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TOPIC: Homo Sapiens


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RE: Homo Sapiens
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Molars Say Cooking Is Almost 2 Million Years Old

Human molars and jaws responded to the invention of cooking by getting smaller. Fossils thus indicate that controlled-fire cooking probably originated about 1.9 million years ago.
Most large animals have to chew food extensively and form it into a mushy ball that's easy to swallow. Cooking makes a huge difference - it softens the food and dramatically reduces eating time. Researchers calculated that if we lived like our non-cooking primate cousins, we'd spend about 48 percent of the day eating. But modern humans spend only about 5 percent of the day chowing down. So when our ancestors invented cooking, it gave them a major survival advantage.

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How dark winters meant bigger human brains and eyeballs

Humans living at high latitude have bigger eyes and bigger brains to cope with poor light during long winters and cloudy days, say scientists from University of Oxford, UK.
But writing in the Royal Society's journal Biology Letters, they conclude that bigger brains do not make people smarter, as the extra capacity is taken up with larger vision processing areas.

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Early human fossils unearthed in Ukraine

Ancient remains uncovered in Ukraine represent some of the oldest evidence of modern people in Europe, experts have claimed.
Archaeologists found human bones and teeth, tools, ivory ornaments and animal remains at the Buran-Kaya cave site.
The 32,000-year-old fossils bear cut marks suggesting they were defleshed as part of a post-mortem ritual.

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The human mutation rate

The first direct measurement of human mutation rates ever done, published in Nature Genetics, contains surprises which call molecular clock assumptions into question and prompt some re-thinking of our genetic understanding. Analysis of data from two families in the "1000 Genomes Project" database suggests that humans mutate much more slowly than predicted and in surprisingly unpredictable and inconsistent ways.
In each case, the genomes of one child and his/her parents were analysed. The first challenge was to determine which genomic differences represented mutations and then which of those were inherited. Only mutations in the parents' germ cells can be inherited. While about 1600 non-germline mutations were found, only 49 mutations were inherited by one child and only 35 by the other. Other studies confirmed an average of around 30 to 50 mutations passed on per child.

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No cheese for Neolithic humans in France

An excavation of a southern French burial site from about 3,000 B.C. shows that the modern humans who expanded into the area from the Mediterranean lived in patrilocal communities and did not have the genetic mutation that allowed later Europeans to digest fresh milk.
Scientists analysed DNA extracted from the bones of 53 people buried in Cave I of the Treilles, located in the Grands Causses region at Saint-Jean-et-Saint-Paul, Aveyron in France.

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Ancient cave women 'left childhood homes'

Analysis of early human-like populations in southern Africa suggests females left their childhood homes, while males stayed at home.
An international team examined tooth samples for metallic traces which can be linked to the geological areas in which individuals grew up.
The conclusion was that while most the males lived and died around the same river valley, the females moved on.

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Amondawa tribe lacks abstract idea of time, study says

An Amazonian tribe has no abstract concept of time, say researchers.
The Amondawa lacks the linguistic structures that relate time and space - as in our idea of, for example, "working through the night".
The study, in Language and Cognition, shows that while the Amondawa recognise events occurring in time, it does not exist as a separate concept.
The idea is a controversial one, and further study will bear out if it is also true among other Amazon languages.

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Anthropocene
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Anthropocene: Have humans created a new geological age?

Some geologists now believe that human activity has so irrevocably altered our planet that we have entered a new geological age. 
This proposed new epoch - dubbed the Anthropocene - is discussed at a major conference held at the Geological Society in London on Wednesday. Yet some experts say that defining this "human age" is much more than about understanding our place in history. Instead, our whole future may depend on it.

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RE: Homo Sapiens
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New research suggests right-handedness prevailed 500,000 years ago

Right-handedness is a distinctively human characteristic, with right-handers outnumbering lefties nine-to-one. But how far back does right-handedness reach in the human story?
Researchers have tried to determine the answer by looking at ancient tools, prehistoric art and human bones, but the results have not been definitive.
Now, David Frayer, professor of anthropology at the University of Kansas, has used markings on fossilised front teeth to show that right-handedness goes back more than 500,000 years. He is the lead author (with colleagues in Croatia, Italy and Spain) of a paper published this month in the British journal Laterality.

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Paranthropus boisei
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After a half-century of referring to an ancient pre-human as "Nutcracker Man" because of his large teeth and powerful jaw, scientists now conclude that he actually chewed grasses instead.
The study "reminds us that in palaeontology, things are not always as they seem," commented Peter S. Ungar, chairman of anthropology at the University of Arkansas.

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