The hobbit is still Homo floresiensis

In 2003 Evolutionary Anthropology came crashing into popular culture with the discovery of Homo floresiensis, found – as the name might suggest – on the island of Flores. Affectionately nicknamed “the Hobbit” by the media, this diminutive creature stood at only 108 cm tall (~3′ 6”) and by virtue of this peculiarity managed to capture…

Caring Homo erectus

Empathy is an important human emotion, forming the foundation of the social emotions which underpin our communities. Our desire to care for one another – often at great personal cost – has allowed us to develop the society we know today. The importance of empathy has not been missed by academics, who have for centuries…

Who was the hobbits ancestor?

Homo floresiensis,¬†also known as “the hobbit”, is probably the most famous hominin of the 21st century. Even my barber had heard of it. This fame seems to stem from how strange the creature is, ensuring it is very popular with the media. Measuring in at just over a meter tall it’s the smallest member of…

Recent changes to the HAR

Recent changes to the human accelerated region

Some genes have undergone very little evolution and so are highly conserved between species, being almost identical in animals which are far from similar. Such conservation is typically due to the fact that these conserved genes are fundamental for survival and so any mutations are fatal. This strong purifying selection puts a handbrake on evolution,…

New Chinese hominin species #2: Is it a new species?

<- Part 1 came before As many of you are likely aware by this point, some interesting remains have recently been discovered in China. These have been purported to contain a novel mixture of modern, ancient and never seen before traits, around which two major hypotheses have been discovered. These are examples of an archaic…

New Chinese hominin species: Dating

When an evolutionary gaze was first cast upon humanity it was believed that we had evolved in Asia due to our many similarities with orang-utans. As such most early attempts to uncover our early ancestors focused on that region. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the focused shifted to Africa and we made real headway…

New hominin that could walk and climb

The human family tree is surprisingly bushy. Only a few thousand years ago we had Homo sapiens, H. neanderthalensis, H. floresiensis and the Denisovans all living side by side. And only a few million years before that we had several species of Australopithecus, Paranthropus and early Homo also sharing an environment. However, the earlier in…