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Did Lucy walk on the ground or stay in the trees?

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Men in Twa society from Uganda regularly climb trees to gather honey. (Credit: Nathaniel Dominy)

Much has been made of our ancestors "coming down out of the trees," and many researchers view terrestrial bipedalism as the hallmark of "humanness." After all, most of our living primate relatives -- the great apes, specifically -- still spend their time in the trees. Humans are the only member of the family devoted to the ground, living terrestrial rather than arboreal lives, but that wasn't always the case.

The fossil record shows that our predecessors were arboreal habitués, that is, until Lucy arrived on the scene. About 3.5 million years ago in Africa, this new creature, Australopithecus afarensis, appeared; Lucy was the...

Fluctuating environment may have driven human evolution

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The researchers examined lake sediments from Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania, looking for biomarkers -- fossil molecules -- from ancient trees and grasses. (Credit: Gail Ashley)

Dec. 24, 2012 — A series of rapid environmental changes in East Africa roughly 2 million years ago may be responsible for driving human evolution, according to researchers at Penn State and Rutgers University.

"The landscape early humans were inhabiting transitioned rapidly back...

Is tomorrow the end?

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Dec. 20, 2012 — Is the world coming to an end Dec. 21, 2012? According to some, the Mayan calendar predicts such will be the case.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis anthropologist Larry Zimmerman, Ph.D., discusses end-of-the-world theories in a class at IUPUI titled "Lost Tribes, Sunken Continents, and Ancient Astronauts: Pseudoscience, Fractured Science, and the Past."

"We cover end-of-the-world predictions, because they are so common in human history,"...

Maya expert weighs in on Dec. 21 apocalypse theories

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Dec. 20, 2012 — Rusty Barrett, professor in the UK Department of English and Linguistics Program, studied Mayan hieroglyphic writing and Mayan linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his Ph.D. in 1999. His doctoral dissertation was a grammar of Sipakapense, a previously undescribed Mayan language. Barrett has taught Mayan writing and Mayan linguistics at UK and is co-director of an intensive K'iche' Maya language program, taught in alternate summers in...

Archaeologists date world's oldest timber constructions

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The 7000-year-old well of Altscherbitz near Leipzig during the excavation. (Credit: Sächsisches Landesamt für Archäologie, Dresden)

A research team led by Willy Tegel and Dr. Dietrich Hakelberg from the Institute of Forest Growth of the University of Freiburg has succeeded in precisely dating four water wells built by the first Central European agricultural civilization with the help of dendrochronology or growth ring dating. The wells were excavated at settlements in the Greater...

Fighting shaped human hands

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Dec. 19, 2012 — The human hand is a finely tuned piece of equipment that is capable of remarkable dexterity: creating art, performing music and manipulating tools. Yet David Carrier from the University of Utah suggests that the human hand may have also evolved its distinctive proportions for a less enlightened reason: for use as a weapon. In a new study, Carrier and colleague Michael Morgan publish their theory that human hands evolved their square palms and long thumb to stabilise the...

Fine hands, fists of fury: Our hands evolved for punching, not just dexterity

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Compared with a chimpanzee hand, at left, the human hand, at right, has shorter fingers and palms and a longer, stronger more flexible thumb. That not only allows fine manipulation of tools and other objects, but allows humans to make a clenched fist, which apes cannot. A new University of Utah study argues that human hands evolved not only for manual dexterity, but for fighting. (Credit: Denise Morgan for the University of Utah)

Men whacked punching bags for a University of Utah study...

First Bird

First Bird
What was the earliest known bird?

Unexplained artifacts

unexplained artifacts
The 10 most amazing unexplained artifacts

Evolution

Timeline: Human Evolution

Biggest Dinosaurs

The 10 Biggest Dinosaurs

Fossils 

Fossil Formation: How Do Fossils Form?
 

Book review

Dinosaurs Encyclopedia

Book Review

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages ... WRITTEN BY A PROFESSIONAL paleontologist specifically for young readers, this guide to the Dinosauria is packed...