Neanderthals Didn’t Give Us Red Hair But They Certainly Changed the Way We sleep

Geneticists have now firmly established that roughly two percent of the DNA of all living non-African people comes from our Neanderthal cousins. It’s difficult to imagine why our early ancestors would have mated with them. Neanderthals were a different species to us after all, and the thought of it seems distasteful to us today. Hindsight […]

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Did Humans Evolve in Europe Rather than Africa? We Don’t Have the Answer Just Yet

Charles Darwin believed that humans evolved in Africa, because that’s where our closest ape relatives the chimpanzees and gorillas live. And during the twentieth century he was vindicated through a combination of fossil and genetic discoveries. While our place in the tree of life is now well established – chimpanzees being our closest relatives – […]

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Our Uniquely Lopsided Brain

We all know that the human brain is ridiculously large, but how many of us realise that it’s lopsided as well? It turns out that the cockeyed shape of our brains is as important to understanding human evolution as its size is. The brain’s lopsidedness is most evident through our hand preferences. Roughly nine out […]

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Food for Thought? Diet Helps Explain Unique Human Brainpower

It’s the mystery of all mysteries of science. Why is it that humans are so unusual compared to all other life? The key to solving this riddle lies in explaining the evolution of our large brains and exceptional intelligence. For as long as humanity has been contemplating our existence we must surely have been struck […]

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New Skulls from China Have Scientists and the Media in a Muddle

Just a decade ago we thought we had solved the mystery of mysteries. We were confident we had finally puzzled out the evolutionary origins of modern humans. Two hundred thousand years ago our species evolved in sub-Saharan Africa and by around 60,000 years ago strode out to settle Asia, Australia, Europe and eventually the Americas, […]

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Where Were All the Women in the Stone Age?

Were there any women around in the Palaeolithic Era? If popular culture is any guide you’d think not. And even archaeology itself has a long way to go to address a deeply ingrained bias towards men. It’s obvious that without women Homo sapiens could hardly be here today. But our cultural imaginings of the Palaeolithic […]

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