Five reasons why 2018 was a big year for palaeontology

A lot happened in the world of palaeontology in 2018. Some of the big events included some major fossil finds, a new understanding of our reptile ancestors and a major controversy whose outcome could rewrite human history. ...

The secret life of teeth: Evo-devo models of tooth development

Across the world of mammals, teeth come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Their particular size and shape are the process of millions of years of evolutionary fine-tuning to produce teeth that can effectively break down the ...

Grassy beginning for earliest Homo

In 2013, an ASU research team found the oldest known evidence of our own genus, Homo, at Ledi-Geraru in the lower Awash Valley of Ethiopia. A jawbone with teeth was dated to 2.8 million years ago, about 400,000 years earlier ...

The end of physics? Plus new gene editing dispute

It was, potentially, "the most important discovery in particle physics in a half-century," "a totally unanticipated new elementary particle six times heavier than the recently discovered Higgs particle," according to the ...

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Human evolution

Human evolution, or anthropogenesis, is the part of biological evolution concerning the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species from other hominins, great apes and placental mammals. It is the subject of a broad scientific inquiry that seeks to understand and describe how this change occurred. The study of human evolution encompasses many scientific disciplines, most notably physical anthropology, primatology, archaeology, linguistics and genetics.

The term "human", in the context of human evolution, refers to the genus Homo, but studies of human evolution usually include other hominins, such as the Australopithecines. The Homo genus diverged from the Australopithecines about 2 million years ago in Africa. Scientists have estimated that humans branched off from their common ancestor with chimpanzees—the only other living homininis—about 5–7 million years ago. Several species of Homo evolved that are now extinct. These include Homo erectus, which inhabited Asia, and Homo neanderthalensis, which inhabited Europe.

Archaic Homo sapiens evolved between 400,000 and 250,000 years ago. The dominant view among scientists is the recent African origin of modern humans (RAO) that H. sapiens evolved in Africa and spread across the globe, replacing populations of H. erectus and H. neanderthalensis. Scientists supporting the alternative hypothesis on the multiregional evolution (ME) view modern humans as having evolved as a single, widespread population from existing Homo species, particularly H. erectus. The fossil evidence is insufficient to resolve this vigorous debate,. Studies of haplogroups in Y-chromosomal DNA and mitochondrial DNA have largely supported a recent African origin, while some researchers argue that evidence from nuclear genes supports a multiregional origin.

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