Was Agriculture the Greatest Blunder in Human History?

Twelve thousand years ago everybody lived as hunters and gatherers. But by 5,000 years ago most people lived as farmers. This brief period marked the biggest shift ever in human history with unparalleled changes in diet, culture and technology, as well as social, economic and political organisation, and even the patterns of disease people suffered….

Paying a Heavy Price for Loving the Neanderthals

One of the biggest surprises about our evolution revealed over just the last decade is the extent to which our ancestors engaged in amorous congress with the evolutionary cousins. Bonking the Neanderthals, it seems, was a bit of a pastime for the distant relatives. It happened many times in Siberia, East Asia, the Middle East…

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…

How a One Night Stand in the Ice Age Affects Us All Today

Over the past half decade, ancient DNA research has revealed some surprising aspects to our evolutionary history during the past 50,000 years. Perhaps the most startling of these has been the extent to which the ancestors of living people across the planet interbred with other closely related species of human. But where in the world…

Did ‘Rising Star’ Shine Too Bright?

Last week was rather exceptional for human evolution science, even for those of us who are used to the extravagances of media attention that surround the field. We were spoilt with the announcement of no less than two major discoveries in just as many days. The first of them – the new South African species…