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Homo erectus

First discovered in 1891, Homo erectus is one of the earliest-known and most geographically widespread species in the hominin fossil record. Fossil evidence attributed to this species has been found in Africa and Asia, as early as 2 million years ago and as late as 106,000 years ago. Whether these varied fossil samples really represent a single phylogenetic group is a matter of continuing uncertainty.

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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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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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Fossil profile: Sangiran 31 and the exceptionally thick skulls of Homo erectus

One of the thickest skulls in the hominin fossil record gives insight about the variation in this ancient species.

Sangiran 31 partial cranium with information
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How capable were early human ancestors of crossing open water?

In past populations we should keep in mind the exceptional ability of humans to adapt to new circumstances.

Rocky coastline with beach and blue water
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Two anthropologists float some curious notions about Homo naledi

I look at views expressed by Jeffrey Schwartz and Tim White about the anatomy of Homo naledi and its relationships with other hominins.

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A look at the intentional markings of Homo erectus

Looking at a 2014 paper by Josephine Joordens and coworkers, which describes zig-zag markings on a shell from Trinil, Indonesia. This shell may have been intentionally marked by Homo erectus.

Clam shell with zigzag markings in a museum exhibit
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Did Homo erectus get herpes from chimpanzees?

New research suggests that herpes simplex virus 2 may have invaded ancient humans from chimpanzees sometime after 1.6 million years ago.

Herpes simplex viruses in cell nucleus, Wellcome Images CC-BY
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A mysterious mitochondrial sequence from Denisova Cave, Russia

A small fragment of finger bone with a DNA sequence that represents a previously-unknown form of hominin.

A fragment of finger bone upon a chalk outline of a hand skeleton
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A new study of old shells shows shoreline resource use by Homo erectus

Notes on a study by José Joordens and coworkers on the Trinil collection associated with Eugene Dubois' original Pithecanthropus dig

A photo from a distance showing large river terrace excavation and river flowing in front.
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Ninety percent of your brain is (not) useless

A close look at the idea that most of the brain is superfluous space, with a review of people who get by with extraordinarily small brain mass.

Ninety percent of your brain is (not) useless