Human Origins

360 million year old fossils from the Eastern Cape of South Africa unveil the first page in the story of terrestrial animal life on the old continent of Gondwana

Fossil showing sting of a 360 million year old scorpion from the Late Devonian
Dr Robert Gess, a South African scientist working in a remote part of the Eastern Cape has today unveiled ground-breaking research on fossil s which represent the earliest record of a terrestrial (land living) animal in Gondwana. This is a 360 million year old scorpion from the Late Devonian, a time when the movement of life onto land was still occurring. Gondwana was a giant ancient continent made up of the land masses now known as South America, Australia, Antarctica, India and Madagascar. The discovery, made during Wits University funded research, was published in the peer reviewed journal...

Early dentistry in Homo erectus link to prosocial behaviour

Evidence of dental work in fossilised remains of Homo erectus could help tell a story of empathy, shedding some more light on social structures. Witwatersand University based Professor Ugo Ripamonti and colleagues at the University of Cape Town and the SA Nuclear Energy Corporation in Pretori a base their findings on a lower jaw fragment from Swartkrans in South Africa. Their studies on the fossil suggests that a tooth may have been intentionally extracted leading them to question whether this early dentistry indicates empathy and prosocial behaviour. According to Prof Ugo Ripamonti: “...

Fast forensic test can match suspects' DNA with crime samples in 4 hours

A newly developed test could make checking DNA from people arrested for crimes with DNA samples from crime scenes stored in forensic databases almost as easy as matching fingerprints. With the test, police could check on whether a person's DNA matches that found at past crime scenes while suspects are still being processed and before a decision on whether to release them on bail. A report on the fast forensic test appears in the ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.

Neandertal genome sequence published

Neandertal genome sequence published in Science Results reveal genetic differences between Neandertals and modern humans, and suggest some interbreeding This press release is available in German, French, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. An international research team has sequenced the Neandertal genome, using pill-sized samples of bone powder from three Neandertal bones found in a cave in Croatia. The results appear in the 7 May issue of the journal Science, which is published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society. The researchers, led by Svante Pääbo of the Max-Planck Institute for...

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