Browsing: Palaeoanthropology

German archaeologists digging in the former riverbed of the Rhine have discovered fossil teeth which suggest our earliest human ancestors lived in Europe, not Africa. The 9.7-million-year-old fossils resemble those of hominin species only known to have appeared in Africa several million years later. The closest match to the teeth are associated with skeletons of Australopithecus afarensis (such as the famous skeleton of ‘Lucy’) and Ardipithecus ramidus (Ardi) – both species lived in East Africa around 4 to 5 million years ago. The new fossils, uncovered close to the town of Eppelsheim, predate fossils of hominins such as Lucy and…

A new paper published by Professor Úlfur Árnason, a neuroscientist at the University of Lund in Sweden, places the last common ancestor of Homo sapiens sapiens and Neanderthals somewhere in Eurasia. Árnason argues that the ancestors of the African KhoeSan and Mbuti populations formed the first exodus of Homo sapiens sapiens into Africa from Asia and Europe. It is commonly held that the original members of the Homo sapiens species, lived somewhere in Africa and that Homo sapiens sapiens emerged first on the same continent. The majority of scientists believe that only the exact dating of the emergence of our…

With the rise of permaculture farming practices based on ancient tribal wisdom, we have come to understand that jungles and rain forests can be extremely productive when managed effectively. Recent studies have indicated that our distant ancestors in Southeast Asia may have been well adapted to living from tropical environments 70,000 years ago – perhaps even 140,000 years ago. Early modern humans were incredibly adaptive, successfully colonising environments as diverse in their makeup as low-oxygen mountain plateaus, vast arid plains, ice covered coastlines and tropical forests. Humans are unlike other animals that enter new environments, rather than being limited to…

Ancient teeth from a Sumatran archaeological site have pushed back the colonisation of Southeast Asia by up to 20,000 years. The location of the cave site strongly suggests that the local human population was already well adapted to living in dense jungle environments by this period. In 2009, paleoanthropologists uncovered a partial skull, jaw fragments and teeth at the Tam Pa Ling cave site in Laos. The fossils were subsequently identified as Homo sapiens and dated to between 46,000 and 63,000 years ago. This material represented the earliest evidence of modern humans in mainland Southeast Asia. That is, until now.…

New DNA data has overturned the understanding that modern humans and Neanderthals diverged a little over 550,000 years ago. It is now apparent that Neanderthals and Denisovans diverged from their shared ancestor close to 744,000 years ago, only 300 generations after splitting from the line ancestral to modern humans. The size of the global Neanderthal population has also been recalculated, shifting from perhaps 1000 to tens of thousands. [This article explores the conclusions reached in a new study, and offers the opinion of this writer as to the possible interpretations of some of the associated scientific findings]. A team of…

Stanford Scientists have discovered that as humans migrated into regions with a colder climate, a single-letter DNA switch, from a G to an A, helped humans tolerate frigid temperatures. A deeper analysis of the Stanford University research data suggests that this happened first in Australasia – not during an Out of Africa migration as claimed by the researchers. [This article explores the conclusions reached in a new study, and offers the opinion of this writer as to the possible interpretations of some of the associated scientific findings]. In a paper published on July 3rd in the journal Nature Genetics, Terence…

A Protein Found in the Saliva Samples of Sub-Saharan Africans Offers Evidence that Strongly Contradicts the ‘Out of Africa’ Theory for Human Origins. Scientists from the University of Buffalo stumbled on the genetic marker for an unknown African interbreeding event while researching the evolution of an important mucin protein called MUC7. [This article explores the conclusions reached in a new study, and offers the opinion of this writer as to the possible interpretations of some of the associated scientific findings]. Sub-Saharan Africa has long been considered the birth place of humanity. The region’s Khoisan population is heralded as the oldest…

Over 11,000 artefacts in Kakadu national park have been dated to between 65,000 and 80,000 years old, rewriting the consensus understanding of human occupation of Australia [This article explores the conclusions reached in a new study, and offers the opinion of this writer as to the possible interpretations of some of the associated scientific findings]. For the last decade, the debate has raged as to whether modern humans had resided on the Australian continent for 50,000 years or perhaps 60,000 years. The latest results stem from dating procedures carried out on over 11,000 artefacts from the Madjedbebe rock shelter. The…

Neanderthals Interbred with Homo sapiens Very Early – Not in Europe, in Asia Mitochondrial DNA from Hohlenstein-Stadel cave reveals unexpectedly high diversity among Neanderthals in Europe, but even more incredible is the discovery of genes acquired by mating with archaic Homo sapiens sometime between 470,000 and 220,000 years ago. [This article explores the conclusions reached in a new study, and offers the opinion of this writer as to the possible interpretations of some of the associated scientific findings]. It is no secret that early hominins of different shapes and sizes, with very different genetic lineages – even those of different…