In the 1970’s, the Apidima Cave site in Greece was excavated by archaeologists. Lodged within a chunk of rock was the Apidima 1 specimen. It was found adjacent to a distorted 170,000 year old Neanderthal skull called Apidima 2. In the image below you can see how close in proximity the two specimens were discovered. […]
Those who have previously undertaken ‘The Human Journey’ course may be interested in some news recently published in Nature of a new hominin species, Homo luzonensis.
To quote the abstract of the original article:
A hominin third metatarsal discovered in 2007 in Callao Cave (Northern Luzon, the Philippines) and dated to 67 thousand years ago provided the earliest direct evidence of a human presence in the Philippines. Analysis of this foot bone suggested that it belonged to the genus Homo, but to which species was unclear. Here we report the discovery of twelve additional hominin elements that represent at least three individuals that were found in the same stratigraphic layer of Callao Cave as the previously discovered metatarsal. These specimens display a combination of primitive and derived morphological features that is different from the combination of features found in other species in the genus Homo (including Homo floresiensis and Homo sapiens) and warrants their attribution to a new species, which we name Homo luzonensis. The presence of another and previously unknown hominin species east of the Wallace Line during the Late Pleistocene epoch underscores the importance of island Southeast Asia in the evolution of the genus Homo.
This video from the American Museum of Natural History provides a useful synopsis of the different hominin species. Today, our closest living relatives are chimpanzees, but extinct hominins are even closer. Where and when did they live? What can we learn about their lives? Why did they go extinct? Scientists look to fossils for clues.
A new article published in Nature discusses the evidence for Multiple episodes of interbreeding between Neanderthal and modern humans. This provides additional evidence for the ubiquity of archaic admixture in recent human history, consistent with other recent work showing that humans interbred with Denisovans multiple times.
In our final session of the Human Journey, we looked at Homo floresiensis, also known as the Hobbit. The origins of this species – a human relative only a little over a metre tall – have been debated ever since its discovery in 2004. This video from Nature discusses this question:
If you wish to find out more about this species, the following may be of interest:
- Homo floresiensis (Smithsonian)
- Homo floresiensis: Making Sense of the Small-Bodied Hominin Fossils from Flores (Nature)
- Origins of Indonesian hobbits finally revealed (Phys.org)
- The Hunt for the Ancient ’Hobbit’s’ Modern Relatives (National Geographic)
- Did Modern Humans Wipe Out the ‘Hobbits’? (National Geographic)
- Unique Dental Morphology of Homo floresiensis and Its Evolutionary Implications (PLOS One)
- Homo floresiensis Contextualized: A Geometric Morphometric Comparative Analysis of Fossil and Pathological Human Samples (PLOS One)
- A Critical Evaluation of the Down Syndrome Diagnosis for LB1, Type Specimen of Homo floresiensis (PLOS One)
Whilst in the Americas we discussed the evidence for the pre-Clovis and Clovis people. Those interested in finding out more about the latter, may wish to listen to the episode on Clovis Points from the BBC’s History of the World in 100 Objects series.
This short video clip from National Geographic looks at the skeleton of a teenage girl determined to be the one of the oldest and most complete human skeletons ever discovered in the New World.
In our last session of ‘The Human Journey’, we looked at the appearance of our own species, Homo sapiens, and various theories about how we spread around the world.
Further reading on this subject includes:
- Out-of-Africa versus the multiregional hypothesis (Nature)
- Recent African origin of modern humans (Wikipedia)
- Multiregional origin of modern humans (Wikipedia)
- The Great Human Migration (Smithsonian Magazine)
- Rethinking our human origins in Africa (Natural History Museum, London)
This short video clip helps to illustrate some of the proposed routes:
Following on from the recent post about Neanderthals and Denisovans, comes news of a new virtual, three-dimensional reconstruction of the thorax of an adult, male Neanderthal which is presented in Nature Communications. Analysis suggests that the Neanderthal thorax had a different shape to that of modern humans, leading the authors to propose that Neanderthals may have had a subtly different breathing mechanism.
In our last session we looked at Neanderthals and Denisovans:
- Who were the Neanderthals? (Natural History Museum, London)
- Homo neanderthalensis (Smithsonian)
- Why am I Neanderthal? (National Geographic)
- Neanderthal (Encyclopedia Britannica)
- Why am I Denisovan? (National Geographic)
- A world map of Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestry in modern humans (Science Daily)
- Mum’s a Neanderthal, Dad’s a Denisovan: First discovery of an ancient-human hybrid (Nature)
- Ancient child from Siberia was Neanderthal and Denisovan hybrid (Natural History Museum, London)
This short video clip summarises recent research published in Cell which showed that remnants of two distinct waves of Denisovan admixture have been identified in modern-day East Asian populations in a new study from Browning and colleagues.
In this week’s session, we looked at some of the early species of the genus Homo: Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis and Homo naledi.
We also looked at some of the first evidence for tool making with the Oldowan industry. A couple of episodes of the BBC’s ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’ series looked at these tools: Olduvai Stone Chopping Tool and Olduvai Handaxe. These podcasts can be listened to online or downloaded to be listened to in your own time.
Other webpages that may be of interest are:
- Homo naledi, your most recently discovered human relative (Natural History Museum, London)
- Homo naledi is only 250,000 years old – here’s why that matters (New Scientist)
- Homo habilis (Smithsonian)
- Homo habilis (Australian Museum)
- Homo rudolfensis (Smithsonian)
- Homo rudolfensis (Australian Museum)
- Homo ergaster (Australian Museum)
- Homo erectus (Smithsonian)
- Homo erectus (Australian Museum)
- Homo heidelbergensis (Smithsonian)
- Homo heidelbergensis (Australian Museum)