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Revising the story of the dispersal of modern humans across Eurasia
Most people are now familiar with the traditional 'Out of Africa' model: modern humans evolved in Africa and then dispersed across Asia and reached Australia in a single wave about 60,000 years ago. However, technological advances in DNA analysis and other fossil identification techniques, as well as an emphasis on multidisciplinary research, are revising this story. Recent discoveries show that humans left Africa multiple times prior to 60,000 years ago, and that they interbred with other hominins in many locations across Eurasia. (2017-12-07)

The fate of Neanderthal genes
The Neanderthals disappeared about 30,000 years ago, but little pieces of them live on in the form of DNA sequences scattered through the modern human genome. A new study by geneticists at UC Davis, shows why these traces of our closest relatives are slowly being removed by natural selection. (2016-11-08)

What teeth reveal about the lives of modern humans
When anthropologists of the future find our fossilized teeth, what will they be able to conclude about our lives? Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg has an idea. (2017-01-09)

Neanderthals' lack of drawing ability may relate to hunting techniques
Visual imagery used in drawing regulates arm movements in manner similar to how hunters visualize the arc of a spear. (2018-02-08)

Britain's last Neanderthals were more sophisticated than we thought
An archaeological excavation at a site near Pulborough, West Sussex, has thrown remarkable new light on the life of northern Europe's last Neanderthals. It provides a snapshot of a thriving, developing population -- rather than communities on the verge of extinction. (2008-06-23)

Germany was covered by glaciers 450,000 years ago
Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have obtained new chronological data for the timing of the Elsterian and Saalian glacial cycles in central Germany. They found that the first Quaternary glaciation, which covered huge parts of Europe in ice, occurred as early as 450,000 years ago and not - as previously thought - around 350,000 years ago. The researcher further showed that once these glaciers had retreated, the first people appeared in central Germany around 400,000 years ago. (2018-03-23)

Remains of earliest modern human outside of Africa unearthed in Israel
A jawbone complete with teeth recently discovered at Israel's Misliya cave by Tel Aviv University and University of Haifa researchers has now been dated to 177,000-194,000 years ago. The finding indicates that modern humans were present in the Levant at least 50,000 years earlier than previously thought. (2018-01-25)

NYITCOM at A-State professor lends anatomy expertise to solve ancient mystery
Scientists have long wondered why the physical traits of Neanderthals, the ancestors of modern humans, differ greatly from today's man. Now, a research team led by a professor at the University of New England in Australia, with the aid of an anatomy and fluid dynamics expert at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University (NYITCOM at A-State), may have the answer. (2018-04-18)

Compassion helped Neanderthals to survive, new study reveals
They have an unwarranted image as brutish and uncaring, but new research has revealed just how knowledgeable and effective Neanderthal healthcare was. (2018-03-13)

First human migration out of Africa more geographically widespread than previously thought
A project led by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has discovered a fossilized finger bone of an early modern human in the Nefud Desert of Saudi Arabia, dating to approximately 90,000 years ago. The discovery, described in Nature Ecology and Evolution, is the oldest directly dated Homo sapiens fossil outside of Africa and the Levant and indicates that early dispersals into Eurasia were more expansive than previously thought. (2018-04-09)

Human evolution was uneven and punctuated, suggests new research
Neanderthals survived at least 3,000 years longer than we thought in Southern Iberia -- what is now Spain -- long after they had died out everywhere else, according to new research published in Heliyon. (2017-11-16)

A star disturbed the comets of the solar system in prehistory
About 70,000 years ago, when the human species was already on Earth, a small reddish star approached our solar system and gravitationally disturbed comets and asteroids. Astronomers from the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Cambridge have verified that the movement of some of these objects is still marked by that stellar encounter. (2018-03-20)

South African cave yields yet more fossils of a newfound relative
Probing deeper into the South African cave system known as Rising Star, which last year yielded the largest cache of hominin fossils known to science, an international team of researchers has discovered another chamber with more remains of a newfound human relative, Homo naledi. The discovery of the new fossils representing the remains of at least 3 juvenile and adult specimens includes a 'wonderfully complete skull,' says University of Wisconsin-Madison anthropologist John Hawks. (2017-05-09)

Ancient DNA analysis adds chapter to the story of neanderthal migrations
After managing to obtain DNA from two 120,000-year-old European Neandertals, researchers report that these specimens are more genetically similar to Neandertals that lived in Europe 80,000 year later than they are to a Neandertal of similar age found in Siberia. The findings, which reveal a stable, 80,000-year ancestry for European Neandertals, also suggest that this group may have migrated east and replaced some Siberian Neandertal populations. (2019-06-26)

Study reveals human body has gone through four stages of evolution
Research into 430,000-year-old fossils collected in northern Spain found that the evolution of the human body's size and shape has gone through four main stages, according to a paper published this week. (2015-08-31)

Neanderthals thought like we do
Using Uranium-Thorium dating an international team of researchers co-directed by Dirk Hoffmann of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, demonstrates that more than 115,000 years ago Neanderthals produced symbolic objects, and that they created cave art more than 20,000 years before modern humans first arrived in Europe. The researchers conclude that our cousins' cognitive abilities were equivalent to our own. (2018-02-22)

Prehistoric humans are likely to have formed mating networks to avoid inbreeding
The study, reported in the journal Science, examined genetic information from the remains of anatomically modern humans who lived during the Upper Palaeolithic, a period when modern humans from Africa first colonised western Eurasia. The results suggest that people deliberately sought partners beyond their immediate family, and that they were probably connected to a wider network of groups from within which mates were chosen, in order to avoid becoming inbred. (2017-10-05)

Prehistoric cave art reveals ancient use of complex astronomy
As far back as 40,000 years ago, humans kept track of time using relatively sophisticated knowledge of the stars (2018-11-27)

Cave art and painted shells suggest neanderthals were artists, understood symbolism
Neanderthals were artists, according to a new study in Science, which reveals that the oldest cave art found in Europe predates early modern humans by at least 20,000 years, and so must have had Neanderthal origin. (2018-02-22)

Evolution purged many Neanderthal genes from human genome
Neanderthal genetic material is found in only small amounts in the genomes of modern humans because, after interbreeding, natural selection removed large numbers of weakly deleterious Neanderthal gene variants, according to a study by Ivan Juric and colleagues at the University of California, Davis, published Nov. 8, 2016, in PLOS Genetics. (2016-11-08)

Neanderthal hunting spears could kill at a distance
Neanderthals have been imagined as the inferior cousins of modern humans, but a new study by archaeologists at UCL reveals for the first time that they produced weaponry advanced enough to kill at a distance. (2019-01-25)

Neanderthals were artistic like modern humans, study indicates
Scientists have found the first major evidence that Neanderthals, rather than modern humans, created the world's oldest known cave paintings -- suggesting they may have had an artistic sense similar to our own. (2018-02-22)

Mummies, skulls and bones shed light on human evolution
Ancient mummies, skulls and bones galore -- Indiana Jones himself would learn a thing or two at the American Association of Anatomists' Annual Meeting beginning April 24. (2010-04-27)

Neanderthals at El Sidrón ate a diet of wild mushrooms, pine nuts and moss
The studies of Neanderthal fossil remains found at dig sites across Europe continue to provide information about their lifestyles. In the last few years, genome analysis of their fossilised remains has provided a large amount of information about these individuals. The latest study, published in Nature magazine provides information about the diet of the Neanderthals who inhabited the El Sidrón site in Asturias, northern Spain. (2017-03-08)

Engraved Crimean stone artifact may demonstrate Neanderthal symbolism
A flint flake from the Middle Paleolithic of Crimea was likely engraved symbolically by a skilled Neanderthal hand, according to a study published May 2, 2018, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Ana Majkic from the University of Bordeaux, France and colleagues. The authors developed a detailed framework for interpreting engravings on stone artifacts. (2018-05-02)

Discovery adds rock collecting to Neanderthal's repertoire
An international group that includes a University of Kansas researcher has discovered a brownish piece of split limestone in a site in Croatia that suggests Neanderthals 130,000 years ago collected the rock that stands out among all other items in the cave. (2017-01-17)

A bastard seal from the past reveals the potential for human hybrids
If discovered as fossils, grey and ringed seals are so different that they could be classified as belonging to different families. Yet, a seal pup born in 1929 was found to be an almost perfect intermediate between the species. Compared to Neanderthals and modern humans, grey and ringed seals are genetically and dentally at least twice as different, suggesting that there may be more fossil human hybrids to be discovered. (2018-11-30)

Genetic variation in progesterone receptor tied to prematurity risk, study finds
Humans have unexpectedly high genetic variation in the receptor for a key pregnancy-maintaining hormone, according to research led by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The finding may help explain why some populations of pregnant women have an elevated risk of premature birth. (2018-06-21)

Archaeologists rediscover the lost home of the last Neanderthals
A record of Neanderthal archaeology, thought to be long lost, has been re-discovered by NERC-funded scientists working in the Channel island of Jersey. (2013-10-17)

Researchers look for dawn of human information sharing
Researchers are challenging a widely accepted notion, first advanced by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey, that a 2 million-year-old rock represents the dawn of human ancestors sharing information with each other. (2017-11-01)

Predicting human evolution: Teeth tell the story
New research shows that the evolution of human teeth is much simpler than previously thought, and that we can predict the sizes of teeth missing from human and hominin fossils. The findings will be useful in interpreting new hominin fossil finds, and looking at the drivers of human evolution. As well as shedding new light on our evolutionary past, the findings will provide clues about how we may evolve into the future. (2016-02-24)

Laziness helped lead to extinction of Homo erectus
New archaeological research from The Australian National University has found that Homo erectus, an extinct species of primitive humans, went extinct in part because they were 'lazy'. (2018-08-10)

Neanderthal DNA contributes to human gene expression
The last Neanderthal died 40,000 years ago, but much of their genome lives on, in bits and pieces, through modern humans. The impact of Neanderthals' genetic contribution has been uncertain. In Cell, researchers report evidence that Neanderthal DNA sequences still influence how genes are turned on or off in modern humans. Neanderthal genes' effects on gene expression likely contribute to traits such as height and susceptibility to schizophrenia or lupus, the researchers found. (2017-02-23)

Neanderthals mated with modern humans much earlier than previously thought, study finds
Researchers publish in Nature strong evidence of an interbreeding event between Neanderthals and modern humans occurring ~100,000 years ago, much earlier than any previously documented. The evidence suggests early modern humans left Africa and mixed with now-extinct members of the human family, before the migration 'out of Africa' ~ 65,000 years ago. It is also evidence of breeding in the 'opposite' direction from that already known, that is, modern human DNA in a Neanderthal genome. (2016-02-17)

Analysis of Neanderthal teeth grooves uncovers evidence of prehistoric dentistry
A discovery of multiple toothpick grooves on teeth and signs of other manipulations by a Neanderthal of 130,000 years ago are evidence of a kind of prehistoric dentistry, according to a new study led by a University of Kansas researcher. (2017-06-28)

A decorated raven bone discovered in Crimea may provide insight into Neanderthal cognition
The cognitive abilities of Neanderthals are debated, but a raven bone fragment found at the Zaskalnaya VI (ZSK) site in Crimea features two notches that may have been made by Neanderthals intentionally to display a visually consistent pattern, according to a study by Ana Majkic at the Universite de Bordeaux and colleagues, published in the open access journal, PLOS ONE on March 29, 2017. (2017-03-29)

Arctic Inuit, Native American cold adaptations may originate from extinct hominids
In the Arctic, the Inuits have adapted to severe cold and a predominantly seafood diet. Now, a team of scientists led by Fernando Racimo, Rasmus Nielsen et al. have followed up on the first natural selection study in Inuits to trace back the origins of these adaptations. The results provide convincing evidence that the Inuit variant of the TBX15/WARS2 region first came into modern humans from an archaic hominid population, likely related to the Denisovans. (2016-12-20)

Neanderthal healthcare practices crucial to survival
Researchers investigated the skeletal remains of more than 30 individuals where minor and serious injuries were evident, but did not lead to loss of life. The samples displayed several episodes of injury and recovery, suggesting that Neanderthals must have had a well-developed system of care in order to survive. (2018-10-04)

Over 800 new genome regions possibly relevant to human evolution identified
Researchers at the UAB have found genetic evidence of adaptations in 2,859 regions of the human genome, including some well-known examples such as those responsible for milk tolerance or high-altitude adaptation. The data is part of the PopHumanScan project, an exhaustive catalog of regions that show evidence of natural selection in the human genome. (2019-02-04)

Neanderthals walked upright just like the humans of today
Neanderthals are often depicted as having straight spines and poor posture. However, these prehistoric humans were more similar to us than many assume. University of Zurich researchers have shown that Neanderthals walked upright just like modern humans -- thanks to a virtual reconstruction of the pelvis and spine of a very well-preserved Neanderthal skeleton found in France. (2019-02-25)

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