We Found Evidence of Early Humans in the Jungles of Borneo

I recently led a team excavating at one of the most iconic archaeological locations in Southeast Asia, Niah Caves in Malaysia. Over a period of three weeks, we dug through what we believe to be around 20,000 years of human history. We uncovered several human bones, the remains of large mammals (probably deer and wild…

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…

Our Uniquely Lopsided Brain

We all know that the human brain is ridiculously large, but how many of us realise that it’s lopsided as well? It turns out that the cockeyed shape of our brains is as important to understanding human evolution as its size is. The brain’s lopsidedness is most evident through our hand preferences. Roughly nine out…

New Skulls from China Have Scientists and the Media in a Muddle

Just a decade ago we thought we had solved the mystery of mysteries. We were confident we had finally puzzled out the evolutionary origins of modern humans. Two hundred thousand years ago our species evolved in sub-Saharan Africa and by around 60,000 years ago strode out to settle Asia, Australia, Europe and eventually the Americas,…

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…

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…

Why Are There So Many Species of Bugs, But So Few Species of Human?

Looking around at the natural world, have you ever wondered why some groups of organisms contain huge numbers of species while others are seemingly barren? Take insects as an example, animals which evolved around 480 million years ago. There are perhaps 6 million species living in all manner of environments, and occupying an incredible diversity…