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Macaque study casts doubt on early human tool use

A wise approach going forward would be to find the tools first before making assumptions. Note the gratuitous slur at the end of the media release: "We are so used to trying to prove that humans are unique, that similarities with other primates are often neglected. Studying living primates today may offer crucial clues that have been overlooked in the past." Sorry, bodkins. We don’t have to do anything to prove humans are unique. The fact that you are studying macaques for a journal while they wreck their teeth on sand and grit demonstrates that fact beyond reasonable doubt. And thoughtful people should be suspicious of UNreasonable doubt. Read More ›

Reptiles evolved, de-evolved, re-evolved teeth

In short, when researchers actually looked at reptile tooth history, it was hardly a simple evolution tale at all. It seems as if there are plans that life forms can access, perhaps within their genomes. But how do they trigger the needed changes, as opposed to just going extinct? Read More ›

Researchers: Tooth studies show that Neanderthals “split” from modern humans 800 kya, not 300-500 kya

If Neanderthals “diverged” from “modern humans” 800,000 years ago but many of us have Neanderthal genes (yeah, 23andMe stuff, for sure), what chance is there that much of the contention is based on the fact that we don’t really know enough to be sure of very many things? Read More ›

Human-like lifespan 100,000–200,000 years ago?

Teeth from the upper jaw of a child (the Xujiayao child) of about 6 and a half, who died between 100,000-200,000 years ago were examined by X-ray: But the ancient child’s overall dental growth and development falls within the range observed among kids today, paleoanthropologist Song Xing of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and her colleagues report online January 16 in Science Advances. That humanlike rate of dental development suggests that the youngster belonged to an East Asian Homo population with a relatively long life span and an extended period of child care, the researchers speculate. Those characteristics are associated with present-day humans’ lengthy period of tooth growth.Bruce Bower, “An ancient child from East Asia grew teeth like Read More ›

Researcher: Teeth are an “astonishing” source of information

Reflections on a recent study of Neanderthal children’s teeth and one other (5000 ya): Teeth are a really useful indicator of past environments. This is possible because teeth have biological rhythms, and key events get locked inside them. These faithful internal clocks run night and day, year after year, and include daily growth lines and a marked line formed at birth. … Previously, my colleagues and I discovered that an 8-year-old Belgian Neanderthal was weaned at 1.2 years of age. This probably was atypical, as the nursing signal dropped off rapidly and the individual showed stress in its first molar at this exact time. We’re not sure if this means that it was separated from its mother or just really Read More ›