Human Origins

The remote Kibish Formation, in southern Ethiopia, features layered deposits more than 300 feet thick that have preserved many ancient human tools and remains. 

East Africa's Oldest Modern Human Fossil Is Way Older Than Previously Thought

Analysis of ash from a massive volcanic eruption places the famed Omo I fossil 36,000 years back in time

Richard Leakey's most notable find came in 1984 when he uncovered a near-complete Homo erectus skeleton dated about 1.5 million years ago. The skeleton dubbed Turkana Boy is 40 percent complete and is the most near-complete fossil skeleton of a human ancestor ever found.

Famed Paleoanthropologist and Wildlife Conservationist Richard Leakey Dies at 77

His team's discovery of early human skulls and skeletons cemented Africa as the cradle of humanity

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Evotourism ®

Seven New Things We Learned About Human Evolution in 2021

Paleoanthropologists Briana Pobiner and Ryan McRae reveal some of the year's best findings in human origins studies

From amazing firsts on Mars to the impacts of climate change on Earth, these science stories stood out as the most important of 2021

The Ten Most Significant Science Stories of 2021

Thrilling discoveries, hurdles in the fight against Covid and advancements in space exploration defined the past year

All mollusks build their own shells.

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How Do Snails Get Their Shells? And More Questions From Our Readers

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The 'Ubeidiya site today is an expanse of grasses. Concealed from this view are slabs of fossilized pebbly clay, a source of ancient finds that have helped scholars learn about the journeys of Homo erectus.

Evotourism ®

What Drove Homo Erectus Out of Africa?

Excavations at a site in northern Israel are at the heart of a debate about the species' migrations

New research suggests these human-like footprints found in Crete may by 6.05 million years old.

New Research

New Research Suggests Human-Like Footprints in Crete Date to 6.05 Million Years Ago

The findings could upend scientists' understanding of human evolution—but the paper has proven controversial

The researchers used carbon dating of seeds above and below the footprints to determine their age.

Cool Finds

Prehistoric Footprints Push Back Timeline of Humans' Arrival in North America

Found in New Mexico, the fossilized impressions date to between 21,000 and 23,000 years ago, a new study suggests

Neanderthals, our closest human ancestor, went extinct 35,000 to 40,000 years ago.
 

To Understand Neanderthal Night-Hunting Methods, Scientists Caught Thousands of Birds With Their Bare Hands in Spanish Caves

Researchers captured more than 5,000 birds to learn how our now-extinct ancestors foraged for food

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

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