Articles on Human evolution

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Human eyes are unique among primates for their range of iris colours and unpigmented sclera. Wikimedia Commons

Making sense of our evolution

The science about our special senses - vision, smell, hearing and taste - offers fascinating and unique perspectives on our evolution. Yet it remains patchy; we know surprisingly little for example about…
Detail of the engraving on fossil Pseudodon shell (DUB1006-fL) from Trinil. Wim Lustenhouwer, VU University Amsterdam

Marks on an ancient shell lead to a re-think of human history

Zig-zag markings have been discovered on a shell found at Trinil in Java that dates back to between 430,000 and 540,000 years ago, from the site where the original specimens of Homo erectus were found…
Ancient DNA can tell you a lot more than skull shape about the origins of the first Europeans. Flickr/Sebastian Dooris

Ancient DNA sheds light on the origin of Europeans

Much of the evidence of where the first Europeans came from was originally derived from comparisons of skulls but our work looking at ancient DNA is revealing new insight, with results published this month…
The human Y chromosome has retained only 3% of its ancestral genes. So why’s it a shadow of its former self? Rafael Anderson Gonzales Mendoza/Flickr

Sex, genes, the Y chromosome and the future of men

The Y chromosome, that little chain of genes that determines the sex of humans, is not as tough as you might think. In fact, if we look at the Y chromosome over the course of our evolution we’ve seen it…
Thomas Sutikna holds the skull of LB1, the type specimen of the ‘Hobbit’, Homo floresiensis. Indonesian National Centre for Archaeology (ARKENAS)/University of Wollongong

A decade on and the Hobbit still holds secrets

Ten years ago today in Australia and Indonesia the scientific world was turned on its head. By a very small head, as it happens. We were part of the original joint Australian-Indonesian research team involved…
The Gibraltar Museum says scratched patterns found in the Gorham’s Cave, in Gibraltar, are believed to be more than 39,000 years old, dating back to the times of the Neanderthals. EPA/Stewart Finlayson

Is that rock hashtag really the first evidence of Neanderthal art?

There has been much excitement over recent reports that something found in a cave in Gibraltar is the first known example of Neanderthal art. But what exactly has been found, can it be believed and, if…
Evolution is still the favoured theory, according to fossil records. Flickr/Brent Danley

Life on Earth still favours evolution over creationism

Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, first published in 1859, offered a bold new explanation for how animals and plants diversified and still serves as the foundation underpinning all medical and biological…
Tom Higham and Katerina Douka uncover evidence that early humans and Neanderthals lived alongside each other for thousands of years. Thomas Higham

Early humans lived with Neanderthal neighbours

A new study has dated the final days of the Neanderthals and found they lived at the same time as the earliest modern humans in Europe. Rather than seeing Neanderthals suddenly vanish at the time modern…
The hominid skull that gave rise to Homo floresiensis - but is it really a new species? Flickr/NCSSM

‘Hobbit’ more likely had Down Syndrome than a new species

Many people believe that what was found in Liang Bua Cave on the island of Flores in Indonesia in 2003-2004 was some variety of hobbit-like human or prehuman. Our research published today argues that it…
Gaudy appearance, cocky sashay, singing voice … peacock or Jagger? EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

Strut your stuff: how rockstars and peacocks attract the ladies

What is it that makes rockstars so attractive to the opposite sex? Turns out Charles Darwin had it pegged hundreds of years ago – and it has a lot to do with peacocks. In The Descent of Man, and Selection…
This half-million year old skull is helping answer controversial archaeological questions. Javier Trueba/Madrid Scientific Films

Chew on this: Neanderthal jaws evolved before brains

Ancient remains have confirmed that the face and jaw evolved before the rest of the skull in Neanderthals and early human…
For millennia, humans have had the tools to change the atmosphere: when will we develop a sense of caution? AK Rockefeller/Flickr

Human global domination began with fire, not factories or farms

The era in which humans have had the power to alter the conditions for all life on Earth is widely thought to have begun with the Industrial Revolution 250 years ago. This era has been dubbed the “Anthropocene…
One fifth of Neanderthal DNA is found in the human genome … how much is in you? Flickr/suchosch

Neanderthals and humans: an interspecies affair to remember

Research out today in leading science journals firms up estimates of interbreeding between the now extinct Neanderthals and the ancestors of living Eurasians. They also provide new explanations about the…
Symbolic behaviour like burial brings us and Neanderthals of the past closer. Gareth Fuller/PA

Neanderthal dispute laid to rest – they buried their dead

Ever since the discovery of the well preserved, nearly complete, 50,000-year-old Neanderthal skeleton in a pit dug in a cave in La Chapelle-aux-Saints, southwest France, it has been long debated as to…

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