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Ice age fashion showdown: Neanderthal capes versus human hoodies

Posted on 8 Aug 2016 in Archaeology, Journalism

Early modern humans dressed for ice age success – Neanderthals, not so much. An analysis of animal remains at prehistoric hominin sites across Europe suggests modern humans clad themselves in snug, fur-trimmed clothing, while Neanderthals probably opted for simple capes. Image: Nationalmuseet

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Some of the earliest plants took root by growing up, not down

Posted on 8 Aug 2016 in Earth Science, Environment, Evolution, Journalism

It was one of the first examples of geoengineering: when plants began to colonise the land they stabilised sediments, generated soils and greened the planet. Now we have a window on the process, thanks to a spectacular rock formation in South China. Image: Jinzhuang Xue

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Our ancestors may have spread anthrax all around the world

Posted on 6 Aug 2016 in Archaeology, Featured, Genetics, Health, Journalism

Somehow, a disease that is intrinsically unfit for international travel became a globetrotter thousands of years ago – and there is a good chance humanity is, inadvertently, to blame. Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

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Tolerance of smoke may have given us an edge over Neanderthals

Posted on 3 Aug 2016 in Featured, Genetics, Human Origins, Journalism

Where there’s fire there’s often smoke – which might have been bad news for Neanderthals and other ancient hominins. Modern humans carry a genetic mutation that reduces our sensitivity to cancer-causing chemicals found in wood smoke. But Neanderthals and Denisovans apparently lacked the mutation. Image: jmw120

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You are junk: Why it’s not your genes that make you human

Posted on 27 Jul 2016 in Evolution, Genetics, Journalism

The blueprint for building a human, or indeed any complex creature, lies not only in our genes but in other, neglected parts of our genome. Image: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Neanderthal skulls and brains may have developed just like ours

Posted on 25 Jul 2016 in Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

Great minds grow alike. Evidence from Neanderthals’ skulls suggests that their large brains grew in the same way as ours do. That in turn suggests that Neanderthals were perhaps not so cognitively different from us – although not everyone agrees with this interpretation. Image: p_a_h

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