How to give a Neanderthal a blood transfusion

It began as a joke. A paleoanthropologist, a geneticist and a blood specialist were hanging around an espresso machine – and one of them wondered: how would you give a Neanderthal a blood transfusion? By the time they’d finished their short blacks and lattes, the researchers from the mixed lab at Aix-Marseille Université in France … Continue reading How to give a Neanderthal a blood transfusion

Humans can have more or less than 150 friends

You may have heard that the human brain can manage social relationships with about 150 people. Or perhaps you heard 200, or 50, or 104. Dunbar’s number, proposed by anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar in the 1990s, was derived by comparing the size of primate social groups to the size and structures of their … Continue reading Humans can have more or less than 150 friends

Neanderthals were capable of human speech

The closest ancestor to modern humans – Neanderthals – were capable of understanding and producing human speech, according to a new study published by an international team in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. “This is one of the most important studies I have been involved in during my career,” says anthropologist Rolf Quam, of … Continue reading Neanderthals were capable of human speech

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

Rainfall in a nutshell

Across the world, it’s what humans and other organisms have left behind that’s advanced our understanding of the Earth’s past. From pyramids to garbage piles, such leavings also preserve the opportunity to understand human history at the time these things were made or discarded. When it comes to continuous Earth history, it doesn’t get much … Continue reading Rainfall in a nutshell

Venus figurines: Shaped for the times

The enigmatic Venus figurines, one of world’s earliest known examples of art, are the subject of much conjecture. Were they fertility symbols, religious objects, simple dolls or portraits, guides to beauty or even early pornography? Now two US doctors and an anthropologist have thrown their thoughts into the mix, suggesting the pragmatic theory that the … Continue reading Venus figurines: Shaped for the times

Franz Boas takes a new look at race

Franz Uri Boas has been described as “the father of the field” of anthropology (The Atlantic), the professor who “pioneered the field of anthropology” (US National Public Radio, NPR), and “the father of American anthropology” (Natural History). In his 1996 book Rethinking Race: Franz Boas and His Contemporaries, Vernon J Williams Jnr says: “Since the … Continue reading Franz Boas takes a new look at race