The term hominid is often used to refer to early ancestors of Homo sapiens, our branch of the evolutionary tree, as well as to the early ancestors of human-like animals such as apes. Science articles and comments about Neanderthals are given in the Neanderthals page. Articles and comments about other hominids are given in this page. Visitors to the site are invited to go to my blog on speculations and Mormonism and share their comments about the evolutionary descent of humans.
Not all research-results about hominids are discussed, but the results that are discussed give a glimpse into the physical ancestors of humans.
Following are scientific reports about hominids.
Until around 7,500 years ago all central Europeans were hunter-gatherers. They were the descendants of the first anatomically modern humans to arrive in Europe, around 45,000 years ago, who survived the last Ice Age and the warming that started around 10,000 years ago. But previous genetic studies by Professor Burger's group indicated that agriculture and a sedentary lifestyle were brought to Central Europe around 7,500 years ago by immigrant farmers. From that time on, little trace of hunter-gathering can be seen in the archaeological record, and it was widely assumed that the hunter-gatherers died out or were absorbed into the farming populations.
They conclude that the first significant expansion of human populations appears to be much older than the emergence of farming and herding, dating back to the Paleolithic (60,000-80,000 years ago) rather than Neolithic age. Therefore, hunter-gatherer populations were able to thrive with cultural and social advances that allowed for the expansion. The authors also speculate that this Paleolithic human population expansion may be linked to the emergence of newer, more advanced hunting technologies or a rapid environmental change to dryer climates.
The study, led by Binghamton University anthropologist Rolf Quam, was carried out by an international team of researchers from institutions in the US, Italy and Spain. They analyzed several auditory ossicles representing the early hominin species Paranthropus robustus and Australopithecus africanus. The new study includes the oldest complete ossicular chain (i.e. all three ear bones) of a fossil hominin ever recovered. The bones date to around two million years ago and come from the well-known South African cave sites of Swartkrans and Sterkfontein, which have yielded abundant fossils of these early human ancestors.
Beginning around two million years ago, early stone tool-making humans, known scientifically as Oldowan hominin, started to exhibit a number of physiological and ecological adaptations that required greater daily energy expenditures, including an increase in brain and body size, heavier investment in their offspring and significant home-range expansion. Demonstrating how these early humans acquired the extra energy they needed to sustain these shifts has been the subject of much debate among researchers.
According to a new study, our Australopithecus ancestors may have used different approaches to getting around on two feet. The new findings, co-authored by Boston University researchers Jeremy DeSilva , assistant professor of anthropology, and Kenneth Holt, assistant professor of physical therapy, appear in the latest issue of the journal Science in an article titled "The Lower Limb and Mechanics of Walking in Australopithecus sediba." The paper is one of six published this week in Science that represent the culmination of more than four years of research into the anatomy of Australopithecus sediba (Au. sediba). The two-million-year-old fossils, discovered in Malapa cave in South Africa in 2008, are some of the most complete early human ancestral remains ever discovered.