Tens of thousands of years ago, Homo sapiens—the modern-day human—roamed the world with at least two archaic human species: the famous Neanderthals and their lesser known cousins, the Denisovans. Untangling the relationship between these groups has been an ongoing challenge for scientists.
For years, archaeologist Huw Groucutt and his team had driven one particular stretch of desert on their way to dig sites in Saudi Arabia. As they drove they caught glimpses of what looked like bones, emerging from the slowly eroding sand. Finally, in 2014, the team decided to explore the array of bones at Al Wusta. Within two years, amidst more than 800 fossilized animal bones and nearly 400 stone artifacts, they discovered something remarkable: the middle digit of a finger bone, from what appeared to be a modern human. Continue reading Rare 85,000-year-old Finger Bone Complicates Our Understanding of African Migration
For decades, scientists have speculated about when exactly the bipedal apes known as Homo sapiens left Africa and moved out to conquer the world. That moment, after all, was a crucial step on the way to today’s human-dominated world. For many years, the consensus view among archaeologists placed the exodus at 60,000 years ago—some 150,000 years after the hominins first appeared.
Researchers in China have uncovered the skeletal remains of an unusually tall group of individuals who lived in China’s Shandong province some 5,000 years ago. With some reaching heights well over six feet, these Neolithic humans were a sign of things to come.
Bones and teeth belonging to the ancestors of the short-statured human lineage known as “the Hobbits” have been discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores. The fossils, which date back 700,000 years, are offering fresh insights into the origin of this mysterious species.
The next time you fight off the flu, you might want to thank your ancestors for flirting with the Neanderthal down the way. According to a pair of new studies, interbreeding between several early human species may have given us a key ingredient in fighting disease.
Peanuts. Bees. Pets. Trees. For most people, these things are harmless parts of everyday life. But for allergy sufferers, plenty of seemingly innocuous items can be unbearably irritating and even lethal. Now scientists have uncovered a possible molecular reason why humans evolved to have allergies, and it could lead to new ways to treat the troublesome condition.