Collection

Human Evolution

Human evolution has made headlines in Nature since Raymond Dart published the first description of Australopithecus africanus in 1925 (Nature 115, 195-199, 1925). Since then, Nature has published the biggest news of new fossil discoveries. Zinjanthropus, Homo habilis, Sahelanthropus, Ardipithecus, Turkana Boy, Lucy, bones from Atapuerca and Dmanisi, Tools from Turkana and Olduvai, Gona and Happisburgh, the genomes of Neanderthals and the still-enigmatic Denisovans, and not forgetting the remarkable hobbits from Flores - all these and many more have made their debuts in the pages of Nature. This resource offers the latest news and opinion from the Nature Publishing Group in this exciting and often contentious field, and constantly updated archive of research going back a decade.

Human Evolution News and Opinion

  • Nature | News & Views

    New fossil findings demonstrate that the diminutive hominin Homo floresiensis lived on the Indonesian island of Flores at least 700,000 years ago, and may point to its rapid dwarfism from the larger Homo erectus. See Letters p.245 & p.249

    • Aida Gómez-Robles
  • Nature | News & Views

    A discovery in southern China of human teeth dated to more than 80,000 years old indicates that Homo sapiens was present in the region considerably earlier than had previously been suspected. See Letter p.696

    • Robin Dennell
  • Nature | News & Views

    New hominin fossils discovered in Ethiopia, dated to between 3.5 million and 3.3 million years ago, suggest that species diversity may have been as high during early human evolution as in later periods. See Article p.483

    • Fred Spoor
  • Nature | News & Views

    The finding of 3.3-million-year-old stone flints, cores, hammers and anvils in Kenya suggests that the first stone tools were made by human ancestors that pre-dated the earliest known members of the genus Homo. See Article p.310

    • Erella Hovers
  • Nature | News & Views

    The discovery of stone tools dating to 71,000 years ago at a site in South Africa suggests that the humans making them had developed the capacity for complex thought, and passed this knowledge down the generations. See Letter p.590

    • Sally McBrearty
  • Nature | News & Views

    The whole-genome sequence of a human associated with the earliest widespread culture in North America confirms the Asian ancestry of the Clovis people and their relatedness to present-day Native Americans. See Letter p.225

    • Jennifer A. Raff
    •  &  Deborah A. Bolnick

Human Evolution Latest Research

  • Nature | Letter

    Remains of what appears to be Homo floresiensis have now been found at another site in Flores in Indonesia; these 700,000-year-old fossils are older and slightly smaller than the first fossils identified as Homo floresiensis.

    • Gerrit D. van den Bergh
    • , Yousuke Kaifu
    • , Iwan Kurniawan
    • , Reiko T. Kono
    • , Adam Brumm
    • , Erick Setiyabudi
    • , Fachroel Aziz
    •  &  Michael J. Morwood
  • Nature | Letter

    Stratigraphic, chronological, environmental and faunal context are provided to the newly discovered fossils of hominins that lived in the So’a Basin in Flores, Indonesia, 700,000 years ago; the stone tools recovered with the fossils are similar to those associated with the much younger Homo floresiensis from Flores, discovered in Liang Bua to the west.

    • Adam Brumm
    • , Gerrit D. van den Bergh
    • , Michael Storey
    • , Iwan Kurniawan
    • , Brent V. Alloway
    • , Ruly Setiawan
    • , Erick Setiyabudi
    • , Rainer Grün
    • , Mark W. Moore
    • , Dida Yurnaldi
    • , Mika R. Puspaningrum
    • , Unggul P. Wibowo
    • , Halmi Insani
    • , Indra Sutisna
    • , John A. Westgate
    • , Nick J. G. Pearce
    • , Mathieu Duval
    • , Hanneke J. M. Meijer
    • , Fachroel Aziz
    • , Thomas Sutikna
    • , Sander van der Kaars
    • , Stephanie Flude
    •  &  Michael J. Morwood
  • Nature | Letter

    New excavations in Liang Bua, where the remains of the ‘Hobbit’ (Homo floresiensis) were discovered, show that this diminutive human species used this cave between 190,000 and 50,000 years ago, and not until as recently as 12,000 years ago as previously interpreted; modern humans have been present in Australia since around 50,000 years ago, so whether Homo floresiensis survived long enough to witness the arrival of modern humans is still an open question.

    • Thomas Sutikna
    • , Matthew W. Tocheri
    • , Michael J. Morwood
    • , E. Wahyu Saptomo
    • , Jatmiko
    • , Rokus Due Awe
    • , Sri Wasisto
    • , Kira E. Westaway
    • , Maxime Aubert
    • , Bo Li
    • , Jian-xin Zhao
    • , Michael Storey
    • , Brent V. Alloway
    • , Mike W. Morley
    • , Hanneke J. M. Meijer
    • , Gerrit D. van den Bergh
    • , Rainer Grün
    • , Anthony Dosseto
    • , Adam Brumm
    • , William L. Jungers
    •  &  Richard G. Roberts
  • Nature | Letter

    Nuclear DNA sequences from Middle Pleistocene Sima de los Huesos hominins show they were more closely related to Neanderthals than to Denisovans, and indicate a population divergence between Neanderthals and Denisovans that predates 430,000 years ago.

    • Matthias Meyer
    • , Juan-Luis Arsuaga
    • , Cesare de Filippo
    • , Sarah Nagel
    • , Ayinuer Aximu-Petri
    • , Birgit Nickel
    • , Ignacio Martínez
    • , Ana Gracia
    • , José María Bermúdez de Castro
    • , Eudald Carbonell
    • , Bence Viola
    • , Janet Kelso
    • , Kay Prüfer
    •  &  Svante Pääbo
  • Nature | Letter

    A collection of 47 unequivocally modern human teeth from a cave in southern China shows that modern humans were in the region at least 80,000 years ago, and possibly as long as 120,000 years ago, which is twice as long as the earliest known modern humans in Europe; the population exhibited more derived features than contemporaneous hominins in northern and central China, adding to the complexity of the human story.

    • Wu Liu
    • , María Martinón-Torres
    • , Yan-jun Cai
    • , Song Xing
    • , Hao-wen Tong
    • , Shu-wen Pei
    • , Mark Jan Sier
    • , Xiao-hong Wu
    • , R. Lawrence Edwards
    • , Hai Cheng
    • , Yi-yuan Li
    • , Xiong-xin Yang
    • , José María Bermúdez de Castro
    •  &  Xiu-jie Wu
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    It is unclear to what extent early hominins were adapted to arboreal climbing. Here, the authors show that the nearly complete hand of H. naledi from South Africa has markedly curved digits and otherwise human-like wrist and palm, which indicates the retention of a significant degree of climbing.

    • Tracy L. Kivell
    • , Andrew S. Deane
    • , Matthew W. Tocheri
    • , Caley M. Orr
    • , Peter Schmid
    • , John Hawks
    • , Lee R. Berger
    •  &  Steven E. Churchill