Modern humans in the Levantine corridor 55,000 years ago

But did they encounter Neanderthals?

Hershkovitz et al report the discovery report the discovery of a partial skullcap at Manot Cave, Western Galilee. The skullcap has been dated by uranium/thorium methods to 54,700 +/- 5,500 years old. Its describers note archaic features such an occipital bun but claim that it is ‘unequivocally modern’.

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Archaic human recovered from seabed off western coast of Taiwan

Could partial lower jawbone be from a Denisovan – or an entirely new species?

A partial fossil human jawbone from Taiwan is reportedly the first archaic hominin to be found there. The jawbone was dredged by a fishing net from the 60 to 120 m (200 to 400 ft.) deep Penghu Channel, 25 km (15.5 miles) of the island’s western coast. Also recovered were vertebrate fossils known as the terminal Middle/Late Pleistocene ‘Penghu fauna’. Both Taiwan and the Penghu Channel were part of the Asian mainland during Pleistocene episodes of lowered sea levels. The jawbone found its way to an antique shop in Tainan City, where it was purchased by a local man who in turn donated it to the National Museum of Natural Science of Taiwan. Continue reading

Apes adapted to metabolising ethanol ten million years ago

Humans were preadapted to dietary alcohol consumption

Alcohol has played a prominent role in human affairs throughout recorded history, but how far does its use go back? One view is that humans were teetotal until the advent of agriculture 9,000 years ago, when storage of food surpluses soon led to the invention of fermentation techniques. This model attributes the social problems associated with alcohol to the human metabolism not yet having had enough time to fully adapt to its consumption. Continue reading