Tag Archives: Physical Anthropology

‘Cousin’ moved to ‘Grand Parent’ in Human Family Tree

Homo heidelbergensis, commonly called the “Heidelberg Man” has been upgraded from ‘cousin’ in the human family tree to ancestor. New research suggests that he co-existed with early man as soon as 400,000 years ago.

You can read about the new evolutionary theories in these two Discovery News Articles: “Mysterious Man Coexisted with Neanderthals: Photos” and “Heidelberg Man Links Humans.”

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“Nutcracker Man” Primarily ate Grass

Paranthropos boisei, often termed the “nutcracker man” did not use his large jaw bones to crack nuts, but rather to chew grass.

Read about the new findings pertaining to this hominid in Discovery and Yahoo News.

Most Neanderthals Were Righties – Sorry Lefties…

Sorry lefties, it looks like right-handedness has been around longer than modern civilization and well into the early hominid tree. Current data on stone-tools indicate that the overwhelming majorities of Neanderthals (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) were righties. Additionally, current theories on brain mapping link ‘handedness’ to hard-wired language found only in Homo sapiens:

Scientists have linked prevalent right-handedness in human populations to a left brain hemisphere that controls right-sided body movements and enables critical language functions.

Current studies on the wear pattern of early hominid teeth suggests that our ancestors enjoyed blabbering away! Read more about these developments in Science News.

Ancient Mummies Solving Modern Crime

Doctors and criminologists in Vermont are using 2,700 year old mummies to explain modern crimes involving unexplained child death.

Information gleaned from mummy CT scans are helping criminologists and medical experts to determine accidental and intentionally inflicted injuries on child victim whose deaths are often labeled ‘unknown.’

Johnson said that just as important as helping officials learn if a crime has been committed, the new techniques can help prove an infant’s death was natural.

“It’s not always pattern of injuries that we find suggesting somebody did something wrong,” Johnson said. “There could be findings that nothing wrong happened or the story fits. It’s in the interest of truth.”

You can learn more about the techniques being employed in both of these Fox News Articles: 2,700 year old Mummy Helping to Solve Crime in Vermont and Vermont Enlists Crime Fighting Mummy as well as this Yahoo News Article.