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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Latest Articles

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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Cadaver Experiment Suggests Human Hands Evolved for Fighting
The human hand evolved partly to make a clenched fist that would reduce the chance of injury during a fistfight. Open-fist and open-handed punches placed more strain on the hand bones.
October 22nd, 2015
Just in time for Halloween, gore-resistant scientists are swinging frozen human cadaver arms like battering rams — in the name of science, of course.
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Extinct Tree-Climbing Human Walked with a Swagger
recreation of the head of Homo naledi by paleoartist
October 6th, 2015
Possibly the most primitive human ever discovered, Homo naledi not only buried its dead but it may have also used tools, according to an analysis of its hands. The new study also revealed this human could both walk on the ground and climb trees.
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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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The Origins of Religion: How Supernatural Beliefs Evolved
Michelangelo's "God's Touch"
October 5th, 2015
It might seem odd, but scientists have a lot to say about supernatural beliefs.
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In Photos: New Human Relative Shakes Up Our Family Tree
Paleoartist John Gurche used fossils from a South African cave to reconstruct the face of Homo naledi, the newest addition to the genus Homo.
September 10th, 2015
An international team of scientists has discovered the remains of what they say belong to a completely new species of human. The bones were found in a cave in South Africa and may change our view on the dawn of humanity.
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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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Is Stephen Hawking Right About Hostile Aliens?
SETI's Allen Telescope Array
October 9th, 2015
Hawking recently posited that an alien visitation would put Earthlings in the same position as Native Americans when Columbus landed on their shores. Lessons from Earth suggest intelligence and aggression might evolve hand-in-hand.
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Psychology of Immigration: Why Responses to Migrant Crisis Vary
Migrants from Syria have turned a park into a small city in Belgrade. (Photo taken Sept. 1, 2015)
September 21st, 2015
The evolutionary response to threat may explain why some want to close the doors to migrants in Europe — but the brain can override those impulses.
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