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'First of our kind' found in Morocco

The idea that modern people evolved in a single "cradle of humanity" in East Africa some 200,000 years ago is no longer tenable, new research suggests.
Fossils of five early humans have been found in North Africa that show Homo sapiens emerged at least 100,000 years earlier than previously recognised.
It suggests that our species evolved all across the continent, the scientists involved say.

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Discovery of 300,000-year-old fossils rewrites origins of Homo sapiens

The discovery of ancient remains of Stone Age humans in Morocco has pushed back the date of the origin of our species by 100,000 years.
An international team of scientists unearthed teeth, bones and skulls belonging to three Homo sapiens adults, a teenager and a child among animal bones and stone tools.
Dating of the tools indicates the individuals were between 281,000 and 349,000 years old, the scientists report in two papers published in Nature today.

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DNA from dirt: Tracing ancient humans found in 'empty' caves

Scientists say they've figured out a way to extract tiny traces of ancient human DNA from dirt in caves that lack skeletal remains.
The technique could be valuable for reconstructing human evolutionary history, according to the study published Thursday in the journal Science.
That's because fossilized bones, currently the main source of ancient DNA, are scarce even at sites where circumstantial evidence points to a prehistoric human presence.
The researchers collected 85 sediment samples from seven caves in Europe and Russia that humans are known to have entered or even lived in between 14,000 and 550,000 years ago.
By refining a method previously used to find plant and animal DNA, they were able to search specifically for genetic material belonging to ancient humans and other mammals.

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DNA clue to how humans evolved big brains

Humans may in part owe their big brains to a DNA "typo" in their genetic code, research suggests.
The mutation was also present in our evolutionary "cousins" - the Neanderthals and Denisovans.
However, it is not found in humans' closest living relatives, the chimpanzees.

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Limit to human life may be 115 (ish)

Human life spans may be limited to a maximum of about 115 years, claim US scientists.
Their conclusions, published in the journal Nature, were made by analysing decades of data on human longevity.
They said a rare few may live longer, but the odds were so poor you'd have to scour 10,000 planet Earths to find just one 125-year-old.

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Evidence of 430,000-year-old human violence found

Human remains from a cave in northern Spain show evidence of a lethal attack 430,000 years ago, a study has shown.
Researchers examined one skull from a site called the Pit of Bones, which contains the remains of at least 28 people.

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Fossil Jaw Sheds Light on Turning Point in Human Evolution

A fragment of jawbone found in Ethiopia is the oldest known fossil from an evolutionary tree branch that eventually led to modern humans, scientist reported Wednesday.
The fossil comes from very close to the time that our branch split away from more ape-like ancestors best known for the fossil skeleton Lucy. So it gives a rare glimpse of what very early members of our branch looked like.

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'First human' discovered in Ethiopia

Scientists have unearthed the jawbone of what they claim is one of the very first humans. The 2.8 million-year-old specimen is 400,000 years older than researchers thought that our kind first emerged.
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Fewer viral relics may be due to a less bloody evolutionary history

Humans have fewer remnants of viral DNA in their genes compared to other mammals, a new study has found. This decrease could be because of reduced exposure to blood-borne viruses as humans evolved to use tools rather than biting during violent conflict and the hunting of animals.
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DNA yields secrets of human pioneer

DNA analysis of a 45,000-year-old human has helped scientists pinpoint when our ancestors interbred with Neanderthals.
The genome sequence from a thigh bone found in Siberia shows the first episode of mixing occurred between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.
The male hunter is one of the earliest modern humans discovered in Eurasia.

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Palaeolithic humans in Spain began eating snails 10,000 years earlier than their Mediterranean neighbours.

Archaeologists working in Cova de la Barriada have found large and concentrated amounts of snail shells among stone tools and other animal remains in pits that were used for cooking during the early Gravettian era - 32,000 to 26,000 years ago.
The paper is published in the journal Plos One.

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