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Human ‘missing link’ fossils may be jumble of species

Posted on 9 Apr 2014 in Evolution, Human Origins, Journalism

One of our closest long-lost relatives may never have existed. The fossils of Australopithecus sediba, which promised to rewrite the story of human evolution, may actually be the remains of two species jumbled together. Image: Lee Berger

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Neanderthal virus DNA spotted hiding in modern humans

Posted on 20 Nov 2013 in Human Origins, Journalism

The DNA of ancient viruses first spotted in the Neanderthal genome have now been identified in modern humans – although whether they cause disease is not yet clear. Last year, researchers found 14 retroviral gene sequences in Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA that they could not find in modern humans. A new search of modern DNA has now found the ancient sequences. Image: jbokor

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Wolves turned into dogs by European hunter-gatherers

Posted on 14 Nov 2013 in Evolution, Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

European hunter-gatherers were the first to bring dogs to heel, perhaps as early as 32,000 years ago. Mitochondrial DNA extracted from the bones of 18 prehistoric canids from Eurasia, the US and Argentina have helped track down the continent on which wolves became dogs. Image: candybmw

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World’s oldest string found at French Neanderthal site

Posted on 13 Nov 2013 in Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

Call it prehistoric string theory. The earliest evidence of string has been found – apparently created by our Neanderthal cousins. Perishable materials usually rot away, so the oldest string on record only dates back 30,000 years. The new string, preserved as 0.7-millimetre-long twisted plant fibres, are three times as old. Image: oui-ennui

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Bone tools suggest Neanderthals taught us skills

Posted on 12 Aug 2013 in Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

A team of archaeologists has found evidence to suggest that Neanderthals were the first to produce a type of specialised bone tool, still used in some modern cultures today. The find is the best evidence yet that we may have – on rare occasions – learned a trick or two from our extinct cousins. Image: Abri Peyrony and Pech-de-l’Azé I Projects

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Arabian flights: early Eurasians diverged in 150 years

Posted on 2 Aug 2013 in Genetics, Human Origins, Journalism

Humanity’s dramatic race across the Old World after it left its African cradle has been told countless times. But for a true sense of the rapidity of events, look no further than the Y chromosome. The most comprehensive analysis of the Y yet shows that three key human groups appeared within just 150 years. Image: shabzillaa

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