Stories tagged human evolution

Just barely. Whoever performed this study has obviously never spent an afternoon with my nieces and nephews.

On a serious note, it was interesting to learn, down in the last paragraph, that the researchers found evidence of empathy in apes--something long considered a human hallmark.

The next step in evolution: photo by silfverduk on flickr.com.
The next step in evolution: photo by silfverduk on flickr.com.
A new study might suggest that a drastic climate change gave human evolution a boost, some 70,000 years ago. Before this time, tropical Africa was subject to periodic “megadroughts,” which could kill off huge numbers of plants and animals, and even dry up whole lakes. Around 70,000 BPE these droughts seemed to stop, and the climate stabilized, perhaps providing the impetus for our ancestors’ populations to grow rapidly and migrate.

I hope our currently shifting climate might do the same. I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve always wanted some mutant powers. Wait – that’s not how evolution works? Whatever. When I’ve got my adamantium skeleton, we’ll see who’s making the rules of evolution.

Aug
30
2007

It won't be so bad!: A human child enjoys his new home.    (photo by sofubared on flickr.com)
It won't be so bad!: A human child enjoys his new home. (photo by sofubared on flickr.com)
Evolution has just taken a bold step forward. I hate to be the bearer of grim news, but, if, like me, you are a human being (and I expect that most of you are), I have this to say to you: we have been left behind.

That’s right, if you haven’t guessed it already, the inevitable has finally happened, and a New York woman has given birth to a healthy 12-fingered and 12-toed baby boy. The scientific press hasn’t said so directly yet, but I think I am safe in saying that the boy is expected to be a superb athlete (at least in ball-sports), a concert pianist, and some sort of crime fighter (I’m thinking “Spiderman Jr.”).

So there you have it. All that’s left now is for the rest of us to wait and wonder what we should do now that we are obsolete. If nothing comes to mind, governments across the world will be initiating the long-planned “Troglodyte Protocol,” a voluntary program to assist members of the species homo sapien to our rightful future home – deep below the surface of the earth, where we will cheerfully run factories and power plants for homo sapien superior.

Goodbye surface and sunlight. We know when we aren’t needed.

Apr
10
2007

Scientists have uncovered the remains of an early modern human in China. The 40,000-year-old skeleton is important, because there are very few human fossils of that age in this part of the world.

Most scientists believe that modern humans evolved in Africa and spread across the globe about 70,000 years ago. They replaced older forms of humans, such as Neanderthals.

Scientists disagree over whether modern humans interbred with the earlier populations. The new fossil, while clearly of a modern human, does contain some features of other types, thus lending weight to the theory that the various populations did mix.

Mar
20
2007

Humans have longer legs than gorillas today, but this wasn't always the case.: Photo by Robert Fenton, courtesy National Gallery of Art and Victoria and Albert Museum
Humans have longer legs than gorillas today, but this wasn't always the case.: Photo by Robert Fenton, courtesy National Gallery of Art and Victoria and Albert Museum

Early human ancestors, called Australopithecines (AW-stroh-la-PITH-eh-scenes), had short legs. Scientists have long believed this was a hold-over from even earlier species which had lived in trees. But now biologist David Carrier of the University of Utah argues the short legs were used to help them fight.

Short legs give a body a lower center of gravity, and makes it harder to push over. Living apes with short legs, like gorillas, tend to be more aggressive, while long-legged apes, like gibbons, are more docile.

Of course, humans don’t have such short legs anymore. Herman Potzner of Washington University in St. Louis proposes later human species evolved long legs to save energy. His studies of various animals show that that longer a creature’s legs, the less energy they use. Around 2 million years ago, something happened in human evolution that made the fighting advantage of short legs less important than the energy savings of long legs.

Mar
09
2005

In the field of paleoanthropology, or the scientific study of extinct members of human ancestry, scientists are often asked to stake their reputations on a single claim or hypothesis. The interesting thing about the claims that scholars attempt to make is that they are often based on the very small number of specimens that are available for research. This atmosphere often creates an intense series of lively debates between scholars over the interpretation of their sometimes limited data.