A Day at Liang Bua

In 2004, the discovery of a tiny hominin catapulted the limestone cave of Liang Bua into the scientific spotlight. Few people realize, however, that Liang Bua’s scientific history extends both long before the hobbit’s discovery and continues unfolding to the present day. On a recent trip to the cave, where I was hoping to learn more…

On Friendships & Missing Links: Bringing Characters to Life

There’s a moment, I’ve realized, for each scientist I study, when they transform from an abstract, historical figure into a human being. This character-to-human transition happens quickly, and the shift is striking—as if they’ve transcended the two dimensional world left behind in their written letters and suddenly sprung to life. In this moment, without warning, I feel empathy…

Learning About the Hobbits of Flores

“Oh, this is absolutely bizarre,” scientist Bert Roberts exclaimed, referring to the fossil species Homo floresiensis. Bizarre is a word that sums up the floresiensis creatures (known as the hobbits) quite nicely. These primitive hominins–with their small brains, huge feet, and tiny stature–were discovered almost accidently in 2003, and they were completely unexpected. “We would have been less…

A Toast to Darwin’s Origin & Lucy’s Discovery

November 24th is my favorite day of the year. Not because ski season has officially begun (though that is great), but because a couple of pretty incredible events occurred on this day in history. On November 24th, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published AND our favorite human ancestor, Lucy, was discovered! Both moments,…

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,…