Monday, February 7, 2011

Did SCIENCE Just Say That Myra Shackley Was Right???

This is perhaps something that is well known "out there" in electronic-land, but it just became known to me, so I'll share. I was for years a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS] and received the magazine SCIENCE as part of that. Upon retirement, I dropped all this, due to rather expensive dues. Once in a while the AAAS tries to get me to come back by sending me a free copy. Thus, the other day the "fateful" magazine arrived. And within was an article that rang bells. In fact, it came very close to being [for me] solid scientific evidence for the claim by the lady above that there are/were wild-living non-Homo Sapiens sapiens living in modern times in the central regions of Asia. My goodness!! What is science coming to??

The article was about the various researches that Russian scientists are doing trying to determine the DNA sequences of extinct species, such as the Mammoth and the Neanderthal. And, excitingly, they are making huge strides doing so. The focus of the current research has often been a cave in south-central Siberia, named Denisova--- after, I believe an old Christian saint who spent a lot of time in retreat there. It's general location is marked above.

It wasn't just St. Denis that spent a lot of time in the cave. It was home, or something-or-other, to Neanderthals and other "things" as well. This is not surprising in one sense, as it is a handy rock-shelter alongside a water source in the foothills of the Altai Mountains. Even tourists can get there easily, as is shown in the picture above.

Scientists have gone there for a different reason: Neanderthal remains. Many such items have been found, such as the teeth on the left [one of which {the molar} is Neanderthal]. As they have sifted through the debris of hundreds of centuries, they have come across not only date-able remnants, but some rare "fossils" which appear to have organic tissue associated with them. Given the almost impossible power of today's micro-analysis to purify and sequence the nucleic acids of [usually] mitochondrial DNA, the sequence-masters have descended upon Denisova.

One of the high-quality specimens found was a digitus auricularis, a "little" or "pinkie" finger. As it appeared to have tissue, it was sequenced. The results VERY much surprised the biochemists. This "artifact" did not belong to a Homo Sapiens sapiens but it didn't belong to a Homo Sapiens neandertalensis [or however it's spelled...I used to know once, long ago], but rather to a completely new human-like species !!! [I'm not big on exclamation points, but I think that deserves at least three]. When they placed their results on the human evolutionary tree, they fell to the "otherside" of the Neanderthals from us.
The New York Times published a simplified chart showing the relative relationship with, well, our "relatives" . Hmmmm. A group of non-humans living in the Altai Mountains at least as late as 30,000 years ago. That's when the bells tolled, and I remembered Myra Shackley.

This is an old clipping, but notice the subtitle: she has climbed mountains and crossed deserts trying to solve a 30,000 year old mystery. And the Mystery?? Dr. Shackley collected anthropological evidence and interviews from people in Central Asia which seemed to indicate that the survival of "extinct" Neanderthals, or something quite like them, was true in the Central Asian region. She also argued a strong "feasibility" case of how this could be true. Of course she was roundly laughed at, just like all the rest of us are who dare to study forbidden topics. But she just might have the last laugh.
I've borrowed another map and placed the location of Desinova Cave on it relative to the Altai Mountains, which have been a consistent favorite lurking area for Almas and other cryptobeasts of such nature. The juxtaposition is, for me, a bit too much to ignore. Right there, on the edge of those mountains, a group of non-human homonids lived at least as early as 30,000 years ago. One of them was so kind as to have left a finger behind [had it been a digitus profanis, I would swear that it was left specifically for the scientists----alas, we don't live in a perfect world]. 30,000 years is a blink of an eye from modern times. 30,000 years is a walk in the park for a species to survive, and hide from the weirdoes that scare it, and maintain. And in those 30,000 years, now and then, we see one of them. Dr. Shackley: Kudos!! As an aside: there is even some evidence that some of these critters had red hair [no Irish Jokes!; I'm Irish].

And if she is right. What does that mean for our other wildmen living in the mountains? What especially about our European Red-headed Wudewasa? Do they still wait just around the corner, or at least did they not long ago? Fee Fi Foe Fum.....


  1. Very Nice Professor!

    The middle finger joke was classic.

    "As an aside: there is even some evidence that some of these critters had red hair [no Irish Jokes!; I'm Irish]."

    Red Hair...Essau? hmmmm ;)

  2. Yeh, I couldn't help the digital reference. Now that I'm formally on the wrong side of 70, I'm getting a little carefree with my scholarship.

  3. Dear Professor,

    I've always had a suspicion that Dr Shackley was on the right track regarding the Almas but classified them as the wrong species (not surprising given the anthropological knowledge available at the time). Neandertals had material culture and fire, the Almas don't. It seems to me that perhaps the Almas are a relict population of h. erectus.

    Interesting stuff!

    - Steve Muise

  4. I'm confused about the headline. Finding a piece of a bone of a very close relative (twice the difference in DNA as between modern human and neanderthal) that is tens of thousands of years old in no way confirms the existence of something that would be far more different from homo sapiens and alive today. It doesn't even suggest it. This is like finding a tooth of an extinct horse within a few hundred miles of where some ancient greek thought unicorns used to live.

    We need to add another branch to the family tree and understand that human evolution is more complex than we thought and there appear to be more dead ends than expected. That has nothing to do with the idea that giant hairy ape-men are still running around today. To touch on what Mr. Muise brought up, I believe that found along with the bones was what was described as "a bracelet" among other artifacts including tools. Again, this relative bears no relation to the postulated almas, which remain without any fossil evidence for their existence, nor any discernable link to the human family tree. I'm going to say what I said to Mr. Coleman when this story first broke: "Cryptozoology can draw inspiration from this find as a firm reminder that human origins are far from settled, but I believe it needs to avoid doing victory laps with the pinky bone held high or else it could backfire."

  5. To jgm: you're welcome to your opinions. Myra Shackley thought that there might be some form of non-human homonid existing in the Altai region in recent times. The scientists just determined that there was such a homonid existing there in geologically recent times [30,000 years ago--firm data]. This makes her hypothesis a worthy one, i.e. that such individuals might still exist or have existed later enough to have been seen by "modern" humans. If you can't credit any part of what I've just typed, then I can't help you.

    As for "victory laps", the title of this post contains a question mark---three of them in fact. The last sentence of the penultimate paragraph contains the past tense. The difference between what was found and what must still be found to PROVE the current existence of a crypto-claim is clearly indicated by the language. This post is to indicate that the recent discovery makes her hypothesis that much more respectable NOT that it puts it into the textbooks.

    I'd ask you to pick your words more carefully when talking to different individuals. The last time I noticed my name was not Loren Coleman. If you want to comment here in a more moderate style you are welcome. Your last two sentences in paragraph one are mocking the post and thereby mocking me. This blog is my personal blog and I insist on civilized communications. Contrary viewpoints are welcome, but I expect them to be delivered with grace and humility. This, as they say, is my home, not yours. You are not dealing with a biased fanatic here. Whether Almas exists or not has no bearing on my lifepath.

  6. To jgm,

    What the pinkie bone indicates is the presence of another hominid in that area 30K years ago. If the Almas DO exist they wouldn't be recent arrivals, ergo the Denisova discovery is relevant to the question. Additionally, if I remember correctly (I'm a computer scientist, not an anthropologist) the cultural artifacts found at the site were from a different date than the bones in question.

    Is this firm proof of Shackely's work? No. Is it intriguing? Yes.

    I would separate Almas from Sasquatch/Bigfoot; from the witness descriptions it's clear (to me, anyway) that we're dealing with two distinct species with two distinct sets of behaviors.

    - Steve Muise

  7. Hello, Prof.

    Interesting article. It appears to me that the 'human tree' is more akin to the 'human bush.' Like the saying goes: 'You can't pick your relatives.'

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Folks, I deleted a post of irrelevancy. You who have been reading this blog know that I prefer to have posts and comments which offer some substance, even if it's just a question, and don't like triviality which borders on an ego-trip, like we see so often in this media.

  10. Dear Professor, what is your opinion of Myra Shackley's tool finds in their own right. How open to different interpretation (age/nature) are they. Were they perhaps rejected out of hand because they suggested the unthinkable? Chris Steer.

  11. (addition)....rather than being judged as they stood.

  12. I wish that I could help on this question but I can't. As regular readers of the blog know, a]. I'm primarily a UFOlogist; and b]. I am mainly in Wheeling WV helping care for my 94-year-old mother, and consequently don't have my library with me [which would include Shackley's book, and her specific claims on items like you mention]. I have interests in most-things-cryptozoological [and have published some of my own stuff elsewhere and here on the blog] but "new requests" to me in that field require some real serious scholarship time which I rarely have anymore. That's why I limited my comments in this post to a simple framing of her larger theory with the new palaeontological information.

  13. Dear Professor, thank you very much for your answer. I will have a root around myself. I wish your mother and yourself all the best. Chris Steer.

  14. When I first heard about the discovery of Denisovan Man, and the region in which the remains were found, I immediately thought of the Almas. I too agree that the recent discoveries in the Altai Mountains as well as the discoveries on Florence Island (combined with the local "myths" about "little people") provide considerable evidence that relic populations of non-human hominids survived at the very least into recent centuries - and may still be alive today. The stuffy dogmatism of academia always wants to pooh pooh such "radical" theories, yet the discoveries continue. Seven years ago the idea that fossil remains of non-human hominids living alongside Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens would ever be found would have been considered absurd by many. Yet here we are, and the possible reality of the Almas, the Oran Padek, Yeti, Sasquatch and perhaps other "mythological" species are gaining in plausibility. Thanks for contributing your input on this highly fascinating matter.



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