Denisovan Origins: Hybrid Humans, Göbekli Tepe, and the Gensis of the Giants of Ancient America
Paperback: 432 pages
Authors: Andrew Collins & Gregory Little
Publisher: Bear & Company ISBN: 1591432634
Price: $21.60 USD
As a disclaimer, I recently received a review copy of Denisovan Origins and I also used one of my Audible credits for the audio version, which is supposed to be “unabridged.” So I’m reviewing both the print and the audio versions.
For the print version, I found that the cover gives the impression that this is a novel rather than a work of non-fiction. Although, the “feathered cape” individual holding what is undoubtedly a spear with a Solutrean point is in keeping with the narrative within. I was also pleased to find adequate notes and bibliography sections.
For about 1/3 of the book, I read it at 1.5 x normal speed with the Audible version while following along the text. The other 2/3 of my reading was split equally with just the book or just the Audible (while driving). My only real complaint about the Audible version is that it seems to cost nearly as much as the print version (regular price is $21.60 on Amazon, but it can be found for about $16 if you look around), but includes no footnotes, bibliography, or index, which are necessary in a text making claims of the sort found in Denisovan Origins. Making these sections available as downloadable supplements for the Audible version seems a logical choice. The narration in the audio version is also very well done and it’s obvious great care went into ensuring pronunciations were correct.
The thesis of the book is that the Americas were populated by the Solutrean culture, who were Denisovans, alongside Native Americans. Little makes every attempt to poison the well against skeptics who he predicts will point out the racism in their book. He claims that the authors aren’t trying to assign race to the Solutreans at all. If anything, they insist, the Solutreans are Asian in origin. Yet they arrive in North America’s northeast by boat rather than via Beringia.
Little tries to turn the race charge on its head in tu quoque fashion by accusing skeptics of being the racists since they can’t accept that giants once existed among them. Yes, there are giants in Denisovan Origins, though Collins and Little have largely toned this down to just really tall people.
found the whole “I’m not a racist but the skeptics are”
argument in the second half of the book to be just what it looked
like: Little trying to cover for the tone Collins set in the first
half. Here’s an example: Collins provides a detailed explanation of
the cephalic index in chapter 11. Then, he rightly notes that
“is important, however, to point out that the use of the cephalic index to help determine the nature and type of a human skull is no longer considered meaningful, relevant, or even ethically acceptable within the anthropological community; all skulls of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) are categorized today, simply, as regional variations of a common type that emerged out of Africa with our earliest ancestors” (pp. 104-5).
Then nearly for the full remainder of Part 1, Collins continues to refer to the cephalic index of the skulls of remains found throughout Europe. In fact, nearly every time Collins referred to hominid skeletal remains, there was a an anachronistic feel to the narrative (it might not be surprising that, after controlling for non-academic and purely pseudoscientific entries, nearly a full third of the book’s bibliography is dedicated to sources more than 50 years old).
For the reader unfamiliar with modern archaeological methods, recent discoveries in hominid remains, ancient DNA, and evidence of population migrations, Denisovan Origins will come across as a fascinating read by two authors who make no attempt to talk down to the reader. Admittedly, they do a fair job of conveying the narrative. It just happens that the overall narrative is a mixed bag of reality and speculation that ranges from reasonable to so extreme it’s utterly pseudoscientific.
I will say the writing styles between Parts 1 and 2 are noticeable. In Part 1, Collins lacks imagination and creative control. Words and phrases are repeated ad nauseam. The most over-used word is probably “indeed.” The most over-used phrase is probably “very clearly.” The most misused phrase has to be “very likely.” In Part 2, Little comes across angry and bitter toward the so-called “mainstream” that has refused to accept him in spite of his best efforts and to those big-bad skeptics that are always critiquing those efforts.
I purposely avoided going into a point-by-point “debunking” of the things I saw as wrong, exaggerated, misinterpreted, underrepresented, and/or pseudoscientific. But they include assumptions they’re making about genetics, site chronologies, the nature of what is considered scientific evidence (hint: myth and anecdote ain’t it), and so on.