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Complex life may have had a false start 2.3 billion years ago

Posted on 16 Jan 2017 in Earth Science, Featured, Journalism

It was a sign of things to come. About 2.3 billion years ago, our primitive planet was an oxygen-poor world profoundly different from now – but then it briefly and mysteriously gained an oxygen-rich atmosphere. This so-called Lomagundi Event could have provided a fleeting opportunity for complex, animal-like creatures to evolve billions of years before the ancestors of all animals we know today appeared. Image: maxelman

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Baboons recorded making key sounds found in human speech

Posted on 11 Jan 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Evolution, Featured, Journalism

Baboon grunts and barks have more in common with human speech than we thought. The monkeys routinely produce five of the distinct vowel sounds found in our languages. Image: Derek Keats

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Oldest early human footprints suggest males had several ‘wives’

Posted on 14 Dec 2016 in Archaeology, Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

Three has become five. Laetoli in northern Tanzania is the site of iconic ancient footprints, capturing the moment – 3.66 million years ago – when three members of Lucy’s species (Australopithecus afarensis) strode out across the landscape. Now something quite unexpected has come to light: the footprints of two other individuals. Image: Raffaello Pellizzon

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Skull casket holding human bones reveals weird burial rituals

Posted on 7 Dec 2016 in Archaeology, Featured, Journalism

Death was a complicated business in prehistoric Brazil. Cadavers were meticulously dismembered and put on public display. Some parts seem to have been cooked and eaten, and then the bones were carefully tidied up and buried. Image: Andre Strauss

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Ancient leftovers show the real Paleo diet was a veggie feast

Posted on 5 Dec 2016 in Archaeology, Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

Today’s Paleo diet cookbooks might be missing a few pages. Archaeological excavations at a Stone Age site in Israel have revealed the first direct evidence of the sort of plants that our distant human ancestors ate with their meat and fish. Their tastes were more adventurous than we might expect, with roasted acorns and sedges both on the menu. Image: DubeFranz

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Early hominin Lucy had powerful arms from years of tree-climbing

Posted on 30 Nov 2016 in Archaeology, Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

Lucy, the world famous early bipedal hominin, was a swinger. Scans of her skeleton confirm that she had a powerful upper body, thanks to spending a lot of time in trees. The research is being hailed as the final word on Lucy’s lifestyle. Image: Emmjae

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