An analysis of butchered animal bones suggests humans had somehow ventured to Madagascar by at least 10,000 years ago, which is 6000 years earlier than previous evidence suggested. This means humans likely played a key role in the extinction of the island’s large animals.
Tagged With early humans
Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest evidence of bread-making at a site in northeastern Jordan. Dating back some 14,400 years, the discovery shows that ancient hunter-gatherers were making and eating bread 4000 years before the Neolithic era and the introduction of agriculture. So much for the “Palaeo Diet” actually being a thing.
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.
Our species, Homo sapiens, weren't the first humans to leave Africa - not by a long shot. The remarkable discovery of a 709,000-year-old butchered rhino fossil in the Philippines shows that so-called archaic humans were romping around the islands of southeast Asia a full 400,000 years before our species even existed.
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.
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.