Walking on two feet

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Rice famers near Siem Reap, Cambodia. Darren Curnoe

Was agriculture the greatest blunder in human history?

Twelve thousand years ago everybody lived as hunters and gatherers. But by 5,000 years ago most people lived as farmers. This brief period marked the biggest shift ever in human history with unparalleled…
Lower jaw of the 7.2 million year old ape species Graecopithecus freybergi (El Graeco) from Pyrgos Vassilissis, Greece (today in metropolitan Athens). Wolfgang Gerber, University of Tübingen

Did humans evolve in Europe rather than Africa? We don’t have the answer just yet

Charles Darwin believed that humans evolved in Africa, because that’s where our closest ape relatives the chimpanzees and gorillas live. And during the twentieth century he was vindicated through a combination…
The human brain is unique in many ways including the amount of asymmetry that exists between its left and right sides (Source: Massachusetts General Hospital and Draper Labs). Wikimedia Commons

Our uniquely lopsided brain

We all know that the human brain is ridiculously large, but how many of us realise that it’s lopsided as well? It turns out that the cockeyed shape of our brains is as important to understanding human…
Human brain ‘connectome’ illustrating axonal nerve fibers determined by the measured directionality of water molecules inside them (Credit: jgmarcelino from Newcastle upon Tyne). Wikimedia Commons

Food for thought? Diet helps explain unique human brainpower

It’s the mystery of all mysteries of science. Why is it that humans are so unusual compared to all other life? The key to solving this riddle lies in explaining the evolution of our large brains and exceptional…
Incomplete skulls from Xuchang archaeological site in China are dated to between 125,000 and 105,000 years old. (Credit: Xiu-Jie Wu, IVPP) Xiu-Jie Wu, IVPP

New skulls from China have scientists and the media in a muddle

Just a decade ago we thought we had solved the mystery of mysteries. We were confident we had finally puzzled out the evolutionary origins of modern humans. Two hundred thousand years ago our species evolved…
The ‘Venus of Willendorf’ at around 28,000 years old is one of the earliest depictions of women in art (Source: Ziko van Dijk). Wikimedia Commons

Where were all the women in the Stone Age?

Were there any women around in the Palaeolithic Era? If popular culture is any guide you’d think not. And even archaeology itself has a long way to go to address a deeply ingrained bias towards men. It’s…
Electron microscope image of a human cell vacuole where the bacterium that causes Q Fever (Coxiella burnetii) is busy growing. Source: NIAID. Wikimedia Commons

Humans are driving a new burst of evolution including possibly our own

The unprecedented impact that humans are having on the planet is well known to us all. Scarcely a day passes by without a media report or two on the effects of human economic activity on the world’s climate…
The human faces of Asia. First published in the first edition (1876–1899) of Nordisk familjebok. Wikimedia Commons

The biggest mistake in the history of science

Science is one of the most remarkable inventions of humankind. It has been a source of inspiration and understanding, lifted the veil of ignorance and superstition, been a catalyst for social change and…