Anatomy, Anthropology, News

Bonobo anatomy offers clues on how our body evolved

Claudine Andre, the founder of Lola ya bonobo, and the “friends of the bonobos of the Congo’, an NGO which works in DRC with Timbo, one of her best bonobo friends. Photo courtesy of Christian Ziegler.

A pair of anthropologists compared the anatomical features o bonobos to those of homo sapiens and other apes to infer any clues that might help us understand how we evolved to look the way we do.

Anthropology, News

Leaving the nest: early humans migrated from Africa through North, rather than South

spreading homo sapiens

Archaic homo sapiens left Africa, the wellspring of humanity, some 60,000 years ago migrating North, via a route passing through what is known today as Egypt, rather than South, through the Arabian Peninsula, as previously proposed. The findings were reported by an international team of researchers which used novel techniques to produce whole-genome sequences from 225 people from modern Egypt and Ethiopia (six modern Northeast African populations). This is far from the last word, but the picture the researchers paint seems to be consistent with other evidence, such as early human-made tools and human fossils found on the proposed route (Israel), and is in better agreement with what we already know about the genetic mixture of all non-Africans with Neanderthals.

Anthropology, News

Ancient CSI: Scientists investigate 430,000 year old Murder

Researchers used a 3D model to analyze the skull's two fractures in detail. Photo: Sala et al., PLOS ONE

Anthropologists have uncovered a 430,000 year old homo skull with fatal wounds that represents the earliest identified murder case in human history.

Anthropology, News

Scientists discover pre-human species that roamed with “Lucy”

Cast of the holotype upper jaw of Australopithecus deyiremeda. Credit: Laura Dempsey

In 1974, anthropologists found a 40% complete skeleton of a female which they identified as a pre-human species; they called her Lucy.  Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago, she is classified as a hominin, and she is without a doubt one of the most important findings in history. Now, scientists have found another skeleton not only from

Anthropology, Biology, News

Humans bones became lighter and frailer once farming became widespread

Cavemen had much stronger leg bones than our settled ancestor who first experimented with agriculture some 10,000 years ago. However, early farmer bones differ little from modern day humans - the epitome of sedentarism. Image: Bret Contreras

Our bones are much lighter and weaker than those of our Paleolithic ancestors (11,000 to 33,000 years ago), but it’s not our spoiled modern day lifestyle that’s to blame. Instead, a new study which closely compared homo sapiens bones, both ancient and modern, found that the most significant changes occurred once the paradigm shift from hunter-gatherer to agriculture took place, some 10,000 years ago. Humans started forming permanent settlements, worked the land and tended to flocks. Consequently, the lifestyle became more sedentary.

Anthropology, News

Early human societies were egalitarian – male dominance emerges only with agriculture and more resources

hunter gatherer

Sexual equality might be the mark of a civilized society, but it’s definitely not a new thing. In fact, there’s much we can learn from our so-called primitive forefathers and foremothers, who likely lived in closely bonded communities where sexes shared equal influence and contributions, according to a study published by a team at University College London. The researchers investigated modern hunter-gatherer communities, one in Congo and the other in the Philippines, then constructed a computer model. Their model showed when only one sex had influence over how the group migrated for food or who lived with whom, the close community crumbled and did not reflect what was actually happening in reality. The researchers believe sexual segregation and male dominance in most cultures appeared following the advent of agriculture, as more resources became available.

Anatomy, Anthropology, Biology, Did you know?, News

Why in the world do we have chins? Maybe, because we evolved from being just brutes

Man with prominent chin and missing teeth. Etching by Wenceslas Hollar.

Ever wondered what chins are good for? Upon a quick reflection, you might think it actually has some practical value, supporting your jaw against the massive chewing forces. But that’s nonsense. It doesn’t do any of that, as a recent research concludes. In fact, the chin – the last facial feature to stop growing – actually makes the jaw less resistant to the bending stress of chewing as we age. Though still a mystery, scientists believe the chin is actually a side effect of the rest of the face having become smaller. Much smaller than that of early ancestors or cousin Neanderthals, at least.

Anthropology, Archaeology, News

Handy women: females are better than male at DIYs – at least in chimps

Image via Daily Mail.

In most cultures, men are typically regarded as handy and it’s usually up to them to do the handy work – it’s quite a stereotype actually, but I think it’s among the few that really stick; but a new study reveals that women may actually be much more well suited for that job. Female chips were observed building and using

Anthropology, Archaeology, Feature Post

Mankind and its Relatives – Modern Homo Species

Places where Neanderthal fossils were found - most of them inhabited Europe. Image via Wiki Commons.

Homo is the genus of hominids that includes modern humans, as well as other species closely related to them… I mean us. The genus is estimated to be about 2.3 to 2.4 million years old and it features several species (though it’s still not clear how many). Here are the modern (<0.6 million years) Homo species described through fossils; however, it

Anthropology, Archaeology, News

Neanderthal jewelry was much more sophisticated than previously believed

Cuts and notches on the talons (shown above) suggest they were strung on sinew as a bracelet or necklace.

Recent archaeological and anthropological research showed that Neanderthals weren’t the mindless brutes we once thought they were – they were smart, organized, they had their own speech and interbred with early humans. Now, a new study has found evidence that 130,000 years ago, Neanderthals also designed elaborate jewelry, a degree of sophistication never seen before for that time.