A Hadza man sleeps on the ground on an impala skin in northern Tanzania.
(Image by David Samson)

Asynchronized sleep schedules and earlier bedtimes among the elderly could be an ancient survival mechanism

An anthropological study of modern hunter-gatherers in Tanzania suggests that the difference in sleep schedules may be an age-old survival mechanism. The team observed daily lives of a modern hunter-gatherer community of the Hadza people in Northern Tanzania. After a day of procuring food, the Hadza, the young and old alike, gather to sleep in […]

STIs promote monogamy, but only in certain instances

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may have helped foster monogamy in some human societies, according to a new study. Researchers found that when a society is large the prevalence of STIs becomes endemic, reducing fertility rates and favouring the emergence of monogamists in society. However in smaller groups, with a maximum of 30 people, STI outbreaks […]

Liang Bua, a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Flores. (Image credit: Liang Bua Team)

Revising the age of the Hobbit

A new paper suggests that “hobbits” or Homo floresiensis (nicknamed the hobbit for its physical stature) lived longer ago than previously thought, and that they may not have encountered modern humans. Researchers used new chronological and stratigraphic information from the Liang Bua cave in Indonesia to make this claim. Previous dates suggested floresiensis used the […]

A skeleton of an early Neandertal ancestor from Sima de los Huesos, a unique cave site in Northern Spain. (Image credit: Javier Trueba, MADRID SCIENTIFIC FILMS)

Filling in the family tree: The Sima de los Huesos hominins

Hominins found in the Sima de los Huesos (“pit of bones”) in northern Spain are more closely related to Denisovans than Neanderthals, according to genetic analysis. Until now it has been unclear how the 28 individuals were related to other hominins living during the Late Pleistocene. Analyzing the mitochondrial DNA lead the authors to conclude […]

Meat -­ The great evolutionary kickstarter

It was the addition of meat into the human diet, along with tool use, that could have contributed to our ancient ancestors’ improved speech and the ability to regulate body temperature, researchers suggest. In the past the cooking of food was thought to drive the changes in tooth size and facial features of our ancestors. […]

When humans and Neanderthals met

Ancestors of modern humans and neanderthals may have interbred 100,000 years ago, earlier than previously thought, according to new genetic analysis. Additionally the gene-flow may have been two way, with each population breeding and receiving genes from the other. Researchers analysed the genomes of a Neanderthal (from the Altai mountains in Central Asia) and a […]

Women and the empathic yawn

It’s called yawn contagion, the need to yawn when you see someone else yawning. Increasingly it’s recognized as an empathy based response. Now, new research not only supports that notion but has found that women are more likely to contagiously yawn, than men. The authors of the paper observed people for five years during their […]

This skeleton of a woman was found reclining on her left elbow, with fractures on the knees and possibly the left foot. The position of the hands suggests her wrists may have been bound. She was found surrounded by fish.
(Image credit: Marta Mirazon Lahr)

The first massacre in recorded history

Human remains reveal a rare instance of intergroup violence among prehistoric hunter-gatherers. Researchers found the remains of at least 27 people at a site in Kenya, including ten skeletons showing signs of blunt-force or sharp-force trauma to the head and/or neck. The remains, dating to 9,500 – 10,500 years ago were found with no signs […]

(Image credit: Credit: Eric Tournere)

Ancient farming bee-haviour

Researchers have found evidence that humans have been gathering bee products, such as honey and honeycomb, for at least 9,000 years. The researchers examined residues preserved on thousands of pottery vessels from across Europe, North Africa, and Asia. The earliest evidence was found in pots from Neolithic sites in Anatolia, where Europe and Asia join, […]

A screenshot from the "Rate That Face" online experiment found at http://www.testmybrain.org/setup.php?b=309. (Image Credit: Germine et el.)

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, or at least partly, according to new findings. While there are indeed some universal aspects of attractiveness, such as symmetry, they believe that the uniqueness of an individual’s facial preferences is determined by experiences with friends and peers, past partners, as well as social and popular […]

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