There’s no evidence they were dragged there by predators or washed in by water. One of the earliest known humans is Homo habilis, or “handy man,” who lived about 2.4 million to 1.4 million years ago in Eastern and Southern Africa. Top 9 Discoveries in Human Evolution, 2020 Edition 1. But it is. His research focuses on how environmental instability has affected human evolution and our evolutionary adaptations. No list of important finds in human Scientists still don’t know exactly when or how the first humans evolved, but they’ve identified a few of the oldest ones. The British research lab at Porton Down has been much in the news recently because of the Skripal affair . Another really exciting fossil find from this year was not a … We long thought our ancestors began making these tools about 2.6 million years ago. There is a mention of the Homo Luzonensis find that was first described last year. Issued on: 29/08/2019 ... 20/07/2020. These stones are larger and simpler than those that were previously thought to be the oldest stone tools. Another 2020 announcement, this one in May from Chatham University’s Kevin Hatala and colleagues (including Briana Pobiner! Human evolution: The astounding new story of the origin of our species Forget the simple out-of-Africa idea of how humans evolved. Human evolution is one of the most vibrant areas of scientific investigation. Did you watch Mr. Roger’s neighborhood while growing up? 3. These modern humans first conquered the continent and later spread all over the world . But new fossils always reveal more of our story. Vote Now! While discoveries directly related to humans’ evolutionary journey are... 3. And no other animal bones were found in the cave except for the bones of a single owl. Another 2020 announcement, this one in May from Chatham University’s Kevin Hatala and colleagues (including Briana Pobiner), analyzed the largest … Save my name and email for the next time I comment. ... » Human evolution … While we may not be able to move around much this year, three studies on fossil human footprints published in 2020 revealed a lot more about where ancient humans traveled and how they moved together in groups. When you choose to publish with PLOS, your research makes an impact. See how science is making today’s news. Also in 2018, researchers announced the discovery of an upper jaw in Israel that looked like that of our own species, Homo sapiens. Your email address will not be published. In October , a team led by Nina Jablonski and Xueping Ji from Penn State University and Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology respectively, found three new ~6.4 million year old Mesopithecus pentelicus fossils in Yunan Province, China. You can find out more about how PLOS processes your data by reading our, longest trackway of fossil human footprints, the largest fossil footprint assemblage in Africa, ~120,000 year old human and animal footprints found on an ancient lake surface in a current Saudi Arabian desert, oldest fossils of both of these hominin species, contemporaneity of these two species at this site with, ~2 million year old DNH 155 adult male cranium, examples of microevolution related to ecological change within this early hominin species, Denisovan mitochondrial DNA from the cave sediments, ~34,000 year old modern human woman’s skullcap, Talking about Science in a Pandemic: A Golden Opportunity for Science Communication. Smithsonian Voices National Museum of Natural History. Shocking Study Finds Electric Eels Hunt Together, What Antarctic Meteorites Tell Us About Earth’s Origins, Meet Joseph Rainey, the First Black Congressman, The State of American Craft Has Never Been Stronger. The research team also found charcoal from fires Denisovans built in the cave, as well as stone tools and fossil animal bones. She has done fieldwork in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and Indonesia. She has conducted fieldwork in the US, Kenya, and South Africa. As anthropologists discovered new fossils and artifacts in 2020, our understanding of human history has changed. Human skull model. The 408 footprints left behind by 17 individuals help us understand not only the heights and weights of the footprint-makers, but using statistical analysis based on a large data set of modern human feet, the team determined that the walking group probably consisted of 14 female and 2 male individuals. The analysis of this specimen led by Jesse M. Martin from La Trobe University was published this year in November, and especially comparisons to other adult male Paranthropus robustus fossils from Drimolen and elsewhere in South Africa, suggests that differences previously ascribed to sexual dimorphism (differences between males and females) are actually examples of microevolution related to ecological change within this early hominin species. 0000-0002-7299-680X), PLOS is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, #C2354500, and is based in San Francisco, California, US, PLOS will use your email address to provide news and updates. It's five years later and we still aren’t sure how they got there. Others include Homo rudolfensis, who lived in Eastern Africa about 1.9 million to … Speaking of extreme – did you know that researchers think monkeys rafted all the way across the Atlantic? ), analyzed the largest fossil footprint assemblage in Africa. But for our ancestors millions of years ago, it would have been stone tools. ... of human evolution. Astrophysicists reveal the Universe in 3D in the largest map ever published. While discoveries directly related to humans’ evolutionary journey are important, understanding how now-extinct primates survived, thrived, and traveled across the globe is just as exciting! Does the Recent Homo Discovery Change Our Understanding of Human Evolution? Drimolen seems to be the gift that keeps on giving (us fossils): in 2018, the team found two more Paranthropus fossils, including the ~2 million year old DNH 155 adult male cranium (also found by a field school student, Samantha Good). ... New perspectives in human behavior and culture. 147 shares. They had to hold the specimen, which consisted of more than 150 pieces of a ~3 year old child, together – without coughing, sneezing, or even talking, and controlling their breathing – for up to 40 minutes at a time! Researchers in South Africa’s Border Cave, a well-known archaeological site perched on a cliff between eSwatini (Swaziland) and KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, have found evidence that people have been using grass bedding to create... Archaeology / Dating / Ecology / Environment / … Were the bodies placed there deliberately? Fossils older than 3.5 million years are extremely rare. (e.g. 2020 has been… quite the year! ... New flower from 100 million years ago brings fresh holiday beauty to 2020. The 2010s was a bad decade for the study of human evolution. Discovery of two-million-year-old skull in South Africa throws new light on human evolution. Edited by Jason Organ, PhD, Indiana University School of Medicine. Well, it was… complicated. Since many scientific articles are years in the making, a lot of exciting discoveries were still revealed in 2020! Since joining the Smithsonian in 2005 to help put together the Hall of Human Origins, in addition to continuing her active field, laboratory, and experimental research programs, she also leads the Human Origins Program’s education and outreach efforts and is an Associate Research Professor of Anthropology at the George Washington University. Human evolution is one of the most vibrant areas of scientific investigation. Paleoanthropologist Dr. Rick Potts heads the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. They collected sediments and more fossils to help them identify and date the remains. To their surprise, the remains dated to about 300,000 years ago, which means that our species originated 100,000 years earlier than we thought. Certain Neanderthal genes, researchers found, code for proteins that convey a Using CT scans, the scientists confirmed that the remains belonged to our species. Instead, it belonged to a previously undiscovered species of early humans now called Denisovans. Continue A team led by Dongju Zhang from Lanzhou University wanted to test the hypothesis that a ~160,000 year old partial jawbone found by a Buddhist monk in Baishiya Karst Cave might be the remains of a Denisovan. Just three years ago, a team of scientists made a discovery that pushed back the origin of our species, Homo sapiens. She was previously a student at American University and staff member of the Koobi Fora Field School. It was the first time a new species has been identified using ancient DNA. 2020 has been… quite the year! via Business Insider, 05 January 2020: A great summary article about recent discoveries in human origins and evolution that changed our conventional understanding of how humans came to populate the world. As the researchers make more of these discoveries, the theory of human evolution is getting more complicated. Fossil primates also undertook major journeys. A human jawbone found in Israel measured 177,000 years old pushed the migration theory even further back and confirmed that Homo sapiens left Africa far earlier than 60,000 years ago. 29 Jul 2020 - 02:23 EDT. How do we know? Unlike body fossils, footprints (and other “trace fossils”) offer us a snapshot of an exact moment in time, or at least a very short time interval. If you’ve also been missing visiting museums, like us, the Smithsonian has created a way to view fossils from the safety of your own home! A Thriller Author Talks about How to Sell Science. Your email address will not be published. 10/22/2013 10:12 am ET Updated Dec 22, 2013 The recent discovery of a fantastically complete early Homo skull from Dmanisi, Georgia (dated to about 1.8 million years old) has set off a proverbial "bomb" in the paleoanthropological community ( PDF here ). 1. Finally, in September, a team led by Hunter College’s Christopher C. Gilbert announced another new fossil primate: this time a ~13 million year old ape, Kapi ramnagarensis, from a fossil molar found at Ramnagar in northern India. The findings show how early humans related to and kept track of a larger social world. Humans are too. Early Man Studies Are a Moving Target: a Perennial Re-writing of Our Alleged History. The footprints go in a straight and definite line, and pretty fast, indicating a deliberate end target; they then return in the opposite direction, this time without the child. 10 Popular Scientific Discoveries from 2020 smithsonianmag.com - Erin Malsbury. In the past ten years, we’ve found fossils that widen both the geographic and time range of several early human species. This new species pushes the fossil record of gibbons back by about five million years, and provides significant information about when the ancestors of today’s gibbons migrated to Asia from Africa – which was around the same time ancient great apes were undertaking the same migration. Fossil footprints tell us where and how modern humans traveled the globe. The new discovery suggests that the ability to flake stone tools arose at least 700,000 years before it became a regular habit in the lives of our ancestors. Thanks to this skull, we now know that the two species overlapped in time. They tested that material and discovered that the DNA didn’t match that of modern humans or Neanderthals. This, it was believed, was the cradle of humanity and where we acquired our distinct physical features and cognitive skills. Briana Pobiner leads the National Museum of Natural History’s Human Origins Program’s education and outreach efforts and manages the Human Origins Program's public programs. She joined the Smithsonian in 2017. Fossil footprints tell us where and how modern humans traveled the globe. The situation in Venezuela is dire. by Jerry Bergman, PhD “New fossils, tools and analyses of genomes have thrown everything in disarray,” announced author Graham Lawton in the cover story in the latest issue of the British science magazine New Scientist. This newly discovered species belongs to an extinct family of African primates known as parapithecids, which are now the third lineage of mammals that made the >900 mile transatlantic journey to get from Africa to South America, most likely on floating rafts of vegetation that broke off from coastlines during a storm. Make your work accessible to all, without restrictions, and accelerate scientific discovery with options like preprints and published peer review that make your work more Open. While we may not be able to move around... 2. Smithsonian Magazine recently published an article titled “These are the Decade’s Biggest Discoveries in Human Evolution.” It opens by saying: Human evolution is one of the most vibrant areas of scientific investigation. The team re-excavated a cave in Morocco where a group of miners found skulls in 1961. Lost art of Venezuela. But one of the most exciting discoveries is of a nearly complete 3.8-million-year-old cranium of Australopithecus anamensis from Woronso-Mille, Ethiopia. Anthropologists have discovered new species of human ancestors and revealed that humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans interbred. The jaw ended up being 174,000-185,000 years old. Also in October, a team led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology’s Svante Pääbo and Diyendo Massilani analyzed a ~34,000 year old modern human woman’s skullcap found by miners in 2006 – the only Pleistocene fossil currently known from Mongolia – as well as a ~40,000 year old modern human male skull from Tianyuan Cave in China. The research team found pieces of altered stone in Lomekwi, Kenya, that date to 3.3 million years ago. Briana Pobiner is a paleoanthropologist whose research centers on the evolution of human diet (with a focus on meat-eating), but has included topics as diverse as human cannibalism and chimpanzee carnivory. I’ve always been fascinated by how things work. 4. First things first: A “human” is anyone who belongs to the genus Homo(Latin for “man”). New starfish-like fossil reveals evolution in action. Before this discovery, the earliest evidence of humans moving into the heart of Arabia dated back to ~85,000 years ago. They found that both fossils contain DNA from both Neanderthals and Denisovans. Human evolution is one of the most vibrant areas of scientific investigation. Determined to find more evidence, Zhang and her team returned to the cave. This was based on the pioneering work of Allan Wilson of the University of Berkeley, California. If so, by whom? New fossils hominins from Drimolen, South Africa. No list of important finds in human evolution would be complete without fossil evidence of hominins themselves, and this year the site of Drimolen in South Africa was the big winner. Add your ORCID here. Our mission is to help scientists accelerate discovery by operating a platform for research communication that encourages and recognises the most responsible behaviours in science. Wilson and his col… Comparing this to ethnographic data from modern forager groups such as the Hadza in Tanzania, they concluded that the footprints were probably made by adult females with occasional visits or accompaniment by a few adult males during a food gathering session. Not all fossil discoveries lead to a new species. In April, Erik Seiffert from University of Southern California and colleagues announced a new tiny soup-can-sized fossil monkey species Ucayalipithecus perditabased on four fossil monkey teeth that they found deep in the Peruvian Amazon. All modern humans likely have a bit of Neanderthal in their DNA, including Africans who had previously been thought to have no genetic link to humanity's extinct human relative, a new study finds. Updated Oct 22, 2020; Posted Oct 22, 2020 . When you think of technology today, you might picture computers, smartphones, and gaming consoles. The discovery of a remarkably well-preserved fossil from the extinct human species Paranthropus robustus suggests rapid evolution during a turbulent period of … But did Pleistocene humans always travel solo? We thought Homo erectus spread beyond Africa as far as eastern Asia by about 1.7 million years ago. Looks like it’s time to find more Denisovan fossils (fingers crossed)! In the past decade we’ve seen many discoveries that add to our understanding of our origins. Australopithecus anamensis gets a face. In the meantime, museums are continuing to work on digitization programs so that scientists can study and have access to collections regardless of pandemics or long distances: the National Museums of Kenya and our own Smithsonian institution have already been working to make 3D reconstructions of their fossils available to researchers from around the world. Stay up-to-date with the latest science and technology news from Daily Mail including scientific discoveries, pictures, new technology, and more. It was once held that H. sapiens first emerged in Eastern Africa and flourished in some Stone Age ‘ Eden’. To mark the 10th anniversary of the Smithsonian’s “David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins,” here are some of the biggest discoveries in human evolution from the last 10 years. What we do know is that the remains are from 335,000-236,000 years ago and show a unique mix of ancient and human traits, making Homo naledi one of several species that overlapped in time with our own. Her research centers on the evolution of human diet (with a focus on meat-eating), but has included topics as diverse as human cannibalism and chimpanzee carnivory. DNA tells us a lot about who we are now. Her favorite field moments include falling asleep in a tent in the Serengeti in Tanzania while listening to the distant whoops of hyenas, watching a pride of lions eat a zebra carcass on the Kenyan equator, and discovering fossil bones that were last touched, butchered and eaten by one of her 1.5-million-year-old ancestors. This discovery—along with others from China and Greece—suggest that Homo sapiens wandered short-term into Eurasia well before the worldwide migration that began 70,000 years ago. AOC/EIA. Back to our theme of migration (can you tell we miss being able to, you know, go places?!? While we wait for more Denisovan fossils to be discovered, you can use this VR technology to see through a Neanderthal’s eyes and get up close and personal with some mammoths! Every so often the adult footprints pause and are joined by a child’s footprints. Get the latest science news and learn about scientific breakthroughs and discoveries from around the world. Between 6,000 – 19,000 years ago, a group of modern humans walked through a mudflow in the shadow of the Oldoinyo L’engai volcano in Tanzania. Ella Beaudoin is a Paleolithic archaeologist whose research interests span from cultural adaption and resistance to colonialism, to early hominin cultural evolution and landscape use. When the decade first started, scientists recovered ancient genetic material from a fossilized finger bone found in the Denisova Cave in Siberia. In partnership with the Kenya Museums, Potts leads ongoing excavations in southern and western Kenya. )… One of this year’s big announcements, in October, was the first definitive evidence of Denisovans outside of Denisova Cave in Siberia – from ~2800 km/~1,740 miles away in Tibet! But through all of the challenges of 2020, scientists at the Smithsonian and around the world … But, in 2018, scientists dated new stone tools and fossils from China to about 2.1 million years ago, pushing the Homo erectus migration to Asia back by 400,000 years. Here are some of the most eye-raising anthropological findings of 2020. In the past decade we’ve seen many discoveries that add to our understanding of our origins. In December, the longest trackway of fossil human footprints was announced by Matthew R. Bennett and colleagues. Human Origins 101. Because the Denisovan DNA sequences in these fossils around not found in present-day Oceanians (Australian Aboriginals and New Guineans), but they are found in present-day East Asians, modern humans must have met and exchanged genes with two different populations of Denisovans one in Southeast Asia, and one in mainland Asia. The pandemic changed a lot about the world including the ways in which paleoanthropologists, archaeologists, and other fieldwork-based researchers operate. Required fields are marked *, ORCID After excavating and analyzing stone tools from southern Kenya, the team found that the stones chemically matched to obsidian sources in multiple directions of up to 55 miles away. Since many scientific articles are years in the making, a lot of exciting discoveries were still revealed in 2020! In 2015, scientists announced the discovery of fossils of at least 15 individuals of this species in a deep, dark chamber of the Rising Star Cave system in South Africa. With platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it hard to imagine social networking being old. In the past decade we’ve seen many discoveries that add to our understanding of our origins. What does this evidence mean for interactions and migrations among Eurasian Pleistocene populations? Ancient skull discovery yields new clues on human evolution. A tiny new organ has been discovered in the human body. Two sharp quartzite stones carved by a hominid … Keep up-to-date on: 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. Heck no! The pandemic changed a lot about the world including the ways in which paleoanthropologists, archaeologists, and other fieldwork-based researchers operate. or ... in March and April 2020. To mark the 10th anniversary of the Smithsonian’s “ David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins ,” here are some of the biggest discoveries in human evolution from the last 10 years. They also used modern dating techniques on the remains. What does this tell us? The fossil was a male Paranthropus robustus, a species that existed alongside our early human … Denisovan DNA found in cave sediments and modern humans. Here’s why it matters. Featured image by Karen Carr/National Park Service. This ~11,500-13,000 year old, 1.3 km/0.8 mile long trackway, roughly the length of 14 football fields, was made by a woman (or juvenile male) holding a 2-3 year old toddler while on their journey through a rough and dangerous landscape. First, in 2019, they used a new method based on protein variations to identify the jaw as Denisovan; but the novel method and unknown exact location of where the jaw was found in the cave led to continued skepticism. The story of human evolution began about seven million years ago, when the lineages that lead to Homo sapiens and chimpanzees separated. Nuño Domínguez. And aspiring paleoanthropologists, check this out: Jesse Martin and Angeline Leece, who were both students attending a field school at Drimolen when DNH 143 was found in 2015, got to clean and reconstruct the skull. 0000-0002-7299-680X). They agreed to excavate only in winter and at night, in sub-zero temperatures, to avoid disturbing worshippers – and were rewarded by Denisovan mitochondrial DNA from the cave sediments, dated to between 100,000 – 60,000 years ago, and possibly as recently as 45,000 years ago. Fossil primates also undertook major journeys. This suggests that Denisovans once inhabited a pretty large area of Asia. Over the past decade, we welcomed four new species to our family tree, including the mysterious Homo naledi. A ~50-Year-Old Global Warming Forecast That Still Holds Up - Almost 50 years ago the Russian scientist Mikhail Budyko predicted 1°C of warming by 2019 and the disappearance of … The human genome is a wondrous archive of our relationships with ancient species no longer around. Give a Gift. They lived in a grassland area where game was plentiful or near an estuary rich in fish. Finally, footprints can simply reveal that humans were someplace we didn’t know they were at that time, like with these ~120,000 year old human and animal footprints found on an ancient lake surface in a current Saudi Arabian desert by Michael Petraglia from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and colleagues. But a discovery announced in 2015 pushed that date back. Lack of food, medicine and rising violence … First, in April, a team led by Andy I. R. Herries from La Trobe University announced new fossils of both Paranthropus robustus (DNH 152) and Homo erectus (DNH 134) dating to between ~2.04 and 1.95 million years ago, making these the oldest fossils of both of these hominin species. Until this find was announced in 2019, researchers had only found bits and pieces of this species from various sites across Ethiopia and Kenya. And, now, it’s even older than we thought. These late Miocene fossils indicate that this ecologically versatile and adaptable ancient monkey lived in Asia at the same time as apes – and the likely descendants of this species (modern colobines of Asia) have continued this trend by inhabiting some of the most highly seasonal and extreme habitats occupied by nonhuman primates. But what makes this discovery particularly amazing is that it challenges the previous assumption that A. anamensis was the direct ancestor of the species Australopithecus afarensis—to which the famous fossil “Lucy” belongs. 2. But we also look to ancient DNA to learn about our origins. We’ve long known that early humans migrated from Africa not once but at least twice. This year was one of the strangest in recent history. He is the curator of the Smithsonian’s "Hall of Human Origins" and the traveling exhibit “Exploring Human Origins.” He also authored the exhibit companion book What Does It Mean To Be Human? Source: Recent discoveries fundamentally change our picture of human evolution - Business Insider Learn about the early human … That discovery got him on the front page of the New York Times on November 3, 1977. Stone tools aren’t the only things that are older than we thought. Fossil discoveries tell more of our story. It’s a mystery still to be solved. These finds demonstrate the contemporaneity of these two species at this site with Australopithecus africanus and DNH 134 pushes back the origin of Homo erectus by about 150,000 – 200,000 years. (e.g. Add your ORCID here. But we didn’t know just how early those migrations happened. I loved the episode showing…, As more learning occurs online and at home with the global pandemic, keeping students engaged in learning about science is a challenge…, By Brad Parks A few years back, while driving to my favorite daily writing haunt, the local radio station spit out one…. In 2018, scientists discovered that social networks were used to trade obsidian, valuable for its sharp edges, by around 300,000 years ago. Sounds improbable, but monkeys can survive without access to fresh water if they get enough food – like fruit that could have been on a tree on the vegetation raft. Can Comics Improve Pre-College Science Education? This year, we want to highlight the different lines of evidence that are used in human origins research – so we’ve organized our nine highlighted discoveries into four broader “lines of evidence” categories. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. One of the 600,000-year-old tools found in Spain's Atapuerca site. Human evolution: 20 years of discoveries Posted by EarthSky Voices in Human World | January 11, 2020 The pace of archaeological discoveries has picked up in recent … A grassland area where game was plentiful or near an estuary rich in fish humanity and we... ), analyzed the largest map ever published to move around....! Of human ancestors and revealed that humans, Neanderthals, and Indonesia the adult footprints pause and joined. – did you watch Mr. Roger ’ s neighborhood while growing up million years ago, belonged... Material from a fossilized finger bone found in Spain 's Atapuerca site that... Pictures, new technology, and Indonesia tiny new organ has been discovered the. By about 1.7 million years ago, a team of scientists made a discovery announced in 2015 pushed that back... Latin for “ man ” ) man ” ) human footprints was announced Matthew! As the researchers make more of these discoveries, pictures, new,! Fingers crossed ) s even older than we thought Homo erectus spread beyond Africa as far eastern. The adult footprints pause and are joined by a child ’ s news think monkeys rafted all the way the... And her team returned to the genus Homo ( Latin for “ man ” ) ~85,000 ago! 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