Category Archives: Anthropology

Neanderthals were smart, sophisticated, creative — and misunderstood

Newsweek reports: Nearly 40,000 years after disappearing from the planet, Neanderthals are having a moment. In recent years, tantalizing new evidence suggests that our primitive, heavy-browed cousins were chefs, jewelry-makers and painters. And what we are learning from the genetic clues they left behind—and the promise of what those clues will tell us about ourselves… Read More »

How religion made us a successful species

Victor Kumar and Richmond Cambell write: For most of history, human populations were limited to small bands of around 150 members. After exceeding that size, a band would split and drift apart, the descendants forgetting their common ancestry. At some point in human history, however, bands were knit together into tribes—groups of groups—geographically distributed but… Read More »

Genetic legacy of Denisovans may be shaping modern immune system of southwest Pacific populations

Science reports: When modern humans first migrated from Africa to the tropical islands of the southwest Pacific, they encountered unfamiliar people and new pathogens. But their immune systems may have picked up some survival tricks when they mated with the locals—the mysterious Denisovans who gave them immune gene variants that might have protected the newcomers’… Read More »

Cooked leftovers suggest Neanderthals were foodies

The Guardian reports: If you thought Neanderthals survived on a diet of foraged berries and uncooked animal flesh, think again. Charred remnants of what appears to be the world’s oldest cooked meal ever found have been unearthed in a cave complex in northern Iraq, prompting speculation that Neanderthals may have been foodies. “Our findings are… Read More »

Early humans may have cooked fish 780,000 years ago

Smithsonian magazine reports: Cooking with fire marked an important turning point in human evolution. But based on available evidence, determining exactly when early humans learned to cook is challenging. While researchers have discovered the remains of charred animals and root vegetables, that doesn’t necessarily mean people were grilling up steaks for dinner; they may have… Read More »

Ancient DNA reveals a hidden history of human adaptation

Chelms Varthoumlien / Unsplash By Yassine Souilmi, University of Adelaide; Christian Huber, Penn State, and Ray Tobler, Australian National University Humans may be just as vulnerable to environmental change as other animals, according to our new research analysing genetic data from more than a thousand people who lived across Europe and Asia over the past… Read More »

Neanderthals and modern humans may have copied each other’s tools

The Guardian reports: Modern humans lived alongside Neanderthals for more than 1,000 years in Europe, according to research that suggests the two species may have imitated each other’s jewellery and stone tools. Previously, it was known that humans and their ancient relatives existed at the same time on the European continent for more than 6,000… Read More »

The story of America’s ‘lost crops’ shows that the reign of corn was not inevitable

Sarah Laskow writes: The development of agriculture, the Marxist archaeologist V. Gordon Childe declared in 1935, was an event akin to the Industrial Revolution—a discovery so disruptive that it spread like the shocks of an earthquake, transforming everything in its path. Childe’s work on what he termed “the Neolithic Revolution” focused on just one site… Read More »