The tiny bits of middle-late Paleolithic Siberian bone and teeth suggest that the Mousterian culture-bearers of Siberia were more closely related to European Neanderthals than to anatomically modern humans such as Cro-Magnons or early East Asian Sundadonts and Sinodonts (Turner 1983a). Neanderthal teeth are distinctly different ITom those of Cro-Magnons (Bailey and Turner 1999). Admittedly, this proposition is based on very few teeth and a single DNA study based on a bone fragment found in Denisova Cave. Given this dental and genetic evidence, there is a stronger case for early Siberians to have been replaced by anatomically modern humans, such as those found at Mal’ta and Listvenka, than having been their ancestors. We base this opinion on the following considerations. To begin with, stone tool specialists Okladnikov and H. Marie Wormington thought that the Mal’ta stone tools much resembled those found in European Upper Paleolithic sites (Turner 1983c). Mal’ta and Upper Paleolithc sites of Europe such as Kostienki, Mezin, and others, are all situated at ca. 50° N, similar to the latitude of Vanciyverm, and demonstrably liveable Winnipeg, Canada (see Anikovich et al. 2007 for related considerations). A population drift of Central Russian Plain folk to Mal’ta would have followed the environmentally tolerable 50° N latitude.
Teeth, stone tools, and mobile art objects suggest a site intrusion for Mal’ta. These independent lines of evidence, which Irving Rouse (1986) so strongly advocated as being required for proposing an actual migration, are offered as being supportive of Okladnikov’s view of a cultural link between Mal’ta and European Cro-Magnons. Dentally, all known European Upper Paleolithic teeth are similar to each other and those of modern Europeans. The best-known northern Upper Paleolithic example of Eurodonts are the Sunghir teeth (Zoubov 2000) found at a location east of Moscow. Compare the Mal’ta teeth (Figs. 3.82-3.83) with the Sunghir teeth (see Figs. 4.10-4.12). The Mal’ta teeth are very much like those of Sunghir and all European Cro-Magnons (see especially Zoubov in Alexeeva and Bader 2000). Mal’ta, Sunghir, other Cro-Magnons, and modern European teeth are characterized by having little or no maxillary incisor shoveling, reduced lateral maxillary incisor breadth, four-cusped lower second molars, and several other polymorphisms whose expressions are usually in the weaker range. If further study shows these relationships to be the case, then the notion of local evolution of Siberians, as believed by Derevianko, should be rejected. For a detailed discussion of the near-universal dismissal of the local or multi-regional human evolution concept, see Brauer (2007). Genetic evidence likewise favors a single origin for anatomically modern humans (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994, Chen et al. 1995). On the other hand a few workers still favor the multi-regional theory for modern human origins (Clark and Willermet 1997), and the possibility of Neanderthal-anatomically modern human hybridization (Kozintsev 2003). Local evolution, at least in stone tool technology, was championed also by Larichev et al. (1992). More recently, Derevianko (2005:11) has embraced the idea of local evolution. We believe that a theory of local evolution is less parsimonious than one of biocultural replacement, as currently believed for Europe (Stringer and Gamble 1995, Tattersall and Schwartz 2000, Trinkhaus and Svoboda 2005, Turner 1995). This view is not a return to “migrationism”; rather, it is based on the evidence that Rouse requires be present before proposing a migration event. In western Siberia, Bagashev (1998) found craniometric data that suggested prehistoric populations to be intermediate between Europeans and Northeast Asians. In Turner’s 1984 study of the IAE skeletal collections, one western Siberian site in particular, Sopka, showed dental crown and root trait frequencies between those found in Europe and Northeast Asia (Turner forthcoming). Intermediate forms often result from hybridization, although not always if clinal factors are at play. Clines in northern Eurasia are more closely linked to migrations, such as that of the Golden Horde, than to single-factor gradients of natural selection (Turner 1984). More likely clines result fTom genetic drift/founder’s effect, at least in eastern Asia (Turner 1992b).
Recently, Johannes Krause et al. (2007) proposed that a separate Neanderthal-like DNA species they call Denisavans existed in the Altai (see also Bower 2010:6). We agree with these authors that more osteological, dental, and DNA evidence is needed to draw such an unexpected inference. Moreover, and to repeat ourselves, the strong possibility for hyena disturbance in the strata of Denisova Cave makes dating iffy at best. Since there is an off-chance that Homo erectus could have been inhabiting the area near Denisova Cave (the deep Kamara open site a few kilometers down-river), a genetic study is needed to reconstruct the mitochondrial DNA pattern of Northeast Asian Homo erectus if technically possible.
Admittedly, we have drifted from our topic of perimortem taphonomy, but it was necessary to help identify who the late Pleistocene Siberian tool-users were, and to explore the complexity of population history of Ice Age Siberia.