This week has revealed a lot of interesting facts about our ancestors including selfish; carniverous primates, Neanderthals in need of a chimney and more:
The human family
- Studies of Neanderthal teeth revealed they had soot embedded in their calculus. This would suggest they were inhaling an awful lot of smoke; likely as a result of the fact the caves – or wherever they lived – had poor ventilation (click).
- Humans evolved in Africa and spread outwards, but later on they also spread back into Africa! Recent genetic research suggests the expats returning home were farmers from the Near East (more).
- Homo heidelbergensis might not exist! This species was thought to be the ancestor of humans and Neanderthals; but a recent review of their skeletons found it was hard to distinguish between them and humans and Neanderthals. Heidelbergensis might just be an archaic form of these later hominins and not a distinct group (moar!).
- Speaking of ancestors; the chimp/human common ancestor was a lot less chimp-like than we might have thought. An examination of Ardipithecus indicates the LCA was distinct and unlike humans or chimps (click for more).
- It turns out primates are selfish dicks. Of course, this is no surprise to me as I’ve been wary of the upcoming chimp take over for some time. However, it was a surprise for other researchers who though experiments showed they were prosocial; sharing food to aleviate others suffering. However, it turns out this behaviour was actually an artefact of poorly designed experiments (more).
- Once the selfish primates take over they’ll probably eat you. For the first time an orangutan has been seen eating meat! The researchers note that they probably scavenged the kill; but now they have a taste for blood its only a matter of time before they come for us! (source)
- Creationists trying to offer a comprehensive rebuttal of human fossils conveniently ignored a bunch of them. This picking and choosing of data underscores just how unscientific creationism is. It would be funny, if it weren’t for the fact so much of the public believe in it (more)