August 2nd, 2013

Single Mutation Sparks Dietary Revolution

August 02, 2013

A small event can have large consequences. So it is with a single gene controlling the production of an enzyme called lactase. Lactase enables infant mammals to digest lactose, the principal sugar in mother's milk ensuring the newborn has a reliable source of nutrition until able to digest solid food.

August 2nd, 2013

BecomingHuman Now On Facebook

August 02, 2013 likes Facebook! And folks fascinated by the six million year human career can find BecomingHuman - the website with news and features on paleoanthropology - on Facebook. Check out our Facebook page. Let us know what you think.

June 9th, 2013

How Science Is Done (cont'd)

June 09, 2013

Two papers published in recent weeks demonstrate again the rigor of the scientific method. The first  concerned a 50,000-year-old Neanderthal tooth from Belgium, while the other pertained to the controversial Australopithecus sediba fossils from South Africa.

May 19th, 2013

New Analysis of Denisova Material

May 19, 2013

At a conference  held earlier this month in Cold Spring Harbor NY the leader of the team exploring the ancient cave in Central Asia called Denisova (photo below) announced startling results from the team’s genetic analyses.

April 14th, 2013

Controversial Puzzle Remains

April 14, 2013

A puzzling set of fossils, discovered near Johannesburg in 2008 and surrounded by controversy from the first, are back in the news and both the puzzle and the controversy are no nearer resolution.  Paleoanthropologist Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand and his son uncovered the first of these fossils.

February 20th, 2013

Lucy completes US tour - SoCal is last stop

February 20, 2013

The world famous 3 million year old fossil nicknamed Lucy has been touring the United States for the past five years and is now headed home to her place of origin, Ethiopia. Discovered by Donald Johansson, founder of the Institute of Human Origins, in 1974 is making her last stop in the US and is on exhibit at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California through April 28.

February 8th, 2013

Ancient sediments to yield secrets

February 08, 2013

A large scale, transdisciplinary research effort seeking to match ocean core samples by drilling into ancient lake sediments will commence in East Africa this summer, it has been announced by Arizona State University and the Institute of human origins.

February 8th, 2013

Crafting stone and hypotheses

February 08, 2013

The changing way we view evidence is a lot like knapping stone to make a tool. We chip away at one idea and shape it into something different. John Shea is a noted archaeologist and iconoclast, arguing“advances” in stone tool technology were responses to particular needs and not necessarily evidence of increased cognition.

December 18th, 2012

An Infamous But Instructive Story

December 18, 2012

One hundred years ago today an amateur scientist named Charles Dawson announced his discovery in 1908 of an ancient skull,  immediately dubbed “ Piltdown man”, in a gravel pit near the town of Piltdown, England . Thus began an infamous but ultimately instructive series of events in the annals of science.

October 7th, 2012

Big brained humans

October 07, 2012

We humans have the largest brain relative to body weight, compared to all other animals.  On average the human brain is three times the size that of our nearest primate relative, the chimpanzee.  Why is this so? In a think piece in last week’s edition of the journal Science, Michael Balter summarizes some of the hypotheses.