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  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Death: A Graveside Companion’ offers an outlet for your morbid curiosity

    Death: A Graveside CompanionJoanna Ebenstein (ed.)Thames & Hudson, $40

    Death: A Graveside Companion makes for an unusual coffee-table book, with its coppery etched Grim Reaper on the cover. Yet you may be surprised by how much fun it is to pore through the book’s lavish artwork of skulls, cadavers and fanciful imaginings of the afterlife.

    There is, after all, a reason for...

    02/04/2018 - 08:00 Science & Society, History of Science, Anthropology
  • News

    Sharp stones found in India signal surprisingly early toolmaking advances

    Stone-tool makers in what’s now India redesigned their products in a revolutionary way much earlier than previously thought.

    Excavated stone artifacts document a gradual shift from larger, handheld cutting implements to smaller pieces of sharpened stone, known as Middle Paleolithic tools, by around 385,000 years ago, researchers say. That shift mirrors a similar change seen in tools from...

    01/31/2018 - 13:00 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • News

    An ancient jaw pushes humans’ African departure back in time

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    A fossil jaw unearthed in Israel is speaking up about when humans departed Africa. The jaw’s message, at least to its finders: That ancient exodus started much earlier than many researchers had assumed.

    Misliya Cave on Israel’s Mount Carmel has yielded what its discoverers regard as a partial Homo sapiens jaw with an estimated age of between around 177,000 and 194,...

    01/25/2018 - 14:00 Anthropology, Archaeology, Archaeology
  • News

    Human brains rounded into shape over 200,000 years or more

    Big brains outpaced well-rounded brains in human evolution.

    Around the time of the origins of our species 300,000 years ago, the brains of Homo sapiens had about the same relatively large size as they do today, new research suggests. But rounder noggins rising well above the forehead — considered a hallmark of human anatomy — didn’t appear until between about 100,000 and 35,000 years ago...

    01/24/2018 - 14:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • Television

    ‘First Face of America’ explores how humans reached the New World

    A teenage girl climbed into an underground cave around 13,000 years ago. Edging through the ink-dark chamber, she accidentally plunged to her death at the bottom of a deep pit.

    Rising seas eventually inundated the cave, located on Central America’s Yucatán Peninsula. But that didn’t stop scuba divers from finding and retrieving much of the girl’s skeleton in 2007.

    “First Face of...

    01/22/2018 - 07:00 Anthropology, Archaeology, Ancestry
  • News

    Hunter-gatherer lifestyle could help explain superior ability to ID smells

    Smell has a reputation as a second-rate human sense. But that assumption stinks once hunter-gatherers enter the picture.

    Semaq Beri hunter-gatherers, who live in tropical forests on the eastern side of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia, name various odors as easily as they name colors, say psycholinguist Asifa Majid and linguist Nicole Kruspe. Yet Semelai rice farmers, who live in...

    01/18/2018 - 12:00 Anthropology, Genetics
  • News

    DNA solves the mystery of how these mummies were related

    A pair of ancient Egyptian mummies, known for more than a century as the Two Brothers, were actually half brothers, a new study of their DNA finds.

    These two, high-ranking men shared a mother, but had different fathers, say archaeogeneticist Konstantina Drosou of the University of Manchester in England and her colleagues. That muted family tie came to light thanks to the successful...

    01/16/2018 - 07:00 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • News

    ‘Laid-back’ bonobos take a shine to belligerents

    Despite a reputation as mellow apes, bonobos have a thing for bad guys.

    Rather than latching on to individuals with a track record of helpfulness, adult bonobos favor obstructionists who keep others from getting what they want. The result may help explain what differentiates humans’ cooperative skills from those of other apes, biological anthropologists Christopher Krupenye of the...

    01/05/2018 - 15:18 Anthropology, Animals, Evolution
  • Year in Review

    These 2017 discoveries could be big news, if they turn out to be true

    Some reports from 2017 hint at potentially big discoveries — if the research holds up to additional scientific scrutiny.

    Under pressure

    Putting the squeeze on hydrogen gas turned it into a long-elusive metal that may superconduct, Harvard University physicists claimed (SN: 2/18/17, p. 14). A diamond vise, supercold temperatures and intense pressure made the element reflective — a key...

    12/21/2017 - 06:00 Physics, Astronomy, Anthropology
  • News

    Strong-armed women helped power Europe’s ancient farming revolution

    Ancient farm women in Central Europe labored so vigorously at grinding grain, tilling soil and other daily tasks that the women’s average upper-arm strength surpassed that of top female rowers today, a new study finds.

    In the early stages of farming more than 7,000 years ago, women engaged in a wide array of physically intense activities that were crucial to village life but have gone...

    11/29/2017 - 14:00 Anthropology, Archaeology