Our weekly look at some stories which seemed significant
It’s been a big week for fans of Paleoanthropology, with help coming from many areas of science and the world all at once. Best of all is the Dragon man from China, and you can read the fascinating story of its discovery, hiding and re-discovery here, in a beautifully illustrated piece by Anthony Sinclair for the Conversation, It’s been called Homo longi by the scientific team. But we can’t help wondering-is this what the Denisovans looked like?
Talking of Denisovans,it looks like the cave where the original specimens came from had different types of humans living in it at different times, as exciting new DNA studies show. But how different? Everything points to several large brained modern types of humans running around since at least 500 000 years ago. Can they all really be different species? Or are we looking at one pretty successful species that was rather variable? Certainly they all seem to have been interbreeding like mad, the ur-definition of a single species Here’s Nature, Iconic Cave sheltered several human species
In the past decade, a mere eight human fossils unearthed in the Denisova Cave in southern Siberia have rewritten the human story, from the tiny finger bone that revealed the extinct human Denisovans, to the discovery of a first-generation Neanderthal–Denisovan hybrid. Now a study of DNA in the cave’s soil reveals the complex history of human and animal habitation there. Hundreds of soil samples show a cycle of inhabitants, starting with Denisovans about 300,000 years ago. Different groups of Denisovans and Neanderthals left their marks on the cave, and modern humans appeared about 45,000 years ago. “I cannot think of another site where three human species lived through time,” says archaeological scientist Katerina Douka.Science | 5 min read
Read more: Lead researcher Elena Zavala tells the suspenseful first-hand tale of the discovery in an essay for the Nature Ecology & Evolution Community blog.
Reference: Nature paper
It’s all stories anyway Names that we put on old bones are just labels on a reality that was far more complex. And this is true for modern history too, as this discussion of the famous Alamo siege tells. Who were the good guys and bad guys really, ask Bryan Burrough and Jason Stanford of Time
we thank Mr Peter Seymour of Hertfordshire for this story
Weekend Spoiler Just because of the big COP26 conference coming up, don’t think your worries about climate change are over. LSS admits a start has been made, but much of the heavy lifting remains to be done, as Nature points out, Leaked report sends dire climate warning:
The next Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) report will deliver an unprecedented climate-change wake-up call, reports the AFP news agency. The leaked draft report, due to be released next year, says that global temperatures are already at 1.1 ℃ above levels in the mid-nineteenth century. Even if we meet the Paris climate agreement target of keeping temperatures below 1.5 ℃, “conditions will change beyond many organisms’ ability to adapt”. And if we continue on current trends, we are headed to break 3 ℃ — with serious, irreversible consequences. “The worst is yet to come, affecting our children’s and grandchildren’s lives much more than our own,” the draft report states. “We need transformational change operating on processes and behaviours at all levels.”AFP | 5 min read
There’s more to it than IQ The endless obsession with IQ and cleverness may have been masking something else. Flexibility, creativity and adaptability may be more important, as this study by Barbara Sahakian and colleagues for the Conversation shows.
Our view has always been-IQ tests are always so boring, why would anyone want to try at them? That’s why we treat the results with suspicion. See you Monday
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