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

Fossil Teeth Suggest Humans Played Role in Neanderthal Extinction
Upper Palaeolithic modern human infant skull from Sungir (left) and the Neandertal infant skull  of Roc de Marsal (right).
April 23rd, 2015
Modern humans may have arrived in Western Europe at about the same time as Neanderthals went extinct there, according to fossil teeth. The findings suggest modern humans caused the demise of Neanderthals, either directly or indirectly.
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Famed Human Ancestor Lucy Wasn't Alone: Meet 'Little Foot'
The skull of <em>Australopithecus prometheus</em> (Little Foot), a human relative that lived about 3.7 million years ago.
April 1st, 2015
The individual would have fallen down a narrow shaft in the Sterkfontein Caves in South Africa some 3.7 million years ago, the researchers say. This left behind a nearly complete skeleton that could yield key insights on human evolution.
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Jaws, Not Brains, Define Early Human Species
Researchers used bones of the Olduvai Hominid to reconstruct the Homo habilis skull, with the transparent parts based on a cranium from Kenya.
March 4th, 2015
The extinct human species long thought of as the earliest known member of the human family may be at least a half million years older than previously thought, according to state-of-the-art computer models of the species.
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Why Humans Have Chins
Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard of Oz" (1939).
April 14th, 2015
The Wicked Witch of the West can thank facial evolution for her iconic, pointy chin, new research suggests. And so can everyone else. Turns out, human "domestication" may explain the prominent feature.
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Neanderthals Wore Eagle Talons As Jewelry 130,000 Years Ago
eagle talons
March 11th, 2015
Long before they shared the landscape with modern humans, Neanderthals in Europe developed a sharp sense of style, wearing eagle claws as jewelry, new evidence suggests.
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Earliest Human Species Possibly Found in Ethiopia
A close-up view of the mandible from an early Homo species.
March 4th, 2015
A human with a mix of primitive and more modern traits who lived 2.8 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia may be a newfound species and the earliest human ever discovered. The finding reveals humans arose 500,000 years earlier than thought.
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Valentine's Science: How Mouth Germs Shape Attraction
couple kissing
February 13th, 2015
In addition to good looks, charm and intelligence, there's a more surprising reason two people may choose to spend Valentine's Day together: having similar microbes.
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Oldest Neanderthal DNA Found in Italian Skeleton
The remains of the so-called Altamura Man, now considered a Neanderthal, encrusted with calcite formations in Altamura, Italy.
April 10th, 2015
The oldest Neanderthal DNA was extracted from a human skeleton discovered buried in an Italian cave and may be up to 170,000 years old. The finding suggests the mysterious "Altamura Man" was indeed a Neanderthal.
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Photos: Earliest Known Human Fossils Discovered
A close-up view of the mandible from an early Homo species.
March 4th, 2015
Scientists have discovered 2.8-million-year-old fossils of what may be a new human species in Ethiopia.
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'Big Brain' Gene Found in Humans, Not Chimps
mouse brain with neurons in red
February 26th, 2015
A single gene that is found only in Homo species may partly explain why the human neocortex, the seat of higher cognitive functions, is so large.
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