Human evolution links

Time and energy permit me to summarise only one or two research developments each week. Yet there is a continual flow of other publications in fields which interest me, and hopefully most readers of Earth-logs. I come across them during my weekly search for suitable inspiration, so have decided occasionally to provide links to informative summaries in other blogs.

Last week, Science Daily reported on a paper in the journal Genetics that evaluates new genetic evidence that interbreeding between anatomically modern humans (AMH) occurred more often than previously suggested, when the two groups were in contact in Eurasia (New research adds to growing evidence that our ancestors interbred with Neanderthals at multiple times in history. Science Daily 1 April 2020). Other Neanderthals also left signs that around 40 ka ago they wove cordage from woody cellulose (in Scientific Reports): they were clearly as technologically adept as contemporary AMH (40,000 year old evidence that Neanderthal’s wove string. Science Daily 9 April 2020).

The early-April issue of Science also published dating of a key site in South Africa to show that around 2 Ma ago the earliest known Homo erectus co-inhabited the surrounding area with Australopithecus naledi and the earliest known Paranthropus. One of the highlights is that this rules out A. naledi as a direct human ancestor, as previously claimed by some. (When three species of human ancestor walked the Earth. Science Daily 2 April 2020).

In its last March issue Science carried a paper suggesting that Neanderthals in Portugal were avid consumers of seafood (Neanderthals ate mussels, fish, and seals too. Science Daily 26 March 2020).

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