Over the past several decades, the number of hominid species early Homo sapiens lives alongside has exploded from Neanderthals plus a few pockets of dying, small stupid apelike hominids to a whole range of humanoids that might resemble something out of Tolkien— big ones, small ones, slight ones, hairy footed ones etc. But most of these species were either about our intelligence level to somewhat less. Yay, we’re the smart ones, we survived. But a new find in South Africa brings to light a new hominid species— one that probably had an average IQ of 150, which is considered genius level for us lowly Homo sapiens. Average. That means that the top half of the population would have made Einstein look like kind of a window-licking moron. So we’re not the smartest, just the most adaptable. But what happened to these super smarty pants hominids?
The oldest known stone-tipped projectiles have been found in Ethiopia, clocking in at around 280,000 years old. That’s about 88,000 years older than Homo sapiens. We know that we were not the only intelligent, tool building hominids— there were ones that came before us and existed at the same time as us, and this new find confirms that the rise of abstract intelligence was a long, slow process that occurred through many different hominid species over time. We weren’t the first, and we probably won’t be the last either.
Dressing up as animals, spirits, gods and ancestors is something that humans have been doing almost as long as there have been humans. And even in the developed, urbanized landscape of Europe, some of these ancient traditions still survive, ushering in solstices and equinoxes and harvests.
As much as Warner Bros doesn’t like people referring to Homo floresiensis as “Hobbits”, the name has kind of stuck.These strange, diminutive human cousins were only around three and a half feet tall and lived in what is now Indonesia. And through the magic of modern science, we now have an idea of what they may have looked like.
Papua New Guinea is unique mixed oasis of tribal cultures, but not all tribes are covered in handmade beads, dancing and telling stories of their ancestors. But the Baining people take work so seriously, they have no religion, no stories, no games, no ritual, no government, no spiritual leaders, no play. Just work, work, work all the time.
When you think of Neanderthals, yeah sure they had basic leather and fur clothing and some really basic tools, but medicine? Apparently so. New evidence from the dental tartar of Neanderthals shows they also had a basic knowledge of herbal medicine.
It’s well-established through genetics that Homo sapiens arose in Africa, but it was also thought that all of our pre-human primate ancestors also came from Africa. But a 38 million year old tooth in Myanmar may show that our very early primate ancestors started out in east Asia, making their way to Africa later.
In southern China, human-like remains have been uncovered that some think might be a previously undiscovered, long extinct human species. Called the “Red Cave People” for now, more verification has to be done to confirm if this is a new species or not. And then… cloning!
For decades, it was thought that the arrival of Homo sapiens into Europe was directly responsible for the downfall of Neanderthals. Just look at a map of Homo sapien expansion vs Neanderthal population contraction and the two fit very neatly. But as it turns out, environmental factors had already caused the Neanderthal population to go into a drastic decline.
Not but a couple years ago, the first draft of a genome of a small finger bone found in a cave in Siberia pointed to the discovery of a previously unknown hominid species that lived alongside Homo sapiens in our distant past. Now, the genome of that human species, the Denisovans has been completed and should help scientists begin to try and gain an understanding of these people.
Modern humans have a pretty wide range of vocal abilities, making it possible for us to speak, sing, whisper, chant and scream, while our other ape cousins and other animals have a very limited range of sounds. But when did this change happen in hominids and what did we sounds like before? Researchers in the Netherlands are trying to find out.
It’s pretty much established at this point that Homo sapiens (that’s us) and Neanderthals did occasionally get down and dirty under the mammoth skin, but humans in Europe weren’t the only ones bumping uglies with other hominid species. Across the globe in east Asia, people were making sweet sweet monkey love with Denisovans.
We already know of dozens of early hominid species that lived before or alongside our own, Homo sapien, but since they’re all hominids, the differences between species are very subtle and the relationships can sometimes be difficult to tease out. But now it looks like that Homo heidelbergensis, a species once considered a cousin of Homo sapien may be the “parent” species of us and Neanderthals.
Remains of gay caveman found in Czech Republic. But that’s impossible, since homosexuality wasn’t invented until the 1960s.
At least archaeologists are pretty sure that said caveman was gay. It’s not like they can re-animate the bones and ask him, though I’m really hoping for that sort of thing to happen at some point in the future. But burials speak volumes by themselves, and when scientists discovered a buried skeleton in a suburb of Prague that was male, but buried in the manner of a woman, the conclusion they came to was “OMG that’s so gay.”