Hominins

Blogs about hominins

Neanderthal skull from Forbes' Quarry

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” reports a genetic analysis of the remains of two Neanderthals discovered in Gibraltar in 1848 and 1926. A team of researchers coordinated by the National Museum of History in London and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig carried out the extraction of DNA from the remains of those two individuals, succeeding in establishing that the skull discovered in 1848 in the Forbes’ Quarry site belonged to a female while the one discovered in 1926 and nicknamed Devil’s Tower Child was a male. The female was more closely related to the Neanderthals who lived in Europe between 60,000 and 120,000 years ago than to those who lived in Spain 49,000 years ago.

Tooth socket for a three-rooted molar (Image courtesy Christine Lee. All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” reports the results of the analysis of a tooth belonging to a Denisovan that is part of a mandible discovered on the Tibetan plateau, dating back 160,000 years ago. It’s a three-rooted mandibular molar, a characteristic that today exists in a part of Asian modern humans and only rarely in Caucasian populations. That characteristic was considered the result of a mutation occurred in modern humans after the first migrations out of Africa but this discovery suggests that it’s instead the result of an interbreeding with the Denisovans.

A fossil jaw discovered on the Tibetan plateau belonged to a Denisovan

An article published in the journal “Nature” reports evidence that a jaw discovered in Baishiya Karst Cave, in the Xiahe Chinese region, on the ibetan plateau, dated from about 160,000-year ago, belonged to a Denisovan. A team of researchers coordinated by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA), Germany, and by the Lanzhou University, China, extracted proteins from the mandible and one of the molars that are specific to determine the relationship of that individual with the Denisovas whose remains were discovered in Siberia.

The role of Ardipithecus ramidus in the evolution of bipedalism in humans

An article published in the journal “eLife” reports the claim that the foot morphology of Ardipithecus ramidus, a hominin that lived about 4.4 million years ago, is the most similar to that of chimpanzees and gorillas among apes. Thomas Prang of the New York University’s Department of Anthropology examined the characteristics of Ardipithecus ramidus’ feet to assess the relationship between the type of locomotion of a species and its skeletal characteristics. The aim is to reconstruct the evolution of bipedalism and estimate the appearance of the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees.

Professor Philip Piper with the first Homo luzonensis bone discovered (Photo courtesy Lannon Harley / ANU. All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Nature” reports the recognition of a new species of primitive humans that was named Homo luzonensis. A team of researchers studied a number of fossils discovered between 2007 and 2015 in Callao Cave, on the island of Luzon, Philippines, concluding that these are the remains of individuals belonging to a species of hominins different from those hitherto known who lived on the island between 50,000 and 67,000 years ago.