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Teeth & Human Evolution: Scientist Spotlight on W.K. Gregory

  William King Gregory was a paleontologist who studied a variety of fossils creatures during the first half of the 20th century. He worked at the American Natural History Museum and Columbia University, and spent many years studying everything from fish to primates to human ancestors. Gregory introduced new approaches to examining fossils, helped settle human ancestor debates, and…

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Why Neandertals & Hobbits are the BEST Historical Subjects

As some of you know, I study the history of paleoanthropology. Clearly, doing a PhD on the entire history of paleoanthropology would be difficult. So, for my dissertation research, I focus on fossils of two species of extinct hominins: Neandertals and the ‘hobbits’ from Indonesia, Homo floresiensis. I’m here to today to tell you that I lucked out; I…

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New Fossils, Sima DNA, & more: 2016 so far!

It’s only March (on a related note–how is it already March?!), and already a TON has happened in paleoanthropology this year. So far in 2016, we’ve seen announcements on everything from teeth to DNA. I thought I’d recap some of the big finds, but as always, I have to include the disclaimer that these announcements are…

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An Immature Gorilla: Reactions to Taung

Dart Invents the Southern Ape In early February 1925, Raymond Dart announced his discovery of the Taung Baby fossil to the world. I recently wrote about how Nature was scooped on the announcement, but I now want to focus on how the scientific world reacted to Taung’s discovery. In his paper, Dart argued that Taung represented a new…

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Announcing the Taung Child to the World

Dart and his Taung Baby Raymond Dart and his Taung child fossil are well known in the history of paleoanthropology. The story goes: the fossil came from a limestone quarry near the town of Taungs, South Africa. It fell into the hands of Dart, an anatomist at the nearby University of Witswatersrand. Recognizing that he…

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How to Find the Missing Link (According to Dubois)

In 1887, a Dutch physician named Eugene Dubois set sail halfway around the world to look for the missing link. A fossilized link between humans an apes, which would prove once and for all that humans evolved. The only thing crazier than this mission was the fact that the physician actually found what he was looking for (sort of). For…