A Golden Age of Ancient DNA Science Begins

If I had taken a straw poll among anthropologists 10 years ago asking them how far genetic research would come in the next decade, I doubt anyone would have come close to predicting the big impact fossil DNA work would come to have. Back then, this nascent field was bogged down with fundamental issues like…

An Ancient Australian Connection to India?

When was the remote Australian continent first settled? Where did these ancient Australians come from? Was the island settled once, or on multiple occasions? Is there a genealogical connection between the Indigenous people of Australia and India? These are questions I’ve spent almost two decades cogitating, and some of them have been pondered now for…

When Humans Split from the Apes

When and where did humans split from the apes to become a separate branch of bipeds? Are we an ape or not? If so, which of the living Great Apes is the closest to humans? European philosophers and scientists have debated questions like these for more than three centuries. From the pre-evolutionary musings of sixteenth…

Asia is the Gift that Keeps on Giving in Prehistory

Political and economic pundits constantly remind us that this is the ‘Asian Century’, and it’s shaping up to be that way also for human origins science. I’ve only recently waxed lyrical about the enormous impact East Asia is having on our thinking in prehistory circles; reshaping the intellectual landscape as it were. At the risk…

East Asia Makes a Comeback in the Human Evolution Stakes

Archaeological discoveries in East Asia over the last decade or so have dramatically rewritten our understanding of human evolution. But the implications don’t sit easily with many scholars internationally who continue to see Europe and Africa as the heartland of human origins. For more than 150 years our understanding of human evolution has been largely…

Bone Suggests ‘Red Deer Cave People’ a Mysterious Species of Human

It’s been an exciting year for human evolution with several discoveries dramatically rewriting major episodes of our ancient past. Some of this progress stems from major advances in fields like ancient genomics, while much has resulted from new fossil and archaeological discoveries made in Africa and China. What’s interested me the most has been the…

In the Driver’s Seat of Evolution

Humans have had a profound influence over evolution; ours and the evolution of many other species. So much so today that we are without doubt in the driver’s seat of evolution for many species, including our own. We’ve sent hundreds, probably thousands, of species to extinction, and potentiality millions more in the near future with…