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Evolution & Human Origins

In this section we will examine latest news and discoveries relating to human origins and evolution.  It was once thought that that the origin and evolution of man could be explained and understood through a simple family tree. However, in the last decade, numerous findings across the world have revealed that the evolution of human beings is far from simple. The more fossils that are unearthed, the more researchers admit that there is much that is still unknown about the evolution of humans. 

Caravan on the Silk Road, 1380.

DNA Suggests Yiddish Began on the Silk Road

Amy Pullan-Sheffield For decades, linguists have questioned the origin of Yiddish, the millennium-old language of Ashkenazic Jews. Now, the Geographic Population Structure (GPS), which converts DNA...
Neanderthals May have been Infected by Diseases carried out of Africa by Humans, say Researchers

Neanderthals May have been Infected by Diseases carried out of Africa by Humans, say Researchers

A review of the latest genetic evidence suggests infectious diseases are tens of thousands of years older than previously thought, and that they could jump between species of ‘hominin’. Researchers...
An artist’s depiction of a family of Neanderthals.

Humans and Neanderthals Branched off 600,000 years ago Due to an Incompatible Y Chromosome

Neanderthals and humans branched off about 600,000 years ago, possibly because of genetic incompatibility in the context of the Y chromosome, a team of researchers has announced. There was some...
New Research Asserts that the Hobbits of Indonesia Vanished Earlier than Previously Believed

New Research Asserts that the Hobbits of Indonesia Vanished Earlier than Previously Believed

The pint-sized Homo floresiensis, nicknamed Hobbits, may have met their demise much earlier than previously believed. Recent research suggests that they lived around 50,000 years ago and not between...
A world map of Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestry in modern humans

A world map of Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestry in modern humans

Most non-Africans possess at least a little bit Neanderthal DNA. But a new map of archaic ancestry--published March 28 in Current Biology--suggests that many bloodlines around the world, particularly...
A reconstruction of a male of our evolutionary cousin the Neanderthals (Modified from an image by Cicero Moraes).

A Golden Age of Ancient DNA Science Begins

If I had taken a straw poll among anthropologists 10 years ago asking them how far genetic research would come in the next decade, I doubt anyone would have come close to predicting the big impact...
Main: A DNA molecule (C. Bock/Wikimedia Commons). Inset: Two Melanesian girls

Ancient Denisovan DNA discovered in modern Pacific Islanders

The archaic Denisovan and Neanderthal DNA that persists in modern individuals from the Pacific islands of Melanesia could be a source of new information about early human history, according to a...
Reproduction of Homo neanderthalensis. Museum of Human Evolution (MEH), Burgos, Spain.

Confirmed: The Hominins Found at Atapuerca are the Earliest Genetic Evidence of Neanderthals to Date

After decades of study and many assumptions, the analysis of nuclear DNA has finally confirmed the evolutionary lineage of the inhabitants of the Sierra de Atapuerca in Spain. For some time,...
Mysterious Chimpanzee Behavior May Be Evidence of ‘Sacred’ Rituals

Mysterious Chimpanzee Behavior May Be Evidence of ‘Sacred’ Rituals

I trampled clumsily through the dense undergrowth, attempting in vain to go a full five minutes without getting snarled in the thorns that threatened my every move. It was my first field mission in...
A reconstructed Neanderthal skeleton, right, is displayed next to a modern human skeleton at the Museum of Natural History in New York.

Neanderthals Mated with Modern Humans Much Earlier than Previously Thought, Study Finds

Using several different methods of DNA analysis, an international research team has found what they consider to be strong evidence of an interbreeding event between Neanderthals and modern humans...
A model of a female Homo floresiensis.

Study Says that Hobbits of Flores Island Are Not Homo Sapiens

The question about the origins of Homo floresiensis has been one of the most important problems of modern science since 2003, when a team of Australian and Indonesian researchers excavated some 18,...
The new study says that Neanderthal DNA influences many physical traits in people of European and Asian heritage.

Study Casts New Light on Diseases We Inherited from Neanderthals

Feeling depressed? Can’t kick the tobacco habit? Sun causing skin lesions? Allergies bothering you? Some people of today may blame their Neanderthal ancestry in part for some of these health problems...
‘The Stone Age’ (1882-1885), detail of a painting by Viktor M. Vasnetsov.

Why Did Hunter-gatherer Group in Europe Unexpectedly Disappear After the Last Ice Age?

A recent study has shown that a group of hunter-gatherers had survived the last Ice Age while living in the modern location of Europe, only to unexpectedly disappear about 14,500 years ago. As the...
A family migrating to western US in 1886.

Here’s How Genetics Helped Crack the History of Human Migration

Over the past 25 years, scientists have supported the view that modern humans left Africa around 50,000 years ago, spreading to different parts of the world by replacing resident human species like...
‘Le Moustier Neanderthals, AMNH.’ (1920) By Charles Robert Knight.

Improving Our First Line of Defense: Neanderthal Genes

Our close cousins the Neanderthal and Denosivan people interbred with Homo sapiens and gave us genes that help us fight off infections, according to two new studies coming out this month...
Reconstruction of the Iceman. Prehistory Museum of Quinson, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France.

Stomach Troubles for the Iceman: How Otzi Continues to Provide Information About the Past

Ötzi, the Copper Age man, continues to tell tales of our homo sapien past. Now, an international team of scientists including paleopathologist Albert Zink and microbiologist Frank Maixner from the...

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