tools and utensils. The utilization of different materials, such as ivory, wood, bone and antlers, was increased. Entirely new creative art, Rock paintings, new symbolic artifacts, decorated tailored clothing, amulets and projectile weapons, appeared in unprecedented frequency.

Chapter 3

This characteristically human productivity was here first demonstrated on earth when " something profound " had happened, according to Rick Gore (1996, Science Editor, National Geographic Magazine,V186p30). He refers to Stanford anthropologist Richard Klein and the idea that a mutation in the brain had brought about new neurological connections to improve intercommunication. The dramatic change was often reviewed e.g. by Donald Johanson (1996) and Ian Tattersall (1998). Also discovered in this region, was the fossil evidence of " genuine human" compassion and the belief in after-life, at sites like Bacho Kiro, with elaborately decorated clothed burials, including grave goods, for later use by the deceased. This was dated older than 40 000 yBP

Chapter 4

The modern human people were, here in the northern parts of the large continental Afro-eurasian landmass, exposed to contact with a different people. These people, the neanderthals, were well-adapted to the colder climate of the north; and they were expertly living with their characteristic, mausterian culture. The Modern type people did not mix with the neanderthals, and in fact they did not interbreed. On their own, the modern type people started cultures, such as the world had never ever seen before; and the " Upper Paleolithic " period is dated from this time in Eurasia. 

With this development in the north, these "Modern" type people, originated the so-called " Cultural Evolution " or "gene-culture co-evolution " (Johanson(1996):- From Lucy to Language, p 21), which was to create the universal single species embracing all humanity world-wide.

All phenotypical " Modern " type people, had the capabilities to take part in the modern cultures. However, in Africa, the middle stone age cultures continued to be dominant until 20 000 yBP, and in Africa theonly culture continued to be the middle stone age culture.

In the north, the "neanderthals " continued with their "mausterian" culture. 

Chapter 5

The name of modern man came to be in France, in Dordogne; where the fossils of the so-called "Old Man" of Cro Magnon, were discovered near les Eysies, about 1868. These fossils were later dated as being some thirty-two-thousand years old (32 000 y-30 000 yBP). After a time, the famous Swedish Doctor, Carl von Linne, otherwise known as Carolus Linnaeus, was called in to name the new species. Linnaeus was much impressed on this occasion, he sensed the moment in history.

He named the species - not after the person who discovered it; not after the site of discovery; not after the country of discovery; not after the phenotype, with upright forehead and prominent chin and flat small face; not after the large-brained, Brachyocephalic Skull and the speech-specialized, vaulted throat.

He was aware of the evidence of a unique spiritual mentality; and of the cultural activity of the mind. So he named the new species for the wisdom displayed on Earth for the first time - Homo sapiens - wiseman.

Chapter 6

Now, the knowledge of early humanity grew faster and faster. New discoveries in France, Spain, Germany, and Klasies River Mouth Caves, near the Cape of Good Hope, and in Borneo and in Swaziland were added. The time between 60 000 y and 11 000 yBP became the time of " Archaic History ".

In the interstadial times of the Ice Age the people in the north moved northwards. They followed the reindeer on the tundra. But at the peak of the Ice Age, 18 000 years ago, they shifted southwards to the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf Lowlands, where the earliest attempts of a kind of proto-agriculture and a kind of proto-civilization commenced.

Chapter 7 

The Earths crust had, however, unfortunately for the progress of humanity, to suffer and bear the ending of the last Ice Age. This was the terrible ending of the Wisconsin Glaciation of 110 000 years plus the Würm Ice Age of 60 000 years, concurrently running, and ending successively on 11 000 y and on 12 500 yBP. As the Ice Caps melted to water, glaciers became great lakes and torrential floods of tremendous size. All around the globe, from Sweden to Siberia to Alaska to Canada, and to the Himalayas and the Andes and Switzerland. The weight on the tectonic plates shifted, and the resultant earthquakes and volcanic outbursts, brought destruction upon destruction. All animal life on earth, especially in the north of the planet, and most of the vegetative life, was lost on a scale beyond modern experience and beyond comparison with anything that can be imagined today. The loss of human life exceeded 99.999%; and of the larger animal species in the fossil record, 70% were completely extinguished, lost forever. All the beginnings of millennia of primitive proto-agriculture, and the most of the earliest signs of primitive proto-civilization, were irretrievably buried under 120 meters of water.

Chapter 8

Then followed the time of the deluge, dominated by many unrecorded and untraceable years of incessant rain or continuous downpour of water. This has been scientifically demonstrated, on the stone body of the monumental lion, which was used for building the Sphinx.

The remnants of life that had survived; ( and fortunately the human line was not completely extinguished ), took a very long time to regenerate. The nearer the remnants were to the tropics of cancer and capricorn, the sooner did they multiply and regenerate some of the advances of the archaic periods. Only a small fraction of one percent of the people in the north had survived. The survivors of the Holocaust resulting from the ending of the Wisconsin Glaciation and the contemporary Würm Ice Age, gradually made Ancient History with the survival of the northern cultures. They succeeded in producing the Summerian, various Mesopotamian, and Assyrian, Egyptian, Indian and Mycenean developments. A variety of American [clovis], Australian, Asiatic and African industries and cultures, followed.

Chapter 9

The wealth of Ancient History (after 10 000yBP) was not a beginning of history, but rather a miraculous revival of the earlier Magdalenian cultural heritage.

It was a revival of the "Archaic " precedents of the human cultural heritage of the " OLD MAN OF CRO MAGNON "; of the people named "Homo sapiens " by Linnaeus after 1868 in France.

May the species prosper, and may all members of this human species live up to the name they bare: " sapiens " wise

May all those who inherited the Cultural evolution be forever: Wise Men and Women!



In the greatest extinction known, the Permian, 250 million years ago, the reptilian population on earth, lost 95% of all sea life and 70% of the land life. Al the "Fittest" were lost forever and in the Triassic many years later the record in the rocks of a cutting in the Lootsberg pass, show that only Lystrosaurians, some of the common mammal-like Synapsid reptiles, at the bottom of the previous food chain, had survived and managed to regenerate and multiply. Thus, as usually happens in the history of survival, not the fittest, but ( with apologies to Darwin ) the accidentally destruction escaping outcasts, became the ancestors of all reptile, avian and mammalian populations on the globe. This process has occurred again and again e.g. 65 million years ago with the Dinosaurs and today with the fishing and hunting of the fittest of the wildlife stocks on earth. 

The genus "Homo" was created when the hominids in Africa shaped stone tools. By accident a few of them had wandered upland from the beaches of the eastern sea-board as far as Oldovai. They were used to shells for tools when gathering food to augment their fruity diet. She or he picked up a Stone flake, accidentally chipped of two rocks that had crashed together and, lo and behold,  there was the scraper to use as a shell had been used before.

Chapter 10: Brain Capacity.*

(*Dealt with first by popular demand)

The greatest prominence in characterization of modern mankind is given to brain size.

Relative to body size, it is the largest in the animal kingdom and by far the most capable for symbolic and computational thinking..

The average size is 1,350.00cc. * and its weight is 1.3kg.


10.1 Donald Johanson & Blake Edgar (1996) >From Lucy to Language, p83.

"modern human brains have an average volume of at least 1,350 cc"; but also: -p239 "Skhúll V:-1,518 cc. slightly below the mean value for modern Europeans" and also p.239 "Qafseh IX 1,554 cc.:-higher than even the modern average "

The main feature of the Human Brain is the large cortex of the fore-brain.

The past of human brain development is recorded in human embryology and routinely examined by paleoanthropologists.

New-born infants of the carnivores, antilopes and apes can cope with their environs soon after birth.

But the human infant is born premature at nine months gestation, thirteen months before foetal maturation, whilst the infant elephant, also maturing at 22 months, is born full-term.

For a million years and more, the passage through the birth-canal at parturition, had been a survival problem of the pre-human hominids.

The brain growth was arrested before birth again and again, but faster and faster brain growth was required after birth, for survival,

A maximum length of foetal growth time, for maturation was developed; and this was called Post Natal Brain Gestation.

Of course nicknames like "kangaroo babies" appeared, but the quality became better and better, because the extreme pressures, under which these brains were tested, was tremendous.

In spite of sacrificing large areas of brain space, from the sight and scent and large motor areas controlling motor skills, for agility and leaping, the pre- human brain had to cope with language, symbolism and computability.

Eventually, at birth, the electrical activity peaked, but the neurons could only manage the positioning, connecting, and wiring of twelve (12%) to perhaps fifteen (15%) percent of the synapses; and some 85% of the synapses still had to be placed, wired, activated and connected to the dendrites and neuron end-plates, in the organs of hearing, touch, sight, scent and speech.

Particularly important is the effect of "Parentese", that peculiar human high-pitched, vowel-rich, form of instinctive baby-talk produced by human parents, when holding their child, nose to nose, and close to their face. The speech development, synapse placing, growth encouraging, value of intimate infant-parent contact in the first hours, first days and weeks after birth, can never be overestimated.

However, this has had to happen after evolutionary development of as much as 1.5 million years (75 000 generations).

Little by little and jump by jump after three world-wide extinctions, the 775 cc brain of H.habilis, developed to twice that size with a cortex capability of symbolism, religion, science and consciousness.*

*(noteII 10.2)

10.2 Donald Johanson & Blake Edgar, 1996: >From Lucy to Language, p.83; " The biggest burst in brain size, however, occurred during the Middle to Upper Pleistocene (around 500 000 to 100 000 years ago), the span of time from late Homo erectus to early Homo sapiens". This was exactly the evolutionary change favourable time, mentioned in the text, when the first three of the Late Pleistocene Ice Ages: Gunz, Mindell and Riss, brought their 60 000 year lowered sea levels, Ice Capmelt extinctions, changing island isolated communities and interglacial 60 000 to 180 000 year periods, and these had to be survived.

viz..:-..Ice Ages..(years, BP)

 End (Melt)
600 00
540 000
60 000 years ( 3,000 generations )
480 000
420 000
60 000 years ( 3,000 generations )
240 000
180 000
180 000 years ( 9,000 generations )
70 000
12 500
12 500 years (615.generations..)

This last of the Milankovitch Ice Ages is overshadowed in the literature by the contemporary Wisconsin Glaciation, the longest and most comprehensive. It extended from 120 000yBP to 11,000yBP and the ice caps over Canada and the states Kansas, Ohio, New York and over Beringia, Alaska, Greenland, and the Andes and Rockies matched and exceeded all ice ages elsewhere and previously mentioned. The end of this Ice Age, destroyed all traces of previous Ice Ages, as has always been the case with such meltings of ice caps.

All this has had to happen to the premature-born human infant, cradled in its mothers arms.

The fossil record from the Rift Valley and the upland savannah yields the story:-

Early hominids used shells, sticks and stones for scraping, cracking and breaking open seafood, fruit, nuts and insects, like other animals, for millions of years.

When some had wandered upland into the Rift Valley in East Africa onto the savannah, some of the shell users noticed on the ground, flakes of rocks, which had been chipped off, when rocks had collided.

These chips gave some the idea to use them for scraping and cutting, when they could not get shells.

So they knocked rocks together and were dubbed toolmakers by Raymond Dart. So Philip Tobias et al. created Homo habilis.

This capability in the hands of the more robust of these hominids, after many millennia, led to increased aggressiveness in scavenging.

In time they went so far as to get the satiated carnivores to depart from carcasses earlier and to leave them more and more of the carcass for scavenging. This is today as it is practiced by ordinary people, in the bushveld at present.

So in time the bands of these robust hominids started to wander further and further from their home food base.

Thus Homo erectus came to be identified.

These hominids became hunters and they became a risk for the graciles.

This led to reproductive separation of the types.

At the middle of the Pleistocene it was no longer possible for the more gracile hominids to visit the uplands of Africa and the savannah.

Anyone, who would go there, like the earlier H.habilis, H.rudolfensis,and H.ergaster, was now rapidly caught and eaten by raptors like carnivores or H.erectus.

This successful central African hominid species, H.erectus, now a hunter - gatherer, was thus relieved of the ties to its food source and then wandered eventually as far as Java.

But as the "fittest" in Africa, it stripped the countryside of all defenseless "bush meat",  just as today the H.sapiens population strips the meat from the forest for river passengers on the Congo.

It simply was a case of "Dog eats Dog " and attacker kills and eats the loser.

Modern hunters wipe out primates, Gorilla, Chimpanzee, and monkey populations are turned to daily meat on the table or sold around for rations.

The slender, gracile, brachiocephalic hominids had to survive in the dark coastal forests, where speech communication was the principal social bonding factor.

In the wetlands and on the beaches they could not be tracked and they escaped much more often than on the savannah.

Here in the aquatic* environment, they could nurse and cuddle and keep alive their more premature infants and achieve survival of the maximum brain-size population.

As occasional fossilization of skeletons of the robust, hunter-gatherer population occurred, some sites were discovered in modern times which yielded information for paleoanthropologists to deduct a sequence of evolution in hominid species such as H.erectus, H.heidelbergensis, Archaic H.sapiens and H.neanderthalensis.

However, not a trace was ever discovered of any skeleton or artefact to record the development of the gracile, slender, brachiocephalic hominid population of the aquatic* environment on the East and South Coast of Africa. Of course there was never any discovery of any record of hominid communities that existed on the continental shelves east of Zanzibar and south of Klasies River Mouth Caves. This is comparable with the similar absence of any data about the population of the Mediterranean Seafloor and Persian Gulf seafloor during the Ice Age; or on the long road from Africa to Java.


Sir Professor Alister Hardy F.R.S.(1960): "Aquatic Experience in the evolutionary history of Man"; The New Scientist 7:642-645;also in The Listener B.B.C.

Fifteen anatomical or physiological characteristics of the human body are sea- or water-living related, e.g.:- subcutaneous fat layer, fine body hair, vestigeal webbs and lobes, ventro ventral mating, thick buttocks and breasts, spread feet etc.

The four (five) Late Pleistocene Ice Ages of the Milankovitch Phenomenon, with their contemporary lowered sea-levels and populated continental shelves provided many years (230 000 years or 11 500 generations) of reproductively isolated communities very suitable for evolutionary development.

Great changes in brain growth took place. Dystokia and deaths at childbirth took place. Prenatal Arrested Brain Growth was the only hope to survive. Premature Birth and rapid Post Natal Brain Growth was the only way nature could find. Results were a smaller infant skull for birth and a thirteen month premature infant for survival of the variety of gracile, slender, hominids.

Of course, in the absence on the East African seaboard, of significant earthquakes no fossils have as yet been discovered. The bones of the dead decayed to fish food and the artifacts of the people became pebbles on the beach.

Brain size has indeed been costly, and the afterbirth building of 83% of the synapses of a 59% premature infant, in the arms of the Cradle-crooning and "Parentese" mumbling mother; is a measure of the price being paid.

The earth is today populated with a hominid species carrying a unique brain, three times as large as a primate brain, and of this 80% constitutes the cerebral cortex, of which the left prefrontal hemisphere is 200% larger than the average for a primate.

The human brain is specially advanced in the building of the bicameral mind. This is the result or the consequence of the development of righthandednes, which was first noticed in late australopithenes and inH.habilis.

The left frontal hemisphere specialized in the angular gyrus, which integrates signals from the senses of hearing, sight, scent and touch, to prompt a verbal response with the input of Wernickes area, to operate the mechanics of talking with the operation of Brocas area.

The right frontal hemisphere became related to and involved with spiritual and emotional functions.

Contemporary to the early modern human populations, there once lived a another species of hominids, the neanderthals, who had larger brains. This was because of a cranial rear protrusion, which was the result of an enlarged "striate cortex", which accommodated the Principal Vision Centre.

Chapter 11 - Modern Human Behaviour

In South Africa the population of hominids began to "change" into fully "Modern Human Beings" with Spiritual and Technical habits distinct from the Animal Habits of the Mesolithic People on Earth.

The present ongoing excavations at Blombos Cave, 300 km East of Cape Town, under the leadership of Christopher S Henshilwood, have yielded 70 000 year old artifacts and evidence of fully Modern Human Habits.

The engraved bone artifacts and engraved "Advanced Geometric Design" on ochre is evidence of Symbolic Habits (see Note 1).

Many authors have identified "Becoming Human", referring to:

  1. Symbolism and collective Ritual;
  2. Creative Art for pleasure apart from utility;
  3. Continual highly productive Technical innovation;
  4. Abstract scientific or Religious thoughts;
  5. Cognitive capacities and language;
  6. Decorated tailored clothing and
  7. Projectile Weapons.

This has usually been described for people that appeared in Western Eurasia 40 000 years ago, and it ushered in the Neolithic or "Upper Palaeolitic Stone-age" of Europe. This Stone-Age was not recognized south of Northern Africa or the Levant. No origin for the "new" population in Europe 40 000 years ago was ever suggested.

All the facts have now been clearly exposed in the so-called "Coastal" sites at the "Present southern tip" of Africa, a place where the "change" was evident 20 000 - 30 000 years earlier, and of which the evidence is published by Christopher S Henshilwood and his team of co-workers from the "IZIKO South African Museum" and the University of Cape Town and from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. These coastal sites could therefore be an origin.

Before 70 000 years ago, before the Howiesons-Poort substage of the middle stone-age in Southern Africa en even before the Stillbay levels in the Blombos Cave, the Cave was open. But, about 70 000 years ago, at the beginning of the last Ice-Age the Cave was blocked - and the sea level dropped - till the Agulhas Continental shelf became dry land, extending 60 km further south of the present Cape of Good Hope.

The population of the region lived on and spread to Europe 40 000 years and more ago; to Australia 60 000 years ago; Borneo 40 000 years ago and Swaziland 40 000 years ago. Klasies River Mouth Caves, "Die Kelders Cave" and Nelson Bay Cave were at times occupied. Blombos Cave was also occupied, as soon as it was opened by wind dispersal of the dunes, 5 000 years ago in the Holocene period.(see Note 2).

The caves where the present finding of artifacts is being recorded, are all sited above the Agulhas Continental Shelf; where for many years vegetative and animal life flourished. (100 000 12 5000 years BP.)

There were extensive coastal forests and riverine forests occupied by Elephants and Lions, Buffalo and Hyena, Antelope and Wild Dogs, who all used the Grass-veldt, Bush-veldt and Savannah. Today during our present interglacial, with a 100 120 meter higher sea level, (35 40 floors higher), the sea floor on the Continental Shelf is far below the Deep Water Hake and other fish that are caught at present. The fleet of oil tankers for Europe and America ply the waters around the southern Cape of Africa today.

The East African Seaboard, from Egypt to East London, has no Palaeological sites for research on fossils or artifacts. However, the coastal populations, that lived in those times, spread inland all over the desert and were found on numerous sites in the Great Rift Valley areas; from Sterkfontein, Kromdraai and Swart-Krans to Laetoli, Olduvai, Turkana and Hadar.

Only on the coast in the region of Agulhas Continental Shelf, stretching from 60km south of the tip of southern Africa, are to be found caves: e.g. Klasies-River-Mouth Caves, Nelson Bay Cave, Die Kelders Cave and the Blombos Cave.

The excavations at Blombos revealed:

  1. Advanced geometric signs on bone and ochre;
  2. Symbolic use of colorant for ritual decoration;
  3. Hoarding of non-local ochre assemblage (see Note 3);
  4. Extensive exploitation of aquatic resources, large fish, marine shells and dolphins;
  5. Flaked stone with highest incidence of use of fine grained, non-local material;
  6. Shaped and polished bone tools;
  7. Hunting and gathering of a wide range of terrestrial large animals.

Before 70 000 years ago the population of Homo sapiens that lived near the southern tip of Africa had acquired fully modern human habits. The habits originated here or on the joining Agulhas shelf during the last Ice-Age. Between 70 000 - 50 000 years ago some of the Phenotypical Homo sapiens populations spread, e.g.:

  1. Australia Mungo-Lake 60 000 years ago
  2. Borneo Niah 40 000 years ago
  3. Europe Bacho Kiro 40 000 years ago
  4. Swaziland Border Cave 40 000 years ago

However, only in Europe did they develop so rapidly that they had advanced to the following industries and cultures:

  1. Aurignacian;
  2. Perigordian;
  3. Gravettian;
  4. Salutrean;
  5. Magdalenian and
  6. Azilian

These cultures created the new way of "Gene Culture Evolution" and thereby made the whole planet the home of one species only.

NOTE 1 Symbolic Culture is generally identified by use of the same idea for technology for components of different raw materials, e.g. Bone, Stone, Ivory and Ochre.

NOTE 2 Dating

i Radio carbon* limit 40 000 years

ii ESR (Electron Spin Resonance) 700 000 years

iii TL (Thermo-luminiscence) 380 000 years

NOTE 3 Hoarding of Ochre with high haematite content and from distant sources.

* Frequent reference to a dating of 40 000 years appears to be influenced by the fact that carbon dating is limited to that level. If no other dating equipment is available, it may be that researchers merely state 40 000 years ago, when in fact they mean 40 000 years or more.