Category Archives: Human Evolution

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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Women survive crises better than men

Women today tend to live longer than men almost everywhere worldwide -- in some countries by more than a decade. Now, three centuries of historical records show that women don't just outlive men in normal times: They're more likely to survive even in the worst of circumstances, such as famines and epidemics, researchers report. Most…
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New gene variants reveal the evolution of human skin color

Most people associate Africans with dark skin. But different groups of people in Africa have almost every skin color on the planet, from deepest black in the Dinka of South Sudan to beige in the San of South Africa. Now, researchers have discovered a handful of new gene variants responsible for this palette of tones.…
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Reconstructing how Neanderthals grew, based on an El Sidrón child

How did Neanderthals grow? Does modern man develop in the same way as Homo neanderthalensis did? How does the size of the brain affect the development of the body? A study led by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) researcher, Antonio Rosas, has studied the fossil remains of a Neanderthal child's skeleton in order to establish whether…
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In saliva, clues to a ‘ghost’ species of ancient human

In saliva, scientists have found hints that a "ghost" species of archaic humans may have contributed genetic material to ancestors of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa today. The research adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that sexual rendezvous between different archaic human species may not have been unusual. Past studies have concluded that…
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South African cave yields yet more fossils of a newfound relative

Probing deeper into the South African cave system known as Rising Star, a subterranian maze that last year yielded the largest cache of hominin fossils known to science, an international team of researchers has discovered another chamber with more remains of a newfound human relative, Homo naledi. The discovery, announced May 9, 2017 with the…
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