Taxonomy term

anthropology

Silk Road routes may have followed the herds

The Silk Road — the ancient trade route that stretched thousands of kilometers from China to the Mediterranean — often calls to mind images of large camel caravans trekking for months across deserts and over mountains, carrying luxurious linens, spices and gems between distant lands. In reality, the “road” comprised a network of many shorter relays between neighboring areas, with goods often changing hands many times in cities, rural villages and even remote trading outposts. In a new study, researchers have illuminated likely routes of Silk Road travelers through a region of particularly challenging terrain — mountainous Central Asia — with the help of an innovative mapping method.

04 May 2017

Down to Earth With: Ethnogeologist Steven Semken

As a boy growing up in New Jersey, Steven Semken was fascinated by rocks and minerals. His father, a banker, and his mother, a municipal tax collector, loved to travel and frequently indulged their son’s yen for sparkling specimens. They also bought Semken numerous books about geography and geology, including “The Big Golden Book of Geology,” which made such an impression that his childhood copy still sits on his office shelf. Semken vividly remembers staring at the book’s picture of Ship Rock, a towering volcanic neck on the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico. Little did he know that he would later spend 15 years living and teaching geology with that Ship Rock as a backdrop.

06 May 2016

The new anthropology: From bones and stones to biology and behavior

Paleoanthropology is embracing a more integrated approach to understanding our ancestors’ biology and behavior, overturning long-held narratives of human evolution.

15 May 2015

Comparing apples to oranges, hyenas to humans

Traditionally, anthropologists thought that hunting played a huge role in the lives of early humans, perhaps because of the prominence of stone tools in the fossil record. But today, most researchers recognize that hominids must have exploited a wide range of resources, and were probably not exclusively carnivores.

15 May 2015

Paleo Patrol: Out of Africa and into Arabia?

How and when did modern humans leave Africa and colonize the rest of the world? Many archaeologists would probably tell you that about 60,000 years ago, Homo sapiens walked up through Egypt, crossed the Sinai Peninsula into the Levant region of the Middle East and then continued on to Eurasia.

But maybe not.

27 Jan 2011

Questions arise over earliest evidence of human tool use

The debate over when our ancestors first used stone tools is not over just yet. In August, researchers had reported finding scratch marks on two 3.4-million-year-old animal bones that they said were made by Australopithecus afarensis — the ancestor made famous by Lucy — scraping meat off the bones with sharp-edged stones. If true, that would push tool use back to 800,000 years earlier than previously thought.

18 Nov 2010

Earliest fossil evidence of humans in Southeast Asia?

Modern humans reached the islands of Southeast Asia by approximately 50,000 years ago, but our ancestors’ journey was not easy. Even during times of low sea level, a voyage to some of these islands would have required crossing open water, leaving many scientists to wonder how humans arrived on the most isolated islands.

04 Aug 2010

Before Lucy: Older hominid Ardi challenges thinking about human evolution

Lucy, the 3.2-million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis fossil, has long been the poster child for early human evolution. But now she’ll have to share the spotlight with an even older hominid. After spending the last 15 years studying an ancient hominid species about the size of a chimpanzee, scientists revealed details about the 4.4-million-year-old Ardipithecus ramidus in a press conference today.

01 Oct 2009

Homo erectus footprints show modern way of walking

In the Great Rift Valley in northern Kenya, researchers have discovered a cluster of footprints that look almost exactly like those you or I might leave on a sandy beach. These prints, however, were left by early hominins more than 1.5 million years ago, making them the oldest known evidence of fully modern bipedalism.

26 Feb 2009

There and back again: Alien From Earth tells the tale of the Hobbit

For many years, local legend on the Indonesian island of Flores told of an elflike creature with large feet and a voracious appetite that lived alongside humans. Flores was already a mythical sort of place, featuring (now-extinct) dwarf elephants, Komodo dragons and giant rats the size of rabbits.

11 Nov 2008

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