Prehistory



13 May 2014

The War on Drugs in 10,000 B.C.


New archaeological research suggests that the use of alcohol, opium poppies, and hallucinogenic mushrooms by prehistoric Europeans was highly regulated and restricted to sacred burial rituals, where intoxication was believed to be an integral part of communication with the spirit world...

3 December 2013

Good Housekeeping, Neanderthal style


Neanderthals were far from primitive in their domestic living arrangements, say anthropologists who have unearthed evidence that our prehistoric cousins organized their living spaces in ways that would be familiar to modern humans...

18 June 2013

New evidence for climate change creating modern humans


Abrupt changes in climate led to the rapid emergence of modern human behaviors, say archaeologists who have linked tool-making and agriculture to changes in rainfall patterns...

9 June 2013

Neanderthal bone reveals modern day affliction


The first-known case of a bone tumor has been discovered in a fragment of the rib of a young Neanderthal who lived about 120,000 years ago in Eastern Europe...

26 May 2013

Torturous terrain behind human bipedal evolution?


Archaeologists at the University of York say challenging terrain could have been the driving force behind our earliest ancestors leaving the trees and becoming upright bipeds...

7 May 2013

Climate change, not humans, wiped out megafauna, claim Aussie scientists


New research challenges the notion that humans were responsible for the demise of the gigantic animals that once roamed Australia, pointing the finger instead at climate change...

6 January 2013

Fossil analysis indicates dinosaurs used feathers for courtship


Fossilized dinosaur tail bones have provided strong evidence that feathered dinosaurs used tail plumage to attract mates, much like modern-day peacocks...

30 October 2012

Extinction of dinosaurs a given thanks to fragility of their ecosystem


A new study suggests that the ecological structure of dinosaur communities made them sitting ducks for extinction after the Chicxulub asteroid impact...

19 October 2012

Early Triassic ocean temp reached 40°C


Scientists have discovered why life on Earth took so long to recover after the end-Permian mass extinction 250 million years ago. It was simply too hot to survive, suggests new research, with temperatures of 60°C on land and 40°C at the sea-surface...

20 September 2012

Gene mutation behind African migration also responsible for modern health woes


The brain-boosting genetic mutation that allowed primitive man to migrate across the African continent is over-represented in modern-day African Americans and is believed to be responsible for the higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer in that population group...

6 September 2012

Double whammy dinosaur extinction theory


Widely believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs, the giant asteroid that smashed into the Yucatán Peninsula may have been preceded by a volcanic extinction event that warmed the planet dramatically...

14 August 2012

Neanderthal nookie notion nixed


The idea that modern humans and Neanderthals once interbred is probably wrong, say researchers at the University of Cambridge who suggest that a common ancestry better explains the DNA we share with Neanderthals...

29 May 2012

Families forged from female food fanciers


A new mathematical simulation shows that the most commonly proposed theories for the emergence of human pair-bonding are not biologically feasible. Instead, the new model suggests the emergence of the modern family was likely initiated by females who showed a preference for low-ranking males who were better at providing food, rather than fighting...

16 May 2012

Earliest cave art was erotica, say researchers


A block of limestone in southwestern France is adorned with what anthropologists believe are engravings of female genitalia dating back 37,000 years...

8 May 2012

Dino farts warmed early climate


Mesozoic methane emissions from dinosaurs could, according to new calculations, have produced more of the notorious greenhouse gas than all modern sources - both natural and man-made - put together...

1 May 2012

Inch-long fleas tormented dinosaurs


Ten times bigger than their modern cousins, fossilized prehistoric fleas unearthed by Chinese scientists reveal a proboscis like a hypodermic needle...

26 March 2012

Hoarding may have led to human bipedalism


Detailed observations of modern chimpanzees indicate that walking upright may have evolved millions of years ago as an adaptation to be better able to carry scarce, high-quality foods and other resources...

15 March 2012

Chinese fossils may be new human species


Dating from only around 13,000 years ago, fossils from two caves in south-west China have revealed a previously unknown Stone Age people who exhibit a highly unusual mix of ancient and modern anatomical features...

19 December 2011

Modern man emerged from Middle East, suggests elephantine evidence


The elephant - a huge package of protein that is easy to hunt - disappeared from the Middle East around 400,000 years ago. This would have imposed considerable nutritional stress on Homo erectus, say Israeli researchers, who suggest that the loss of easy food favored hominids who were more knowledgeable and better at hunting smaller prey...

22 November 2011

Bashed-in prehistoric skull hints at the invention of violence


A 126,000 year-old human cranium exhibiting signs of localized blunt force trauma could represent the earliest known incident of interhuman aggression, say anthropologists...

8 November 2011

Caveman cook calorie kerfuffle quantified


Despite our preoccupation with all things gastronomic, surprising little is known about how preparation affects the energy food supplies to our bodies. Now, for the first time, researchers have shown that cooked food yields more energy than raw, leading them to speculate that cooking played a key role in driving the evolution of modern humans...

11 October 2011

Artistic mega-octopus may topple ichthyosaur from top of Triassic food chain


The neatly arranged fossilized vertebrae from a number of bus-sized ichthyosaurs could actually be a self portrait composed by a very large prehistoric octopus predator previously unknown to science, according to a US paleontologist...

31 August 2011

Modern humans healthier thanks to Neanderthal nookie


Mating with Neanderthals has endowed some human gene pools with beneficial versions of immune system genes, say researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine...

10 August 2011

Scientists identify possible smoking-gun for multicellular life


Researchers have created an analog of what they think the first multicellular cooperation on Earth might have looked like, showing that yeast cells - in an environment that requires them to work harder for their food - grow and reproduce better in multicellular clumps than singly...

19 May 2011

Two legs good, four legs bad - for beating the crap out of each other


Men can punch much harder when they stand on two legs and hit downward rather than when they are on all fours, giving tall, upright males a distinct fighting advantage and possibly explaining why women tend to prefer tall men...

7 February 2011

Clay bubbles may have nurtured self-organizing precursors to life


A team of researchers have demonstrated how small, semi-permeable compartments that form in inorganic clay provide an ideal container for molecules that can self-organize. Scientists say the discovery opens the possibility that the Earth's first primitive cells might have formed inside inorganic clay bubbles...

3 January 2011

Mass extinction event linked to invasive species


The arrival of invasive species can stop the dominant natural process of new species formation and trigger mass extinction events, say researchers examining fossil records from the Late Devonian...

22 September 2010

Neanderthal innovation surprises archaeologists


It was previously believed that Neanderthals developed tools and ornaments solely through contact with supposedly more advanced Homo sapiens, but new research shows that these sturdy ancestors could adapt, innovate and evolve technology on their own...

31 August 2010

First human communities may have originated from funeral feasts


Scientists working at a 12,000 year-old archeological site in Israel say they have evidence that ancient feasts to celebrate the burial of the dead brought about the world's first established communities...

19 August 2010

Prehistoric "terror bird" jabbed prey like a boxer


Andalgalornis couldn't fly, but it used its unusually large, rigid skull - together with a hawk-like hooked beak - for a fighting strategy reminiscent of boxer Muhammad Ali. The agile creature repeatedly attacked and retreated, landing well-targeted, hatchet-like jabs to take down its prey...

11 August 2010

Cambrian explosion linked to rapid super-continent shift


Geologists have uncovered evidence that the Gondwana supercontinent underwent a rapid 60-degree rotation across the Earth's surface during the Early Cambrian period, a crucial time in Earth's evolutionary history when most of the major groups of complex animals appeared...

9 June 2010

New evidence for hot climate forcing early humans to walk upright


The Turkana Basin in Kenya, where the average daily temperature has been around 100 degrees for the past 4 million years, may have been the place where humans first began to walk upright...

3 May 2010

Ancient glaciation period yields clues to carbon cycle anomalies


A massive glaciation event - triggered by the geological episode known as "snowball Earth" - that occurred around 720 million years ago is yielding important clues as to how anomalies in Earth's carbon cycle can occur...

20 October 2009

Toxin producing algae key to mass extinctions, claims new study


Algae, rather than asteroids, were the key to the end of the dinosaurs, claims a new study that notes that current environmental conditions show a significant similarity to the periods in the past when mass extinctions occurred...

7 August 2009

T-rex a baby killer


The cinematic cliché of two huge dinosaurs battling to the death may be nothing but fantasy if German scientists are correct in their assessment that large carnivorous dinosaurs were opportunistic hunters who picked on much smaller prey...

5 June 2009

Did population density create modern humans?


A controversial new study argues that increasing population density, rather than growth in the power of the human brain, is what catalyzed the emergence of modern human behavior...

28 April 2009

Lost world... found?


New evidence suggests that dinosaur bones found in the San Juan Basin date from after the supposed dino-doomsday, and that dinosaurs may have survived in what is now New Mexico and Colorado for up to half-a-million years...

22 December 2008

Ancient diaspora was a manly affair


Modern humans left Africa around 60,000 years ago in a migration that spread the human population around the world. But researchers now believe that men and women weren't equal partners in that exodus...

22 December 2008

Ancient diaspora was a manly affair


Modern humans left Africa around 60,000 years ago in a migration that spread the human population around the world. But researchers now believe that men and women weren't equal partners in that exodus...

17 October 2008

"Lost" experiment hints at a richer primordial broth


A classic 50s experiment that showed how amino acids could be created from inorganic molecules and an electrical spark isn't the whole story, it turns out. There were two related experiments, neither of which was reported at the time, which under modern analysis indicate that life may have begun in volcanic environments...

24 June 2008

Neanderthals' Last Hurrah Surprisingly Sophisticated


An archaeological excavation in southern England is providing scientists with a poignant and surprising glimpse into the last days of a group of Neanderthals on the verge of extinction...

12 June 2008

Fifteen-Thousand-Foot Fossil Find Flummoxes Fossickers


High up on the desolate Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau, an international research team has found thick layers of lake sediment filled with plant, fish and animal fossils typical of far lower elevations and warmer, wetter climates. The fossils are relatively young (around 2 million years), leading the researchers to ponder what could have caused such a sudden and massive die-off...

5 December 2007

Between The Sheets


Life on Earth may have originated as the organic filling in a multilayer sandwich of mica sheets...

13 November 2007

Digging Chimps Provide Insights Into Early Human Diet


Even when food is plentiful above ground, chimps still prefer to dig for roots and tubers, indicating that perhaps our hominid ancestors were not such big meat-eaters after all...

19 October 2007

Language-Gene Evolution Shared By Humans And Neanderthals


Adaptive changes in a human gene involved in speech and language processing were shared by our closest extinct relatives, the Neanderthals...

27 July 2007

The Dino Dynasty Reconsidered


Our understanding of dinosaur lineage is flawed, says a new study that contends dinosaurs actually lived alongside their ancestors for tens-of-millions of years. And the possibilities for paleontological revision don't end there, as another study has cleared the way for yet more possibilities (as if we needed any more) as to how the dino dynasty ended so abruptly...

11 June 2007

Dino Detectives Decode Death Dance


The peculiar pose - wide-open mouth, head thrown back and recurved tail - of many fossilized dinosaurs has led two paleontologists to challenge long established theories about how these creatures died...

4 June 2007

Humans Took First Steps In Tree Tops


UK scientists say that our ability to walk upright developed from foraging for food in forest tree tops, not from walking on all fours on open land...

12 March 2007

Ancient Man Built For Fighting


The short legs of our ape-like ancestors were advantageous for fighting and not tree climbing, suggests a new study...

12 January 2007

Migration Out Of Africa May Have Occurred Later Than Previously Thought


Modern humans spread out of Africa up to 50,000 years later than previously thought, say anthropologists...

27 November 2006

Permian Extinction Triggered Rise Of Complex Marine Organisms


While the Permian-Triassic extinction event wiped out an estimated 95 percent of marine species, it also laid the foundation for the explosive growth in complex marine organisms and ecosystems...

26 October 2006

Back To The Drawing Board For Human Migration Patterns


Human polyomavirus, a benign virus used as a marker for tracing human migration out of Africa, appears to be evolving much faster than previously thought, making it an unreliable yardstick and calling into question hundreds of previous studies that relied on it...

15 September 2006

Did Civilization Emerge Thanks To A Change In The Weather?


Using evidence from archaeological digs and the palaeoclimatic record, one scientist claims that significant changes in social organization have coincided with abrupt climate change. But this isn't about yet another ancient civilization collapsing. Rather, it's about the changes societies undergo as adaptive responses to climate change. In fact, what we call civilization may be the by-product of these social adaptations to environmental change...

11 September 2006

Homo Sapiens Brow-Beaten By Neanderthals


We modern-day humans think that we're pretty good looking compared to our brow-ridged, potato-nosed Neanderthal relatives; but new findings indicate that perhaps it is we who are the evolutionary freaks...

27 July 2006

Global Warming Behind Early Primate Diaspora?


What prompted early primates to travel between continents 55 million years ago has perplexed scientists for years. Could rapid global warming have been the driving force?

2 June 2006

Smoking Gun For Permian-Triassic Extinction Found


Scientists have found evidence of a meteor impact in Antarctica that they believe caused the biggest mass extinction in Earth's history and led to the rise of the dinosaurs...

1 May 2006

Volcano Study Suggests Bronze Age History Needs Rewrite


History professors may need to revise their lecture notes thanks to new evidence that disputes some commonly held assumptions about Aegean and Near Eastern civilization trade links...

10 March 2006

Geologists Hope To Disprove Asteroid Mass Extinction Scenario


University of Leicester scientists suggest extraterrestrial theories are flawed and that more down to earth factors could have accounted for past mass extinctions...

24 February 2006

Food For Thought


Was it a shoreline diet rich in iodine that triggered explosive brain growth in early hominids? One scientist thinks so, although his detractors maintain that language and tool-use were the catalysts for our big brains...


11 November 2005

Volcanic Clay May Have Served As Womb For Emergent Life


The mineral clay surrounding undersea hydrothermal vents has been found to not only incubate methanol, but also to trigger the creation of other biomolecules...

5 October 2005

Oxygen Increase Behind Rise Of Mammals


A rapid rise in atmospheric oxygen levels 50 million years ago gave mammals the evolutionary nudge they needed to dominate the planet...

12 July 2005

Humans Behind Early Oz Ecosystem Collapse?


The massive extinctions of animals 50,000 years ago in Australia and the arrival of the first humans may be linked...

4 March 2005

Hobbit's Small Brain May Have Had Advanced Cognitive Abilities


Scientists studying the skull of the recently discovered Hobbit creature believe the chimp sized brain posessed surprisingly advanced cognitive abilities...

1 December 2004

Geologists Say End-Permian Mass Extinction Not Caused By Asteroid


Geochemical analysis suggests that the cause of one of Earth's biggest extinction events may have been volcanic, rather than an asteroid impact...

20 September 2004

Ancient Man Spread The Love Around


New genetic insights into ancient mating and migration patterns reveal that men travelled far and wide to sow their wild oats...

14 May 2004

Scene Of Planetary Reboot Located


Long before the age of the dinosaurs, a meteor the size of a mountain smashed into northern Australia wiping out 90% of all life...

27 October 2003

Clay May Have Been Catalyst For Life


Clays may have spurred the spontaneous assembly of fatty acids into the first living cells...

11 September 2003

Different Dinosaur Death Theory Erupts


The extinction of the dinosaurs - thought to be caused by an asteroid impact - was more likely to have been caused by a huge volcanic eruption from deep within the earth's mantle...

20 May 2002

Age Of Dinosaurs Began With Comet Impact


Comets colliding with the earth not only helped wipe out the dinosaurs, but may have originally helped bring them to prominence 200 million years ago...

Related:
Animal Kingdom
Biology
Environment
Evolution
Genetics
Humans
Mind/Brain