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Articles on Paleoanthropology

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Together with artifacts from the past, ancient DNA can fill in details about our ancient ancestors. Nina R/Wikimedia Commons

Ancient DNA helps reveal social changes in Africa 50,000 years ago that shaped the human story

A new study doubles the age of ancient DNA in sub-Saharan Africa, revealing how people moved, mingled and had children together over the last 50,000 years.
The Grotte Mandrin rock shelter saw repeated use by Neanderthals and modern humans over millennia. Ludovic Slimak

New research suggests modern humans lived in Europe 10,000 years earlier than previously thought, in Neanderthal territories

Stone artifacts and a fossil tooth point to Homo sapiens living at Grotte Mandrin 54,000 years ago, at a time when Neanderthals were still living in Europe.
Three upright walkers, including Lucy (center) and two specimens of Australopithecus sediba, a human ancestor from South Africa dating back nearly 2 million years. Image compiled by Peter Schmid and courtesy of Lee R. Berger/Wikimedia Commons

When and how was walking invented?

Walking has taken a very long time to develop, with evidence of bipedalism among early humans in Africa roughly 4.4 million years ago.
Today the shoreline of Lake Malawi is open, not forested the way it was before ancient humans started modifying the landscape. Jessica Thompson

Early humans used fire to permanently change the landscape tens of thousands of years ago in Stone Age Africa

Combining evidence from archaeology, geochronology and paleoenvironmental science, researchers identified how ancient humans by Lake Malawi were the first to substantially modify their environment.
Footprints, preserved in solidified ash, hint at human behavior from as long as 19,000 years ago. Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce

Prehistoric human footprints reveal a rare snapshot of ancient human group behavior

The footprints of over 20 different prehistoric people, pressed into volcanic ash thousands of years ago in Tanzania, show possible evidence for sexual division of labor in this ancient community.
Volume rendered image of the external morphology of the foot bone shows the extent of expansion of the primary bone cancer beyond the surface of the bone. Patrick Randolph-Quinney (UCLAN)

What can a 1.7-million-year-old hominid fossil teach us about cancer?

Cancer is a deadly disease and would have been particularly lethal before the recent development of effective treatments. So why didn’t it – or our susceptibility to it – die out long ago?
3D virtual reconstruction of two-million-year-old ear. Rolf Quam

Testing ancient human hearing via fossilized ear bones

Beyond the cool factor of figuring out hominin hearing capacities two million years ago, these findings could help answer the tantalizing question of when did human vocalized language first emerge.

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