Blogs about hominins

The Homo erectus fossil cataloged as KNM-ER 2598

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” reports a research on a fossil bone attributed to a Homo erectus that led to the discovery of two other fossils in the same area, near the east shore of Lake Turkana, Kenya. A team of researchers led by Ashley Hammond, assistant curator in the American Museum of Natural History’s Division of Anthropology, conducted an investigation to try to understand whether that skull bone really was the oldest fossil of Homo erectus or, as some suspected, it came from a more recent layer and got moved by water or wind. The survey supports the age attributed to the fossil of nearly 1.9 million years.

A lower molar of one of the modern humans discovered in Bacho Kiro Cave

An article in the journal “Nature” reports a genetic study on some human beings who lived in Bacho Kiro Cave, in today’s Bulgaria, the most ancient modern humans dated so far with reasonable certainty. A team of researchers managed to obtain DNA from the available bones, which was analyzed at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. The comparison with the genetic characteristics of today’s European and Asian populations shows how those ancient humans spread and that they had some Neanderthal ancestors.

The Homo erectus known as Java Man

An article published in the journal “Nature Ecology & Evolution” reports a genetic study on populations of Island Southeast Asia that shows the presence in their DNA of genes inherited from the Denisovans, another human species now extinct, but no trace of interbreedings with other hominins of which there are fossils. A team of researchers led by Dr João Teixeira of the Australian University of Adelaide examined the DNA of 426 people from 10 different populations looking for possible traces of interbreedings with so-called super-archaic populations but without results.

A scheme of the evolution of the hands and feet of hominins

An article published in the journal “Science Advances” reports a study of the hands of Ardipithecus ramidus, a hominin that lived about 4.4 million years ago. Thomas Cody Prang, a professor of anthropology at Texas A&M University, and some colleagues examined the particularly well-preserved fossil hands of the specimen nicknamed Ardi. A comparison with the hands of modern humans, apes, and monkeys provided new insights into their evolution and connection with their locomotion showing a correlation between the evolution of hand and foot characteristics.

Scheme of facial features associated to various genes

An article published in the journal “Science Advances” reports a genetic study on Native Americans of South America concerning the identification of a number of their genetic regions that influenced their facial features. Some of them were inherited from the Denisovans, another human species now extinct. A team of researchers used genetic data from 6,192 Latin American volunteers involved in a large study by the CANDELA (Consortium for the Analysis of the Diversity and Evolution of Latin America) consortium to identify genes inherited from the Denisovans. This will help investigate the ancestry of Native Americans in Asia, where the only traces of this species have been found.