Neanderthals: Gut stubborn

Humans and Neanderthals could have more in common than just DNA – we also might share the microorganisms in our gut. An international team of scientists led by Marco Candela, from the University of Bologna in Italy, have discovered that the gut microbiota of Neanderthals includes several beneficial microorganisms that also exist in modern humans. To figure … Continue reading Neanderthals: Gut stubborn

Mud shroud

Advanced scientific techniques have revealed a rare painted shell, or carapace, of mud within the wrappings of an Egyptian mummified body, throwing existing knowledge about mummies into question.  It’s the first time this type of ancient body preservation from the dynasty has been discovered, according to Karin Sowada from Sydney’s Macquarie University, who led the … Continue reading Mud shroud

The origins of money

From cowrie shells to native resources and animals, currency in some shape or form has long been a part of human history.  A currency of sorts was first thought to emerge as trade and exchange, with trade being tracked through the archaeological record, starting in the Upper Palaeolithic, when groups of hunters traded the best flint … Continue reading The origins of money

Anthropocene: Lessons from the past

The Anthropocene marks relentless and increasingly grave environmental degradation as the Earth faces tipping points for climate change, biodiversity and survival. To address these ills, scientists say we can learn valuable lessons from the past. “As our planet emerges into a new epoch in which humans dominate the Earth system, it is imperative that societies … Continue reading Anthropocene: Lessons from the past

Oldest cave painting of animals found in Indonesia

The dating of an exceptionally old cave painting of animals that was found recently on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is reported in our paper published in the journal Science Advances. The painting portrays images of the Sulawesi warty pig (Sus celebensis), which is a small (40-85kg) short-legged wild boar endemic to the island. Dating … Continue reading Oldest cave painting of animals found in Indonesia

People chose the coast during the big chill

Excavations on South Africa’s southeast coast have uncovered evidence of persistent human occupations from the end of the last Ice Age 35,000 years ago. Importantly, the scientists say, this includes the period of the Last Glacial Maximum, which lasted from 26,000 to 19,000 years ago, highlighting the complex transitions that were necessary to survive wide … Continue reading People chose the coast during the big chill

Men hunt and women gather. But not always

Scientists may have to rethink the prevailing view that prehistoric hunting was exclusively the domain of men. The 9000-year-old remains of a young woman have been found buried with a well-stocked big game hunting toolkit at the Wilamaya Patjxa site in Peru, and subsequent analysis of 27 individuals at sites associated with big-game hunting tools … Continue reading Men hunt and women gather. But not always

Neanderthal milk teeth reveal their secrets

Neanderthal children grew and were weaned in much the same way as Homo sapiens, new research suggests. This contradicts a previous hypothesis that Neanderthals weaned their children later than modern humans do, and that such late weaning may have limited population growth and contributed to their decline. An Italian-led team analysed milk teeth from three … Continue reading Neanderthal milk teeth reveal their secrets

Study puts Denisovans on roof of the world

DNA evidence has confirmed that a cave on the Tibetan Plateau was once home to Denisovans, an ancient species of humans whose remains had previously only been found in Siberia. The research, led by China’s Lanzhou University and published in the journal Science, shows that these close cousins of Neanderthals occupied the cave from at … Continue reading Study puts Denisovans on roof of the world

Let the Eurasian games begin

This area of northwest China may have been the venue for Eurasia’s oldest ball games. A team of Swiss, German and Chinese researchers has used radiocarbon dating to analyse three leather balls found in graves in a cemetery near the modern city of Turfan and dated them to between 1189 and 911 BCE. That’s not … Continue reading Let the Eurasian games begin

Latrines: A tale of two cesspits

Scientists have reported what they say is the first attempt to use the methods of ancient bacterial detection, pioneered in studies of past epidemics, to characterise the microbial diversity of ancient gut contents from two medieval latrines. The findings, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, provide insights into the microbiomes of pre-industrial … Continue reading Latrines: A tale of two cesspits

A missing part of the rock art gallery

Arnhem Land rock art is continuing to provide a window into Australia’s past, with scientists describing 572 previously unknown images in a paper in the journal Australian Archaeology.  The Maliwawa Figures, which range in age from 6000 to 9400 years, were documented across 87 sites from Awunbarna (Mount Borradaile area) to the Namunidjbuk Estate of the Wellington Range … Continue reading A missing part of the rock art gallery