Study refutes claim for early cat domestication in China

Quanhucun ‘cats’ were a different feline species

Genetic studies suggest that the domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) is descended from the Near Eastern Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica), a subspecies of the widely-distributed Old World Wildcat. The latter has been associated with humans since the early Neolithic, initially as a commensal that preyed on rodents and other pests in early faming settlements. A cat burial from Cyprus, dating to 7350 BC, shows that cats were valued by humans by this time, but domestication was a much later development. The Cypriot cat was large even for a wildcat and well above the size range for a domestic cat. Continue reading

Death at Lake Turkana

Evidence of inter-group violence between East African hunter-gatherers 10,000 years ago

Inter-group violence has long played a part in human affairs, but just how long is unclear. Over the last thirty years, evidence has accumulated that massacres were a frequent occurrence in Neolithic Europe. Mass graves have been found at a number of sites associated with the Linearbandkeramik (LBK) culture dating to around 5,000 BC. In all cases, the victims appeared to have been attacked and killed with weapons associated with farming groups suggesting internecine conflict between LBK groups rather than attacks by local hunter-gatherers. Continue reading

Humans were in the Arctic 45,000 years ago

Evidence for a human presence inside the Arctic Circle 15,000 years earlier than previously believed

In 2012, archaeologists recovered the remains of a woolly mammoth from frozen sediment on a coastal bluff on the eastern shore of Yenisei Bay, 1.8 km (1.1 miles) north of the Sopochnaya Karga weather station, at 71°54′19.2″N 82°4′23.5″E. The mammoth had clearly been killed by humans, and radiocarbon dating has established that the remains are 45,000 years old. Continue reading

‘Iceman’ stomach bug points to more complex picture of early European settlement

Researchers obtain genome of Helicobacter pylori from 5,000-year-old stomach contents

The stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori is found in roughly half of the world’s present-day population, although it causes symptoms in only around 10 to 15 percent of cases. The bacterium’s association with humans is very ancient, possibly originating in East Africa 58,000 years ago. Since then, various strains have emerged as humans dispersed around the world. Thus differing strains reflect differing geographical origins and are informative about past human migrations. Continue reading