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Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution
Data on prehistory, human evolution and their archaeology
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Using human genomes to illuminate the mysteries of early human history

Using human genomes to illuminate the mysteries of early human history | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it

"The main finding of the study, published Sept. 18 in Nature Genetics, is that the San, an indigenous group of hunter gatherers from southern Africa, diverged from other human populations earlier than previously thought -- about 130,000 years ago. In comparison, the ancestors of modern Eurasian populations migrated from Africa only about 50,000 years ago."

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800,000 years of abrupt climate variability: Earth's climate is capable of very rapid transitions

800,000 years of abrupt climate variability: Earth's climate is capable of very rapid transitions | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
An international team of scientists has produced a prediction of what climate records from Greenland might look like over the last 800,000 years.
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Direct ancestor of Homo genus? Fossils show human-like hand, brain and pelvis in early hominin

Direct ancestor of Homo genus? Fossils show human-like hand, brain and pelvis in early hominin | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
The Australopithecus sediba discovered in 2008 could be the direct ancestor of the Homo genus. That is the conclusion of an international team of scientists.
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Handier than Homo habilis? Versatile hand of Australopithecus sediba makes a better candidate for an early tool-making hominin

Handier than Homo habilis? Versatile hand of Australopithecus sediba makes a better candidate for an early tool-making hominin | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it

"Hand bones from a single individual with a clear taxonomic affiliation are scarce in the hominin fossil record, which has hampered understanding of the evolution of manipulative abilities in hominins. An international team of researchers including Tracy Kivell of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany has now published a study that describes the earliest, most complete fossil hominin hand post-dating the appearance of stone tools in the archaeological record, the hand of a 1.98-million-year-old Australopithecus sediba from Malapa, South Africa."

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Human brain evolution, new insight through X-rays: Experiment reveals brain shape of an early human ancestor

Human brain evolution, new insight through X-rays: Experiment reveals brain shape of an early human ancestor | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it

"A paper published in Science reveals the highest resolution and most accurate X-ray scan ever made of the brain case of an early human ancestor. The insight derived from this data is like a powerful beacon on the hazy landscape of brain evolution across the transition from Australopithecus to Homo."

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Fossils raise questions about human ancestry : Nature News

Fossils raise questions about human ancestry : Nature News | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it

"New descriptions of Australopithecus sediba fossils have added to debates about the species' place in the human lineage. Five papers published today in Science describe the skull, pelvis, hands and feet of the ancient hominin unearthed three years ago in South Africa."

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Woolly rhino fossil discovery in Tibet provides important clues to evolution of Ice Age giants

Woolly rhino fossil discovery in Tibet provides important clues to evolution of Ice Age giants | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
Fossil discoveries from Tibet offer new insights into the origin of the cold-adapted Pleistocene megafauna.
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Interbreeding between modern humans and evolutionary cousins gave healthy immune system boost to human genome, study finds

Interbreeding between modern humans and evolutionary cousins gave healthy immune system boost to human genome, study finds | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
For a few years now, scientists have known that humans and their evolutionary cousins had some casual flings, but now it appears that these liaisons led to a more meaningful relationship.
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Ancient DNA reveals secrets of human history | Nature News

Ancient DNA reveals secrets of human history | Nature News | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it

"Modern humans may have picked up key genes from extinct relatives."

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Northern humans had bigger brains, to cope with the low light levels, study finds

Northern humans had bigger brains, to cope with the low light levels, study finds | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it

"The farther that human populations live from the equator, the bigger their brains, according to a new study by Oxford University. But it turns out that this is not because they are smarter, but because they need bigger vision areas in the brain to cope with the low light levels experienced at high latitudes."

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Fall of the Neanderthals: Volume of modern humans infiltrating Europe cited as critical factor

Fall of the Neanderthals: Volume of modern humans infiltrating Europe cited as critical factor | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
"New research sheds light on why, after 300,000 years of domination, European Neanderthals abruptly disappeared. Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered that modern humans coming from Africa swarmed the region, arriving with over ten times the population as the Neanderthal inhabitants."
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Ancient footprints show human-like walking began nearly 4 million years ago

Ancient footprints show human-like walking began nearly 4 million years ago | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
Scientists have found that ancient footprints in Laetoli, Tanzania, show that human-like features of the feet and gait existed almost two million years earlier than previously thought.


→ Although I have not read the original work, this seems to be a remarkable change on the way we perceive the development of bipedalism (one of the main vectors of human evolution).
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Malapa Fossils - Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine

Malapa Fossils - Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
Part Ape, Part Human: A new ancestor emerges from the richest collection of hominid fossil skeletons ever found.
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How often did humans and Neanderthals have carnal relations? Not very

A model of human migration suggests that the intercourse that gave us Neanderthal DNA was either a rare event, or rarely productive.
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Endangered horse has ancient origins and high genetic diversity, new study finds

Endangered horse has ancient origins and high genetic diversity, new study finds | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
An endangered species, Przewalski's horse, is much more distantly related to the domestic horse and has a much more diverse gene pool than researchers previously had hypothesized, researchers report.
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Sediba hominid skull hints at later brain evolution

Sediba hominid skull hints at later brain evolution | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
An analysis of a skull from the most complete early hominid fossils ever found suggests the large, complex human brain may have evolved more rapidly and at a later time than some other human characteristics.
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Australopithecus sediba paved the way for Homo species, new studies suggest

Australopithecus sediba paved the way for Homo species, new studies suggest | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
Researchers have revealed new details about the brain, pelvis, hands and feet of Australopithecus sediba, a primitive hominin that existed around the same time early Homo species first began to appear on Earth.
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Evolution's past is modern human's present: DNA evidence of ancient interbreeding inside Africa

"The past is present when it comes to human evolution. That seems to be the takeaway from new research that concludes "archaic" humans, somewhere in Africa during the last 20-60 thousand years, interbred with anatomically modern humans and transferred small amounts of genetic material to their offspring who are alive today."

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Human ancestors interbred with related species : Nature News

Human ancestors interbred with related species : Nature News | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it

"Our ancestors bred with other species in the Homo genus, according to a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors say that up to 2% of the genomes of some modern African populations may originally came from a closely related species."

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Humans shaped stone axes 1.8 million years ago: Advanced tool-making methods pushed back in time

Humans shaped stone axes 1.8 million years ago: Advanced tool-making methods pushed back in time | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
A new study suggests that Homo erectus, a precursor to modern humans, was using advanced toolmaking methods in East Africa 1.8 million years ago, at least 300,000 years earlier than previously thought.
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The cultured chimpanzees | Nature.com via Readability

The cultured chimpanzees | Nature.com via Readability | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it

"Do chimpanzees have traditions? As wild populations dwindle, researchers are racing to find out." — by Gayathri Vaidyanathan

 

You can download the pdf version of this article in: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2679/Permanent/476266a.pdf

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'Hobbit' just a deformed human? | Nature News

'Hobbit' just a deformed human? | Nature News | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it

"Skull scans suggest that the small-brained Indonesian hominid was a modern human suffering from a developmental disorder."

 

→ Hobbit politics, indeed. (We need more fossil remains, to settle this kind of dispute.)

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Six million years of savanna: Grasslands, wooded grasslands accompanied human evolution

Six million years of savanna: Grasslands, wooded grasslands accompanied human evolution | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
Scientists have used chemical isotopes in ancient soil to measure prehistoric tree cover -- in effect, shade -- and found that grassy, tree-dotted savannas prevailed at most East African sites where human ancestors and their ape relatives evolved...
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Fast-Evolving Brains Helped Humans out of the Stone Age | Scientific American

Fast-Evolving Brains Helped Humans out of the Stone Age | Scientific American | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
People were once thought to have ancient psyches ill-suited to modern existence, but they have adapted much more quickly than early theories had predicted...


→ Paleoanthropology + genetics + psychology = wow! (On my way now to download the study.)
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Experimental Archaeologists Test Past by Making It Real

Experimental Archaeologists Test Past by Making It Real | Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Evolution | Scoop.it
"Of all the scientific disciplines, archaeology lends itself most to the imagination. It's the scholarly embodiment of the impulse to imagine oneself as a Mongol raider or Roman slave, tracking gazelle across the Great Rift Valley or navigating by stars across the Pacific.
For a few lucky researchers, these dreams become hypotheses. Experimental archaeologists test ancient tools and techniques, determining how they worked and whether modern interpretations are correct. Sometimes the studies look more like play than research — but why shouldn't research be fun?
From ancient noodle recipes to spear throwing, here are a few of our favorite studies."
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