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Tag archives for human origins

My Fihavanana Malagasy: At Home on the Eighth Continent

Cara Brook is a disease ecologist from the Andrew Dobson Lab at Princeton, studying diseases that can leap from bats to humans. In the course of her work, she has earned a Malagasy family, which sparks her curiosity for the origins of humanity on Madagascar.

Mary Leakey’s 100th Birthday and Her Legacy

One hundred years ago today human beings knew very little about our ancient origins. Because of the life and example of Mary Leakey, we know ourselves better now, and continue to learn more every day.

Skull in Underwater Cave May Be Earliest Trace of First Americans

PET/GUE Divers descend into the abyss at Hoyo Negro. Photo by Daniel Riordan-Araujo   By Fabio Esteban Amador Explorers have discovered what might be the oldest evidence of humans in the Americas. Alex Alvarez, Franco Attolini, and Alberto (Beto) Nava are members of PET (Projecto Espeleológico de Tulum), an organization that specializes in the exploration…

Epigenetics: How Evolution Is Evolving

By Andrew Howley Ever since the 1940s, the “modern synthesis” has presented evolution as the result of random mutations to DNA creating altered versions of living creatures that live and reproduce or die childless based on how well they happen to fit into their environment. This idea has served well in many ways for the…

Asian Invaders Showed Europeans how to Farm, Graveyard Study Finds

International researchers led by ancient DNA experts from the University of Adelaide, Australia, said today that they had settled the longstanding issue of the origins of the people who introduced farming to Europe some 8,000 years ago. DNA carefully extracted from a complete graveyard of Early Neolithic farmers unearthed at the town of Derenburg in…

Cracking the Code in the Rocks

On the fourth day of the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO) conference, National Geographic Digital Media’s Andrew Howley learns from experts how ancient wall paintings can be deciphered to tell something about the Stone Age artists who made them. Tarascon-sur-Ariège, France–The iconic images of bison, deer, and mammoths are what draw many people…

Walking Into the Stone Age

On the third day of an international conference in France of experts on prehistoric rock art, National Geographic Digital Media senior producer Andrew Howley makes his first visit into caves adorned with images painted 13,000 years ago. Tarascon-sur-Ariège, France–Today the laptops were shut and the projectors powered down, as the participants in the IFRAO conference…

Mysteries of Prehistoric Rock Art Probed

Ancient people the world over illustrated rock walls with paintings or carvings evocative of their environment and belief systems. But even as we begin to understand more about the rock artists and the images they left us, new questions about their eternal messages are being raised. Tarascon-sur-Ariège, France–On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the…

Old World monkeys and apes diverged later than thought, new fossil shows

A remarkable new discovery redates the evolutionary split between the Old World monkeys and the ape-human lineage. By Hans-Dieter Sues The higher primates of the Old World (Catarrhini) are divided into two major lineages, one comprising the living monkeys of Africa, Asia, and Europe and their fossil relatives (Cercopithecoidea), and the other, humans, great apes,…

Can this DNA test really tell how much Neanderthal is in you?

By Jeremy A. Kaplan (FOXNews.com) In May scientists finished mapping the genes of the Neanderthal and determined that as much as 4 percent of those genes are in people today [Neanderthals, Humans Interbred--First Solid DNA Evidence]. Now one company has unveiled a test to determine just how much Neanderthal is inside you. Sort of. The…

Through the mist, the Cradle of Humankind

By Leon Marshall Intermittent blasts of gas-fired burner break the early morning still as our hot air balloon lifts and starts to glide gently on the air currents above hilly grasslands crossed here and there by bushy gullies. A few times we hear wildebeest grunt, and from behind a rocky outcrop come the unmistakable croaks…

The most influential species of all evolution

As we observe the 150th anniversary this month of the first publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, a new book reviews evolution and ranks the top one hundred most influential species of all time. Homo sapiens is not at the top of the list. In fact, we humans, who like to imagine…

New primate fossil casts doubts on “missing link” claim

A 37-million-year-old fossil primate from Egypt, described in this week’s issue of Nature, moves a controversial German fossil known as Ida out of the human lineage, Nature News reports. “Teeth and ankle bones of the new Egyptian specimen show that the 47-million-year-old Ida, formally called Darwinius masillae, is not in the lineage of early apes and monkeys…

Human evolution not from chimps, fossil study confirms

Our ancestors underwent a previously unknown stage of evolution over more than a million years before “Lucy”, the iconic early human ancestor specimen that walked the Earth 3.2 million years ago,” National Geographic Magazine science editor Jamie Shreeve reports today. The finding, published in tomorrow’s journal Science, is based on the discovery of the oldest…

Ancestors Lived in Cave Two Million Years Ago

Last seen two million years ago, one of the early stone tools discovered in Wonderwerk Cave. Photo by M. Chazan The earliest evidence for cave occupation by hominids has been discovered in South Africa. Stone tools found at the bottom level of Wonderwerk Cave show that human ancestors were in the cave two million years ago,…