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.
Fossils belonging to a previously unknown species of human relative have been discovered in a cave system northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, an international team of scientists announced Thursday.