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Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology focuses on matters regarding the origins of humankind. The Institute’s researchers study widely-differing aspects of human evolution. They analyse the genes, cultures and cognitive abilities of people living today and compare them with those of apes and extinct peoples. Scientists from various disciplines work closely together at the Institute: Geneticists trace the genetic make-up of extinct species, such as Neanderthals. Behaviourists and ecologists, for their part, study the behaviour of apes and other mammals.

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Micro-drilling sediment blocks to extract powder for genetic analysis.

Digging deep: DNA molecules in ancient dirt offer a treasure trove of clues to our past

Genetic analysis of intact blocks of sediment from archaeological sites reveals that microscopic fragments of fossil bone and faeces are the main sources of ancient DNA.
Collection of sediment DNA samples in the Main Chamber of Denisova Cave. Bert Roberts

Dirty secrets: sediment DNA reveals a 300,000-year timeline of ancient and modern humans living in Siberia

Our research has also uncovered major long-term changes in ancient animal populations at Denisova Cave, and has provided the first direct evidence of Homo sapiens having lived there.
6-year-olds have the social skills to cooperatively overcome the competition of a resource dilemma. from www.shutterstock.com

What children can teach us about looking after the environment

New research shows that children as young as six have the social skills necessary to cooperate and sustain a shared resource.
Bonobo Jasongo at Leipzig Zoo has a hunch about what you’re thinking. MPI-EVA

Can great apes read your mind?

Realizing that others’ minds hold different thoughts, feelings and knowledge than your own was thought to be something only people could do. But evidence is accumulating that apes, too, have ‘theory of mind.’
Get the knuckle-dragging caveman image out of your head – Neandertals were master toolmakers. marcovdz

Neandertal toolmakers left a leatherworking legacy

Ever since the Neandertal (Homo neanderthalensis) type fossil was discovered in the Neander Valley of Germany in 1856, the species has been variously portrayed as knuckle-dragging cavemen and primitive…

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