Bones and teeth belonging to the ancestors of the short-statured human lineage known as “the Hobbits” have been discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores. The fossils, which date back 700,000 years, are offering fresh insights into the origin of this mysterious species.
Meet Pliobates catalonia, an extinct species of ape that roamed the jungles of Catalonia some 11.5 million years ago. Because of this ancient creature’s many surprising physical characteristics, researchers are having to revise their conceptions of what the last common ancestor of all living apes—humans included—might…
The human hand is a marvelous evolutionary invention: it can tie knots, tap out blog posts, wield tools and wire circuit boards. But how did we get these hands, with their long, dextrous fingers and conveniently opposable thumbs? It’s likely that tool-grasping played a role, but according to one evolutionary…
Last month in South Africa, scientists announced the discovery of a new group of early humans called Homo naledi. Now an analysis shows that this hominin had hands capable of both tree climbing and tool use, plus feet that were adapted for walking upright.
A new study published in BMC Evolutionary Biology shows that lower back pain is more frequent in people whose spines are similar in shape to those of chimpanzees. “[Our] study suggests that the pathological vertebrae of some people may be less well adapted for walking upright,” noted lead researcher Kimberly Plomp.
The oldest samples of Neanderthal DNA have been extracted from remains embedded in a cave in southern Italy, confirming that the so-called Altamura Man was a Neanderthal who lived around 150,000 years ago.
A new dating technique has revised the estimated age of Little Foot from 2.2 million to 3.6 million years ago. That’s significant because it places the rare Australopithecus fossil within the same evolutionary timeframe as Lucy, a hominid from a separate species. Meaning humans may not be related to Lucy after all.
He was a European with dark skin and dark eyes. And his ancestry was mixed. A group of geneticists have sequenced DNA from the remains of a man who died 36,000 years ago in Kostenki, Russia, near the Ukraine border. The results are surprising, and could reveal a lot about how modern humans spread out of Africa.
Misogyny is not human nature. That's what evolutionary biology researcher Eric Michael Johnson explains in Slate, where he explores the connections between male baboon behavior and male human behavior during "The Fappening." Turns out that patriarchy actually undermines our fitness as a species.
They made jewelry, buried their dead, and left behind haunting abstract paintings on the walls of their caves. Now a new finding in Gibraltar, one of the last regions of the world where Neanderthals survived, is further evidence that Neanderthals had a recognizably human culture.
Today marks the 22nd annual International Left-Handers Day. To celebrate, let's look at why only around one in ten people is left-handed. Why, pray tell, are lefties are so rare – or, said another way, why are most of us righties? It seems like a simple question, but it's actually one of the biggest mysteries in all…
One dominant idea among evolutionary biologists is that Homo sapiens left Africa about 60 or 70 thousand years ago, spreading across the world from there. It's called the "out of Africa" theory. But now, more evidence is challenging it.
The paleontologist known only as Yusra has been missing since the 1940s. And yet she's responsible for finding one of the world's most important early human fossils. We're still trying to piece together what happened to her.
Our distant hominid ancestors were far more human-like than we thought. A revision of the human origins timeline shows that many traits, like long limbs, a large brain, and the ability to craft tools, did not arise at the same time. Surprisingly, some traits appeared as long as 3 to 4 million years ago.
In what's considered one of the finest examples of natural selection in action, Tibetans have acquired the ability to thrive at extremely high altitudes. Incredibly, researchers say the gene required for this adaptation was inherited from the now-extinct Denisovans.
Evolutionary biologist Michael Eisen has just written a terrific response to the idea that cultural characteristics of a group are the result of "natural selection." No, he says, there's no evidence that the ability to create a democratic government — or to foster social unrest — is genetic.
Tens of thousands of years ago, humans were wild animals. Our ancestors roamed the land in search of food by day, and huddled together for safety by night. But then something changed. We domesticated ourselves, and this process didn't just change us profoundly — it changed a lot of other life forms around us, too.
During the last ice age, an enormous stretch of fertile grassland connected Eurasia and the Americas. Known today as Beringia, this lost landscape was home to a small but important population of humans. Now, the discovery of one skull in an underwater cave tells an intriguing story about what happened to the…
Hipsters take note: Beards may be all the rage — and they might be making you more attractive for now — but this is a fashion trend that could ultimately be the cause of its own undoing.
Evidence has been piling up for a while that early humans in Europe had children with the Neanderthals who had been living there for probably 500 thousand years before humans arrived. Very few Neanderthal genes are left in humans today, so what difference does it make? A lot, both genetically and philosophically.