Anthropology news

The first population explosion

At ... genetic studies, we are told, indicate Palaeolithic people grew in huge numbers between 80,000 and 60,000 years ago. Why this should have happened is not clear - but the idea of growing numbers of people at around that time is very convenient for the Out of Africa theory (and therefore should be treated with a bit of caution).

Homo antecessor

At ... you haven't heard of Homo antecessor? Well, he lived a very long time ago. The oldest hominim in Europe apparently, going back 900,000 years ago. Some 90 hominim fossils and 200 fragments of worked stone have been pulled out of the ground at one site in Spain.

Mesolithic Europeans had blue eyes ... and dark skin

At first I thought this might be a bit of modern politikking but the research is published in Nature which would put that idea in the car park. The Out of Africa theory has a strong political connection but it seems we are not necessary looking at Mesolithic people with an origin in Africa - but in Siberia (where one branch went west and another went east, the latter colonising the Americas and the former, Europe.

A Strange kind of bird behaviour

In The Times January 10th 2014, the Red Knecked Phalorope spends the summer months gobbling midges in Scotland but it spends the winter in a different place to its brethren in Scandinavia and Russia. They take the route south to the Arabian Sea. The Scottish birds, instead, fly west, first to feed on plankton in Canada, and then via the Caribbean and central America, to Ecuador and Peru.

Jared Diamond - snookered

At ... Jared Diamond's best selling book is beloved of the Greens and the Enviros but is under attack once again. Why people appear to object to it may in part be the suffocating moralising involved - and the fact he has deliberately altered historical accounts in order to satisfy a preconceived agenda.

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.