These are the Decade’s Biggest Discoveries in Human Evolution


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Human evolution is one of the most vibrant areas of scientific investigation. In the past decade we’ve seen many discoveries that add to our understanding of our origins. To mark the 10th anniversary of the Smithsonian’s “David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins,” here are some of the biggest discoveries in human evolution from the last 10 years.

We have ancient DNA:


Scientists extracted ancient DNA from this 76,000-52,000-year-old fossil pinky bone in 2010, leading to the identification of the Denisovan population. (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)

DNA tells us a lot about who we are now. But we also look to ancient DNA to learn about our origins.

When the decade first started, scientists recovered ancient genetic material from a fossilized finger bone found in the Denisova Cave in Siberia. They tested that material and discovered that the DNA didn’t match that of modern humans or Neanderthals. Instead, it belonged to a previously undiscovered species of early humans now called Denisovans. It was the first time a new species has been identified using ancient DNA.

What does this tell us? The human genome is a wondrous archive of our relationships with ancient species no longer around.

Meet our new ancestors


737 fossils of Homo naledi, a new early human species announced in 2015. (Image by John Hawks/Courtesy of University of the Witwatersrand)

much more at link............

Any comments?
What staggers me the most is the incredible science that can be extracted from the DNA of the tiny fossil in the first photo.
Check Out Some of Our Most Popular Discoveries From 2018

Researchers at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History traveled the world and made many new discoveries this year—including 18 new species of pelican spiders. (Nikolai Scharff)

4. 18 New Species of Madagascan Pelican Spiders Discovered

Commonly known as pelican spiders, archaeids have reared carapaces, elongated necks and beak-like jaws, which they use to attack other spiders from a safe distance. (Hannah Wood, Smithsonian)

more at link, with equally outstanding photos