Human Origins

Humans are unique creatures on the planet, though it wasn't always this way. Long ago, some bizarre human relatives, such as Nutcracker Man and a Homo species whose miniature bodies resembled the hobbits on Lord of the Rings, roamed Earth. Scientists are even finding evidence that modern humans crossed paths with some of our relatives, with fossils suggesting Homo sapiens may have had sex with Neanderthals and even a newly discovered species called the Denisovans. In news and features, we will cover human evolution and origins, revealing the mysteries of humanity, details on human ancestors and the evolutionary steps that led to modern humans.
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Are Big Brains Smarter?
an illustration of neurons in the human brain
February 3rd, 2016
Humans boast the biggest brains, relative to body size, in the animal kingdom.
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Volcanoes Sparked an Explosion in Human Intelligence, Researcher Argues
rise of human intelligence map
December 28th, 2015
Ancient hominins may have harnessed fire from nearby lava flows to cook food, keep warm and evolve bigger and smarter brains, new research proposes.
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Hobbits Were a Separate Species, Ancient Chompers Show
skull of a hobbit and modern human
November 18th, 2015
An ancient, 3-foot-tall (0.9 meters) human whose diminutive stature has earned it the nickname "hobbit" is a unique species and not a Homo sapien with a minitiarizing disorder, scientists who analyzed the specimen's teeth said.
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Why Humans Have Slender Faces and Neanderthals Don't
Neanderthal Skull
December 15th, 2015
Neanderthals had protruding facial features because of the way their bodies deposited and dealt with bone, a new study finds.
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Mystery Extinct Cavemen Were More Diverse Than Neanderthals
A molar from a Denisovan individual, found in a cave in Siberia.
November 16th, 2015
A mysterious extinct branch of the human family tree that once interbred with modern humans was more genetically diverse than Neanderthals, a finding that suggests many of these extinct humans called Denisovans existed in what is now southern Siberia.
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Humans Exited Africa, and Trekked to China, Fossils Reveal
Scientists discovered 47 teeth from modern humans in Fuyan Cave in southern China's Hunan province that date back at least 80,000 years.
October 14th, 2015
Teeth from a cave in China suggest that modern humans lived in Asia tens of thousands of years before they reached Europe, researchers say. The finding sheds light on the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa and across the globe.
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Mysterious 'Hobbit' Relative May Have Lived on Isolated Island
The Walanae River at Paroto, about a mile (2 km) east of Talepu.
January 13th, 2016
Stone tools discovered on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi dating back at least 118,000 years suggest that an unknown lineage of toolmakers, relatives of the diminutive "hobbit" once lived there.
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What Is a Human? Long-Standing Debate Surrounds Our Family Tree
recreation of the head of Homo naledi by paleoartist
December 8th, 2015
The ancient human remains that have been unearthed over the years have opened more windows into the evolutionary landscape in which today's humans arose. But some researchers are not convinced such discoveries belong alongside Homo sapiens.
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Tidy Monkeys Shed Light on Human Cleanliness
Japanese macaques eating
November 4th, 2015
Monkeys that are revolted by often disease-carrying things such as poop suggest that disgust drives cleanliness - and health.
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