science
88,000-Year-Old Finger Found in Saudi Arabia Could Rewrite Human History

It’s just a lone, boney middle finger, but the scientists who found it say it’s the oldest directly dated fossil of our species to ever be found outside of Africa and the Levant, a region that today comprises Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. But the new discovery is not without its critics, who say older evidence of human habitation outside of this region exists elsewhere, and that the finger might not even be human. Read More >>

science
Ancient Human Groups Mated With the Mysterious Denisovans At Least Twice

Genetic analysis suggests two populations of Denisovans—an extinct group of hominids closely related to Neanderthals—existed outside of Africa during the Pleistocene, and that both of these populations interacted and interbred with anatomically modern humans. Read More >>

science
Ancient Climate Swings Forced Early Humans to Get Their Shit Together and Innovate

Our species made its debut some 300,000 years ago. During the preceding millenniums, our continent of origin underwent environmental shifts that very likely influenced the trajectory of human evolution. Archaeologists working in Kenya have uncovered new clues to support this assertion, showing the surprising extent to which climate change influenced the behaviour of early humans and their approach to technology. Read More >>

science
These Early Humans Prospered During What Should Have Been a Devastating Volcanic Winter

Around 74,000 years ago, a massive caldera erupted on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, triggering a prolonged and devastating volcanic winter. Scientists have speculated that the Toba eruption pruned back human populations to a considerable degree, but new research published today suggests at least one group of humans living in southern Africa not only managed to survive the event—they actually prospered. The Toba eruption, as we’re learning, wasn’t nearly as bad for humans as we thought—and it may not have produced a volcanic winter at all. Read More >>

neanderthals
Scientists Who Doubt Neanderthal Art Must Reckon With New Evidence From These Sweet Cave Paintings

Back in 2012, archaeologists concluded that a series of cave paintings in Spain were created by Neanderthals, not early humans as was previously assumed. Critics complained about the dating method used, and more contentiously, claimed that only modern humans had the capacity for symbolic thought. Now, using an updated dating technique, scientists have shown yet again that Neanderthals are the most likely source of the paintings—but will it be enough to finally dispel outdated notions of Neanderthal intelligence? Read More >>

science
Incredible Discovery Pushes Back Origin of Homo Sapiens By 100,000 Years

The remains of five early Homo sapiens have been unearthed at a site in northwest Africa. At around 300,000 years old, the fossils are a whopping 100,000 years older than the previous record, pushing back the origin of our species by a significant margin. And because the fossils were uncovered in Morocco—far from the supposed origin point of our species—the discovery is also resetting our notions of where and how modern humans evolved. Read More >>

food
Ancient Humans Didn’t Eat Each Other For the Calories

Humans have been eating other humans since the beginning of time, but the motivations behind this macabre practice are complex and often unclear. Some anthropologists say prehistoric cannibals were just trying to grab a nutritious snack, but new research shows that human flesh—as tasty as it is—doesn’t pack the same caloric punch as wild animals. In other words, cannibalism wasn’t worth the trouble given alternatives. Read More >>

history
We Were Wrong About How Ancient Humans Colonised North America

It’s a veritable certainty that North America’s first people arrived via the Bering Land Bridge, but less certainty exists about how and where they migrated from there. For years, scientists thought they had travelled along an ice-free corridor in western Canada, but new research suggests this was impossible. Read More >>

science
Cancer Has Been a Deadly Problem For Longer Than We Thought

Two recent recent discoveries, of a 1.7 million-year-old cancerous foot bone and a 2 million-year-old vertebrae ravaged by tumours, show that cancer has been bothering us for a while. So it’s not strictly a modern disease. Read More >>

science
Ancestral Remains of Mysterious ‘Hobbit’ Species Uncovered on Indonesian Island

Bones and teeth belonging to the ancestors of the short-statured human lineage known as “the Hobbits” have been discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores. The fossils, which date back 700,000 years, are offering fresh insights into the origin of this mysterious species. Read More >>

science
Newly Discovered, Ancient Humans Were Tree-Climbers Who Walked and Used Tools

Last month in South Africa, scientists announced the discovery of a new group of early humans called Homo naledi. Now an analysis shows that this hominin had hands capable of both tree climbing and tool use, plus feet that were adapted for walking upright. Read More >>