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…

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…

Human Ancestor or Immature Gorilla? The Taung Child

Inventing a 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…

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…

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…

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…