May 13th, 2009
The journal Nature reports this week: “Six fragments of carved ivory recovered from the Hohle Fels in Germany represent the oldest figurative art yet discovered. Dating to at least 35,000 years ago, the Venus has grotesquely exaggerated sexual features and is 5,000 years older than well-known ‘Venuses’ from the Gravettian culture.
May 9th, 2009
The puzzling fossils known as Homo floresiensis, nicknamed “Hobbit”, continue to provoke discussion. (See the story “Hobbit Symposium Held”, below) Although given the genus name Homo, the fossils found a few years ago in Indonesia exhibit many traits, especially in the hands and feet, of much earlier members of the hominin lineage, particularly Australopithecus afarensis
May 8th, 2009
The discovery in November 1974 of a nearly complete, three million year old skeleton, nicknamed “Lucy”, overshadowed a quite remarkable find twelve months before. In 1973, Donald Johanson found two fragments of fossilized bone, the proximal or near end of a tibia and the distal or far end of a femur, otherwise known as a shinbone and thighbone, which together form the knee. The distal end of
May 4th, 2009
The famous cave outside Beijing in the Dragon Teeth Hills, called Zhoukoudian and made famous by excavations in the 1920s, will be reopened for excavation this year, it was announced by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, an arm of the Chinese government. The cave was worked sporadically in the Sixties, following the formal cessation of work in 1937 when the Japanese invaded China.<
April 28th, 2009
An inconclusive meeting was held April 21-23, 2009 at Stony Brook, New York that shed very little new light on the puzzling fossils nicknamed “Hobbit” and formally named Homo floresiensis. The fossils were discovered in a cave on the island of Flores in Indonesia, southeast of Java, in 2003. Researchers were puzzled from the start by the diminutive stature (three feet tall), small br
April 20th, 2009
The always fascinating Neanderthals were the subject of two studies announced in recent weeks. The first revealed at least three and possibly four genetically distinct subgroups of Homo neanderthalensis, while the second disputed the contention Neanderthals were cannibals at a Croatian site.
March 26th, 2009
BecomingHuman.org, launched in 2000 and upgraded earlier this year, alerts visitors to expect a timeline and associated material to appear within a few months. The site is developing this new module, according to webmaster Jay Greene, to fill a clear need: teachers, students and others interested in human origins can see on one page all the species that make up the human evolutionary tree.
March 12th, 2009
A new dating method indicates the stone tools found at Zhoukoudian in China are considerably older than first believed, according to a paper published in the journal Nature this week. Zhoukoudian, not far from Beijing, then called Peking in the West, is the site of a cave first excavated by Franz Weidenreich starting in the late Twenties and during the decade of the Thirties. Fossili
March 4th, 2009
Human footprints, whether encountered on a beach or after the snow has stopped falling, have an effable quality. Bones and human artifacts, after examination by specialists, can tell us much about how life was lived in earlier times but footprints are full of wonder for us. They may have been made yesterday or, as occurs so rarely, a million years ago and we feel a connection with the unknown
January 27th, 2009
In our occasional series, How Science Is Done, we attempt to show how real scientists, working on real questions, find answers - if not final answers, then suggestive answers that expand our knowledge into hitherto murky areas.