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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Nov 09, 2019 at 01:10. 15 comments

A 15,000-Year-Old Trap for Catching Woolly Mammoths Has Been Discovered in Mexico

A 15,000-Year-Old Trap for Catching Woolly Mammoths Has Been Discovered in Mexico

Archaeologists working at a site near Mexico City have unearthed a 15,000-year-old trap built by humans to capture mammoths, in what’s the first discovery of its kind.

Early settlers of the Mexico Basin subdued giant mammoths by digging out deep, wide trenches and then driving the animals into the pits, according to a press release issued by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Nov 01, 2019. 10 comments

Scientists Say New Research Tracing the Origin of Modern Humans to Botswana Is Deeply Flawed

Scientists Say New Research Tracing the Origin of Modern Humans to Botswana Is Deeply Flawed

A new paper claiming that modern humans originated in northern Botswana some 200,000 years ago is being criticized by experts, who say the researchers relied on unproven and outdated techniques while also excluding competing lines of evidence. Alarmingly, the paper is also being criticized for its colonial undertones.

The elusive search for the proverbial Garden of Eden has led an...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Oct 29, 2019. 19 comments

How This Decade of Archaeology Changed What We Know About Human Origins

How This Decade of Archaeology Changed What We Know About Human Origins
Decade's EndDecade's EndGizmodo, io9, and Earther look back at our passing decade and look ahead at what kind of future awaits us in the next ten years.Prev NextView All

Unlike humans living today, our distant ancestors exerted a very small footprint on the planet, leaving barely anything behind to chronicle their time on Earth. With the discovery of each new skull fragment, femur, and stone...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Oct 26, 2019. 14 comments

New Evidence Suggests Neanderthals Were Capable of Starting Fires

New Evidence Suggests Neanderthals Were Capable of Starting Fires

Neanderthals were regular users of fire, but archaeologists aren’t certain if these extinct hominins were capable of starting their own fires or if they sourced their flames from natural sources. New geochemical evidence suggests Neanderthals did in fact possess the cultural capacity to spark their own Paleolithic barbecues.

It pains me to admit, but if I were lost in the wilderness and I...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Oct 09, 2019. 17 comments

Ruins of 5,000-Year-Old Megalopolis Uncovered in Israel

Ruins of 5,000-Year-Old Megalopolis Uncovered in Israel

Archaeologists working in northern Israel have discovered the remnants of an Early Bronze Age city that boasted some 6,000 inhabitants, in a find that’s dramatically altering conceptions of the region’s ancient past.

The lost city, found during the construction of a new highway interchange, is located near the Israeli city of Harish in the Haifa area. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) led...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Sep 26, 2019. 6 comments

Archaeologists Are Learning More About Who and What Lived in This Famous Siberian Cave

Archaeologists Are Learning More About Who and What Lived in This Famous Siberian Cave

For thousands of years, Siberia’s Denisova Cave was home to various bands of Neanderthals, Denisovans, and modern humans. But as new research shows, animals occupied this cave more frequently than not, showcasing the pains, perils, and complexities of paleolithic life.

“Basically, the story that we are telling is full of shit,” said Mike Morley, an archaeologist at Flinders University and the...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Sep 26, 2019. 5 comments

Babies in Prehistoric Europe Drank Animal Milk From Ceramic ‘Sippy Cups'

Babies in Prehistoric Europe Drank Animal Milk From Ceramic ‘Sippy Cups'

A chemical analysis of pottery feeding vessels from the Bronze and Iron Ages suggests prehistoric European babies and toddlers had diets supplemented with, and possibly replaced by, animal milk, in what’s potentially the earliest archaeological evidence of infant weaning.

New research published today in Nature is offering unprecedented insights into European Bronze Age and Iron Age cultural...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Sep 20, 2019. 16 comments

Submerged for Decades, Spanish ‘Stonehenge’ Reemerges After Drought

Submerged for Decades, Spanish ‘Stonehenge’ Reemerges After Drought

Receding water levels in Spain’s Valdecañas Reservoir has exposed a stone monument dating back to between 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.

Unusually warm weather produced drought conditions across much of Europe this past summer, including Spain. The lack of rain, while a headache for farmers and gardeners, has resulted in the complete re-emergence of an ancient megalithic site known as the Dolmen...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Sep 19, 2019. 13 comments

Facial Reconstruction Shows What the Enigmatic Denisovans Might Have Looked Like

Facial Reconstruction Shows What the Enigmatic Denisovans Might Have Looked Like

A pinky finger bone, some teeth, and a lower jaw. That’s all the physical evidence we have of the mysterious Denisovans, an extinct group of hominins closely related to the Neanderthals. Remarkable new research offers a physical reconstruction of the Denisovans based on genetic evidence, providing our first potential glimpse of this ancient human species.

paper published today in Cell has...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Sep 14, 2019. 12 comments

Famous 'Lovers of Modena' Skeletons Were Young Men, New Analysis Finds

Famous 'Lovers of Modena' Skeletons Were Young Men, New Analysis Finds

A new analysis of the Lovers of Modena—a pair of 1,600-year-old skeletons found buried with their hands clasped together—reveals the pair as being male, in a discovery unique to archaeology.

Found 10 years ago in an Italian Late Antiquity cemetery, the Lovers of Modena were initially presumed to be a male and female couple. That said, a definitive determination of sex wasn’t possible owing to...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Sep 11, 2019. 10 comments

Trove of Neanderthal Footprints Provide an Unprecedented Glimpse Into Prehistoric Life

Trove of Neanderthal Footprints Provide an Unprecedented Glimpse Into Prehistoric Life

Scientists in France have discovered hundreds of fossilized footprints belonging to a single group of Neanderthals. At 80,000 years old, the prints chronicle a single, precious moment in the lives of these extinct hominins.

Meticulous excavations at the Le Rozel Site in Normandy, France, from 2012 to 2017 have revealed 257 fossilized Neanderthal footprints, an analysis of which is published...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Sep 05, 2019. 8 comments

Analysis of Denisovan Fossil Reveals a Distinctly Human-Like Finger

Analysis of Denisovan Fossil Reveals a Distinctly Human-Like Finger

Very little is known about the Denisovans—a mysterious group of hominins that lived alongside early humans and Neanderthals during the last Ice Age. New research has revealed a Denisovan finger bone that’s unexpectedly human-like in shape—an odd observation, given the close relation of Denisovans to Neanderthals, whose fingers differed quite a bit from ours.

To date, only five skeletal fossils...

8 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 30, 2019. 15 comments

New Evidence Bolsters Theory That First Americans Arrived by the Pacific Coast

New Evidence Bolsters Theory That First Americans Arrived by the Pacific Coast

Archaeological evidence excavated in western Idaho suggests humans were in the region well over 15,000 years ago—prior to the opening of the massive ice sheets that blocked entrance into North America via the Bering land bridge. It’s further evidence that the continent’s first people arrived by traveling along the Pacific coast.

Prior to the Late Upper Paleolithic, humans had established a...

15 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 29, 2019. 10 comments

Incredible Fossil Discovery Finally Puts a Face on an Elusive Early Hominin

Incredible Fossil Discovery Finally Puts a Face on an Elusive Early Hominin

The discovery of a nearly intact skull in Ethiopia is the first to show the facial characteristics of a critically important species linked to early hominin evolution. At the same time, the 3.8-million-year-old fossil is further complicating our understanding of Australopithecus—the genus that likely gave rise to humans.

Before the rise of Homo there was Australopithecus, a genus that lived in...

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Ryan F. Mandelbaum Ryan F. Mandelbaum Aug 22, 2019. 5 comments

Scientists Reveal Brain Structure of 20-Million-Year-Old Monkey

Scientists Reveal Brain Structure of 20-Million-Year-Old Monkey

Paleontologists operating CT scanners have revealed the structure of a 20-million-year-old primate brain, thanks to an extremely well-preserved fossil skull.

Understanding the evolution of our wildly complex human brains isn’t easy, and there aren’t ancient brains just sitting around in the dirt to compare with. Instead, researchers must look indirectly for evidence of brain shapes, based on...

5 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 10, 2019. 7 comments

This Rock Shelter in Ethiopia May Be the Earliest Evidence of Humans Living in the Mountains

This Rock Shelter in Ethiopia May Be the Earliest Evidence of Humans Living in the Mountains

Archaeologists working in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia have uncovered the earliest evidence to date of human habitation in a high-altitude environment. Living over 11,000 feet above sea level, these early mountaineers ate rodents to survive the harsh ice age conditions.

New research published this week in Science describes the oldest known human occupancy of a high-altitude environment....

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jul 31, 2019. 14 comments

Fragment of Medieval Poem About a Talking Vulva Found in Austrian Library

Fragment of Medieval Poem About a Talking Vulva Found in Austrian Library

The surprising discovery of a fragment inscribed with an old German poem, in which a female virgin argues with her genitals about who is more desirable to men, pushes the origin of the poem back 200 years, changing our conceptions of sexuality in the Middle Ages.

The saucy old poem is called Der Rosendorn, or The Rose Thorn, and only two copies of the text were known to exist prior to this...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jul 11, 2019. 3 comments

Ancient Skull Fragment Pushes Back Date of Earliest Humans in Europe

Ancient Skull Fragment Pushes Back Date of Earliest Humans in Europe

A comprehensive re-analysis of a skull fragment found in a Greek cave back in the late 1970s suggests early modern humans were present in Eurasia some 210,000 years ago. It’s the earliest indication of our species on the continent, but the lack of supporting archaeological evidence raises some questions.

New research published today in Nature describes two fossilized skull fragments found in...

3 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jun 26, 2019. 13 comments

Woodstock ‘Took on a Life of its Own,’ Recent Archaeological Survey Reveals

Woodstock ‘Took on a Life of its Own,’ Recent Archaeological Survey Reveals

The 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival is fast approaching, and though the iconic cultural event still resides within living memory, the site is now the subject of archaeological inquiry. As new research shows, Woodstock was more even more chaotic and spontaneous than we imagined.

From August 15 to 18, 1969, over 400,000 people descended upon a 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jun 19, 2019. 6 comments

One of the World’s Most Ancient Cities Experienced Surprisingly Modern Problems

One of the World’s Most Ancient Cities Experienced Surprisingly Modern Problems

New archaeological evidence suggests the inhabitants of Çatalhöyük, an ancient city founded over 9,000 years ago in what is now Turkey, were subject to many urban problems we’re familiar with today, including overcrowding, interpersonal violence, and sanitation issues.

At its peak some 8,500 years ago, Çatalhöyük (pronounced cha-tal-hoo-yook) was home to an estimated 3,500 to 8,000 people....

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