Another week goes by, another boat load of research on our ancestors. Here are the highlights:
- With all the excitement over Homo naledi, some of you may have forgotten the discovery that Homo lived much earlier than we thought. However, this conclusion was doubted by some. After a fair bit of back and forth in the scientific community, it seems that the discoverers were right all along. The genus Homo lived as early as 2.8 million years ago (source)
- Observations on Australian aborigines has revealed that they can make spears with very basic technology. So basic that our earliest ancestors also had access to these sorts of tools. This raises the possibility that they were using spears for an awfully long time (read more)
- Atapuerca, Spain, contains one of the most significant groups of fossils. At least, they would be if we could figure out how they were linked to everyone else. Some argue they were a distinct group, or perhaps they were the ancestors of Neanderthals, or maybe both us and Neanderthals. A new analysis of their ear canal….doesn’t really help. It shows many simialrities with Neanderthals, but not quite enough to confirm their relationship (source).
- A new study of the teeth of the hobbit confirms they were a separate species, most likely related to Homo erectus. Not that we needed any more evidence of that. It definitely isn’t a diseased person (read more).
- Going back to Atapuerca, the site also made itself more significant this week. A new fossil hand bone was discovered there. This reveals that the “modern” human hand is actually pretty old, developing at least 1.4 million years ago (source)!
- It turns out pregnant chimps eat more meat! This confirms that apes which need more energy will start to eat more meat; suggesting our ancestors may have employed the same tactic when their brains began to grow big (read more).
And finally, it wasn’t the creationists being wacky this week but the regular “scientists”. Someone managed to get the hypothesis published that “sexual breast love” was evolved (by force) in order to promote the health of breasts. And I’m only scratching the surface of how crazy this idea is. Click over to read more.