OK so this isn’t about Homo Erectus, but instead about a much later hominin; Homo denisovia. But this article shows just how long a fact-made-legend can stick around. In my ancient-historical fiction novel (still in the works of course) Ancestors of Man, my Homo erectus characters have legends of when they lived in trees, and how the trees provided everything for them. I’ve been worried that this would seem too far fetched because we are talking about a LOOOOONG time between when Australopithecines (think the Lucy skeleton) walked around with curved fingers made for tree climbing, and H. erectus started having trouble with the climate in Africa. This article points to a group of Denisovans or proto Denisovans who lived in Qesem Cave Israel, who seemed to be worshiping a Swan, or the swan had some important symbolism in their religion.
So whats a swan have to do with my legends? Well, luckily we have the DNA of two groups of Denisovans and have traced our inner breeding with them. The Siberian Denisovan DNA is seen in Siberia, the Tibetan Plateau, Mongolia, northern China and East Asia, who have a very interesting set of origin stories. “Swan shamanism but also the concept of swan ancestry (tribes and clans claiming descent from a swan maiden, a genetrix in the form of a swan) developed among so many indigenous tribes and clans in former strongholds of Siberian Denisovans, most obviously Siberia, Mongolia, Tibet, and North Asia as a whole.” So here is a set of legends about when these Denisovans who worshiped a swan inner breed with the H. sapiens in these regions about 420,000 years ago!!!!
So maybe my tribe holding onto these origin-stories-made-religion isn’t far fetched, especially when you take into account all the odd bones we keep finding that might be throwbacks, or maybe just hangers-on, well into H. erectus and even H. sapien times. We occasionally see odd throwbacks in our own species. Like vestigial tails, supernumerary nipples (I had to look that one up), and oddly enough color blindness! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atavism So my Priestess of the Trees who has more curved fingers than the others in her tribe and keeps the Legends of the Trees alive and well isn’t so crazy.