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

November 24th is arguably my favorite day of the year. Not because it’s Thanksgiving this year, or because ski season has officially begun (though both of those are 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…

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…

Neanderthals and Giant’s Bones

  A Strange Skeleton The bones revealed a human of “extraordinary form,” he concluded. It was January 1857, and Hermann Schaaffhausen had just viewed a fossilized skeleton that was unlike anything he had ever seen. The surviving bits of the skeleton–made up of a partial skull, along with some leg bones, ribs, and other bits…

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…