9,900-year-old Mexican female skeleton distinct from other early American settlers

A new skeleton discovered in the submerged caves at Tulum sheds new light on the earliest settlers of Mexico, according to a study published February 5, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Wolfgang Stinnesbeck from Universität Heidelberg, Germany. Humans have been living in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula since at least the Late Pleistocene (126,000-11,700 years ago). … Read more 9,900-year-old Mexican female skeleton distinct from other early American settlers

How and when spines changed in mammalian evolution

From the long necks of giraffes that help them reach treetops to the flexibility of a cheetah’s spine that help it go from zero to sixty in three seconds, mammals not only have the figurative backbone to do amazing things but, more importantly, they have the literal one. But they weren’t always that way. A … Read more How and when spines changed in mammalian evolution

New study identifies Neanderthal ancestry in African populations and describes its origin

When the first Neanderthal genome was sequenced, using DNA collected from ancient bones, it was accompanied by the discovery that modern humans in Asia, Europe and America inherited approximately 2% of their DNA from Neanderthals – proving humans and Neanderthals had interbred after humans left Africa. Since that study, new methods have continued to catalogue … Read more New study identifies Neanderthal ancestry in African populations and describes its origin

The ‘firewalkers’ of Karoo: Dinosaurs and other animals left tracks in a ‘land of fire’

In southern Africa, dinosaurs and synapsids, a group of animals that includes mammals and their closest fossil relatives, survived in a “land of fire” at the start of an Early Jurassic mass extinction, according to a study published January 29, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Emese M. Bordy of the University of Cape Town … Read more The ‘firewalkers’ of Karoo: Dinosaurs and other animals left tracks in a ‘land of fire’

Early North Americans may have been more diverse than previously suspected

Ancient skulls from the cave systems at Tulum, Mexico suggest that the earliest populations of North America may have already had a high level of morphological diversity, according to a study published January 29, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Mark Hubbe from Ohio State University, USA, Alejandro Terrazas Mata from Universidad Nacional … Read more Early North Americans may have been more diverse than previously suspected

3000-year-old teeth solve Pacific banana mystery

Humans began transporting and growing banana in Vanuatu 3000 years ago, a University of Otago scientist has discovered. The discovery is the earliest evidence of humans taking and cultivating banana in to what was the last area of the planet to be colonised. In an article published this week in Nature Human Behaviour, Dr Monica … Read more 3000-year-old teeth solve Pacific banana mystery

First ancient DNA from West/Central Africa illuminates deep human past

An international team led by Harvard Medical School scientists has produced the first genome-wide ancient human DNA sequences from west and central Africa. The data, recovered from four individuals buried at an iconic archaeological site in Cameroon between 3,000 and 8,000 years ago, enhance our understanding of the deep ancestral relationships among populations in sub-Saharan … Read more First ancient DNA from West/Central Africa illuminates deep human past

Climate (not humans) shaped early forests of New England

A new study in the journal Nature Sustainability overturns long-held interpretations of the role humans played in shaping the American landscape before European colonization. The findings give new insight into the rationale and approaches for managing some of the most biodiverse landscapes in the eastern U.S. The study, led by archaeologists, ecologists, and paleoclimatologists at Harvard, Emerson … Read more Climate (not humans) shaped early forests of New England

Glimpse into ancient hunting strategies of dragonflies and damselflies

A new species of prehistoric scorpion from the early Siluarian period (approximately 437.5 to 436.5 million years ago) is described in a study in Scientific Reports. The findings suggest that Parioscorpio venator is the oldest-known scorpion reported to date and may have been capable of leaving its marine habitat and venturing onto land, a behaviour similar … Read more Glimpse into ancient hunting strategies of dragonflies and damselflies

Puzzle of early Neolithic house orientations finally solved

Human behaviour is influenced by many things, most of which remain unconscious to us. One of these is a phenomenon known among perception psychologists as “pseudo-neglect”. This refers to the observation that healthy people prefer their left visual field to their right and therefore devide a line regularly left of centre. A study published on … Read more Puzzle of early Neolithic house orientations finally solved