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John Hawks

Hi, I'm John Hawks.

I'm a paleoanthropologist, exploring the ancient world of humans and fossil human relatives.


I write about the science of human origins, and how our ancient past can help make sense of today's world.

You can follow my writing here, or subscribe to have articles sent when they are published. Keep checking in for more changes.

Featured Posts

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Top 10 discoveries about ancient people from DNA in 2023

This year's highlights include ways of finding ancient relatives, how some phenotypes evolved in ancient people, and trace evidence from artifacts.

DNA molecular models on a cloudy background
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What color were Neandertals?

Even with whole genomes, scientists can't say very precisely what pattern of skin, hair, and eye pigmentation was in ancient populations like the Neandertals.

Fifteen Neandertal faces of varied ages and complexions
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When did our ancestors start looking up to the stars?

Changes in the sky have been important to peoples throughout the world. That connection may go back much further than our species.

A sculpture of a caveman looking up toward a starry Milky Way

Recent Posts

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New insights into the biology of Homo luzonensis

Studies of teeth from Callao Cave yield information about the pace of development in this species and its possible connections with Homo erectus.

image of two people within a very large cave with green color on stalactites in the background
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Why did the ancients make gigantic handaxes?

Looking at new research on the distribution and function of curiously large bifacial tools

Two very large handaxes
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Four amazing Stone Age sites with wooden artifacts

From Africa, Asia, and Europe, these sites give us a rare window into the ways that organic technology shaped ancestral lives.

Four views of a double-pointed throwing stick in center, with detail of sharpened points at top left and bottom right.
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How many bathrooms have Neanderthals in the tile?

A Reddit poster finds an ancient jaw in his parents' new travertine. It may be more common than most people imagine.

Two fragments of a skull, bearing a browridge and truncated by slice marks
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Eclipses for the ancestors

Culture shapes our experience of these astronomical events, and would have done so for Neanderthals and other ancestral hominins.

Solar eclipse with bright point of sunlight just emerging from the moon's edge at right of image
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A remembrance of Frans de Waal

Among many highlights of this primatologist's work, he maintained that humans are not unique or separated from other primates.

Frans de Waal giving a lecture
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Vagrant birds and ancient human habitats

People killed the Carolina parakeet. An inquiry into their historic population range helps illustrate the challenges of understanding ancient human populations.

A painting showing several green parakeets in varied poses
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Guide to Paranthropus species

Long known as a group of human relatives with big teeth and jaws, these ancient species lived for at least two million years alongside our ancestors.

A closeup of the front of the SK 48 fossil skull showing the eye orbits
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Secrets within the teeth of the first Homo fossils

New studies of the enamel-dentin junction show that early members of our genus may have been less distinctive than we think

Closeup of three left mandibular molars with cracks and wear
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A visit to the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City

I took some time out from a research symposium and presentation to take photos of a marvelous collection of anthropological heritage.

A sculpted head of a life-sized figure in the Maya gallery
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All the hominins made tools

A study of associations between stone tool evidence and fossil hominin remains shows that a wide range of species made stone artifacts.

Chimpanzee holding a stick wrapped around its hand and placing lips on the stick
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Tracing the signature of African-to-Neandertal gene flow

A new study of African genetic variation yields a more accurate picture of the genetic exchanges between ancient Africans and Neandertals 250,000 years ago.

DNA with chains of bubbles rising from it in a fluid
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Lecture: Opening new frontiers in human origins

At a memorial for Richard Leakey, I shared some ideas about where technology and new discoveries will take paleoanthropology over the next decade.

Conference slide logo for Africa: The Human Cradle
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Homo erectus keeps getting older

New work from Melka Kunture, Ethiopia, shows the Garba IVE infant jaw is one of the oldest individuals of this longest-lasting hominin species.

Lingual and buccal views of Garba IVE mandible fragment
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Guide to Sahelanthropus, Orrorin and Ardipithecus

These fossil species between 8 million and 4.4 million years old include some of the earliest members of the hominin lineage.

Ardipithecus hand skeleton next to a human hand X-ray image