Tagged With early humans

In the 1980s, scientists learned that all humans living today are descended from a woman, dubbed “Mitochondrial Eve”, who lived in Africa between 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. This discovery, along with other evidence, suggested humans evolved from a single ancestral population — an interpretation that is not standing the test of time. The story of human evolution, as the latest research suggests, is more complicated than that.

As the last Ice Age was coming to an end, and as the first settlers arrived in North America, two distinct populations emerged. One of these groups would eventually go on to settle South America, but as new genetic evidence shows, these two ancestral groups - after being separated for thousands of years - had an unexpected reunion. The finding is changing our conceptions of how the southern continent was colonised and by whom.

The first people to cross into North America from Eurasia did so by travelling through the Bering Strait, or so the theory goes. A new theory has emerged proposing a coastal route into the continent, but evidence has been lacking. A recent analysis of boulders, bedrock, and fossils in Alaska is now providing a clearer picture, pointing to the emergence of a coastal route some 17,000 years ago.

Using computers and MRI scans, researchers have created the most detailed reconstruction of a Neanderthal brain to date, offering new insights into the social and cognitive abilities of these extinct humans. But as to whether these characteristics were responsible for their ultimate demise remains an open question.

Christopher Columbus reached the New World in 1492, but some experts say Polynesian explorers beat him to it. There's little evidence to support this fringe theory, but scientists have pointed to the presence of sweet potatoes, a plant thought to be native to the Americas, in the South Pacific as potential proof. A genetic analysis of the popular tuberous root and its relatives has now effectively quashed this hypothesis.

It's just a lone, bony middle finger, but the scientists who found it say it's the oldest directly dated fossil of our species to ever be found outside of Africa and the Levant, a region that today comprises Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. But the new discovery is not without its critics, who say older evidence of human habitation outside of this region exists elsewhere, and that the finger might not even be human.

Back in 2012, archaeologists concluded that a series of cave paintings in Spain were created by Neanderthals, not early humans as was previously assumed. Critics complained about the dating method used, and more contentiously, claimed that only modern humans had the capacity for symbolic thought. Now, using an updated dating technique, scientists have shown yet again that Neanderthals are the most likely source of the paintings -- but will it be enough to finally dispel outdated notions of Neanderthal intelligence?

A DNA sample from a 10,000-year-old skeleton discovered in Gough Cave near Cheddar Gorge, England, offers a remarkable revelation: The first modern British people had "dark brown to black skin". According to recent analysis, they also had dark curly hair and blue eyes. In other words, whiteness in Europe is a much newer thing than we thought.

A re-analysis of a 50,000-year-old Neanderthal skull shows that, in addition to enduring multiple injuries and debilitations, this male individual was also profoundly deaf. Yet he lived well into his 40s, which is quite old by Paleolithic standards. It's an achievement that could have only been possible with the help of others, according to new research.

Archaeologists have discovered a treasure trove of ancient stone tools at a dig near Azraq, Jordan, some of which still contain traces of animal residue. A number of food items on this bona fide paleolithic menu will be familiar to the modern eater, while others, well, not so much.