The paper received a tremendous amount of press coverage (see here, here, and here), but given the controversy that now surrounds this research, it’s a wonder the paper, published this past Monday (October 28, 2019) in Nature, managed to pass peer review – at least according to the many experts we spoke to.The complaints we received from scientists were almost too many to mention, the most serious being a weak and inconclusive genetic analysis, the failure to cite and address competing archaeological evidence, sweeping assumptions about one particular group of indigenous southern Africans, and an outdated “colonial” approach to the subject matter.The researchers used this mtDNA to map – at least what is in their opinion – the oldest maternal lineage derived from humans living today.Modern humans found a home in this verdant area, inhabiting the region for 70,000 years, according to the study.But as the climate began to change, some of these humans migrated elsewhere, travelling along the “green corridors” to the northeast and then to the southwest.Research from 2017 showed that Homo sapiens, sometimes referred to as anatomically modern humans, have been around for at least 300,000 years – and possibly even longer – as evidenced by fossils found in northern Africa, specifically the Jebel Irhoud site in Morocco.
New fossil evidence suggests the Neanderthal practice of collecting eagle talons, which were likely worn as jewellery or used to create powerful symbols, was more extensive than previously thought.Remarkably, the dating of these artefacts suggests modern humans might have copied this practice.Evidence presented today in Science Advances bolsters a theory that suggests Neanderthals used eagle talons as symbolic decorations, which they may have worn as necklaces, earrings, or other forms of personal adornment.Evidence of this practice among Neanderthals has been found elsewhere, but the new find – a lone eagle toe bone pulled from Spain's Foradada Cave – is the first to be found in the Iberian Peninsula.What’s more, at 39,000 years old, it’s possibly the most “modern” known example of talon use among the Neanderthals, appearing just before they went extinct.That said, another anthropologist says it’s unclear if these particular Neanderthals used eagle talons for symbolic or decorative reasons, and that more supporting evidence is needed.
A study published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature earlier this week supposedly determined that a particular region of southern Africa gave rise to modern humans 200,000 years ago.DNA mutates over time, and those changes build up at a predictable rate, so geneticists can compare genomes and calculate when they last shared a common ancestor.The oldest mitochondrial lineage that we know of is called L0, and some of its oldest branches are now found mostly in people who live in southern Africa.Chan and her colleagues used mtDNA genomes from about 1,200 people with the L0 lineage and used the results to build a "family tree."Two hundred thousand years ago, paleoclimate records suggest that the area was a lush wetland mostly surrounded by less-inviting arid brushland.People whose mtDNA belonged to the haplogroups that branched out 130,000 years ago mostly came from northeast of that region, and people with mtDNA from the 110,000-year-old haplogroups mostly came from southwest of the Zambezi basin, along the western coast of South Africa.
Scientists believe they have traced humans' ancestral home to a wetland that existed in what is now Botswana.The region, south of the Zambezi River, became a home for Homo sapiens some 200,000 years ago, and provided space for a founding population of humans for some 70,000 years, according to scientists.“We have known for a long time that modern humans originated in Africa and roughly 200,000 years ago, but what we hadn’t known until this study was where exactly,” Vanessa Hayes, a geneticist and senior author on the new study at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, told The Guadian.For their study published on Monday, the researchers used mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down from mother to child, to determine the oldest known maternal line of humans.Their conclusions, which have reportedly not been embraced by some experts, are based on an analysis of 1,217 samples of mitochondrial DNA.I’m definitely cautious about using modern genetic distributions to infer exactly where ancestral populations were living 200,000 years ago, particularly in a continent as large and complex as Africa,” Chris Stringer, who studies human origins at the Natural History Museum in London, told The Guardian.
Indeed, the ability to conjure flame still seems borderline magical to me – so imagine what the capacity to start a fire from scratch must have meant to early humans.At some point, our ancestors harnessed the power of the flame to keep warm, cook food, produce new materials, shoo away predators and illuminate dark caves.Archaeological evidence suggests hominins of various types were using fire as far back as 1.5 million years ago, but no one really knows how they acquired that fire.This paradigm-shifting ability – to both intentionally start and control fire – is known as pyrotechnology, and it’s traditionally thought to be the exclusive domain of our species, Homo sapiens.But as new evidence presented this week in Scientific Reports suggests, Neanderthals did possess the capacity to start their own fires.That said, competing evidence from France has linked Neanderthal fire use to warmer periods, when forests are dense with flammable material and when the odds of lightning strikes are higher – important factors for determining the likelihood of wildfires.
A comprehensive analysis of DNA from modern Melanesian people suggests an assortment of mutated genes inherited from extinct Neanderthals and Denisovans provided evolutionary advantages, such as the ability to consume new foods and avoid infections, among other important benefits.Neanderthals and Denisovans went extinct some 35,000 to 40,000 years ago, but not before these closely related hominins interbred with modern humans.To this very day, the legacy of these interbreeding episodes live on in our DNA – at least among humans of European and Asian descent.New research published today in Science dives into these unknowns, uncovering new evidence suggesting some of these inherited genes – at least among modern Melanesians – conferred certain evolutionary benefits, the exact nature of which still needs to be determined.“Our study demonstrates that previously unknown large genomic structural changes that originated in our now-extinct close relatives – and were subsequently introgressed or introduced back to our genome – play important roles in human evolution,” explained PingHsun Hsieh, a geneticist from the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle and the lead researcher of the new paper, in an email to Gizmodo.“We also identify new genes encompassed within these large genomic variants that might be beneficial to Melanesians and help them adapt to their local island environments.”
At Qesem Cave in Israel, Neanderthals or early Homo sapiens appear to have stored marrow-rich deer bones for several weeks, relying on the bones and their outer layer of dried skin and flesh to keep the marrow relatively fresh—like storing leftovers in Pleistocene Tupperware.Based on the cut marks on the bones, people extracted the marrow after a few weeks, after the bones and their covering of skin and tendons had time to dry out.That suggests the people who lived at Qesem were planning ahead for their future needs—which is one more piece of evidence that Neanderthals and the earliest members of our own species were smarter than we’ve often given them credit for.People of various groups have lived at Qesem Cave off and on for hundreds of thousands of years.Archaeologists haven’t found hominin fossils at the site so far, but in the oldest layers of artifacts, they’ve unearthed oval and pear-shaped hand axes in the Acheulian style—a stone calling card of Homo erectus or their descendants, Homo heidelbergensis.In layers dating from 300,000 to 200,000 years old, the stone blades and scrapers belong to a set of stone tool cultures called the Acheulo-Yabrudian, which has turned up at Neanderthal and early Homo sapiens sites.
Tiny stone tools -- known as microliths -- were essential to the growth of our species thousands of years ago.According to a new paper published in PLUS One, microliths seen in the Fa Hien cave in the tropical rainforests of Sri Lanka date to 45,000 years ago.Their existence at this location suggests a range of "more diverse ecological contexts" for their use by Homo sapiens, researchers believe.The island of Sri Lanka has been seen as a vital area for examining how hunter-gatherers adapted in prehistoric times.Discovering these types of artifacts in this setting is significant, according to scientists, because the tools have been most typically linked to hunting medium to large animals in grassland areas."Interestingly, our evidence also shows that stone tool technology changed little over the long span of human occupation, from 48,000 to 4,000 years ago," said Andrea Picin, of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and co-author of the study, in a statement.
“Basically, the story that we are telling is full of shit,” said Mike Morley, an archaeologist at Flinders University and the lead author of the new study, in an email to Gizmodo.Well, to be fair to Morley and his colleagues, their story is also full of charcoal fragments, ash, bits of bone, and flakes from stone tools – all of which were dredged from 3 to 4 metres (9 to 13 feet) of sediment at the bottom of two chambers in Denisova Cave.By performing a micromorphological analysis of all the stuff embedded within this dirt – both geological and biological – the researchers were able to reconstruct a history of habitation in the cave over the course of 300,000 years, a timespan that included no less than three interglacial cycles.Genetic evidence from 2018 suggests the two groups cohabited and co-mingled in the cave, as evidenced by the discovery of a half-Denisovan, half-Neanderthal individual.The new research corroborates the previous work done in Denisova Cave, but it also helps to fill in some unknown gaps, showing that archaic humans were not present in the cave for significant swaths of time.“We already knew from the fossil bone record that other animals were present in the cave, but it was a surprise just how much hyena – and to a lesser extent, wolf – poop there would be in the sediment record,” said Morley.
New research has revealed a Denisovan finger bone that’s unexpectedly human-like in shape – an odd observation, given the close relation of Denisovans to Neanderthals, whose fingers differed quite a bit from ours.To date, only five skeletal fossils are known from Denisovans: three molars, a mandible, and the tip of a pinky finger.That’s not much to go by, but the 50,000-year-old finger bone – discovered 11 years ago in Siberia’s Denisova Cave – yielded critically important genetic information.The research, led by E. Andrew Bennett from Paris Diderot University, revealed a finger that’s closer in shape to those of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) than to those of Neanderthals – a surprise, given how closely related Denisovans are to Neanderthals.Fascinatingly, this finding doesn’t mean modern humans looked like Denisovans.Genetic evidence suggests modern humans interbred with Denisovans (and also Neanderthals), and that Neanderthals interbred with Denisovans.
Humans today are mosaics, our genomes rich tapestries of interwoven ancestries.With every fossil discovered, with every DNA analysis performed, the story gets more complex: We, the sole survivors of the genus Homo, harbor genetic fragments from other closely related but long-extinct lineages.Modern humans are the products of a sprawling history of shifts and dispersals, separations and reunions—a history characterized by far more diversity, movement and mixture than seemed imaginable a mere decade ago.Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences.But it’s one thing to say that Neanderthals interbred with the ancestors of modern Europeans, or that the recently discovered Denisovans interbred with some older mystery group, or that they all interbred with each other.“We’ve got this picture where these events are happening all over the place,” said Aylwyn Scally, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Cambridge.
Scientists have successfully grown mini brains that, for the first time, produce brain waves resembling those seen in embryos and preterm infants.Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) created the pea-sized "brains" by growing up stem cells in a petri dish and testing their activity and gene expression over 10 months.The study, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell on Thursday, is by the same research group that previously showed they were able to grow Neanderthal mini brains in the lab.This time around they've stuck to Homo sapiens coaxing human stem cells into becoming brain cells by placing them in a petri dish that simulates the environment of early brain development.The 3D mini brains, known as "organoids," then mature and create cellular networks of connected cells -- an important component of real brains that allows electrical signals to zip around."We are one step closer to have a model that can actually generate these early stages of a sophisticated neural network," said Alysson Muotri, a molecular biologist at UCSD and author on the new study, in a press release.
Anthropologists have found very few fossils of the Australopithecus anamensis species — a hominin ancestor that lived in Africa between 4 million and 2 million years ago.Now researchers have discovered that an Australopithecus anamensis skull found in 2016 is 3.8 million years old, making it the oldest Australopithecus skull ever found.Everything we know about the group of human ancestors called australopiths comes from just a few dozen fossils.The skull, nicknamed "MRD," was unearthed in 2016 in the Afar region in Ethiopia.That makes it the oldest Australopithecus skull ever found, edging out the previous record holder by about 200,000 years.The scientists' findings about the MRD, published today in the journal Nature, also show that it belonged to a member of the oldest species of australopith, called Australopithecus anamensis.
a Man is not likely to remain the world's only intelligent and self-aware species so far.We may soon see the beginning of the end for homo sapiens, is believed futuristen and author, James Lovelock.Perhaps it will take place during the course of our own lifetimes.In his most recent book, argues that the british biochemist, and futuristen, James Lovelock, to those of today's robots and ai systems will soon overtake the human, in terms of both the intelligence and the positions of the earth, " says NBC News.”The ones that do understand the future will not be what I choose to call the ’cyborgs’ who is going to be designed and built themselves,” he writes, among other things, in the book of Novocene, which describes the new era of the same James Lovelock about the issue with their own idea of what a cyborg is because he is open to that there might be something that we can't even imagine."