The mysterious hominids from the Denisova Cave

Was Australopithecus sediba Polygamous? Paleontologist Answers Reader Questions about New Early Human Fossils

oldowan:

During a recent reporting trip to South Africa for a forthcoming feature article on a new fossil human species called Australopithecus sediba, I asked readers to submit their questions about this dazzling find. Inquiries about the nearly two-million-year-old hominin–which has been held up as a possible ancestor of our genus, Homo–came in via Twitter, Google Plus and the comments section of this blog. I put them to paleontologist Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, who found the Au. sediba remains at a site called Malapa, some 30 kilometers north of Johannesburg. Reader questions and Berger’s answers follow below.

Neanderthals built homes with mammoth bones

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 44,000 year old Neanderthal building that was constructed using the bones from mammoths.

The circular building, which was up to 26 feet across at its widest point, is believed to be earliest example of domestic dwelling built from bone.

Neanderthals, which died out around 30,000 years ago, were initially thought to have been relatively primitive nomads that lived in natural caves for shelter.

The new findings, however, suggest these ancient human ancestors had settled in areas to the degree that they built structures where they lived for extended periods of time.

Analysis by researchers from the Muséum National d’Histories Naturelle in Paris also found that many of the bones had been decorated with carvings and ochre pigments. 

"The mammoth bones have been deliberately selected – long and flat bones, tusks and connected vertebrae – and were circularly arranged.

"The use of bones as building elements can be appreciated as anticipation of climatic variations. Under a cold climate in an open environment, the lack of wood led humans to use bones to build protections against the wind."

The bone structure was found near the town of Molodova in eastern Ukraine on a site that was first discovered in 1984. It was constructed of 116 large bones including mammoth skulls, jaws, 14 tusks and leg bones.

Inside at least 25 hearths filled with ash were also discovered, suggesting it had been used for some time.

The researchers believe that the Neanderthals both hunted and killed the mammoths for meat before using their bones but also collected some of the bones from animals that had died of natural causes.

The findings, which are to be published in the scientific journalQuaternary International add to the growing view that Neanderthals were in fact quite advanced humans who had their own culture and may have even used language to communicate.

The oldest known remains of a building ever discovered, however, are more than 500,000 years old, built by the ancient human ancestor Homo erectus on a hillside outside Tokyo using wooden posts sunk into the ground.

Simon Underdown, a senior lecturer in biological anthropology who researches Neanderthals at Oxford Brookes University, said: “It’s another piece in the newly emerging Neanderthal jigsaw puzzle.

"Far from being the stupid cavemen of popular image it’s becoming increasingly clear the Neanderthals were a highly sophisticated species of human.

"We can now add shelter building to the list of advanced behaviours that includes burying the dead, spoken language, cooking and wearing jewellery."

Many Roads Lead to Asia: Modern Humans May Have Populated Asia in More Than One Migration Wave

Many Roads Lead to Asia: Modern Humans May Have Populated Asia in More Than One Migration Wave

Scientists have discovered early modern human fossil remains in the Zhirendong (Zhiren Cave) in south China that are at least 100,000 years old. 

Scientists have discovered early modern human fossil remains in the Zhirendong (Zhiren Cave) in south China that are at least 100,000 years old. 

solutreantoolkit:

So 3D printing is pretty sweet.
These fantastic photographs of a 2.5 million year old human skull were provided by our good friend Gonzalo Martinez, Director of the Strategic Research Office of the CTO over at Autodesk, working with the famous archaeologist Louise Leakey, over in Kenya.  He printed the 3D skull model by first scanning the real thing on a Faro LLP scanner. This took about 30 minutes. Once scanned, the 3D image was then sent to the Objet Connex500 for printing, using Objet’s new transparent VeroClear material to produce this very smooth ‘ice-like’ effect.
I wish they would have identified the skulls that were 3D printed though. I’m a little rough on my morphology but I think the skulls are paranthropus.

solutreantoolkit:

So 3D printing is pretty sweet.

These fantastic photographs of a 2.5 million year old human skull were provided by our good friend Gonzalo Martinez, Director of the Strategic Research Office of the CTO over at Autodesk, working with the famous archaeologist Louise Leakey, over in Kenya. He printed the 3D skull model by first scanning the real thing on a Faro LLP scanner. This took about 30 minutes. Once scanned, the 3D image was then sent to the Objet Connex500 for printing, using Objet’s new transparent VeroClear material to produce this very smooth ‘ice-like’ effect.

I wish they would have identified the skulls that were 3D printed though. I’m a little rough on my morphology but I think the skulls are paranthropus.

Dali cranium is dated to approximately 180,000 YA. It is similar in many ways to Jinniushan and represents a pre-modern form of H. sapiens. Its cranial capacity is intermediate between earlier forms of H. erectus and later more modern forms of H. sapiens, although it overlaps the range of variation seen in both. Dali is also intermediate in its morphological character, retaining many features associated with Asian H. erectus while evincing a number of derived features associated with modern humans such as expansion of the parietals and transformation in cranial base anatomy.
The upper jaw has been fractured and dislocated upwards giving the cranium the appearance of having a very short face. Actually the face would be very similar in overall dimensions to the Jinniushan cranium upon reconstruction. The Dali cranium has extremely robust brow ridges. They do not, however, assume the straight bar-like character of the brow seen at Zhoukoudian and are more similar structurally to the brow seen in archaic humans from Europe and Africa. Dali is dated to a time when Neandertals were spread throughout much of Europe. The facial anatomy of Dali is very different from that seen in Neandertals and is much more similar to that seen in later, more modern looking humans not only in China but northern and eastern Africa as well.

Dali cranium is dated to approximately 180,000 YA. It is similar in many ways to Jinniushan and represents a pre-modern form of H. sapiens. Its cranial capacity is intermediate between earlier forms of H. erectus and later more modern forms of H. sapiens, although it overlaps the range of variation seen in both. Dali is also intermediate in its morphological character, retaining many features associated with Asian H. erectus while evincing a number of derived features associated with modern humans such as expansion of the parietals and transformation in cranial base anatomy.

The upper jaw has been fractured and dislocated upwards giving the cranium the appearance of having a very short face. Actually the face would be very similar in overall dimensions to the Jinniushan cranium upon reconstruction. The Dali cranium has extremely robust brow ridges. They do not, however, assume the straight bar-like character of the brow seen at Zhoukoudian and are more similar structurally to the brow seen in archaic humans from Europe and Africa. Dali is dated to a time when Neandertals were spread throughout much of Europe. The facial anatomy of Dali is very different from that seen in Neandertals and is much more similar to that seen in later, more modern looking humans not only in China but northern and eastern Africa as well.


First Domesticated Dogs - Předmostí, Czech Republic

First Domesticated Dogs - Předmostí, Czech Republic

Was Israel the Birthplace of Modern Humans?

Was Israel the Birthplace of Modern Humans?

Photo of cast of Daka Homo erectus calvaria
The Daka Calvaria (a skull cap with the cranial base), specimen number BOU-VP-2/66

Photo of cast of Daka Homo erectus calvaria

The Daka Calvaria (a skull cap with the cranial base), specimen number BOU-VP-2/66

Archaeological News: Unique Canine Tooth from 'Peking Man' Found in Swedish Museum Collection

archaeologicalnews:

Fossils from so-called Peking man are extremely rare, as most of the finds disappeared during World War II. A unique discovery has been made at the Museum of Evolution at Uppsala University — a canine tooth from Peking Man, untouched since it was dug up in the 1920s in China.

“This is an…