Spreading of Homo sapiens [Image: created by NordNordWest, release into the public domain]

When did the Americas encounter the first human?

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?

"Hobbitlike" ancient human

Human evolution. Discovery of fossils in Indonesia provide further evidence for “hobbit-like” ancient humans.

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.

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From howling to fetch: how did we get our first pets?

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?

A Prehistoric Plumage Palette: Discovering the Colors of Dinosaur Feathers

— 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