He was just seven-and-a-half when he died some 49,000 years ago, an otherwise healthy Neanderthal boy whose cause of death remains a mystery. An analysis of his well-preserved skeleton is providing new insights into how these extinct humans developed and matured, revealing an extended period of growth in certain aspects compared to modern humans.
Tagged With anthropology
The number zero is something we all take for granted, yet its conceptual origin has eluded archaeologists and historians. An updated analysis of an ancient Indian manuscript is shedding new light on this longstanding mystery, showing that the symbol that would eventually evolve into the number zero emerged at least 500 years earlier than previously thought.
Stories and poems from the Medieval era contain accounts of fearsome female Viking warriors, yet historians and anthropologists have argued that such accounts are based in myth. A DNA analysis of a 10th century skeleton found in an iconic Swedish Viking Age grave suggests there's some truth to these old tales — and that women stood alongside men on the battlefield.
Over a hundred thousand years ago, Neanderthals used tar to bind objects together, yet scientists have struggled to understand how these ancient humans, with their limited knowledge and resources, were able to produce this sticky substance. A new experiment reveals the likely technique used by Neanderthals, and how they converted tree bark into an ancient form of glue.
Fossils of ancient apes are even rarer than those of ancient humans, so very little is known about these important evolutionary missing links. The unexpected discovery of a 13 million-year-old infant ape skull in Kenya is offering a tantalising glimpse of a new species that lived well before humans and apes embarked upon their very different evolutionary paths.
Ötzi the Iceman — our favourite Copper Age corpsicle — is the gift that keeps on giving. A recent analysis of the metal found in the Neolithic hunter's copper axe suggests a point of origin in Southern Tuscany, which is far from where Ötzi's frozen body was found. This suggests a long-distance trade route might have existed between central Italy and the Alps some 5300 years ago.
Thousands of years ago, indigenous people living in the California Channel Islands relied on a manufacturing process that exposed them to dangerous chemicals which likely compromised their health. The discovery shows that toxic substances of our own making have been around for a lot longer than we realised.
The remains of five early Homo sapiens have been unearthed at a site in northwest Africa. At around 300,000 years old, the fossils are a whopping 100,000 years older than the previous record, pushing back the origin of our species by a significant margin. And because the fossils were uncovered in Morocco — far from the supposed origin point of our species — the discovery is also resetting our notions of where and how modern humans evolved.
In what sounds like a clichéd horror movie premise, a recent investigation suggests as many as 7000 bodies are buried across 20 acres at the Mississippi Medical Center Campus — the former site of the state's first mental institution. Officials at the university now face the grim task of pulling 100-year-old bodies out of the ground for scientific analysis.
The common house mouse is one of the most recognisable creatures on the planet, yet we know surprisingly little about the origins of this crafty rodent. New research shows that house mice first entered human settlements far earlier than previously thought — but they had to fight a rival species to maintain their status as one of humanity's most reviled pests.
Ötzi the Iceman, the world's favourite prehistoric mummy, has been subjected to every scientific test imaginable since his remains were discovered poking out of a glacier high in the Italian Alps in 1991. Now, a team of Italian researchers has reconstructed Ötzi's vocal cords and used it to reproduce what his voice may have sounded like.
Centuries before the Black Death decimated the population of Western Europe, an earlier plague epidemic took out over 50 million people (about 15 per cent of the population) in the Byzantine empire. A team of German scientists has confirmed that the two plagues were caused by the same bacterium, albeit genetically different strains.
It's a veritable certainty that North America's first people arrived via the Bering Land Bridge, but less certainty exists about how and where they migrated from there. For years, scientists thought they had travelled along an ice-free corridor in western Canada, but new research suggests that this was impossible.