Moth scales, preserved in the mud of a coniferous forest lake, have been used to identify outbreaks of these insects over the past 10,000 years. This groundbreaking new technique, reported in the open-access journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, can tell us more about the frequency and intensity of past and future insect epidemics, their impact

Scientists have found the first major evidence that Neanderthals, rather than modern humans, created the world’s oldest known cave paintings – suggesting they may have had an artistic sense similar to our own. A new study led by the University of Southampton and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology shows that paintings in three

With the help of airborne laser mapping technology, a team of archaeologists, led by University of Arizona professor Takeshi Inomata, is exploring on a larger scale than ever before the history and spread of settlement at the ancient Maya site of Ceibal in Guatemala. In a new paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, Inomata and

Scientists once could reconstruct humanity’s distant past only from the mute testimony of ancient settlements, bones, and artifacts. No longer. Now there’s a powerful new approach for illuminating the world before the dawn of written history — reading the actual genetic code of our ancient ancestors. Two papers published in the journal Nature on February 21, 2018,

When and where did humans develop language? To find out, look deep inside caves, suggests an MIT professor. More precisely, some specific features of cave art may provide clues about how our symbolic, multifaceted language capabilities evolved, according to a new paper co-authored by MIT linguist Shigeru Miyagawa. A key to this idea is that cave art

Modern humans have brains that are more than three times larger than our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos. Scientists don’t agree on when and how this dramatic increase took place, but new analysis of 94 hominin fossils shows that average brain size increased gradually and consistently over the past three million years. The research,

A thousand-year-old tooth has provided genetic evidence that the so-called “Taíno”, the first indigenous Americans to feel the full impact of European colonisation after Columbus arrived in the New World, still have living descendants in the Caribbean today. Researchers were able to use the tooth of a woman found in a cave on the island

Fossils that preserve entire organisms (including both hard and soft body parts) are critical to our understanding of evolution and ancient life on Earth. However, these exceptional deposits are extremely rare. The fossil record is heavily biased towards the preservation of harder parts of organisms, such as shells, teeth and bones, as soft parts such

A fossilized trackway on public lands in Lake County, Oregon, may reveal clues about the ancient family dynamics of Columbian mammoths. Recently excavated by a team from the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History, the Bureau of Land Management and the University of Louisiana, the trackway includes 117 footprints thought to represent

Neanderthals had large brains and made complex tools but never demonstrated the ability to draw recognizable images, unlike early modern humans who created vivid renderings of animals and other figures on rocks and cave walls. That artistic gap may be due to differences in the way they hunted, suggests a University of California, Davis, expert

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