Results tagged “human ancestors” from Sunday Mercury - Weird Science
At least three species from the human family Homo may have lived together in Africa almost two million years ago, new research suggests.
One of them, Homo erectus, is thought to be the most likely direct ancestor of people living today.
The others most probably came to an evolutionary dead end, experts believe.
Between 2007 and 2009, three new fossils were unearthed from a site near Lake Turkana in Kenya - known as the "cradle of mankind".
They included a face, a near-complete lower jaw, and part of a second lower jaw.
Stone Age cave art thought to be the oldest in the world may not have been the work of early modern humans, say scientists.
A new study suggests the symbols, in 11 caves in northern Spain, could have been painted by Neanderthals rather than our ancient ancestors more than 41,000 years ago.
If confirmed, the discovery would have profound implications. It would indicate that advanced, abstract human thinking and possibly language emerged hundreds of thousands of years earlier than has been assumed.
Early humans used fire more than one million years ago - 300,000 years earlier than previously thought, new research suggests.
A team led by the University of Toronto and Hebrew University of Jerusalem has identified the earliest known evidence of the use of fire by human ancestors after microscopic traces of wood ash alongside animal bones and stone tools were found in a layer dated to one million years ago at the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa.
The huge cave near the edge of the Kalahari Desert has been the scene of previous excavations which have uncovered an extensive record of human occupation.
Mankind's ancestors may have started walking on two legs simply because it allowed them to carry more food away in their hands, boosting their chance of survival, scientists believe.
Anthropologists studying chimpanzees found that the great apes, who usually walk on all fours, walk upright and free their hands for carrying when they need to monopolise hard-to-find resources by swiping more at a single attempt in the face of fierce competition.
The team from the University of Cambridge and Kyoto University in Japan believe the benefit of "first come, first served" and getting a bigger share of scarce food supplies could, over a long period of time, have led some of our earliest "hominin" ancestors to evolve into "bipedal" primates walking on two legs permanently instead of four.
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A separate species of human distinct from our own may have lived in China as recently as 11,500 years ago, scientists believe.
Fossil remains of the mysterious stone age people were discovered in two caves in south-west China in 1979 and 1989.
Analysis of the finds has only now revealed their true significance.
The bones display an unusual mix of ancient and modern anatomical features, as well as some characteristics not seen before.
Scientists believe they may have belonged to a previously unknown species, distinct from that of modern humans, Homo sapiens.