Broken stalagmites forming two circles within a deep cave in France are reported in the journal Nature this week and dated to 176,000 years ago. Stalagmites are limestone objects on the floors of caves, formed as limestone bearing water drips from the cave ceiling.
Human anatomy and behavior appear to have changed significantly around two million years ago with the emergence of a new hominin species, Homo erectus. Brains were larger, legs were longer, the ability to range greater distances expanded. What caused these changes?
The Nature Podcast this week has two items of more than passing interest: a new board game called Evolution and a discussion of the psychological and cultural references in the new Star Wars, The Force Awakens.
Give a listen at the Nature Podcast.
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A few years ago in South Africa spelunkers were exploring a cave near Johannesburg. Working their way through a series of smaller and larger spaces, they found themselves in a small chamber with a scattering of bones on the surface. Thus began an intriguing search to discover the nature and significance of these bones.
Nicholas Wade has been staff writer for the Science page of the New York Times and in 2014 published A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History. Some of the author’s conclusions have raised controversy, prompting two scientists to publish a thorough and detailed rebuttal of what they see as errors in Wade’s attempt to suggest racial differences..
Successful interbreeding by Homo sapiens emerging from Africa with Neanderthals and Denisovans may have led to the acquisition of genes favorable to human adaptation, reports Nature Magazine.