Category Archives: Human Evolution

Neanderthals walked upright just like the humans of today

Neanderthals are often depicted as having straight spines and poor posture. However, these prehistoric humans were more similar to us than many assume. University of Zurich researchers have shown that Neanderthals walked upright just like modern humans -- thanks to a virtual reconstruction of the pelvis and spine of a very well-preserved Neanderthal skeleton found…
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Human mutation rate has slowed recently

Researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, and Copenhagen Zoo have discovered that the human mutation rate is significantly slower than for our closest primate relatives. The new knowledge may be important for estimates of when the common ancestor for humans and chimpanzees lived -- and for conservation of large primates in the wild. Over the past…
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Artificial intelligence applied to the genome identifies an unknown human ancestor

By combining deep learning algorithms and statistical methods, investigators from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE), the Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico (CNAG-CRG) of the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and the Institute of Genomics at the University of Tartu have identified, in the genome of Asian individuals, the footprint of a new hominid who…
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What sets primates apart from other mammals?

University of Otago researchers have discovered information about a gene that sets primates -- great apes and humans -- apart from other mammals, through the study of a rare developmental brain disorder. Dr Adam O'Neill carried out the research as part of his PhD at the University of Otago, under the supervision of Professor Stephen…
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Viruses influenced gene sharing between Neanderthals and humans

Human evolution used to be depicted as a straight line, gradually progressing from an ape-like ancestor to modern Homo sapiens. But thanks to next-generation sequencing -- as well as the discovery of genetic material from extinct subspecies of early humans -- findings in recent years have shown that it wasn't quite so orderly. The human…
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Every man in Spain was wiped out 4500 years ago by hostile invaders

A genetic analysis has revealed that, about 4500 years ago, part of southern Europe was conquered from the east. In what is now Spain and Portugal, the local male line vanished almost overnight, and males from outside became the only ones to leave descendants. David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts presented the results…
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Addiction could stem from ancient retrovirus, study suggests

Millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse and tens of thousands die each year, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Though treating addiction has become a vast (and at times abusive) industry, the underlying causes of drug or alcohol dependency—and how to successfully treat these debilitating conditions—are still poorly understood by science. Now, researchers think they’ve found…
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Trio of genes supercharged human brain evolution

Three nearly identical genes could help explain how 0.5 liters of gray matter in early human ancestors became the 1.4-liter organ that has made our species so successful and distinctive. The newly identified genes could also help explain how brain development sometimes goes wrong, leading to neurological disorders. The genes, descendants of an ancient developmental…
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