Curious Kids: Where Did the First Person Come From?

This is an article from Curious Kids, a new series for children. The Conversation is asking kids to send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. All questions are welcome – serious, weird or wacky! Where did the first person come from? – Maeve, age 8, Adelaide. What an awesome question, Maeve! It’s one…

Food for Thought? Diet Helps Explain Unique Human Brainpower

It’s the mystery of all mysteries of science. Why is it that humans are so unusual compared to all other life? The key to solving this riddle lies in explaining the evolution of our large brains and exceptional intelligence. For as long as humanity has been contemplating our existence we must surely have been struck…

Where Were All the Women in the Stone Age?

Were there any women around in the Palaeolithic Era? If popular culture is any guide you’d think not. And even archaeology itself has a long way to go to address a deeply ingrained bias towards men. It’s obvious that without women Homo sapiens could hardly be here today. But our cultural imaginings of the Palaeolithic…

Humans are Driving a New Burst of Evolution Including Possibly Our Own

The unprecedented impact that humans are having on the planet is well known to us all. Scarcely a day passes by without a media report or two on the effects of human economic activity on the world’s climate or some charismatic species under threat because of illegal wildlife trade or logging. Our impact on the…

Humans Are Still Evolving But In Ways That Might Surprise You

It’s often said that through our innovations in science, agriculture and medicine humans have become masters of our biological destiny. That we’ve seized control of our evolution, eliminating most of the causes of death and suffering experienced by our ancient and not too distant ancestors. We’ve wiped out hunger and famine and eliminated food shortages…

The Human Clitoris is An Object of Beauty, Pleasure and Intrigue

It seems remarkable to me that well into the twenty-first century we still have so much to learn about many parts of the human body. Organs we’re all very familiar with – ones we take for granted – still have the power to surprise, in terms of new discoveries about their structure, function or evolution….

Need Help With That Delivery? Call The Monkey Midwife!

When I think back to the traumatic birth of my own daughter – and how I would have lost her and my partner if it hadn’t been for some swift medical intervention – I can’t help but wonder how the heck we’ve grown to be so numerous as a species. It’s fascinating to reflect on…

The Hobbit Gets a Little Older, and Science a Little Wiser

When a skeleton of the so-called ‘Hobbit’ – scientific name Homo floresiensis – was unearthed in Indonesia in 2003 it would go on to cause a major furor in anthropological circles like few others before it. More than a decade on, the dust has largely settled on the debate about its status as a legitimate…