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Ancestry & Ancient Civilisations

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Prehistoric human migration from Africa. Homo naledi: new species of ancient human discovered, claim scientists. A huge haul of bones found in a small, dark chamber at the back of a cave in South Africa may be the remnants of a new species of ancient human relative.

Homo naledi: new species of ancient human discovered, claim scientists

Explorers discovered the bones after squeezing through a fissure high in the rear wall of the Rising Star cave, 50km from Johannesburg, before descending a long, narrow chute to the chamber floor 40 metres beneath the surface. The entrance chute into the Dinaledi chamber is so tight – a mere eight inches wide – that six lightly built female researchers were brought in to excavate the bones. Footage from their cameras was beamed along 3.5km of optic cable to a command centre above ground as they worked inside the cramped enclosure. The excavators recovered more than 1,500 pieces of bone belonging to at least 15 individuals. The remains appear to be infants, juveniles and one very old adult. DNA study shows Celts are not a unique genetic group. 18 March 2015Last updated at 14:00 ET By Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent, BBC News "What's fascinated historians is why over such a short space of land, the people are so different", as Pallab Ghosh reports.

DNA study shows Celts are not a unique genetic group

Neolithic-agricultural-revolution-may-have-reached-britain-2000-years-earlier-than-previously-thought-10073458. Scientific tests suggest that a major aspect of the Neolithic agricultural revolution may have reached Britain 2000 years earlier than previously thought.

neolithic-agricultural-revolution-may-have-reached-britain-2000-years-earlier-than-previously-thought-10073458

The research - carried out by scientists at the universities of Bradford, Birmingham and Warwick - reveal that wheat, probably already ground into flour, was being used at a Mesolithic Stone Age site in around 6000 BC. The 4,000-year-old mystery that has finally been solved. (Picture: PRA/WikiMedia) The hieroglyphs on an ancient disc found in modern day Crete have left archaeologists and linguistics experts stumped for years… until now.

The 4,000-year-old mystery that has finally been solved

Dr Gareth Owens, of the Technological Educational Institute (TEI) of Crete, believes that after six years of hard work involving a team of international scholars most of the mysterious words on the “Phaistos Disc” have been decoded. The clay disc was discovered in a palace on the island of Crete in 1908 but is estimated to date back to around 1,700 BCE, according to Discovery News. Dr Owens believes the disc, which is said to possess 242 picture segments created from 45 individual symbols, represents a prayer to a Minoan “mother goddess”. Ancient human bone helps date our first sex with Neanderthals. Discovery of oldest human DNA in Spanish cave sheds light on evolution. The downside of sex with Neanderthals. One question seemed to hang in the air more than any other when scientists first turned the powerful techniques of modern genetics on the fragile and damaged remains of ancient humans: did we or didn't we?

The downside of sex with Neanderthals

Have sex with them, that is. The answer came after years of painstaking work, when material extracted from the leg of a Neanderthal and the fingerbone of a Denisovan, an apparent sister species, yielded readable DNA. Is this the stomach-turning truth about what the Neanderthals ate? It was the tell-tale tartar on the teeth that told the truth.

Is this the stomach-turning truth about what the Neanderthals ate?

Or at least, that is what it appeared to do. Researchers – after studying calcified plaque on Neanderthal fossil teeth found in El Sidrón cave in Spain – last year concluded that members of this extinct human species cooked vegetables and consumed bitter-tasting medicinal plants such as chamomile and yarrow. These were not brainless carnivores, in other words. These were smart and sensitive people capable of providing themselves with balanced diets and of treating themselves with health-restoring herbs, concluded the researchers, led by Karen Hardy at the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies in Barcelona. Our vision of these long-extinct people needs adjusting, they argued.

But now this tale of ancient tartar has taken a new twist with two researchers at London's Natural History Museum challenging the Barcelona group's conclusions. This point is backed by Stringer. Skull of Homo erectus throws story of human evolution into disarray. The spectacular fossilised skull of an ancient human ancestor that died nearly two million years ago has forced scientists to rethink the story of early human evolution.

Skull of Homo erectus throws story of human evolution into disarray

Anthropologists unearthed the skull at a site in Dmanisi, a small town in southern Georgia, where other remains of human ancestors, simple stone tools and long-extinct animals have been dated to 1.8m years old. Experts believe the skull is one of the most important fossil finds to date, but it has proved as controversial as it is stunning. New human species identified from Kenya fossils. 8 August 2012Last updated at 13:06 ET By Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent, BBC News A new species of human: One of several co-existing in Africa two million years ago.

New human species identified from Kenya fossils

Blow to multiple human species idea. 17 October 2013Last updated at 14:03 ET By Melissa Hogenboom Science reporter, BBC News.

Blow to multiple human species idea

Ancestry5_large.jpg (JPEG Image, 3000 × 1536 pixels) - Scaled (41%) The Greeks who worship the ancient gods. 19 June 2013Last updated at 20:26 ET By Matthew Brunwasser PRI's The World, Mount Olympus The summer solstice, 21 June, is one of the most important dates in the calendar for many followers of ancient religions, and it's a special time for people in Greece who worship the country's pre-Christian gods.

The Greeks who worship the ancient gods

"I love the energy this place has," says Exsekias Trivoulides who has pitched his tent on what he considers to be the holy site of Mount Olympus. Trivoulides is a sculptor who studied art history and classics, and these days, he is living his passion. How similar are the gestures of apes and human infants? More than you might suspect. Psychologists who analyzed video footage of a female chimpanzee, a female bonobo and a female human infant in a study to compare different types of gestures at comparable stages of communicative development found remarkable similarities among the three species. This is the first time such data have been used to compare the development of gestures across species.

The chimpanzee and bonobo, formerly called the “pygmy chimpanzee,” are the two species most closely related to humans in the evolutionary tree. “The similarity in the form and function of the gestures in a human infant, a baby chimpanzee and a baby bonobo was remarkable,” said Patricia Greenfield, a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at UCLA and co-author of the study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology. Gestures made by all three species included reaching, pointing with fingers or the head, and raising the arms to ask to be picked up. Why did the Neanderthals die out? The puzzle is one of the greatest surrounding our species. On a planet that bristled with different types of human being, including Neanderthals and the Hobbit-like folk of Flores, only one is left today: Homo sapiens. Our current solo status on Earth is therefore an evolutionary oddity – though it is not clear when our species became Earth's only masters, nor is it clear why we survived when all other versions of humanity died out.

Did we kill off our competitors, or were the others just poorly adapted and unable to react to the extreme climatic fluctuations that then beset the planet? These key issues are to be tackled this week at a major conference at the British Museum, in London, called When Europe was covered by ice and ash. At the meeting scientists will reveal results from a five-year research programme using modern dating techniques to answer these puzzles. Using radiocarbon technology to date remains that are 40,000 years old has always been tricky.

Ape-like feet 'found in study of museum visitors' Scientists have discovered that about one in thirteen people have flexible ape-like feet. A team studied the feet of 398 visitors to the Boston Museum of Science. The results show differences in foot bone structure similar to those seen in fossils of a member of the human lineage from two million years ago. It is hoped the research, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, will establish how that creature moved. Apes like the chimpanzee spend a lot of their time in trees, so their flexible feet are essential to grip branches and allow them to move around quickly - but how most of us ended up with more rigid feet remains unclear. Jeremy DeSilva from Boston University and a colleague asked the museum visitors to walk barefoot and observed how they walked by using a mechanised carpet that was able to analyse several components of the foot.

Stonehenge builders travelled from far, say researchers. 9 March 2013Last updated at 00:44 ET. Ancient migration: Genes link Australia with India. 14 January 2013Last updated at 20:38 GMT By Rebecca Morelle Science reporter, BBC World Service. Lock of hair pins down early migration of Aborigines. 23 September 2011Last updated at 01:23 By Leila Battison Science reporter.

Invention of cooking made having a bigger brain an asset for humans. If human beings had not invented cooking as a way of increasing the number of calories they consumed, they could only have supported the 86bn neurons in their big brains by spending an impossible nine hours or more each day eating raw food, according to a scientific paper published on Monday. The research, the authors suggest, explains why great apes such as gorillas, which can have bodies three times the size of humans, have considerably smaller brains. Though gorillas typically spend up to eight hours feeding, their diet influenced an evolutionary tradeoff between body and brain size; supporting both big bodies and big brains would be impossible on a raw food diet. Humans hunted for meat 2 million years ago. Ancient humans used complex hunting techniques to ambush and kill antelopes, gazelles, wildebeest and other large animals at least two million years ago.

"Linked to a Genetic Accident 500 Million Years Ago" The research team studied the mental abilities of mice and humans, using comparative tasks that involved identifying objects on touch-screen computers. They then combined results of these behavioral tests with information from the genetic codes of various species to work out when different behaviors evolved and discovered that higher mental functions in humans and mice were controlled by the same genes. The study also showed that when these genes were mutated or damaged, they impaired higher mental functions. “Our work shows that the price of higher intelligence and more complex behaviors is more mental illness,” said Professor Grant.

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