Neanderthals painted stalagmites red

Deep in Cueva de Ardales (Cave of Ardales) in Spain, stalagmites have been painted red by artistic Neanderthals, according to a study published in PNAS. Stalagmites, or flowstones, are long, hanging spikes made from calcite and other carbonate materials that form where water flows down cave walls and floors. The stalagmites in Cueva de Ardales, … Continue reading Neanderthals painted stalagmites red

Neanderthal nuclear DNA unlocks ancient human history

Scientists have extracted Neanderthal nuclear DNA from cave sediments for the first time, greatly improving the scope of ancient DNA research to include whole populations. Ancient DNA preserved in bones and teeth has previously revealed insights into ancient humans like Neanderthals and Denisovans. But since skeletal remains are exceedingly rare, archaeologists have turned to extracting … Continue reading Neanderthal nuclear DNA unlocks ancient human history

COVID Booster

Neanderthal genes protect us from COVID-19 A group of genes that reduce by 20% a person’s risk of falling seriously ill with COVID-19 was inherited from Neanderthals, according to a new study published in PNAS. “Of course, other factors such as advanced age or underlying conditions such as diabetes have a significant impact on how ill an infected … Continue reading COVID Booster

Brain buster

Researchers have identified a mutated gene that appears to be responsible for a large disparity between Neanderthal and human brains. Their paper, published in Science, explains how human brain cells can be ‘Neanderthal-ised’ with very small changes to their DNA. Led by Alysson R Muotri, the research team compared the human and Neanderthal genomes for differences that might … Continue reading Brain buster

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

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

Early fossil evidence of humans in Europe

Newly unearthed fossil remains offer the earliest clear evidence of Homo sapiens in Europe and suggest they had greater influence on Neanderthals than previously thought, according to two studies published in the journal Nature. They place humans in the mid-latitudes of Eurasia at least 45,000 years ago, three millennia before previous estimates and 8000 years before the dwindling Neanderthal populations … Continue reading Early fossil evidence of humans in Europe

Fibre fragment strikes a chord

This may look like just a bit of old rope and, OK yes, it is a bit of old rope. But it’s an important bit. Researchers say the six-millimetre-long cord fragment discovered in Abri du Maras, France, is the oldest known direct evidence of fibre technology – using natural fibres to create yarn – and … Continue reading Fibre fragment strikes a chord

Neanderthals ate brain food from the sea

Neanderthals were quite the foodies, it seems, as their diets included not only hunted animals and plant foods, but also a cornucopia of food from the ocean, scientists have discovered. This is significant because a prominent theory describing the origins of Homo sapiens out of Africa says seafood rich in omega-3 fats – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in particular – … Continue reading Neanderthals ate brain food from the sea