Fossilised primate jaw discovery sheds new light on human evolution

The specimen, unearthed by researchers from the University of Southern California, was found after six years of digging in the Kashmir area in northern India.

After being analysed, the fragmented jaw was found to belong to an entirely new species of primate called Ramadapis sahnii, which existed between 11 and 14m years ago.

A member of the ancient Sivaladapidae primate family, the Ramadapis sahnii would have been a herbivore, roughly the size of a domestic cat today.

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24,000-Year-Old Butchered Bones Found in Canada Change Known History of North America

Archaeologists have found a set of butchered bones dating back 24,000 years in Bluefish Caves, Yukon, Canada, which are the oldest signs of human habitation ever discovered in North America. Until recently, it was believed that the culture that represented the continent’s first inhabitants was the Clovis culture. However, the discovery of the butchered bones challenges that theory, providing evidence that human occupation preceded the arrival of the Clovis people by as much as 10,000 years.

For decades, it has been believed that the first Americans crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia about 14,000 years ago and quickly colonized North America. Artifacts from these ancient settlers, who have been named the Clovis culture after one of the archaeological sites in Clovis, New Mexico, have been found from Canada to the edges of North America.

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Neanderthals were no lumbering halfwits. It’s time to recognize their genius

Neanderthals have been the brunt of cruel jokes and the target of scientific and popular discrimination since the discovery of a Neanderthal skull cap in 1856 at Germany’s Feldhofer cave. It hasn’t helped that the first reasonably complete skeleton of a Neanderthal, found at La Chapelle aux Saints in southern France in 1908, was a toothless old man who suffered terribly from arthritis and other ailments. When first reconstructed and depicted by paleontologist Marcellin Boule, the skeleton was drawn stooped over and as if he was shuffling. The old marketing adage “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression” appears to ring true: Boule’s reconstruction remains remarkably influential even today.

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Aboriginal Australians, Pacific Islanders carry DNA of unknown human species, research analysis suggests

People from Papua New Guinea and north-east Australia carry small amounts of DNA of an unidentified, extinct human species, a new research analysis has suggested.

The analysis suggests the DNA is unlikely to come from Neanderthals or Denisovans, but from a third extinct hominid, previously unknown to archaeologists.

Statistical geneticist Ryan Bohlender and his team investigated the percentages of extinct hominid DNA in modern humans. They found discrepancies in previous analyses and found that interbreeding between Neanderthals and Denisovans was not the whole story to our ancestors' genetic makeup.

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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 suggests that many bloodlines around the world, particularly of South Asian descent, may actually be a bit more Denisovan, a mysterious population of hominids that lived around the same time as the Neanderthals. The analysis also proposes that modern humans interbred with Denisovans about 100 generations after their trysts with Neanderthals."

DNA from Mysterious 'Denisovans' Helped Modern Humans Survive

"Genetic mutations from extinct human relatives called the Denisovans might have influenced modern human immune systems, as well as fat and blood sugar levels, researchers say.

Very little is known about the Denisovans. The first evidence of them was discovered in Denisova Cave in Siberia in 2008, and DNA from their fossils suggests they shared an origin with Neanderthals but were nearly as genetically distinct from Neanderthals as Neanderthals were from modern humans." Click Image to Learn More!

Homo naledi: a new member to the Homo genus

Last year, anthropologists added a new member to the Homo genus, H. naledi, a human with a tiny head and feet similar to our own. At the time, the researchers didn’t pinpoint when H. naledi lived, but a study published in June pegs the age of the specimens to around 900,000 years.

“Our findings have a number of implications,” the authors wrote in the Journal of Human Evolution. “Most notably, they support the assignment of the new specimens to Homo, cast doubt on the claim that H. naledi is simply a variant of H. erectus, and suggest H. naledi is younger than has been previously proposed.” Click Image to Learn More!