Human Origins

A bone tool from Contrebandiers Cave likely used for making clothes out of the skin of predators.

Evidence of Fur and Leather Clothing, Among World's Oldest, Found in Moroccan Cave

Humans likely sported clothes made of jackal, fox and wildcat skins some 120,000 years ago

Before engaging in social behaviors like grooming, bonobos (pictured) employed a "hello" greeting during 90 percent of observed interactions and bid their peers farewell 92 percent  of the time.

Bonobos and Chimps Appear to Have 'Hello' and 'Goodbye' Greetings

Like humans, these apes share salutations to start and end interactions

Olympic runners compete during the 10,000 meters race in Tokyo. In ancient times, running was likely used to push animals to exhaustion during hunting.

Five Ways Humans Evolved to Be Athletes

An archaeologist explores how our prowess in sport has deep roots in evolution

The bone carving shows a deliberate pattern.

Cool Finds

Is This 51,000-Year-Old Deer Bone Carving an Early Example of Neanderthal Art?

Made at least a millennium before modern humans' arrival in what is now Germany, the engraved object may reflect abstract thinking

A recreation of Dragon Man

A 146,000-Year-Old Fossil Dubbed 'Dragon Man' Might Be One of Our Closest Relatives

A mysterious Middle Pleistocene skull from a Chinese well has inspired debate among paleoanthropologists

Recent research unearthed a trove of remains at a site that first yielded a Neanderthal skull in 1939.

Cool Finds

Remains of Nine Neanderthals Butchered by Hyenas Found in Italian Cave

The fossilized bones appear to belong to one woman, seven men and a young boy

Researchers discovered 87 Neanderthal footprints, as well as a number of tracks left by prehistoric animals.

Cool Finds

100,000-Year-Old Fossilized Footprints Track Neanderthals' Trip to Spanish Coast

Some of the imprints appear to have been left by a child "jumping irregularly as though dancing," researchers say

Scientists excavate bones at Bacho Kiro Cave in Bulgaria. Four modern human bones were recovered from this layer along with a rich stone tool assemblage, animal bones, bone tools and pendants.

Some of Europe's Oldest-Known Modern Humans Are Distantly Related to Native Americans

Genome sequencing shows some individuals share family ties with surprising populations, and all boast plenty of Neanderthal relatives

Hunter-gatherers in what is now Russia likely viewed the wooden sculpture as an artwork imbued with ritual significance.

New Research

This Wooden Sculpture Is Twice as Old as Stonehenge and the Pyramids

New findings about the 12,500-year-old Shigir Idol have major implications for the study of prehistory

A hallmark of our cognitive abilities is to be able to calculate and respond to future probabilities. We will have to adapt to this pandemic reality, but adaptation is something that humans are famously good at.

Covid-19

Why This Pandemic Won't Be the Last

Smithsonian biological anthropologist Sabrina Sholts says Covid-19 illustrates that what makes us human also makes us more vulnerable to global contagions

While fieldwork was postponed, scientists made discoveries studying fossil footprints, ancient apes, monkeys and hominins.

Ten New Things We Learned About Human Origins in 2020

Smithsonian’s archaeologist Ella Beaudoin and paleoanthropologist Briana Pobiner reveal some of the year’s best findings in human origins studies

A map of Doggerland, which once connected Britain to mainland Europe

Study Rewrites History of Ancient Land Bridge Between Britain and Europe

New research suggests that climate change, not a tsunami, doomed the now-submerged territory of Doggerland

An overview of the Olorgesailie basin landscape, where the archeological site exists that contains stone weapons and tools

To Adapt to a Changing Environment 400,000 Years Ago, Early Humans Developed New Tools and Behaviors

When the East African Rift Valley transformed dramatically, new weapons arose and trade expanded

When human men mated with Neanderthal women a hundred thousand years ago, Neanderthals inherited the human Y chromosome.

How Human Y Chromosomes Replaced Those of Neanderthals in a Quiet Genetic Takeover

When the two early human species mated, their genomes changed forever

Researchers identified seven prehistoric human footprints at Alathar, a dried-up lake bed in Saudi Arabia.

New Research

Human Footprints Found in Saudi Arabia May Be 120,000 Years Old

If confirmed, the footfalls would represent the oldest evidence of Homo sapiens' presence on the Arabian Peninsula

A small stone tablet featuring geometric art made by the Magdalenians, an Ice Age people that once inhabited Europe.

Cool Finds

Engraved Stones Found to Be the Earliest Known Human Art in the British Isles

Ten flat tablets discovered on the island of Jersey contain markings from hunter-gatherers who lived up to 23,000 years ago

Archaeologists discovered these fossilized fragments of grass deep inside South Africa's Border Cave.

Cool Finds

200,000-Year-Old Bedding Found in South Africa May Be World's Oldest

New study suggests ancient humans slept on layers of grass and ash, which was used to ward off insects

Potential human ancestor Homo heidelbergensis used this 480,000-year-old bone hammer to create flint tools.

Cool Finds

Europe's Oldest Bone Tools Hint at Early Hominin Sophistication

480,000 years ago, Homo heidelbergensis used hammers to fashion flint tools in what is now southern England

Vervet monkeys among fallen dead leaves and grass

Monkeys’ Attraction to Burned Grasslands May Offer Clues to Human Ancestors’ Mastery of Fire

A new study finds monkeys enter charred savannahs to avoid predators, lending support to a controversial theory about what drew hominins to blazes

New research suggests a genetic mutation some humans inherited from Neanderthals may make them more sensitive to pain than their peers.

New Research

Neanderthals May Have Been More Sensitive to Pain Than Most Humans

Modern humans with this Neanderthal-inherited gene report 7 percent more pain than other people

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