The Human Journey
New Findings in the News

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New York Times, Cold Tolerance Among Inuit May Come From Extinct Human Relatives
December 26, 2016. A new study, published on Wednesday in Molecular Biology and Evolution, identifies gene variants in Inuit who live in Greenland, which may help them adapt to the cold by promoting heat-generating body fat.
Scientific American, Chimps May Be Capable of Comprehending the Minds of Others
October 6, 2016. A chimpanzee, a scientist with a stick and a researcher in a King Kong suit may sound like the setup for a bad joke, but it is in fact the basis of a recent study that provides the first evidence that great apes—that is, bonobos, chimpanzees and orangutans—possess an understanding of false belief, a hallmark of “theory of mind.”
The Guardian, Neanderthals built mysterious cave structures 175,000 years ago
May 25, 2016. Mysterious structures found deep inside a French cave are the work of Neanderthal builders who lived in the region more than 100,000 years before modern humans set foot in Europe.
The New York Times, Ancestors of Modern Humans Interbred With Extinct Hominins, Study Finds
March 17, 2016. The ancestors of modern humans interbred with Neanderthals and another extinct line of humans known as the Denisovans at least four times in the course of prehistory, according to an analysis of global genomes.
New Scientist, Oldest ever human genome sequence may rewrite human history
March 14, 2016. The oldest ever human nuclear DNA to be reconstructed and sequenced reveals Neanderthals in the making – and the need for a possible rewrite of our own origins.
The New York Times, Agriculture Linked to DNA Changes in Ancient Europe
November 23, 2015. In the first study of its kind, an international team of scientists has found that after agriculture arrived in Europe 8,500 years ago, people’s DNA underwent widespread changes, altering their height, digestion, immune system and skin color.
The New York Times, In a Tooth, DNA From Some Very Old Cousins, the Denisovans
November 16, 2015. A tooth fossil discovered in a Siberian cave has yielded DNA from a vanished branch of the human tree, mysterious cousins called the Denisovans, scientists said Monday. Their analysis pushes back the oldest known evidence for Denisovans by 60,000 years, suggesting that the species was able to thrive in harsh climates for thousands of generations. 
New Scientist, First humans to leave Africa went to China, not Europe
October 14, 2015. The first humans to leave Africa decamped to far east Asia, not Europe. A trove of ancient teeth found in a cave in China adds evidence to the idea that humans reached the region thousands of years before they made it to Europe.
The New York Times, Scientists Recover First Genome of Ancient Human From Africa
October 8, 2015. A team of scientists has recovered the genome from a 4,500-year-old human skeleton in Ethiopia — the first time a complete assemblage of DNA has been retrieved from an ancient human in Africa.
eLIFE, Homo naledi, a new species of the genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa
September 10, 2015. Homo naledi is a previously-unknown species of extinct hominin discovered within the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa.
The New York Times, Homo Naledi, New Species in Human Lineage, Is Found in South African Cave
September 10, 2015. The new hominin species was announced by an international team of more than 60 scientists led by Lee R. Berger, an American paleoanthropologist who is a professor of human evolution studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The species name, H. naledi, refers to the cave where the bones lay undisturbed for so long; “naledi” means “star” in the local Sesotho language. 
BBC, ‘New species’ of ancient human found
May 28, 2015. A new species of ancient human has been unearthed in the Afar region of Ethiopia which date to between 3.3m and 3.5m years old.
New Scientist, Human ancestors got a grip on tools 3 million years ago
January 22, 2015. A growing body of evidence suggests that our “handy” ancestor was not the first to use stone tools. In fact, the ape-like Australopithecus may have figured out how to be clever with stones before modern humans even evolved.
BBC, Is This a New Species of Human?
Jananuary 22, 2015. Newly-examined fossils suggest that an unknown species of human was roaming parts of northern China between 60,000 and 120,000 years ago. Alternatively, the fossils could be the result of interbreeding between two of the known species.
BBC, 'First human' discovered in Ethiopia
March 4, 2015. Scientists have unearthed the jawbone of what they claim is one of the very first humans. The 2.8 million-year-old specimen is 400,000 years older than researchers thought that our kind first emerged.
BBC, Indonesian shell has 'earliest human engraving'
December 4, 2014. Zig-zag patterns found on a fossilised shell in Indonesia may be the earliest engraving by a human ancestor, a study has claimed.
BBC, Leg bone gives up oldest human DNA
December 4, 2013. The discovery of DNA in a 400,000-year-old human thigh bone will open up a new frontier in the study of our ancestors.
The New York Times, Family Tree of Languages Has Roots in Anatolia, Biologists Say
August 23, 2012. Biologists using tools developed for drawing evolutionary family trees say that they have solved a longstanding problem in archaeology: the origin of the Indo-European family of languages.
The New York Times, Fossil Foot Indicates New Prehuman Species
March 28, 2012. A 3.4-million-year-old fossil foot found in Ethiopia appears to settle the long-disputed question of whether there was only a single line of hominins — species more closely related to humans than to chimpanzees — between four million and three million years ago. The fossil record for that period had been virtually limited to the species Australopithecus afarensis, made famous by the 3.2-million-year-old Lucy skeleton.
The Independent, New evidence suggests Stone Age hunters from Europe discovered America
February 28, 2012. A remarkable series of several dozen European-style stone tools, dating back between 19,000 and 26,000 years, have been discovered at six locations along the US east coast.
Science, Ancient Tools Point to Early Human Migration Into Arabia
November 30, 2011. More than 100,000 years ago, a group of early humans stood on the western shore of the Red Sea, gazing across the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait at the Arabian Peninsula. The land was lush and verdant, beckoning them to cross. But did they? A new analysis of stone tools discovered in Oman suggests that they did, indicating that humans may have ventured into Arabia tens of thousands of years earlier than many scientists believed.
PBS, Clever Monkeys
Premiered November 9, 2008. Just how smart are monkeys? Their innate curiosity leads them to try new things, but it's their culture — the passing of information from one generation to the next — that teaches them much of what they know.
NATURE travels around the world to visit some of these fascinating primates. From tiny pygmy marmoset in South America to aggressive baboons of Africa and compassionate toque macaques in Sri Lanka, Clever Monkeys challenges many ideas about what is purely “human.”
The New York Times, New Fossils May Redraw Human Ancestry
September 8, 2011. An apelike creature with human features, whose fossil bones were discovered recently in a South African cave, is being greeted by paleoanthropologists as a likely watershed in the understanding of human evolution.
The New York Times, Earliest Signs of Advanced Tools Found
August 31, 2011. A new geological study, being reported Thursday in the journal Nature, showed that tools from a site near Lake Turkana in Kenya were made about 1.76 million years ago, the earliest of their ilk found so far.
New Scientist, Did modern humans go global twice as early as thought?
January 27, 2010. Homo sapiens might have spread across the world much earlier than previously thought – and it was a favourable climate, not a sophisticated culture, that allowed them to go.
New Scientist, Hunter-gatherers cared for first known ancient invalid
October 11, 2010. An individual of the species Homo heidelbergensis, who lived about 500,000 years ago, is the most elderly ancient human ever found. This hunter-gatherer was so infirm that it was very likely that he was looked after by his contemporaries.
The New York Times, Clues of Britain's First Humans
July 7, 2010. The discovery of 78 flint tools, more than 800,000 years old, shows that early humans, thought to survive only in warm, Mediterranean-style climates, could penetrate much colder regions and survive with a kit of crude tools.
New Scientist, Almost human: closest australopithecine primate found
April 12, 2010. Another long-lost human cousin, Australopithecus sediba, has been unearthed in South Africa. Of all the australopithecine primates yet found, its anatomy is the closest to the true humans that evolved into us.
The New York Times, New Hominid Species Discovered in South Africa
April 8, 2010. Fossils from the boy and a woman qualify as a new species of hominid, named Australopithecus sediba. The species sediba strode upright on long legs, with human-shaped hips and pelvis, but still climbed through trees on apelike arms.
The New York Times, On Crete, New Evidence of Very Ancient Mariners
February 15, 2010. Early humans, possibly even prehuman ancestors, appear to have been going to sea much longer than anyone had ever suspected.