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.
Tagged With early humans
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.
Soon after the glaciers melted at the end of the last Ice Age, our planet was vulnerable to abrupt and dramatic shifts in climate, including prolonged cold snaps that lasted for decades. New research suggests early hunter-gatherers living in the British Isles didn't just manage to survive these harsh conditions - they actually thrived.
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yet again that Neanderthals are the most likely source of the paintings -- but will it be enough to finally dispel outdated notions of Neanderthal intelligence?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.
Archaeologists have discovered sophisticated stone tools in India dating back some 385,000 years. That's all sorts of incredible, because Homo sapiens such as you and me didn't leave Africa until about 175,000 years ago. The discovery is resetting what we know about so-called "archaic" humans and the dramatic extent to which they spread out from Africa so very long ago.
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.
A new paper suggests that Neanderthals, unlike humans, never figured out how to make coats to stay warm, and that the absence of this technological innovation contributed to their eventual demise. It's an intriguing theory, but there's more to the story of Neanderthal extinction than the absence of parkas.