Anthropology news

Cannibal Neanderthals

Apparently, research presented to the Royal Society  in London by scientists from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, as reported by the Sunday Times, claims a gang of Neanderthals feasted on the raw flesh of another group of Neanderthals (which included their children).


The name is derived from tal or thal = a valley, and Neander = a river, where the first specimen was unearthed, a chap that appears to have been arthritic or had a physical disability. At ... a geologist blogger provides his take on the debate - were they oafish, beastial, low brow, or were they not so different from us nowadays.

Neanderthals ... and the rest

At ... is about the search for a common ancestor linking modern humans with Neanderthals. Going by dental fossils (they don't have much else to play with) none of the suspects (so far) fit the assumed profile - of an ancestor of both Neanderthal and modern humans, on the basis, it is thought, the two lines diverged around one million years ago.

Homo Erectus ... came in several different flavours?

This is turning into a big story - see ... the discovery of early human skulls in Georgia (in the Transcaucasus) which have been dated 1.8 million years ago, but surprisingly were found under medieval buildings, suggest the human family tree is not as varied or as lengthy as the consensus believes. The article is published in Science journal and requires reading in full before making lame assertions but the idea being explored is that Homo Erectus varied as far as shape, size, and type are concerned - but it must be emphasized, others disagree.

Why did modern humans replace Neanderthals around 40,000 years ago?

This question comes up all the time. What actually happened around 40,000 years ago. The old chestnust that Neanderthals were conservative in their diet no longer holds true - from a variety of evidence from different sites (but see A cave in the Caucasus mountains suggests Neanderthals were eating fish - or so it is theorised. It is assumed the fish were brought to the cave by humans for consumption - how else might they have got there. How else indeed.

Modern Humans in Lebanon

Not the very modern humans but those that were around 40,000 years ago - see

Modern Humans

At ... excavations in Kents Bank Cavern on Morecambe Bay in the 1990s found bones that ended up in a museum in Barrow in Furness (home of the Submarine museum, well worth a visit). Scientists from Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Nottingham have published their analysis of one of the sets of bones in Journal of Quaternary Science.

Neanderthals and Bone Tools

At ... Neanderthals again found to be not so backward. Four bone tools found at Pech de l'Aze were used to work hides. Modern leather workers still use similar tools - but these date 50,000 years ago. Bone tools have often been associated with Neanderthals in the past but the association has been denied as the deposits, usually found above the Neanderthal layers, has led to the accusation that the tools really belong to modern humans and have somehow penetrated into the lower Neanderthal levels.

Denisovans and India

At ... is a discussion of a paper by Sheila Mishra et al which centres on the introduction of micro blade tool assemblages in India, and their possible association with an actual human migration, focussing on one site in particular in Madhya Pradesh (and now dated around 45,000 years ago). John Hawks is his usual sceptical self and uses it to discuss the Late Pleistocene in India.

Y-Chromosomes In the News

At ... which is basically telling us the male line is as old as the female mitochondrial line - but what does it mean for earlier genetic studies into the age of migrating groups of people? Is it possible that migrations are also older than imagined - such as the genetic footprint of the first farmers. Might this mark the genetic footprint of a Palaeolithic migration - or is this pie in the sky.