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Analysis and Comment (13)

Jared Diamond has worked extensively in New Guinea, the foundation for his latest book on traditional societies and what they can teach us. Jared Diamond has worked extensively in New Guinea, the foundation for his latest book on traditional societies and what they can teach us. AAP/Lloyd Jones

In Conversation with Jared Diamond: “Traditional societies are not frozen models of the past”

American scientist and author Jared Diamond was recently in Australia promoting his 5th book The World Until Yesterday: What can we learn from traditional societies? Jared has worked extensively in New…
The discovery of the skeleton of the Homo floresiensis has sparked significant debate among evolutionary scientists. The discovery of the skeleton of the Homo floresiensis has sparked significant debate among evolutionary scientists. Ryan Somma

Saga of ‘the Hobbit’ highlights a science in crisis

To state the obvious: human evolution is not without its drama – and the latest salvo in the ongoing Hobbit, or Homo floresiensis, battle confirms this yet again. The 2004 announcement of Homo floresiensis…
It may be some time before we hear the pitter-patter of Neandertal feet. It may be some time before we hear the pitter-patter of Neandertal feet. flequi

Women sought for Neandertal surrogacy? Not Yeti, thankfully

In a sort-of Ice Age version of Jurassic Park, Harvard University’s Professor George Church has suggested – to much media coverage – that, one day soon, scientists somewhere will place a very unusual personal…
The date of the earliest anatomically modern humans in Asia has sparked some debate. The date of the earliest anatomically modern humans in Asia has sparked some debate.

Cave of the Monkeys find – a response to The Conversation

I would like to rectify a couple of statements made by Darren Curnoe in his recent Conversation article which, in turn, was a reaction to an article I published recently with my colleagues in Proceedings…
Researchers excavate the Tam Pa Ling cave in Laos, where skeletal evidence of “the earliest” modern humans in Asia was discovered. Researchers excavate the Tam Pa Ling cave in Laos, where skeletal evidence of “the earliest” modern humans in Asia was discovered. P. Duringer

Cave of the Monkeys find complicates our Asia story

Did our Asian story just get more complicated? It seems so. An article published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Fabrice Demeter and co-workers describes a new modern…
New evidence has cast doubt on one of the accepted truths of archeaogenetics. New evidence has cast doubt on one of the accepted truths of archeaogenetics.

Sex with our evolutionary ancestors? Proceed with caution

A paper published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides a compelling alternative to the idea that we Homo sapiens interbred with Neandertals or Denisovans as had previously…
Media commentators have been eager to paint Neandertals as artists – but why? Media commentators have been eager to paint Neandertals as artists – but why? Federico Gambarini/AAP

The art of loving Neandertals – they’re like us, but different

An article published recently in Science sheds new light on paintings found in 11 cave sites in Spain. At 40,800 years old, some of these paintings could be among the oldest anywhere in the world. But…
Bones recovered from northern Ethiopia have forced a major rethink about how bipedalism evolved. Bones recovered from northern Ethiopia have forced a major rethink about how bipedalism evolved. Lars Plougmann

Ancient toe gets a foothold in bipedal evolution

A report published today in Nature by Yohannes Hailie-Selassie and co-workers outlines the importance to our evolutionary story of some very ancient foot bones discovered recently in the Rift Valley of…
The Red Deer Cave people and humans could be part of different evolutionary lines. The Red Deer Cave people and humans could be part of different evolutionary lines. Peter Schouten

Defining ‘human’ – new fossils provide more questions than answers

The origin of the human species remains one of the most fascinating and difficult topics of modern science. One of the main reasons for this is a continuing lack of agreement about how we should define…
Infamous street artist Banksy’s precursors have been found in South Africa. Infamous street artist Banksy’s precursors have been found in South Africa. Lord Jim

Birth of bling: world’s first art studio found in South Africa

Could we have found the first artist’s studio in human history? We may well have. We all recognise the material signs of wealth. Fast cars, large yachts and sparkling bling all tell us who has more. Crowns…
So what’s it to be, buddy, my cave or yours? So what’s it to be, buddy, my cave or yours? Kaptain Kobold

Sex with our evolutionary cousins? What’s not to love?

We humans had sex with Neandertals; we bonked the relatives of Neandertals; we got down and dirty with members of an as-yet unrecognised African population; and we, of course, got jiggy with each other…
Population-specific skeletons are of great value to forensic scientists. Population-specific skeletons are of great value to forensic scientists. Didier Descouens

Forensic anthropology – the need for Australian standards

Given terrorism, natural disasters and other mass-fatality incidents seem to dominate news coverage, its never been more important to have an accurate and efficient means of identifying human remains…
Did music precede language for Homo sapiens? Did music precede language for Homo sapiens? Spuz/Flickr

Evolution: please don’t stop the music

All human cultures and social groups that we know of respond to music and dance. The type of music may vary but the underlying, fundamental principles of making music are the same. Our recognition of…

Research and News (3)

Research Briefs (6)

Voters take candidates on face value

In modern politics, a candidate’s image is everything, linguistic anthropologists researching US presidential campaigns have…

Tool time began before we thought

Homo erectus, a precursor to modern humans, has been found to have used advanced tool-making methods in East Africa 1.8 million…