Early Humans

Early Humans News -- ScienceDaily Read about early humans in this anthropology news section. Early human development, early human migration, culture and more. Photos.

  • Fossils show ancient primates had grooming claws as well as nails
    on June 20, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Humans and other primates are outliers among mammals for having nails instead of claws. But how, when and why we transitioned from claws to nails has been an evolutionary head-scratcher. […]

  • 22,000-year-old panda from cave in Southern China belongs to distinct, long-lost lineage
    on June 18, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Researchers who've analyzed ancient mitochondrial (mt)DNA isolated from a 22,000-year-old panda found in Cizhutuo Cave in the Guangxi Province of China -- a place where no pandas live today -- have revealed a new lineage of giant panda. The report shows that the ancient panda separated from present-day pandas 144,000 to 227,000 years ago, suggesting that it belonged to a distinct group not found today. […]

  • New technique provides accurate dating of ancient skeletons
    on June 18, 2018 at 12:44 am

    A new way of dating skeletons by using mutations in DNA associated with geography will avoid the difficulties and inaccuracies sometimes associated with existing dating methods. The technique will enable a better understanding of historical developments from the beginning of the Neolithic period, through the Bronze and Iron Ages. […]

  • Oldest bubonic plague genome decoded
    on June 8, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    An international team has analyzed two 3,800-year-old Y. pestis genomes that suggest a Bronze Age origin for bubonic plague. The study shows that this strain is the oldest sequenced to date that contains the virulence factors considered characteristic of the bubonic plague and is ancestral to the strain that caused the Black Death. […]

  • Two ancient populations that diverged later 'reconverged' in the Americas
    on May 31, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    A new genetic study of ancient individuals in the Americas and their contemporary descendants finds that two populations that diverged from one another 18,000 to 15,000 years ago remained apart for millennia before mixing again. This historic ;reconvergence; occurred before or during their expansion to the southern continent. […]

  • Meet NOTCH2NL, the human-specific genes that may have given us our big brains
    on May 31, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    The genetic changes behind the expansion of human brains that played an important role in our ability as a species to think, problem-solve, and develop culture have been elusive. But in a pair of papers publishing May 31 in Cell, two teams of researchers identify a gene family, NOTCH2NL, that appears to play an important role in human-specific cortex development and may have been a driving force in the evolution of our large brains. […]

  • World’s oldest lizard fossil discovered
    on May 30, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    Paleontologists have identified the world's oldest lizard, providing key insight into the evolution of modern lizards and snakes. […]

  • Prehistoric teeth dating back two million years reveal details on Africa's paleoclimate
    on May 29, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    New research shows that the climate of the interior of southern Africa almost two million years ago was much wetter than the modern environment. This first extensive paleoenvironmental sequence for the interior of southern Africa suggests that human ancestors were living in environments other than open, arid grasslands known from East African research of the same time period. […]

  • How humans and apes are different, and why it matters
    on May 24, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Why it's important to study the deep similarities, and the critical differences, between humans and the apes to seek an anthropological and evolutionary explanation. […]

  • Genome structure of dinosaurs discovered by bird-turtle comparisons
    on May 21, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    A discovery has provided significant insight into the overall genome structure of dinosaurs. By comparing the genomes of different species, chiefly birds and turtles, a research team was able to determine how the overall genome structure (i.e. the chromosomes) of many dinosaur species might have looked through a microscope. […]

  • Scientists analyze first ancient human DNA from Southeast Asia
    on May 17, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Researchers have completed the first whole-genome analysis of ancient human DNA from Southeast Asia Study identifies at least three major waves of human migration into the region over the last 50,000 years, each shaping the genetics of Southeast Asia. […]

  • Worm-eating mice reveal how evolution works on islands
    on May 16, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    When animals are isolated on islands, they can evolve into strange new species found nowhere else on Earth. But what's the cut-off -- how small can an island be and still support the evolution of multiple new species from a single common ancestor? A family of worm-eating mice from a tiny island in the Philippines have set a new lower limit for island size and evolution. […]

  • Where hominid brains are concerned, size doesn't matter
    on May 14, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Researchers pieced together traces of Homo naledi's brain shape from an extraordinary collection of skull fragments and partial crania, from at least five adult individuals. One of these bore a very clear imprint of the convolutions on the surface of the brain's left frontal lobe. […]

  • A European origin for leprosy?
    on May 10, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    New research by an international team has revealed that there was much more diversity in the leprosy strains circulating in Medieval Europe than previously thought. This finding, based on the sequencing of 10 new ancient genomes from the leprosy-causing bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, complicates prior assumptions about the origin and spread of the disease, and also includes the oldest M. leprae genome sequenced to date, from about 400 AD in the United Kingdom. […]

  • Stone Age hepatitis B virus decoded
    on May 10, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Scientists have successfully reconstructed genomes from Stone Age and Medieval European strains of the hepatitis B virus. This unprecedented recovery of ancient virus DNA indicates that hepatitis B was circulating in Europe at least 7,000 years ago. […]

  • 78,000-year cave record from East Africa shows early cultural innovations
    on May 9, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    Scientists have excavated the Panga ya Saidi cave site, in the coastal hinterland of Kenya. The excavations and analyses represent the longest archaeological sequence in East Africa over the last 78,000 years. The evidence for gradual cultural changes does not support dramatic revolutions, and despite being close to the coast, there is no evidence that humans were using coastal 'super-highways' for migrations. […]

  • Can chimpanzee vocalizations reveal the origins of human language?
    on May 8, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Fossil primates provide important clues about human evolution, but the sounds they made and the soft tissue involved in making those sounds weren't preserved. So chimpanzees can provide important points of comparison for inferring the sorts of sounds our early ancestors may have made. […]

  • DNA adds twist to ancient story of a Native American group
    on April 30, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    New findings draw from the first population-level nuclear DNA analysis of a Native American group from ancient to modern times. […]

  • Ancient quids reveal clues about genetic ancestry of early Great Basin inhabitants
    on April 30, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    New research showcases modern research methods that have revealed clues about the genetic ancestry of Native Americans who inhabited the Desert Southwest almost 1,000 years ago. […]

  • Respect Indigenous ancestors: Scholars urge community engagement before research
    on April 26, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    A new article provides guidance for those intending to study ancient human remains in the Americas. The paper, written by Indigenous scholars and scientists and those who collaborate with Indigenous communities on studies of ancient DNA, offers a clear directive to others contemplating such research: First, do no harm. […]

  • Human-like walking mechanics evolved before the genus Homo
    on April 23, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    A close examination of 3.6-million-year-old hominin footprints discovered in Laetoli, Tanzania, suggests our ancestors evolved the hallmark trait of extended leg, human-like bipedalism substantially earlier than previously thought. […]

  • Genomics study in Africa: Demographic history and deleterious mutations
    on April 20, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Scientists set out to understand how the demographic changes associated with the Neolithic transition also influenced the efficacy of natural selection. By comparing the genome diversity of more than 300 individuals from groups of forest hunter-gatherers (pygmies) and farmers (Bantu-speaking peoples), from western and eastern Central Africa, they discovered that the reason pygmies did not suffer from excessive deleterious mutations was because of their genetic diversity and their admixture with the Bantu peoples. […]

  • Unprecedented wave of large-mammal extinctions linked to prehistoric humans
    on April 19, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and other recent human relatives may have begun hunting large mammal species down to size -- by way of extinction -- at least 90,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study. The magnitude and scale of the extinction wave surpassed any other recorded during the last 66 million years, according to the study. […]

  • Ramped up fight-or-flight response points to history of warfare for humans and chimps
    on April 19, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Humans and chimpanzees recently evolved a more active fight-or-flight response compared to other primates, possibly in response to the threat of warfare. […]

  • Surviving climate change, then and now
    on April 16, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    An archeological dig in Italy reveals that prehistoric humans made it through a major natural disaster by cooperating with each other -- and that's a lesson for our future. […]

  • Sweet potato history casts doubt on early contact between Polynesia and the Americas
    on April 12, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    New evidence shows that sweet potatoes arose before there were any humans around to eat them. The findings also suggest that the sweet potato crossed the ocean from America to Polynesia without any help from people. The discovery raises doubts about the existence of pre-Columbian contacts between Polynesia and the American continent. […]

  • The secret life of teeth: Evo-devo models of tooth development
    on April 11, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    A simple, straightforward developmental rule -- the 'patterning cascade' -- is powerful enough to explain the massive variability in molar crown configuration over the past 15 million years of ape and human evolution. […]

  • Most primitive kangaroo ancestor rediscovered after 30 years in obscurity
    on April 11, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    A handful of tiny teeth have led scientists to identify the most distant ancestor of today's kangaroos. The fossils were found in the desert heart of Australia, and then hidden away, and almost forgotten in a museum collection for over three decades. […]

  • Why expressive brows might have mattered in human evolution
    on April 9, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Highly mobile eyebrows that can be used to express a wide range of subtle emotions may have played a crucial role in human survival, new research suggests. […]

  • First human migration out of Africa more geographically widespread than previously thought
    on April 9, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Scientists have discovered a fossilized finger bone of an early modern human in the Nefud Desert of Saudi Arabia, dating to approximately 90,000 years ago. The discovery is the oldest directly dated Homo sapiens fossil outside of Africa and the Levant and indicates that early dispersals into Eurasia were more expansive than previously thought. […]