Anthropology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is still unclear when and by which route modern humans expanded out of Africa. Here, Beyer et al. use paleoclimate reconstructions and estimates of human precipitation requirements to evaluate the survivability of spatial and temporal migration corridors to Eurasia over the last 300,000 years.

    • Robert M. Beyer
    • , Mario Krapp
    •  & Andrea Manica
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Increasing body and brain size constitutes a key pattern in human evolution, but the mechanisms driving these changes remain debated. Using a large fossil dataset combined with global paleoclimatic reconstructions, the authors show that different environmental variables influenced the evolution of brain and body size in Homo.

    • Manuel Will
    • , Mario Krapp
    •  & Andrea Manica
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Summed probability distributions of radiocarbon dates can be used to estimate past demography, but methods to test for associations with environmental change are lacking. Here, DiNapoli et al. propose an approach using Approximate Bayesian Computation and illustrate it in a case study of Rapa Nui.

    • Robert J. DiNapoli
    • , Enrico R. Crema
    •  & Terry L. Hunt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Though there is a long archaeological record of the use of honey, beeswax and other bee products, there are few known records from Africa. Here Dunne et al. analyse lipid residues from pottery from the Nok culture, Nigeria, dating to ~3500 years ago and find evidence of the collection and processing of bee products, likely honey.

    • Julie Dunne
    • , Alexa Höhn
    •  & Richard P. Evershed
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Consuming the milk of other species is a unique adaptation of Homo sapiens. Here, the authors carry out proteomic analysis of dental calculus of 41 ancient individuals from Sudan and Kenya, indicating milk consumption occurred as soon as herding spread into eastern Africa.

    • Madeleine Bleasdale
    • , Kristine K. Richter
    •  & Nicole Boivin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Strong social bonds are known to affect pairwise cooperation in primates such chimpanzees. Here, Samuni et al. show that strong social bonds also influence participation in group-level cooperation (collective action in intergroup encounters) using a long-term dataset of wild chimpanzees.

    • Liran Samuni
    • , Catherine Crockford
    •  & Roman M. Wittig
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania is a key site for understanding early human evolution. Here, the authors report a multiproxy dataset from the Western basin of Oldupai Gorge dating to 2 million years ago, enabling the in situ comparison of lithic assemblages, paleoenvironments and hominin behavioral adaptability.

    • Julio Mercader
    • , Pam Akuku
    •  & Michael Petraglia
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Previous research on the importance of prosociality is based on observations from WEIRD societies, questioning the generalizability of these findings. Here the authors present a global investigation of the relation between prosociality and labor market success and generalize the positive relation to a wide geographical context.

    • Fabian Kosse
    •  & Michela M. Tincani
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Non-traditional stable isotopes, such as of calcium, have potential to expand our understanding of ancient diets. Here, Martin et al. use stable calcium isotopes recovered from fossil tooth enamel to compare the dietary ecology of hominins and other primates in the Turkana Basin 2-4 million years ago.

    • Jeremy E. Martin
    • , Théo Tacail
    •  & Vincent Balter
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Key events in human evolution are thought to have occurred between 3 and 2.5 Ma, but the fossil record of this period is sparse. Here, Alemseged et al. report a new fossil site from this period, Mille-Logya, Ethiopia, and characterize the geology, basin evolution and fauna, including specimens of Homo.

    • Zeresenay Alemseged
    • , Jonathan G. Wynn
    •  & Joseph Mohan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Seshat database has made it possible to reveal large-scale patterns in human cultural evolution. Here, Shin et al. investigate transitions in social complexity and find alternating thresholds of polity size and information processing required for further sociopolitical development.

    • Jaeweon Shin
    • , Michael Holton Price
    •  & Timothy A. Kohler
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There has been substantial debate of how hominins colonized Australasia through Wallacea, including their ability to utilize marine vs. terrestrial resources. Here, Roberts et al. use stable carbon and oxygen isotopes to reconstruct temporal shifts in the diets of early human inhabitants of Alor and Timor.

    • Patrick Roberts
    • , Julien Louys
    •  & Sue OʼConnor
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The transition to agriculture brought major changes to human populations in Europe during the Neolithic period. Here, Cubas and colleagues analyse lipid residues from Neolithic pottery from along the Atlantic coast of Europe to trace the spread of dairy production and shifts in diet.

    • Miriam Cubas
    • , Alexandre Lucquin
    •  & Oliver E. Craig
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How the development of human societies is influenced through their ecological environment and climatic conditions has been the subject of intensive debate. Here, the authors present multi-proxy data from southern Scandinavia which suggests that pre-agricultural population growth there was likely influenced by enhanced marine production.

    • J. P. Lewis
    • , D. B. Ryves
    •  & S. Juggins
  • Article
    | Open Access

    When modern humans colonized India is debated. Here, Clarkson and colleagues report an archaeological site in India that has been occupied for approximately 80,000 years and contains a stone tool assemblage attributed to Homo sapiens that matches artefacts from Africa, Arabia, and Australia.

    • Chris Clarkson
    • , Clair Harris
    •  & Michael Petraglia
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The authors here show that readiness to cooperate between individuals from different groups corresponds to the degree of cultural similarity between those groups. This is consistent with the theory of Cultural Group Selection as an explanation for the rise of human large-scale cooperation.

    • Carla Handley
    •  & Sarah Mathew
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Birch pitch is thought to have been used in prehistoric times as hafting material or antiseptic and tooth imprints suggest that it was chewed. Here, the authors report a 5,700 year-old piece of chewed birch pitch from Denmark from which they successfully recovered a complete ancient human genome and oral microbiome DNA.

    • Theis Z. T. Jensen
    • , Jonas Niemann
    •  & Hannes Schroeder
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Whether Australia’s Pleistocene megafauna extinctions were caused by climate change, humans, or both is debated. Here, the authors infer the spatio-temporal trajectories of regional extinctions and find that water availability mediates the relationship among climate, human migration and megafauna extinctions.

    • Frédérik Saltré
    • , Joël Chadoeuf
    •  & Corey J. A. Bradshaw
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The proximal femur is key for understanding locomotion in primates. Here, the authors analyze the evolution of the proximal femur in catarrhines, including a new Aegyptopithecus fossil, and suggest that Old World monkeys and hominoids diverged from an ancestral state similar to Aegyptopithecus.

    • Sergio Almécija
    • , Melissa Tallman
    •  & Erik R. Seiffert
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Late Middle Pleistocene (LMP) hominin fossils are scarce, limiting reconstruction of human evolution during this key period. Here, the authors use phylogenetic modelling to predict the modern human last common ancestor’s morphology and inform hypotheses of human origins by comparison to LMP fossils.

    • Aurélien Mounier
    •  & Marta Mirazón Lahr
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The archaeological record provides large ensembles of radiocarbon dates which can be used to infer long-term changes in human demography. Here, the authors analyse the radiocarbon record of the Iberian peninsula, finding support for a bottleneck during the Last Glacial-Interglacial transition

    • Javier Fernández-López de Pablo
    • , Mario Gutiérrez-Roig
    •  & Sergi Lozano
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Central Anatolia harbored some of the earliest farming societies outside the Fertile Crescent of the Near East. Here, the authors report and analyze genome-wide data from a 15,000-year-old Anatolian hunter-gatherer and from seven Anatolian and Levantine early farmers, and suggest high genetic continuity between the hunter-gatherers and early farmers of Anatolia.

    • Michal Feldman
    • , Eva Fernández-Domínguez
    •  & Johannes Krause
  • Article
    | Open Access

    As modern humans migrated out of Africa, they encountered novel habitats. Here, Wedage et al. study the archaeological site of Fa-Hien Lena in Sri Lanka and show that the earliest human residents of the island practiced specialized hunting of small mammals, demonstrating ecological plasticity.

    • Oshan Wedage
    • , Noel Amano
    •  & Patrick Roberts
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Caucasus mountain range has impacted on the culture and genetics of the wider region. Here, the authors generate genome-wide SNP data for 45 Eneolithic and Bronze Age individuals across the Caucasus, and find distinct genetic clusters between mountain and steppe zones as well as occasional gene-flow.

    • Chuan-Chao Wang
    • , Sabine Reinhold
    •  & Wolfgang Haak
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is unclear whether the sequence and timing of early life neurodevelopment varies across human populations, excluding the effects of disease or malnutrition. Here, the authors show that children of healthy, urban, educated mothers show very similar development across five geographically diverse populations.

    • José Villar
    • , Michelle Fernandes
    •  & Stephen Kennedy
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Salkhit skull from Mongolia was initially suggested to have archaic hominin characters. Here, Devièse and colleagues date the skull to approximately 34–35 thousand years ago and reconstruct its mitochondrial genome, finding that it falls within modern human haplogroup N found across Eurasia.

    • Thibaut Devièse
    • , Diyendo Massilani
    •  & Tom Higham
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Mineralized plaque, or dental calculus, is a valuable reservoir of the ancient oral microbiome. Here, the authors use quantitative metaproteomics to analyze the dental calculus of 21 individuals from a medieval cemetery, identifying human and microbial proteins that shed light on their oral health status.

    • Rosa R. Jersie-Christensen
    • , Liam T. Lanigan
    •  & Jesper V. Olsen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How different Neandertal morphology was from that of modern humans has been a subject of long debate. Here, the authors develop a 3D virtual reconstruction of the thorax of an adult male Neandertal, showing similar size to modern humans, yet with greater respiratory capacity due to its different shape.

    • Asier Gómez-Olivencia
    • , Alon Barash
    •  & Ella Been
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Men are often more willing to compete compared to women, which may contribute to gender differences in wages and career advancement. Here, the authors show that ‘power priming’ - encouraging people to imagine themselves in a situation of power - can close the gender gap in competitiveness.

    • Loukas Balafoutas
    • , Helena Fornwagner
    •  & Matthias Sutter
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Longobards invaded and conquered much of Italy after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Here, the authors sequence and analyze ancient genomic DNA from 63 samples from two cemeteries associated with the Longobards and identify kinship networks and two distinct genetic and cultural groups in each.

    • Carlos Eduardo G. Amorim
    • , Stefania Vai
    •  & Krishna R. Veeramah
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The fossil taxon Propotto was originally identified as a primate, but is currently widely interpreted as a bat. Here, the authors identify Propotto as a stem chiromyiform lemur and, based on phylogenetic analysis, suggest two independent lemur colonizations of Madagascar.

    • Gregg F. Gunnell
    • , Doug M. Boyer
    •  & Erik R. Seiffert
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Social learning is a crucial human ability. Here, the authors examined children in 7 cultures and show that children’s reliance on social information and their preference to follow the majority vary across societies. However, the ontogeny of majority preference follows the same, U-shaped pattern across all societies.

    • Edwin J. C. van Leeuwen
    • , Emma Cohen
    •  & Daniel B. M. Haun
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Previous studies of Pre-Columbian earthworks in the Amazon basin have left a gap in the Upper Tapajós Basin (UTB). Here, the authors detect 104 Pre-Columbian earthworks in the UTB, suggesting continuous occupation across southern Amazonia and higher population densities than previously estimated.

    • Jonas Gregorio de Souza
    • , Denise Pahl Schaan
    •  & José Iriarte
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Storytelling entails costs in terms of time and effort, yet it is a ubiquitous feature of human society. Here, Smith et al. show benefits of storytelling in Agta hunter-gatherer communities, as storytellers have higher reproductive success and storytelling is associated with higher cooperation in the group.

    • Daniel Smith
    • , Philip Schlaepfer
    •  & Andrea Bamberg Migliano
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Bronze-age Indus civilisation (4.6–3.9 ka) was thought to have been linked to the development of water resources in the Himalayas. Here, the authors show that along the former course of the Sutlej River the Indus settlements developed along the abandoned river valley rather than an active Himalayan river.

    • Ajit Singh
    • , Kristina J. Thomsen
    •  & Sanjeev Gupta
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans is thought to have been due to environmental factors, a selective advantage of modern humans, or both. Here, Kolodny and Feldman develop a neutral model of species drift showing that rapid Neanderthal replacement can be explained parsimoniously by simple migration dynamics.

    • Oren Kolodny
    •  & Marcus W. Feldman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The pattern of body size evolution in hominids can provide insight into historical human ecology. Here, Grabowski and Jungers use comparative phylogenetic analysis to reconstruct the likely size of the ancestor of humans and chimpanzees and the evolutionary history of selection on body size in primates.

    • Mark Grabowski
    •  & William L. Jungers
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Non-human animals are known to exhibit behaviours suggestive of empathy, but the development and maintenance of these traits is unexplored. Here, Webb and colleagues quantify individual consolation tendencies over 10 years across two chimpanzee groups and show evidence of consistent ‘empathetic personalities’.

    • Christine E. Webb
    • , Teresa Romero
    •  & Frans B. M. de Waal
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Evolution can occur rapidly enough to influence population growth, though this possibility tends to be discounted for human populations. Here, the authors analyse genealogical records and show that evolution of women’s age at first reproduction contributed significantly to the growth of the île aux Coudres population.

    • Fanie Pelletier
    • , Gabriel Pigeon
    •  & Emmanuel Milot
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Water is a fundamental resource, but its role in hominin evolution is not well explored. Here, the authors use a combination of groundwater, climate and agent-based models to show that groundwater availability may be critical to past patterns of taxonomic diversity in hominin development in East Africa.

    • M. O. Cuthbert
    • , T. Gleeson
    •  & G. M. Ashley