Evolution

A team led by Laurits Skov and Benjamin Peter from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology sequenced nuclear, mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA of 13 Neanderthal individuals. From these sequences, they determined that two of the Neanderthals represent a father-daughter pair and that another two are cousins.

Fourteen Discoveries Made About Human Evolution in 2022

Smithsonian paleoanthropologists reveal the year’s most riveting findings about our close relatives and ancestors

Innovators may want to create soft robots that more accurately replicate the dynamics of an elephant’s trunk.

Seven Scientific Discoveries From 2022 That May Lead to New Inventions

Nature is a breeding ground for innovative solutions to everything from aging to plastic pollution

Aedes aegypti can carry Zika, dengue, chikungunya and other viruses.

‘Super-Resistant’ Mosquitoes Can Survive Insecticides in Southeast Asia

Researchers found high numbers of a genetic mutation linked to this resilience in Cambodia and Vietnam

Artist’s reconstruction of Janavis finalidens

How a 67-Million-Year-Old Fossil Turned the Theory of Bird Evolution Upside-Down

A skull bone suggests prehistoric birds could move their upper beaks, much like most modern birds

The study found that the human particpants and rats jerked their heads in a similar rhythm as the songs played. 

Watch These Rats 'Dance' to the Rhythms of Mozart, Lady Gaga and Queen

Moving accurately to a song’s beat was long thought to be a skill unique to humans, but new research suggests rats can do it, too

Scientists recorded 50 species of turtles making vocalizations.

Scientists Thought These 53 Species Were Silent. Now, They’ve Recorded Their Sounds

Vocal communication may have evolved from a common ancestor some 407 million years ago

Darwin's signature on the note

Charles Darwin's Rare Autographed Manuscript Could Sell for $800,000

The English naturalist was responding to a magazine editor who had asked for a handwriting sample

The Gogo fish fossil 

World's Oldest Vertebrate Fossil Heart Found in Australia

The 380-million-year-old heart came from a prehistoric fish that is our earliest jawed ancestor

Sahelanthropus likely walked on the ground and used all its limbs to move around in trees.

Seven Million Years Ago, the Oldest Known Early Human Was Already Walking

Analysis of a femur fossil indicates that a key species could already move somewhat like us

By studying the throats of 43 primate species, researchers found they all had vocal membranes that destabilized their voices. Humans, on the other hand, do not.

The Evolutionary Trait That May Have Led to Human Speech

“Vocal membranes” in primates make their speech grating and unpredictable, study suggests. Humans have no such thing

Spotless starling chicks use a bright yellow oil to enhance the color of their mouth, which scientists verified by rubbing a cotton swab over the area.

The Done-Up Bird Gets the Worm

Starling chicks apply their preening oil as a lipstick to get more food from their parents

A sulphur-crested cockatoo bows down at the Madrid Zoo Aquarium. The birds have been seen dancing to music and opening trash bins to get to food.

What Can Dancing Cockatoos Teach Us About Ourselves?

An evolutionary biologist demystifies bird intelligence in an excerpt from her new book

Based on the remnants left on pottery fragments, researchers can say northern Europeans have been drinking milk for 9,000 years.

Why Did Europeans Evolve Into Becoming Lactose Tolerant?

Famine and disease from millennia ago likely spurred the rapid evolution of the trait on the continent

Qikiqtania wakei (top) was more suited to swimming than its larger cousin Tiktaalik (bottom).

After Fish Developed Limbs, Some Might Have Returned to Swimming

Scientists think a recently discovered fossil is evidence that evolution is more like a branching tree than a ladder

The current rate of climate change does not bode well for penguins.

Penguins Might Not Be Ready to Adapt to Modern Climate Change

A new study looking at genomes and the fossil record shows that penguins evolve slower than other birds

Researchers analyzed flint tools found at the Evron Quarry in Israel.

Cool Finds

When Did Early Humans Start Using Fire? To Find Answers, Scientists Enlist Artificial Intelligence

By analyzing flint tools, researchers find new evidence of an 800,000-year-old fire in northern Israel

A frog-eating bat

Wild Bats Can Recognize a Phone’s Ringtone Four Years Later

The findings could help researchers understand more about the advantages and disadvantages of long-term memory in animals

Horses have shaped human history over millennia, just as humans have influenced their evolution

When Did Humans Domesticate the Horse?

Only recently have scientists discovered exactly when and where the animal went from wild to tame

A new book, coedited by Smithsonian entomologist Ted Schultz, explores and the fascinating ways in which human and nonhuman farmers compare, and asks what we might learn from other agricultural species.

Could Ants, Termites and Fishes Make Humans Better Farmers?

Scientists are now revealing the agricultural expertise that other species have cultivated for tens of millions of years

Homo heidelbergensis, a species whose skull is pictured here, likely lived in regions that overlapped with Neanderthals in Europe and Homo sapiens in Africa—according to climate modeling results released this week.

How Did Climate Change Affect Ancient Humans?

Sophisticated climate models were paired with evidence from the archaeological record to reveal where ancient humans may have lived and evolved

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