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  • News in Brief

    The first Americans could have taken a coastal route into the New World

    Ancient colonizers of the Americas could have traveled down Alaska’s Pacific coast in canoes or other sea vessels around 17,000 years ago, a new study finds.

    At that time, toward the end of the last ice age, glaciers had just receded from a cluster of southern Alaskan islands, say geologist Alia Lesnek of the University at Buffalo in New York and colleagues. Life-supporting habitats...

    05/30/2018 - 14:00 Climate, Ecosystems, Anthropology
  • News in Brief

    Pregnant bonobos get a little delivery help from their friends

    Like humans, African apes called bonobos may treat birth as a social event with a serious purpose.

    In three recorded instances in captivity, female bonobos stood close by and provided protection and support to a bonobo giving birth to a healthy infant. Female bystanders also gestured as if ready to hold an infant before it was born, or actually held one as it was born, scientists report...

    05/24/2018 - 13:26 Animals, Anthropology, Evolution
  • News

    Ancient Chinese farmers sowed literal seeds of change in Southeast Asia

    People who moved out of southern China cultivated big changes across ancient Southeast Asia, a new analysis of ancient human DNA finds.

    Chinese rice and millet farmers spread south into a region stretching from Vietnam to Myanmar. There, they mated with local hunter-gatherers in two main pulses, first around 4,000 years ago, and again two millennia later, says a team led by Harvard...

    05/17/2018 - 14:14 Anthropology, Genetics, Archaeology
  • News in Brief

    Butchered rhino bones place hominids in the Philippines 700,000 years ago

    Stone tools strewn among rhinoceros bones indicate that hominids had reached the Philippines by around 709,000 years ago, scientists report online May 2 in Nature.

    Stone Age Homo species who crossed the ocean from mainland Asia to the Philippines — possibly aboard uprooted trees or some kind of watercraft — may also have moved to islands farther south, the team proposes. Evidence of...

    05/02/2018 - 13:00 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • Science Ticker

    Anthropologists in Peru have unearthed the largest known child sacrifice

    A hellishly unprecedented scene — what anthropologists suspect is the largest known child sacrifice — has been unearthed on a bluff overlooking Peru’s northern shoreline.

    Around 550 years ago, members of the Chimú empire ritually killed and buried at least 140 children, ages 5 to 14, and 200 young llamas, says a team led by Gabriel Prieto of the National University of Trujillo in Peru...

    04/26/2018 - 17:00 Anthropology
  • News in Brief

    A hole in an ancient cow’s skull could have been surgery practice

    Ancient surgeons may have practiced dangerous skull-opening procedures on cows before operating on people.

    A previously excavated cow skull from a roughly 5,400- to 5,000-year-old settlement in France contains a surgically created hole on the right side, a new study finds. No signs of bone healing, which start several days after an injury, appear around the opening. One or more people...

    04/19/2018 - 09:00 Anthropology
  • News

    Sweet potatoes might have arrived in Polynesia long before humans

    Sweet potatoes were domesticated thousands of years ago in the Americas. So 18th century European explorers were surprised to find Polynesians had been growing the crop for centuries. Anthropologists have since hypothesized that Polynesian seafarers had brought the tuber back from expeditions to South America — a journey of over 7,500 kilometers.

    New genetic evidence instead suggests...

    04/12/2018 - 18:14 Genetics, Agriculture, Anthropology
  • News

    Finger fossil puts people in Arabia at least 86,000 years ago

    A single human finger bone from at least 86,000 years ago points to Arabia as a key destination for Stone Age excursions out of Africa that allowed people to rapidly spread across Asia.

    Excavations at Al Wusta, a site in Saudi Arabia’s Nefud desert, produced this diminutive discovery. It’s the oldest known Homo sapiens fossil outside of Africa and the narrow strip of the Middle East that...

    04/09/2018 - 11:00 Anthropology, Archaeology, Evolution
  • News

    Ardi walked the walk 4.4 million years ago

    A famous 4.4-million-year-old member of the human evolutionary family was hip enough to evolve an upright gait without losing any tree-climbing prowess.

    The pelvis from a partial Ardipithecus ramidus skeleton nicknamed Ardi (SN: 1/16/10, p. 22) bears evidence of an efficient, humanlike walk combined with plenty of hip power for apelike climbing, says a team led by biological...

    04/02/2018 - 16:17 Anthropology, Evolution
  • News

    Modern chimp brains share similarities with ancient hominids

    Groove patterns on the surface of modern chimpanzee brains throw a monkey wrench into proposals that some ancient southern African hominids evolved humanlike brain characteristics, a new study suggests.

    MRIs of eight living chimps reveal substantial variability in the shape and location of certain features on the brain surface. Some of these brains showed surface creases similar to ones...

    03/26/2018 - 15:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution