Tag Archives: anthropology


Mystery Relative’s DNA Highlights Unique Human Traits

A replica of the Denisovan finger bone sits on a human hand.

The young woman from southern Siberia has been tantalizing scientists for about two years. They knew a few skimpy details, like that she was a she, and lived at least 50,000 years ago. Also she was not a modern human, but she or others in her group may have mated with our more direct ancestors, contributing a little DNA we still carry today.

Today we know what her DNA is—and more important, we have a better sense of what genes are un…


Mystery Human Ancestor Found in African Genes

We are not alone. An unknown group of archaic humans interbred with our more modern species in Africa thousands of years ago, contributing DNA that is still with us, according to a new scientific paper. These ghosts within our genome are revising the history of Homo sapiens, which once was thought to have crushed any humanlike competitors on its way to inheriting the earth. In reality, we had sex and had kids with these extinct groups.

In fact, this is the third population of archaic humans—gr…


Stolen Ideas? Or Great Minds Thinking Alike?

Figuring out whether someone committed plagiarism is usually straightforward. You compare the two texts to see how much of one appears verbatim in the other. Even if some words have been changed, there is often a pattern of similarities that can’t be coincidental. It’s not that hard.

Determining whether someone swiped an idea, or a set of ideas, is another beast entirely. In a review in the June 7 issue of The New York Review of Books, the possibility is raised that Terence W. Deacon, chairman …


Lucy’s New Fossil Cousin Shows Path to Human Walking Took Many Turns

Though not from a gorilla, the new fossils fit into an outline of a gorilla foot

Standing and striding on two feet has long been viewed as a hallmark of humanity. One of the strongest claims for Lucy, the famous 3.2-million-year-old skeleton, as a direct human ancestor was that her feet and hips looked decidedly bipedal. But today scientists announced evidence for another forerunner, living at the same time as Lucy’s species, that spent most of its time in trees but also could walk.

The new foss…