Fossil primates also undertook major journeys. Human evolution is one of the most vibrant areas of scientific investigation. The story of human evolution began about seven million years ago, when the lineages that lead to Homo sapiens and chimpanzees separated. Here are some of the most eye-raising anthropological findings of 2020. 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 / … Another 2020 announcement, this one in May from Chatham University’s Kevin Hatala and colleagues (including Briana Pobiner! Human skull model. But did Pleistocene humans always travel solo? 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. Human evolution: The astounding new story of the origin of our species Forget the simple out-of-Africa idea of how humans evolved. Human Origins 101. Lack of food, medicine and rising violence … 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! It's five years later and we still aren’t sure how they got there. Certain Neanderthal genes, researchers found, code for proteins that convey a But we also look to ancient DNA to learn about our origins. 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. 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. 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. Updated Oct 22, 2020; Posted Oct 22, 2020 . Using CT scans, the scientists confirmed that the remains belonged to our species. She has conducted fieldwork in the US, Kenya, and South Africa. ... of human evolution. In 2018, scientists discovered that social networks were used to trade obsidian, valuable for its sharp edges, by around 300,000 years ago. 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. Stone tools aren’t the only things that are older than we thought. Add your ORCID here. Determined to find more evidence, Zhang and her team returned to the cave. or ... » Human evolution … Were the bodies placed there deliberately? Just three years ago, a team of scientists made a discovery that pushed back the origin of our species, Homo sapiens. The human genome is a wondrous archive of our relationships with ancient species no longer around. They tested that material and discovered that the DNA didn’t match that of modern humans or Neanderthals. The findings show how early humans related to and kept track of a larger social world. The team re-excavated a cave in Morocco where a group of miners found skulls in 1961. 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. This, it was believed, was the cradle of humanity and where we acquired our distinct physical features and cognitive skills. Give a Gift. What does this tell us? The research team also found charcoal from fires Denisovans built in the cave, as well as stone tools and fossil animal bones. Learn about the early human … If so, by whom? A tiny new organ has been discovered in the human body. Scientists still don’t know exactly when or how the first humans evolved, but they’ve identified a few of the oldest ones. 2020 has been… quite the year! 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. One of the 600,000-year-old tools found in Spain's Atapuerca site. But we didn’t know just how early those migrations happened. 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. His research focuses on how environmental instability has affected human evolution and our evolutionary adaptations. It was once held that H. sapiens first emerged in Eastern Africa and flourished in some Stone Age ‘ Eden’. Nuño Domínguez. Before this discovery, the earliest evidence of humans moving into the heart of Arabia dated back to ~85,000 years ago. That discovery got him on the front page of the New York Times on November 3, 1977. DNA tells us a lot about who we are now. 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. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. 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 ). What does this evidence mean for interactions and migrations among Eurasian Pleistocene populations? 4. 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. 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. Every so often the adult footprints pause and are joined by a child’s footprints. 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. Keep up-to-date on: 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. I’ve always been fascinated by how things work. 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. Here’s why it matters. 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. 10 Popular Scientific Discoveries from 2020 smithsonianmag.com - Erin Malsbury. But through all of the challenges of 2020, scientists at the Smithsonian and around the world … 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 … First things first: A “human” is anyone who belongs to the genus Homo(Latin for “man”). Featured image by Karen Carr/National Park Service. 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. 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. 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. New fossils hominins from Drimolen, South Africa. 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. Since many scientific articles are years in the making, a lot of exciting discoveries were still revealed in 2020! In the past ten years, we’ve found fossils that widen both the geographic and time range of several early human species. 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. Human evolution is one of the most vibrant areas of scientific investigation. They lived in a grassland area where game was plentiful or near an estuary rich in fish. Others include Homo rudolfensis, who lived in Eastern Africa about 1.9 million to … 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. 0000-0002-7299-680X). 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. Can Comics Improve Pre-College Science Education? Over the past decade, we welcomed four new species to our family tree, including the mysterious Homo naledi. But a discovery announced in 2015 pushed that date back. Fossils older than 3.5 million years are extremely rare. The jaw ended up being 174,000-185,000 years old. It was the first time a new species has been identified using ancient DNA. 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. 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! 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. 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. They also used modern dating techniques on the remains. Well, it was… complicated. 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. 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 March and April 2020. Ancient skull discovery yields new clues on human evolution. Two sharp quartzite stones carved by a hominid … 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. Stay up-to-date with the latest science and technology news from Daily Mail including scientific discoveries, pictures, new technology, and more. 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. Denisovan DNA found in cave sediments and modern humans. 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. 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. ... New perspectives in human behavior and culture. We’ve long known that early humans migrated from Africa not once but at least twice. 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. She has done fieldwork in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and Indonesia. 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. In December, the longest trackway of fossil human footprints was announced by Matthew R. Bennett and colleagues. We thought Homo erectus spread beyond Africa as far as eastern Asia by about 1.7 million years ago. As anthropologists discovered new fossils and artifacts in 2020, our understanding of human history has changed. Since many scientific articles are years in the making, a lot of exciting discoveries were still revealed in 2020! 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. 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. 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. Paleoanthropologist Dr. Rick Potts heads the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. She joined the Smithsonian in 2017. But it is. 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? The 2010s was a bad decade for the study of human evolution. Until this find was announced in 2019, researchers had only found bits and pieces of this species from various sites across Ethiopia and Kenya. This was based on the pioneering work of Allan Wilson of the University of Berkeley, California. Source: Recent discoveries fundamentally change our picture of human evolution - Business Insider 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. 3. 29 Jul 2020 - 02:23 EDT. The discovery of a remarkably well-preserved fossil from the extinct human species Paranthropus robustus suggests rapid evolution during a turbulent period of … There is a mention of the Homo Luzonensis find that was first described last year. This year was one of the strangest in recent history. 2. Human evolution is one of the most vibrant areas of scientific investigation. 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. 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. 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. And no other animal bones were found in the cave except for the bones of a single owl. The British research lab at Porton Down has been much in the news recently because of the Skripal affair . The fossil was a male Paranthropus robustus, a species that existed alongside our early human … And, now, it’s even older than we thought. Not all fossil discoveries lead to a new 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. Speaking of extreme – did you know that researchers think monkeys rafted all the way across the Atlantic? They collected sediments and more fossils to help them identify and date the remains. 147 shares. The pandemic changed a lot about the world including the ways in which paleoanthropologists, archaeologists, and other fieldwork-based researchers operate. 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. As the researchers make more of these discoveries, the theory of human evolution is getting more complicated. (e.g. The pandemic changed a lot about the world including the ways in which paleoanthropologists, archaeologists, and other fieldwork-based researchers operate. Continue Australopithecus anamensis gets a face. ), analyzed the largest fossil footprint assemblage in Africa. 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. This suggests that Denisovans once inhabited a pretty large area of Asia. 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). 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. 1. 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. Fossil discoveries tell more of our story. When you choose to publish with PLOS, your research makes an impact. Add your ORCID here. Instead, it belonged to a previously undiscovered species of early humans now called Denisovans. When the decade first started, scientists recovered ancient genetic material from a fossilized finger bone found in the Denisova Cave in Siberia. Save my name and email for the next time I comment. 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. These modern humans first conquered the continent and later spread all over the world . She was previously a student at American University and staff member of the Koobi Fora Field School. Discovery of two-million-year-old skull in South Africa throws new light on human evolution. Early Man Studies Are a Moving Target: a Perennial Re-writing of Our Alleged History. The situation in Venezuela is dire. 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 found that both fossils contain DNA from both Neanderthals and Denisovans. With platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it hard to imagine social networking being old. We long thought our ancestors began making these tools about 2.6 million years ago. Required fields are marked *, ORCID New starfish-like fossil reveals evolution in action. In the past decade we’ve seen many discoveries that add to our understanding of our origins. Looks like it’s time to find more Denisovan fossils (fingers crossed)! Lost art of Venezuela. Your email address will not be published. No list of important finds in human Another really exciting fossil find from this year was not a … Humans are too. A Thriller Author Talks about How to Sell Science. Fossil footprints tell us where and how modern humans traveled the globe. 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. Also in 2018, researchers announced the discovery of an upper jaw in Israel that looked like that of our own species, Homo sapiens. )… 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! While discoveries directly related to humans’ evolutionary journey are... 3. Fossil footprints tell us where and how modern humans traveled the globe. While we may not be able to move around... 2. Edited by Jason Organ, PhD, Indiana University School of Medicine. Did you watch Mr. Roger’s neighborhood while growing up? 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! 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