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Skulls with mix of Neandertal and primitive traits illuminate human evolution

Skulls with mix of Neandertal and primitive traits illuminate human evolution
Researchers studying a collection of skulls in a Spanish cave identified both Neandertal-derived features and features associated with more primitive humans in these bones. This "mosaic pattern" supports a theory of Neandertal evolution that suggests Neandertals developed their defining features separately, and at different times -- not all at once. Having this new data from the Sima de los Huesos site, as the Spanish cave is called, has allowed scientists to better understand hominin evolution during the Middle Pleistocene, a period in which the path of hominin evolution has been controversial. "The Middle Pleistocene was a long period of about half a million years during which hominin evolution didn't proceed through a slow process of change with just one kind of hominin quietly evolving towards the classic Neandertal," said lead author Juan-Luis Arsuaga, Professor of Paleontology at the Complutense University of Madrid. Arsuaga and his team were delighted to work on this effort.

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Neanderthals speech similar to humans - per DNA evidence Neanderthals might have spoken just like humans do now, new genetic findings suggest. Neanderthals are humanity's closest extinct relatives. Since their discovery more than 150 years ago, researchers have found out they could make tools just like our ancestors could, but whether Neanderthals also had advanced language, rather than mere grunts and groans, has remained hotly debated. To learn more, scientists investigated DNA from Neanderthal bones collected from a cave in northern Spain, concentrating on a gene, FOXP2, which is to date the only one known to play a role in speech and language.

Oldest Cave Paintings May Be Creations of Neandertals, Not Modern Humans Hand stencils in El Castillo cave are older than previously thought. Image: courtesy of Pedro Saura In a cave in northwestern Spain called El Castillo, ancient artists decorated a stretch of limestone wall with dozens of depictions of human hands. Timeline of human origins revised: New synthesis of research links changing environment with Homo’s evolutionary adaptability Many traits unique to humans were long thought to have originated in the genus Homo between 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago in Africa. Although scientists have recognized these characteristics for decades, they are reconsidering the true evolutionary factors that drove them. A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage as African grasslands expanded and Earth’s climate became cooler and drier.

Neanderthals not as portrayed in fiction-per science Archaeologists at the University of York are challenging the traditional view that Neanderthal childhood was difficult, short and dangerous. A research team from PALAEO (Centre for Human Palaeoecology and Evolutionary Origins) and the Department of Archaeology at York offer a new and distinctive perspective which suggests that Neanderthal children experienced strong emotional attachments with their immediate social group, used play to develop skills and played a significant role in their society. The research team, which also included Gail Hitchens, Andy Needham and Holly Rutherford, say there is evidence that Neanderthals cared for their sick and injured children for months and often years.

Rethinking Neanderthals Bruno Maureille unlocks the gate in a chain-link fence, and we walk into the fossil bed past a pile of limestone rubble, the detritus of an earlier dig. We’re 280 miles southwest of Paris, in rolling farm country dotted with long-haired cattle and etched by meandering streams. Maureille, an anthropologist at the University of Bordeaux, oversees the excavation of this storied site called Les Pradelles, where for three decades researchers have been uncovering, fleck by fleck, the remains of humanity’s most notorious relatives, the Neanderthals. We clamber 15 feet down a steep embankment into a swimming pool-size pit. Two hollows in the surrounding limestone indicate where shelters once stood. I’m just marveling at the idea that Neanderthals lived here about 50,000 years ago when Maureille, inspecting a long ledge that a student has been painstakingly chipping away, interrupts my reverie and calls me over.

You're Not Highly Evolved As humans, it’s tempting to think of ourselves as the pinnacle of evolutionary progress. But evolution can only work with what’s available, resulting in a body that’s a bundle of compromises. Our ankles and feet started out as flexible tree-climbing tools made of many small bones. New evidence on Neanderthal mixing New research on a 45,000-year-old Siberian thighbone has narrowed the window of time when humans and Neanderthals interbred to between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago, and has shown that modern humans reached northern Eurasia substantially earlier than some scientists thought. Qiaomei Fu, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and first author of a paper describing the research, said the sample had a long history before making its way into her hands. The bone was found eroding out of a Siberian riverbank, but no one knows precisely where.

Humans Did Not Wipe Out the Neanderthals, New Research Suggests Neanderthals went extinct in Europe about 40,000 years ago, giving them millennia to coexist with modern humans culturally and sexually, new findings suggest. This research also suggests that modern humans did not cause Neanderthals to rapidly go extinct, as some researchers have previously suggested, scientists added. Neanderthals are the closest extinct relatives of modern humans, and lived in Europe and Asia.