Homo naledi Updates: Arms, Legs, & More on the Skull!

While many of us were reeling from recent political events, the Homo naledi team was quietly flooding us with new information about one of the most interesting hominin species of all time. As many of you will remember, naledi was announced in 2015, after being found deep in a cave in South Africa. From the beginning,…

An Elaborate Story: Why Lucy’s Death Matters to Us

“LUCY WAS PUSHED!” someone shouted at me through the fibers of the internet. I had just shared the new Lucy study on Twitter, which I’m sure many of you have seen by now: the idea that Lucy–the famous Australopithecus afarensis skeleton–fell to her death 3.2 million years ago. My mother felt just as incredulous as…

Neanderthal DNA: A Historical Fossil Resurfaces

Who were the Neanderthals, and how were they related to humans? These are questions that have plagued paleoanthropologists since the first Neanderthal fossil was found over a century and a half ago. On July 11, 1997 a very important paper appeared in the journal Cell that shed light on this issue. It was titled “Neanderthal…

The Hobbit is Real: 4 Reasons Why the Mata Menge Fossils Matter

  New fossils have been discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores. The bones appear to be an ancestor of the hominin species named Homo floresiensis (known as the hobbits)! The bones–some teeth and part of a jaw–were uncovered in an area called Mata Menge, only 74 kilometers from the cave in which the hobbits themselves had been found back…

Much to be Discovered: Cradle of Humankind Pre-History

To a non-paleoanthropologist, the names Sterkfontein and Kromdraai may not mean much…but, that’s about to change. These are two limestone cave systems that make up the World Heritage Site known as the Cradle of Humankind. This South African site is the richest place for hominin fossils in the world. The sheer number of hominin fossils found at Sterkfontein and…

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…

Jaws, DNA, & Diversity: Best Paleoanthropology Discoveries of 2015!

  In the study of human evolution, 2015 was an insane year. Paleoanthropologists made discoveries that increased our knowledge about everything from stone tools to Neandertal ancestry. The announcements were surprising, enlightening, and drawn from all corners of the scientific discipline. Some discoveries were those of new fossils, while others drew from ancient DNA, and others still reconstructed…

The Moment the Hobbit was Discovered

The discovery of hominin fossils fascinates me. The moment a bone is exposed, freed from its sedimentary tomb for the first time in thousands–or even millions of years–is a special moment. In the history of paleoanthropology, these moments–particularly the who, where, what, and why of these moments, vary considerably. Sometimes, a primitive face is exposed after a blasting of limestone rock, other…

My Top 5 Favorite Paleoanthropology Twitter Accounts!

It’s no secret that I love Twitter. I find it useful for discovering what people are researching and what they’re writing about science and history, and–let’s face it–#FossilFriday is awesome!  I’ve pulled together my top 5 FAVORITE accounts tweeting on paleoanthropology: The Leakey Foundation, @TheLeakeyFndtn. These folks always share the latest news in paleoanthropology–some of which is…