Smithsonian's Human Origins Program

Smithsonian's Human Origins Program The Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian is dedicated to understanding the scientific evidence for how the traits that make us human evolved.
(24)

Welcome to our page! Please feel free to share thoughts about our posts, ask us questions, or tell us about your visit. We hope you’ll contribute to this interactive forum and to our ongoing conversation about the work we do to further the Smithsonian's mission to increase and diffuse knowledge. While on-topic discussion is encouraged, we ask that you express yourself in a civil manner an

Welcome to our page! Please feel free to share thoughts about our posts, ask us questions, or tell us about your visit. We hope you’ll contribute to this interactive forum and to our ongoing conversation about the work we do to further the Smithsonian's mission to increase and diffuse knowledge. While on-topic discussion is encouraged, we ask that you express yourself in a civil manner an

Operating as usual

A team led by University of Michigan's John M. O'Shea studied 9,000-year-old stone tool artifacts discovered at an under...
06/24/2021
At underwater site, research team finds 9,000-year-old stone artifacts

A team led by University of Michigan's John M. O'Shea studied 9,000-year-old stone tool artifacts discovered at an underwater archaeological site in Lake Huron and found that they originated from an obsidian quarry more than 2,000 miles (4,000 kilometers) away in central Oregon - revealing social connections across North America at that time. chttps://phys.org/news/2021-06-underwater-site-team-year-old-stone.html

An underwater archaeologist from The University of Texas at Arlington is part of a research team studying 9,000-year-old stone tool artifacts discovered in Lake Huron that originated from an obsidian quarry more than 2,000 miles away in central Oregon.

A team led by Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology's Laurits Skov recently reported the analysis of the an...
06/23/2021
Ancient genomes offer rare glimpse of Neanderthal family groups

A team led by Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology's Laurits Skov recently reported the analysis of the ancient genomes of a Neanderthal father, daughter, and 12 of their relatives from Chagyrskaya and Okladnikov caves in Russia dated to between 59,000 and 49,000 years ago. The new genomes almost double the number of Neanderthal genomes known, and suggest these males stayed in their family groups as adults - like men in many modern human societies. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/06/ancient-genomes-offer-rare-glimpse-neanderthal-family-groups

Low genetic diversity in male fossils from two Siberian caves suggests females moved to their mates’ families

Our own Dr. Briana Pobiner is giving a free talk entitled "Engaging with Public Audiences on Human Evolution" for The Le...
06/21/2021
Engaging With Public Audiences on Human Evolution

Our own Dr. Briana Pobiner is giving a free talk entitled "Engaging with Public Audiences on Human Evolution" for The Leakey Foundation tomorrow, Tuesday June 22, at 5:00 pm PT / 8:00 pm ET. Dr. Pobiner is the 2021 recipient of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists and Leakey Foundation Communication and Outreach Award in Honor of Camilla Smith. Register for her talk at bit.ly/Jun22LeakeyFoundation. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-06/tlf-lfa061721.php

Award-winning scientist and educator Dr. Briana Pobiner discusses the importance of learning and sharing information about our evolution.

Today's Friday fun reading (and listening, if you choose) is the transcript from a recent Vox 'Unexplainable' podcast wi...
06/18/2021
A scientist on the great responsibility of using ancient DNA to rewrite human history

Today's Friday fun reading (and listening, if you choose) is the transcript from a recent Vox 'Unexplainable' podcast with Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History 's Elizabeth Sawchuk, discussing ethical and methodological pitfalls to avoid when using ancient DNA to study human prehistory. https://www.vox.com/22256790/ancient-dna-archaeology-ethics-podcast-unexplainable

There are ethical and methodological pitfalls to avoid.

A recent study by University of York's James Green and Penny Spikins posits that human self-control, which arises from a...
06/17/2021
Researchers trace evolution of self-control

A recent study by University of York's James Green and Penny Spikins posits that human self-control, which arises from a combination of cognitive abilities including inhibition and the conscious regulation of emotions, evolved in our early ancestors by 500,000 years ago when they developed the skills to make sophisticated tools: late Acheulean handaxes. They suggest that these handaxes demonstrate five characteristics that can be related to forms of self-control: deliberate practice, forward planning, time and energy investment, hierarchical processing, and distress tolerance. https://phys.org/news/2020-05-evolution-self-control.html

Human self-control evolved in our early ancestors, becoming particularly evident around 500,000 years ago when they developed the skills to make sophisticated tools, a new study suggests.

A recent study led by Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology's Edward Wright  found that the gorilla chest b...
06/16/2021
Gorillas do not bluff when they chest beat: honest signalling indicates body size

A recent study led by Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology's Edward Wright found that the gorilla chest beat is an honest signal of competitive ability - and emphasizes the potential of non-vocal signals to convey important information in mammal communication. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-04/mpif-gdn040721.php

The gorilla chest beat is one of the most emblematic sounds in the animal kingdom. However, until recently it was unclear what information gorillas were conveying when they gave these impressive displays. A team of international researchers show that chest beats reliably indicate the body size of th...

A new study led by Max Planck Institute for Chemistry's Sergey Osipov suggests that an ancient eruption of the Toba supe...
06/15/2021
Ancient volcanic eruption destroyed the ozone layer

A new study led by Max Planck Institute for Chemistry's Sergey Osipov suggests that an ancient eruption of the Toba supervolcano, in present-day Indonesia, lead to a catastrophic drop in ozone levels around the tropics - and contributed to a bottleneck in the human population around 60,000-100,000 years ago. https://phys.org/news/2021-06-ancient-volcanic-eruption-ozone-layer.html

A catastrophic drop in atmospheric ozone levels around the tropics is likely to have contributed to a bottleneck in the human population around 60 to 100,000 years ago, an international research team has suggested. The ozone loss, triggered by the eruption of the Toba supervolcano located in present...

A team led by Trinity College Dublin's Kevin Daly studied goat remains from the Zagros Mountains of Iran, including the ...
06/14/2021
Oldest livestock genome reveals origin of today’s goats

A team led by Trinity College Dublin's Kevin Daly studied goat remains from the Zagros Mountains of Iran, including the oldest livestock genome yet sequenced, and captured genetic and archaeological evidence of a transitional stage between wild-hunted goats and their domesticated descendants. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/06/oldest-livestock-genome-reveals-origin-today-s-goats

Bones found in western Iran capture transition from wild to domestic

This week's Friday fun reading asks a question: could Neanderthals count? Université de Bordeaux's Francesco d'Errico Bo...
06/11/2021
How did Neanderthals and other ancient humans learn to count?

This week's Friday fun reading asks a question: could Neanderthals count? Université de Bordeaux's Francesco d'Errico Bordeaux thinks so, based on a ~60,000 year old hyena bone found in the 1970s at the site of Les Pradelles in France with notations that he argues encode numerical information. But other researchers disagree. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01429-6

Archaeological finds suggest that people developed numbers tens of thousands of years ago. Scholars are now exploring the first detailed hypotheses about this life-changing invention.

A group led by SUNY Potsdam's Dr Stefanie Kaboth-Bahr oargue that ancient El Niño-like weather patterns were the primary...
06/09/2021
Newly Discovered African ‘Climate Seesaw’ Drove Human Evolution

A group led by SUNY Potsdam's Dr Stefanie Kaboth-Bahr oargue that ancient El Niño-like weather patterns were the primary drivers of environmental change in sub-Saharan Africa over the last 620,000 years - and had more profound impacts in sub-Saharan Africa than glacial-interglacial cycles more commonly linked to human evolution. https://www.shh.mpg.de/2005624/kaboth-bahr-scerri-african-climate-seesaw

Home News Press Releases 2021 Newly Discovered African ‘climate seesaw’ Drove Human Evolution Newly Discovered African ‘Climate Seesaw’ Drove Human Evolution May 31, 2021 A scientific consortium led by Dr Stefanie Kaboth-Bahr of the University of Potsdam has found that ancient El Niño-like ...

A team led by University of Helsinki's Riitta Rainio studied the large collection of elk tooth ornaments buried with Mes...
06/08/2021
Stone Age raves to the beat of elk tooth rattles?

A team led by University of Helsinki's Riitta Rainio studied the large collection of elk tooth ornaments buried with Mesolithic people at the site of Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov in Russia about 8,000 years ago and experimentally determined that the distinctive wear patterns on them indicates that they were made into rattlers that made sounds while dancing. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-06/uoh-sar060321.php

In the Stone Age, some 8,000 years ago, people danced often and in a psychedelic way. This is a conclusion drawn from elk teeth discovered in the Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov burial site in the Republic of Karelia, Russia, whose wear marks and location in the graves indicate that the objects were used as r...

A team led by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Aaron Deter-Wolf recently re-analyzed sharpened and...
06/07/2021
The oldest known tattoo tools were found at an ancient Tennessee site

A team led by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Aaron Deter-Wolf recently re-analyzed sharpened and pigment-stained turkey leg bones found the Fernvale site in Tennessee and dated to around 5,520 and 3,620 years ago - and concluded that they are the world's oldest tattooing tools. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/oldest-tattoo-tools-tennessee-native-american

Sharpened turkey leg bones may have served as tattoo needles between 5,520 and 3,620 years ago, at least a millennium earlier than previously thought.

Today's Friday fun reading post is a slightly somber essay in SAPIENS by Franco Vivani, a now-retired anthropologist, wh...
06/04/2021
Finding and Losing the World’s Oldest Art in Sulawesi

Today's Friday fun reading post is a slightly somber essay in SAPIENS by Franco Vivani, a now-retired anthropologist, who goes back to see Sulawesi cave paintings he reported in Indonesia decades ago—and mourns their degradation and loss. https://www.sapiens.org/archaeology/sulawesi-cave-paintings/

An anthropologist goes back to see Sulawesi cave paintings he reported in Indonesia decades ago—and mourns their degradation and loss.

Join us for our next free online Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History monthly HOT (Human Origins Today) event ...
06/03/2021
Climate Change Threatens Great Ape Biology

Join us for our next free online Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History monthly HOT (Human Origins Today) event two weeks from today, on Thursday June 17, from 11:30 am - 12:30 pm! University of Pennsylvania's Alexandra Kralick will talk about how she is using clues from her study of orangutan skeletal collections in our museum's collections to see how their bodies recorded stress, and how that stress is linked to climate change and deforestation. https://s.si.edu/3fhyJaf

Globally, climates are changing at an unprecedented rate. How does this affect the health and biology of our closest living cousins, the great apes? Alexandra Kralick, PhD candidate at University of Pennsylvania, is using clues from her study of orangutan skeletal collections at the Smithsonian to s...

A team led by CNRS News's Isabelle Crevecoeur recently re-analyzed bones from 61 human skeletons buried in the Jebel Sah...
06/02/2021
Prehistoric violence at Jebel Sahaba may not have been single event

A team led by CNRS News's Isabelle Crevecoeur recently re-analyzed bones from 61 human skeletons buried in the Jebel Sahaba cemetery in Sudan which are dated to ~13,000 years ago. Rather than the injuries on the skeletons resulting from a single warfare event as was thought previously, they concluded that the evidence reflects sporadic and recurrent episodes of inter-personal violence, probably triggered by major climatic and environmental changes. https://phys.org/news/2021-05-prehistoric-violence-jebel-sahaba-event.html

Since its discovery in the 1960s, the Jebel Sahaba cemetery (Nile Valley, Sudan), 13 millennia old, was considered to be one of the oldest testimonies to prehistoric warfare. However, scientists from the CNRS and the University of Toulouse—Jean Jaurès have re-analyzed the bones preserved in the B...

A team led by Chinese Academy of Sciences' Qiaomei Fu extraced ancient DNA from the bone fragments of 25 individuals rec...
06/01/2021
Last ice age wiped out people in East Asia as well as Europe

A team led by Chinese Academy of Sciences' Qiaomei Fu extraced ancient DNA from the bone fragments of 25 individuals recovered from construction sites in Russia’s Amur region, on the eastern edge of the China Plateau, to reconstruct human population dynamics in northeast Asia. They found that there were multiple population replacements, as well as long periods of continuity - and that the Last Glacial Maximum may have wiped out an earlier population this area. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/05/last-ice-age-wiped-out-people-east-asia-well-europe

Roots of today’s East Asians date back 19,000 years, ancient DNA study shows

Today's Friday fun reading post is an interview with Kimberleigh Tommy, a PhD candidate and science communicator at Wits...
05/28/2021
Talk the talk and walk the walk

Today's Friday fun reading post is an interview with Kimberleigh Tommy, a PhD candidate and science communicator at Wits - University of the Witwatersrand, who was also recently named appointed the new curator at Maropeng – Cradle of Humankind! https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-021-01483-3

Kimberleigh Tommy is a PhD candidate and science communicator, based at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa, where she studies hominin functional morphology as it relates to locomotion. She has won numerous awards for both her science communication and research; most recently....

Speaking of rock art (as we did yesterday), a new study led by Tel Aviv University | אוניברסיטת תל-אביב's Yafit Kedar su...
05/27/2021
Ancient cave artists were getting high on hypoxia

Speaking of rock art (as we did yesterday), a new study led by Tel Aviv University | אוניברסיטת תל-אביב's Yafit Kedar suggests that the choice by some ancient artists to create cave paintings in remote caverns was due to the artists' search for transcendence via hypoxia. https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/cave-art-hypoxia

A new study says the reason cave paintings are in such remote caverns was the artists' search for transcendence.

A team of archaeologists from the Wits - University of the Witwatersrand are using ethnographic information about shaman...
05/26/2021
Reimagining Rock Art in Southern Africa

A team of archaeologists from the Wits - University of the Witwatersrand are using ethnographic information about shamanistic beliefs and experiences in modern San communities to reinterpret the meaning of rock art created by ancient San peoples. https://www.sapiens.org/archaeology/rock-art-south-africa/

With the help of key contemporary ethnographic texts about modern San peoples, archaeologists are reconsidering the meaning of cave paintings created by ancient San in a new—and sacred—light.

We're excited to hear about this new method developed by a large international team that allows the almost non-destructi...
05/25/2021
New, almost non-destructive archaeogenetic sampling method developed

We're excited to hear about this new method developed by a large international team that allows the almost non-destructive extraction of genetic material from the teeth of archeological human remains. https://phys.org/news/2021-05-non-destructive-archaeogenetic-sampling-method.html

An Austrian-American research team (University of Vienna, Department Evolutionary Anthropology and Harvard Medical School, Department of Genetics), in collaboration of Hungarian experts from Eötvös Loránd University, has developed a new method that allows the almost non-destructive extraction of ...

A recent study led by Harvard Medical School's Aleksandar Kostic analyzed ancient DNA from coprolites (paleo-feces) foun...
05/24/2021
Piles of ancient p**p reveal ‘extinction event’ in human gut bacteria

A recent study led by Harvard Medical School's Aleksandar Kostic analyzed ancient DNA from coprolites (paleo-feces) found in three rock shelters in Utah and Mexico that date up to 1,000 years ago and concluded that the human gut bacterial communities experienced an 'extinction event', losing dozens of species and becoming significantly less diverse. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/05/piles-ancient-p**p-reveal-extinction-event-human-gut-bacteria

First DNA from paleofeces show people 1000 years ago in U.S., Mexico had much more diverse gut microbes

A recent study led University of Oxford's Alejandra Pascual-Garrido and Katarina Almeida-Warren used archaeological meth...
05/20/2021
Milestone comparative study on Tanzanian termite fishing chimpanzees sheds light on the origins of perishable technology

A recent study led University of Oxford's Alejandra Pascual-Garrido and Katarina Almeida-Warren used archaeological methods to investigate raw material procurement for termite-fishing tools by three chimpanzee populations in Tanzania. https://www.anthro.ox.ac.uk/article/milestone-comparative-study-tanzanian-termite-fishing-chimpanzees-sheds-light-origins-p

Congratulations to Primate Models Lab members Alejandra Pascual-Garrido and Katarina Almeida-Warren on the publication of Archaeology of the Perishable: Ecological Constraints and Cultural Variants in Chimpanzee Termite Fishing. Published in Current Anthropology, this milestone comparative piece on....

Address

The Museum Is Located At The Intersection Of 10th Street And Constitution Ave.
Washington D.C., DC
20560

The National Museum of Natural History is right off of the blue and orange lines of the metro. The Smithsonian station is located at 1200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20004. For more information see the Washington Area Metro site at http://www.wmata.com/

Opening Hours

Monday 10am - 5:30pm
Tuesday 10am - 5:30pm
Wednesday 10am - 5:30pm
Thursday 10am - 5:30pm
Friday 10am - 5:30pm
Saturday 10am - 5:30pm
Sunday 10am - 5:30pm

Telephone

(202) 633-1000

Website

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Smithsonian's Human Origins Program posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to Smithsonian's Human Origins Program:

Category

Nearby museums


Comments

I love watching documentaries about, anthropology, archeology, geology, and paleontology but how do researchers today know what people thought hundreds, and thousands of years ago?
Facts
If you miss this webinar, you can now watch it on our Youtube channel:
Chuck, have you seen this?
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WG3Y83B Naked product placement, and because there doesn't seem to be much, an attempt at some paleolithic based Sci-Fi.
¿Existió realmente Homo antecessor?
To the Smithsonian's Human Origin Program, Past & Curious is a series of French cartoons illustrating the work of PhD students in archaeology. By participating in the adventure, I wanted to present part of my research in an accessible and scientific way to the general audience (colleagues, friends, family, kids and future researchers). This video allowed me to script and popularize the environmental background of my doctoral research and illustrate the ethnographic works of Ernest "Tiger" Burch that I study. It is always difficult to represent human groups, past or present, but thanks to this project I can share a positive and authentic representation of the Iñupiaq culture of Alaska. At present, for the rest of the project, the objective is to find a scholarship / funding to pay a native speaker speaking Inupiatun to achieve the subtitles of this video. Contacts have already been made with young people and students. If you know about any grants or scholarship that can help me support the payment for the translation and diffusion let me know. I hope to present one day this animation directly in Inupiat!
I like
NEANDERTHALS WERE NOT "HUMAN"! If they were they would exist in the modern-day African...which HAS NO Neanderthal DNA...yet we ALL come from Africans! EXPLAIN that
I love the realities & ongoing discoveries of the science of evolution.
Dear sir,Around the world all kind of human research making by age of skull.But i am an astrology researcher has discovered we the human and living things was created by PLANET EFFECTS.so the answer is ready for the world.To prove the same i want to work with you.could you provide some astronomers in this regard with your institution.from their help to make research of planets and earth from the beginning climates and circumstance of when humans created.for more visit www.marriagepair.in and reach about us and replay.you are the only research institution for human.so try it. thanks. akambaraswaran
So, where have all the giant human skeletons gone?