Humans are the only living hominid that can throw objects accurately & at speed – while some of the other great apes can throw objects, their speed & accuracy is not the best. (In his musing on human evolution, Darwin noted that adaptations allowing this would be at a selective advantage as they would increase […]Continue reading
Category: human evolution
mammoth bones – and … potatoes???
Today I came across an interesting share in a science group that I follow – an article about a “huge 25,000-yr-old hut” made of mammoth bones. Having really enjoyed Jean Auel’s “Earth’s Children” series, of course I was going to read on. But alas, the article was disappointing: the headline image didn’t match the story; […]Continue reading
first steps: jerry desilva on the evolution of bipedalism
This morning I got up (at the rather early and unaccustomed hour of 3.30am) to listen to a webinar by paleoanthropologist Dr Jeremy DeSilva¹. Titled “First Steps”, his presentation was about the origins of bipedalism in the human lineage. It was a fascinating session & I thought I’d turn my notes into this post, to […]Continue reading
neandertals’ genetic legacy extends into africa
For the last few years it’s been pretty much received wisdom that African populations shared only a tiny proportion of their genes, if any, with Neanderthals. In contrast, other non-African sapiens populations had a small but significant admixture of Neanderthal genes. The underlying reason for this, it’s been assumed, is that Homo sapiens and neandertalensis only bred with […]Continue reading
what happened to the neanderthals?
One of the questions students often ask, when we’re discussing human evolution, is “what happened to the Neanderthals?” After all, this was a large-brained species closely related to our own, with some fairly complex tool technologies and the ability to survive (and thrive) in harsh environmental conditions. Yet they appear to have been replaced by […]Continue reading
ardipithecus and bipedal walking
Image source: By T. Michael Keesey – Zanclean skullUploaded by FunkMonk, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8541387 The hominid known as “Ardi” (a specimen of Ardipithecus ramidus) was discovered in 1994, at a site near Ethiopia’s Awash River. Once excavated, it turned out that this was – for its age – a remarkably complete specimen: 125 fossilised bones, comprising […]Continue reading
human evolution and attention-grabbing headlines
Image: By Nadina – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Every so often there’s a new story claiming that a study has overturned our understanding of human evolution. (Or something along those lines.) I’ve just come across another one**, & thought I’d write this post as a warning to year 13 biology students. As Carl […]Continue reading
a pivotal species? what’s that?
By the end of the school year, year 13 students preparing for Schol Bio should have a pretty good grasp of the concepts & content they’ve encountered in their studies. What tends to throw some, though, is the fact that the context used for each question will almost certainly be something that they haven’t come across […]Continue reading
a new take on out-of-africa
One of the key features of science is that its findings aren’t set in stone. Bring forward a new body of evidence, & it’ll be reviewed and considered, and may just result in a particular model or view being changed. I remember, back when I was in the 7th form (year 13), learning about how […]Continue reading
cave bears and brown bears and and admixture, oh my!
Last week the story of a hybrid hominin was in the news: the discovery that remains found in Denisova Cave were those of a 13-year-old girl whose parents were a female Neandertal and a Denisovan male. This was exciting stuff: we already know, from genomic analysis, that interspecies matings involving Neanderthals, Denisovans, and H.sapiens happened […]Continue reading