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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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Ancient bee fossil reveals secrets of human ancestor’s habitat

Posted on 28 Sep 2016 in Human Origins, Journalism, Palaeontology

The skull of an ape-like Australopithecus found in 1924 and nicknamed the Taung Child revolutionised our view of human origins. It suggested humans evolved in Africa, not Eurasia as previously thought. No other hominin fossils have been found at the site since. But now a fossilised bee’s nest provides an insight into the local habitat in which that early human lived almost 3 million years ago – and hints that more fossils could be waiting to be discovered. Image: scead

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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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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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Mystery human hobbits ruled tiny Asian island 700,000 years ago

Posted on 8 Jun 2016 in Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

We may have finally found the ancestors of the mysterious miniature Homo floresiensis, aka the hobbit. A new cache of hobbit-like remains uncovered on the island of Flores answers at least some questions in the decade-long quest to understand the identity and origins of this tiny ancient hominin. Image: Kinez Riza

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