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Articles related to Anthropology

Painting by Peter Schouten supplied by the University of Wollongong
Cover Story: Hobbit Saga Highlights a Science in Crisis
The latest salvo in the ongoing Homo floresiensis battle has placed the science of human evolution in deep conceptual crisis.
Feature: Children of the Ice Age
What did kids play with 20,000 years ago? New research suggests that figurines long thought to have been ritual icons may actually be children’s toys.
Browse: The Origins of Vanuatu and Tonga’s First People Browse: Burial Site Reveals Pre-history
A burial site in Vietnam provides insights into a hunter-gather population that inhabited South-East Asia more than 4500 years ago and is closely related to indigenous Australians and Melanesians.
Browse: When Neanderthals Walked with Modern Humans Browse: Neanderthals and Modern Humans Coexisted
Browse: DNA Reveals Diversity of Ancient Australians
Feature: The World’s Oldest and Most Accurate Trigonometry Table
By decoding an ancient stone tablet, researchers have realised that the Babylonians employed a form of trigonometry that is very different to our own.
The skull of Homo floresiensis (right) is much smaller than ours (left).
Feature: Big Questions about Little Hominins
The discovery of diminutive human fossils in Indonesia has challenged paradigms in human evolution – and has therefore been highly controversial. How strong is the evidence that Homo floresiensis is a separate species and not a stunted modern human?
Scientific examination of the mummy.
Feature: How Isotopes Traced Ötzi’s Origins
Some stunning analytical chemistry has revealed the story of Ötzi, whose frozen, partly battered remains were hacked from a glacier on the Austro-Italian border after 5000 years.
evolution of man
Cover Story: Seven Discoveries that Changed the Course of Human Evolution
Seven discoveries made by our ancient ancestors were key cultural drivers that changed the course of human evolution in extraordinary ways.
Browse: Neanderthals Weaned Early
A study of a Neanderthal tooth has revealed that the child it belonged to was exclusively breastfed for 7 months, followed by supplementation with other foods for another 7 months before weaning.
Browse: Earliest Evidence for Aboriginal Coastal Occupation
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Feature: The Curious Story of the Human Backside
The human posterior is rather peculiar compared with the backsides of our close primate cousins. Its unusual form tells the story of our evolution like no other part of the human body.
Browse: Groundwater Access Ensured Hominin Survival
Rosetta Stone
Feature: A Stone Age “Rosetta Stone”
Our ancestors had the edge over several other contemporary species of human that were headed for extinction by about 40,000 years ago. What were they doing differently? Archaeological scientists are trying to find out using modern techniques to study traces of use left on stone tools and other artefacts.
Browse: Europeans Came from Three Ancient Populations
Credit: travenian /iStockphoto
Feature: Did Standing Up Drive Human Evolution?
Watching a toddler learn to walk has led to a new hypothesis that bipedalism drove the evolution of the human brain.
Acheulean handaxe
Feature: The Cutting Edge of Cognition
Modern brain scans are revealing whether Stone Age hominins planned to make specific tools or whether their craftsmanship determined the outcome of their endeavours.
Browse: The First Australians Were Among the World’s First Artists
Cover Story: New Ideas about the Neanderthal Extinction
Were modern humans so superior that they drove Neanderthals to extinction, or did their lonely existence leave them genetically vulnerable?
rock art
Feature: Strangers on the Shore
New analysis of rock art and other artefacts found in northern Australia are revealing the timing and extent of an ancient aquaculture industry developed by South-East Asian mariners.
Browse: Pit of Bones Reveals Neandertal Evolution Browse: NZ Penguin Extinction Dated to Polynesian Arrival
Feature: Human Races: Biological Reality or Cultural Delusion?
Is the concept of racial groups a sociopolitical construct or is there scientific evidence that races exist in humans?
Feature: Australia’s First Dingo
Genetic analyses suggest that in a single colonising event the dingo reached Australia during the Holocene. Since rising seas had already inundated the land bridge connecting Australia to South-East Asia, the dingo must have been accompanying an ancient human sailor.
Sweet tooth
Feature: Ancient Skeletons Reveal the Cost of a Sweet Tooth
A genetic study of ancient oral bacteria in the calcified dental plaque of human skeletons shows that our ancestors had healthier mouths than us.
 Credit: BirdImages/iStockphoto
Feature: Flower Evolution from the Birds to the Bees
Walking around in the Australian bush we can see a dazzling array of different flower colours, but have you ever wondered how and why these evolved?
Feature: Ancient Agriculture’s Role in Maternal and Infant Mortality
Ancient human remains have revealed evidence that the adoption of agriculture led to malnutrition in a mother, her foetus and other infants.
Credit: Jamie Tufrey
Cover Story: Out of Asia
The discovery of ancient fish hooks and the bones of offshore fish species reveals that the people living to the north of Australia more than 50,000 years ago had the maritime skills and equipment necessary to reach Australia.
Credit: Camilo Maranchón García /123RF
Cover Story: Neandertal Life Reconstructed One Bacterium at a Time
Fossilised dental calculus is revealing that Neandertals weren’t the oafish brutes we’ve long considered them to be.
Feature: A Burning Question
For thousands of years, indigenous Australians modified the landscape of the continent through regular and widespread burning of vegetation. Their use of fire was in part for hunting purposes and also for clearing pathways, for signalling other tribal groups and for promoting grass regrowth. Results from a recent climate modelling experiment suggest that these traditional burning practices may have been of sufficient magnitude to change the climate of northern Australia.
A pig painting and hand stencil from Leang Timpuseng.
Feature: Pigs, Popcorn and the Origins of Prehistoric Art
The discovery of 40,000-year-old cave paintings in Indonesia has changed our understanding of the origins of art and modern culture worldwide.
Stephen Munro examines casts of Homo erectus.
Feature: Shellfish Engravings Mark the Rise of Man
Digital images of ancient shellfish have revealed markings that, according to conventional wisdom, simply shouldn’t have been there.
Feature: The World’s Most Interesting Genome
Sequencing of the genome of a pure-bred dingo pup rescued from the side of a remote desert track will enable scientists to examine one of Charles Darwin’s few remaining untested theories.
Browse: Neanderthals May Not Have Coexisted with Humans
The belief that Neanderthals survived in southern Spain for thousands of years after the species had been wiped out elsewhere has been questioned following new dating of what were thought to be some of the last Neanderthal remains.
Browse: Dental Plaque Reveals Easter Island Diet Browse: Ancient Mussel Engravings Rewrite Human History
Browse: Human Sacrifices Maintained Social Power Structures Browse: Burial Ground Discovery Deepens Laos Jar Mystery
Browse: DNA Confirms European Wipe-out of Early Americans Browse: Australia’s Arid Zone Settled 10,000 Years Earlier
Browse: Forensics Unearth Kimberley Massacres Expert Opinion: Australia's Megafauna Extinctions: Cause and Effect
Australian research has found new evidence that human hunters were primarily responsible for the disappearance of Australia’s giant vertebrates about 40,000 years ago, and concluded that the extinctions caused changes to the Australian landscape.
Publish or Perish: The creation of the gap between humans and animals
Why is ours the only surviving lineage in a multitude of human forms?
Simon Says: Of Hobbits and Hoodies
The main critic of the view that a now-extinct human species inhabited the island of Flores has a good record for media coverage but not so good for scientific judgements that bear scrutiny.
Up Close: Slippery descent: Untangling the complexity of our evolutionary history
Renowned paleoanthropologist Bernard Wood explains how continuing research into fossil and other evidence of our evolutionary history produces insights but also reveals how much we have yet to learn. How good, for example, are we at telling our recent ancestors and close relatives from those of the apes? How can we know how many species preceded our own? And can we tell which of those species are our ancestors, and which are non-ancestral close relatives?
Up Front: Australia’s Place in a Modern Space Race
Australia’s space industry will have to pick sides in a new space race 50 years since astronauts first landed on the Moon.
Online Feature: Defining ‘human’ – new fossils provide more questions than answers
Study finds evidence for new evolutionary line of prehistoric humans in East Asia.
Online Feature: Words that stand the test of time
Linguists have compiled a list of words that can be traced to old forms around the time of the last Ice Age.
Online Feature: Thinking the unthinkable: tracing language back 15,000 years
Linguists have identified a set of 23 frequent words to establish relationships between languages dating back to ancient times.
Online Feature: The day before death
A new archaeological technique gives insight into the day before death.
Online Feature: Of heads and headlines: can a skull doom 14 human species?
A newly discovered 1.8 million-year-old skull from Eastern Europe has been pitched as disproving a decades-old paradigm in human evolution.
Online Feature: Getting to the Root of Enamel Evolution
Scientists have identified how natural selection may have acted to give modern human teeth their thick enamel, one gene at a time.
Online Feature: Brain Versus Brawn: Evolution of the Bubble-Headed Weakling
Differences in metabolism explain why humans evolved brains while apes evolved brawn.
Browse: Climate Biases Fossil Record of Early Humans