Humans are diverse, but we all have the same ancestors. The story of how we arose, spread around the globe and acted along the way is still emerging. Our understanding of humanity's journey is affected by 10 remarkable things we learned about ancient humans.
A 1.5 million-year-old vertebra from Israel shows that early humans migrated out of Africa in multiple waves. Although there is only one human species, there used to be more than one. There is evidence that modern humans left Africa as early as 270,000 years ago. The oldest human bone ever found in Israel is believed to have been left in Africa multiple times.
It's easy to do your own family tree, but now researchers are trying to do a family tree for everyone. The scientists looked at thousands of genomes from 215 populations from around the globe, including from ancient and modern humans. The team was able to see who was descended from and related to whom thanks to a computer program. The researchers created a map for this huge family tree. It all goes to Africa.
Our ancestors were able to pull off walking on our own two feet as far back as 7 million years ago. The discovery was made when researchers studied a thigh bone and a pair of forearm bones from the 7 million-year-old Sahelanthropus tchadensis, which may be the oldest known hominin. The person who was found in Chad walked on two feet and climbed trees.
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The oldest known human relative in Europe is thought to be the one found in Spain. The features of the upper jawbone suggest that it's closer to modern humans than it is to ape-like primates. The position in the human family tree of Homo antecessor is controversial but may be related to modern humans and Neanderthals. The oldest known human relative is 1.2 million years old.
Researchers found that old human-like bones may be more than one million years old. The chances of this species giving rise to humans have been improved by the new date range of 3.4 million to 3.8 million years old. It's not clear if the bones studied are from the same species. Our understanding of how humans came to be could be changed by the discovery.
The Denisovans and Neanderthals are the closest living relatives of modern humans. Denisova Cave in southern Siberia is where the first known remains of these humans were found. Their bones have been found in China many times. The Denisovans lived in Southeast Asia where it was warm and humid.
A patient who lost a leg in Borneo is the oldest medical amputation on record. The child's leg was cut off by a skilled surgeon. The analysis shows that the child hunter-gatherer lived for another six to nine years after the surgery. It was the oldest medical amputation on record.
The people who left Eurasia to become the first Americans may not have been able to get there because of a huge barrier. It is believed that these people did not cross the land bridge from Asia to America on foot, but sailed on boats along the coast. Sixty-four geological samples from six locations across the ancient bridge area were analyzed by researchers. It's unclear if the first Americans arrived much earlier than 13,800 years ago or if the culture of New Mexico was already established at that time.
Children from the last ice age were fond of splashing in puddles and running around in mud. A giant sloth, one of the big creatures that used to live in the Americas, left 30 footprints in the ground. The 11,000-year-old prints found in New Mexico suggest that the sloth's prints became muddy, making it a good place to jump.
Thousands of years ago, ancient humans and animals left their footprints on a coastal stretch in England that is now being called a super highway. The last ice age ended a few thousand years ago, but some of the tracks are still in use. The tracks of aurochs, red deer, wild boars, wolves, and cranes were found. It is possible that the ancient people were hunting the animals whose prints are preserved, based on the configuration of some of the human footprints.