Anthropology news

Early Human Footprints

One of the most controversial archaeological sites in North America is in the Mojave desert of California, in the low hills of the Calico Mountains. It displays evidence for the presence of tool making humans from at the latest, 200,000 years ago (see abd ). A few years ago they were arguing that Clovis were the first people in the Americas and now ....

Neanderthals, too clever by half

A computer programme has come to the rescue of the reputation of Neanderthals - otherwise described as dull-witted and rather unpretty, with great big conks. It seems they were too clever by half - see and they were actually victims of their own success. This is the latest attempt to rationalise the inexplicable disappearance of the Neanderthals - and computers don't lie.

Woodworking Neanderthals

At ... the Mousterian refers to Neanderthal stone culture - or stone tools found in the ground. A Neanderthal site in France has preserved organic features including a partly burn wooden implement. Until now the possibility of Neanderthals and Homo Erectus with wood working skills has rarely been mentioned - and is generally passed over. This find may change minds.

The jawbone in a cave

Kents Cavern in Torquay in SW England is famous for the discovery of numerous Ice Age mammals. Mixed in with these bones was the jawbone of a human. It is assumed to be that of a modern human - for anatomical reasons. It might well be otherwise. In the 1980s it was dated by C14 methodology to around 35,000 years ago - which was just about at the boundary C14 dating techniques was reliable. In fact, it was in that sort of plateau in which dates between 40,000 and 30,000 years ago are considered to be open to error.

Short legs ... for walking up hills or because of the cold draught?

At ... another misconception bites the dust - perhaps. It seems that the consensus view that Neanderthals had short legs in comparison to modern humans (although lots of people actually do have short legs), might be misinformed. It was thought it had something to do with the cold weather during the Ice Age - or rather the cold weather in Europe and western Asia over the last 200,000 years, and ending in around 35,000 years ago, when they disappeared in an inexplicatble fashion.

Human Movements

At  ... the human genome of Australian Aborigines has been collated and the results published in the journal Science - which will have repercussions on Out of Africa. It seems they represent the descendants of an earlier human expansion.

More on early humans

At there is a report on a study from an American university by archaeologist John Shea which claims early humans were variants of Homo sapiens rather than different species. The evidence in the ground shows a wide variability in human tool making strategies from the earliest times onwards. He argues there is no such things as modern humans, as such, just different kinds of behaviour.

Homo erectus in Europe where he is not supposed to be

This story can be found at an interesting site with a nice name,  is all about a human skull, described by one of the people involved as Homo erectus - but at an impossible time. It was found in France in the period normally assigned to the Neanderthals - considered to be a more advanced form of Homo erectus. Is the skull a throwback or may it simply be another variant of Homo erectus.

Neanderthals and Denisovans - and genetic links to modern humans

This story can be seen at and at and is derived from the journal Science - at the online Science Express, August 25th. Some modern human gene pools have derived beneficial versions of immune system genes from Neanderthals and Denisovans - this is additional to the shared DNA, from 4 to 6 per cent. The HLA class 1 immune system gene is rare in African populations and therefore could not have accompanied the migrants per the Out of Africa theory of modern human origins.

How real is the DNA evidence?

At there is another article by Robert Bednarik, on beads and symbolism and the fact that Homo erectus in all likelihood had the capability to make them and make use of them (the same article or something very similar was published in Time and Mind two years ago). In doing so he outlines his opposition to the Out of Africa hypothesis - the idea of an African 'Eve' that gave birth to modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens. They duly spread around the world in the Late Pleistocene - a wholly unsound idea he thinks.