In 2007, during an excavation on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, archeologist Armand Salvador Mijares discovered a 67,000-year-old foot bone that led scientists to rethink the history of human evolution. The bone had features resembling hominins—a subfamily of primates comprised of modern Homo sapiens and others closely related human species. The finding provided the earliest direct evidence of human presence in the Philippines, … Continue reading Evidence of an Ancient Human Species Unearthed in the Philippines
Archaeologists learn about ancient humans by excavating and analyzing historical artifacts. While the use of tools was once thought to be a uniquely human trait, this is far from the case; many terrestrial animals, including chimpanzees, macaque monkeys, and even vultures use stone tools to hunt and gather food. For aquatic animals, however, these behaviors have been difficult to observe in the wild. One exception … Continue reading Sea Otters Leave an Archaeological Record of Their Tool Use
Dogs are “man’s best friend,” but how long have they been our four-legged companions? A recent study suggests that dogs and humans may have formed close relationships as early as 6,000 years ago — a relationship that involved humans feeding the dogs, but ended with the dogs being sacrificed. Canine remains from this era have been uncovered before, but this study adds 26 more specimens … Continue reading Dogs and humans were buried together in 6,000-year-old graves
by Fernanda Ferreira figures by Abagail Burrus In one of the lower-level exhibition rooms of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston is a large red and blue mantle from Peru made of camelid wool. Stylized faces embroidered in yellow, blue, green, and red smile back at you from behind the thick glass, while blue and red bands alternate across the mantle, giving it … Continue reading Stopping Time: The science of textile conservation
How many mysteries are buried within Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza? Whatever the answer, we know of one more. Scientists recently discovered an unknown void in the heart of the pyramid. Over the past centuries, archaeologists have unveiled many features of the pyramid’s interior. If you get a tour today, you can venture along its Grand Gallery, into the king’s chamber, and touch the 4,500-year-old walls … Continue reading Particle Physics Revolutionizes Archaeology
It is widely believed that humans first arrived in the Americas around 13,000 to 15,000 years ago. Discoveries at archeological sites such as Mesa Verde in Chile and Meadowcroft, PA have long supported this view. At a dig in Southern California, possible traces of human activity from over 130,000 years ago have been discovered. Researchers at the site recovered the partial skeleton of a mastodon, an … Continue reading When did the Americas encounter the first human?
The 2004 discovery of a 1-meter-tall, ancient human (named Homo floresiensis, and nicknamed “the hobbit”) sparked great interest in the scientific community, but until recently only a single fossil had been found. Last month, however, scientists discovered another fossil on the Indonesian island of Flores, only 74 kilometers from the original dig. In an article published in the journal Nature, researchers described the fossil, which … Continue reading Human evolution. Discovery of fossils in Indonesia provide further evidence for “hobbit-like” ancient humans.
Ever thought about keeping a wolf? Probably not… To understand how wolves evolved into modern dogs and started living with humans, researchers wanted to find out exactly where and when this happened. Using many samples from prehistoric and modern dogs and wolves, they isolated the genetic material in mitochondria. By comparing those DNA sequences, they find that the origin of dogs most likely lies in … Continue reading From howling to fetch: how did we get our first pets?
— Few things are universal throughout our culture, but a fascination with dinosaurs comes close. Whether it comes from a childhood visit to a natural history museum or that first appearance of Brachiosaurus towering overhead in Spielberg’s 1993 film, Jurassic Park, almost everyone shares a sense of awe at the notion that such great and massive creatures once roamed the earth. We also share in the curiosity about what they were really like. Many artists have created their own interpretations of the physical forms of dinosaurs – but like life itself, those interpretations have evolved over time. Continue reading A Prehistoric Plumage Palette: Discovering the Colors of Dinosaur Feathers