A nice piece in The Conversation by Edward Odes and Patrick Randolph-Quinney describing their research into the tumors afflicting ancient specimens from Swartkrans and Malapa: “Fossil evidence reveals that cancer in humans goes back 1.7 million years”.
Tumours and cancers are collectively known as neoplastic diseases. Until now, the oldest evidence of neoplasia in the hominin fossil record dated back 120,000 years. This was found in a rib fragment of a Neanderthal from Krapina in Croatia.
But our discovery, in two South African cave sites, offers definitive evidence of cancer in hominins – human ancestors – as far back as 1.7 million years ago.