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Posts Tagged "hominin"

Observations

Human Footprints Discovered on England’s Coast Are Oldest Outside Africa

Happisburgh footprints

  Archaeologists working on the eastern coast of England have found a series of footprints that were made by human ancestors sometime between 780,000 and one million years ago. Pressed into ancient estuary mudflats now hard with age, these prints are the oldest ones known outside of Africa, where humanity got its start. Scientists discovered [...]

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Observations

The Most Fascinating Human Evolution Discoveries of 2013

Sahelanthropus tchadensis

Wow. I’ve just spent the last couple days going through the paleoanthropology news that broke in 2013 and I must say it was a banner year. There were so many exciting new findings that bear on scientists’ understanding of just about every chapter of humanity’s seven-million-year saga—from our ancestors’ first upright steps to the peopling [...]

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Observations

Horse Fossil Yields Astonishingly Old Genome—Are Similarly Ancient Human Genomes Next?

Horse fossil

Researchers have recovered DNA from a nearly 700,000-year-old horse fossil and assembled a draft of the animal’s genome from it. It is the oldest complete genome to date by a long shot–hundreds of thousands of years older than the previous record holder, which came from an archaic human that lived around 80,000 years ago. The [...]

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Observations

Is Australopithecus sediba the Most Important Human Ancestor Discovery Ever?

Australopithecus sediba

Three years ago researchers added a new branch to the human family tree: Australopithecus sediba, a nearly two-million-year-old relative from South Africa. By all accounts it was a dazzling find—two partial skeletons, an adult female and young male, from a site called Malapa just outside Johannesburg. And it has been making headlines regularly since then [...]

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Observations

Brain Shape Confirms Controversial Fossil as Oldest Human Ancestor

Sahelanthropus

HONOLULU–A seven-million-year-old skull found in the Djurab Desert in Chad may indeed represent the earliest known member of the human family. Researchers unveiled the specimen back in 2002 and made quite a splash with their claim that the ancient fossil was our ancestor. They assigned it to a new species, Sahelanthropus tchadensis (nickname: Toumaï) and [...]

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Observations

Did Human Ancestors “Walk” Up Trees? [Video]

human ancestors walk tree

A new study suggests that we might be thinking about tree climbing in our recent ancestors all wrong. The traditional idea that our ancestors descended from the trees and gradually—and exclusively—began walking upright might be a gross over simplification. Fossil evidence from early hominins suggests that adaptations for tree climbing, such as long arms and [...]

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Observations

The Most Fascinating Human Evolution Discoveries of 2012

Australopithecus sediba skull

Recent years have brought considerable riches for those of us interested in human evolution and 2012 proved no exception. New fossils, archaeological finds and genetic analyses yielded thrilling insights into the shape of the family tree, the diets of our ancient predecessors, the origins of art and advanced weaponry, the interactions between early Homo sapiens [...]

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Observations

Early Meat-Eating Human Ancestors Thrived While Vegetarian Hominin Died Out

early human ancestor tooth varied diet

There has been fierce debate recently over whether the original “caveman” diet was one of heaps of bloody meat or fields of greens. New findings suggest that some of our early ancestors were actually quite omnivorous. But subsequently, our line and an ill-fated group of hominins developed very different dietary strategies. One chose meat while [...]

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Observations

CT Scans Reveal Early Human Fossils inside Rock

Two Australopithecus sediba skeletons from Malapa

Readers of this blog may have noticed that I’m obsessed with a recently discovered member of the human family tree: the nearly two million-year-old Australopithecus sediba, discovered at a site called Malapa near Johannesburg.  There are several reasons for this fixation. For one thing it’s new—it isn’t every day that a previously unknown human relative [...]

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Observations

Ancient Tartar, Other Dental Clues Reveal Unexpected Diet of Early Human Relative

sediba skull

Last fall, on a reporting trip to Johannesburg for a story on the discovery of fossils representing a previously unknown member of human family called Australopithecus sediba, the researchers I met with were buzzing with excitement about, of all things, tartar. That’s right, the crusty deposits that the dentist scrapes off your teeth when you [...]

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