Scientists discover two new species of burrowing mammal ancestors

Scientists have discovered two new species of burrowing animals that lived in northeastern China 120 million years ago.  Skeletal remains of the species, called Fossiomanus sinensis and Jueconodon chenispiky, reveal they had claws designed for ‘scratch digging’ – a technique to create tunnels using the claws of the forelimbs.  Experts at the American Museum of Natural … Read more

Women evolved to have bigger hips than men because our primitive ancestors laid EGGS, study claims

Women evolved to have bigger hips than men because our primitive ancestors laid EGGS millions of years ago, study claims For years it was thought that women have wide hips to allow delivery of babies But female chimps also have wide hips, despite having smaller babies Experts say a shared ancestor developed wide hips to … Read more

Scientists reveal ‘more accurate’ reconstructions of famous ancient human ancestors

New reconstructions of two famous ancient human ancestors have been produced by a team of academics.  The models of Lucy and the Taung child were made from silicone casts, with skin pigmentation and individual hairs painstakingly applied by hand.  Researchers sought to create the most lifelike reconstructions of these specimens ever produced by basing their … Read more

Human ancestors were ‘swinging from tree branches like chimps’ until at least 4.4 million years ago

Ancestors of modern humans who lived 4.4 million years ago were well-suited to swinging in trees and a life in the branches.  Hand bones of Ardi, a member of the ancient human relative species Ardipithecus ramidus, were compared to modern primates and other extinct human ancestors. It reveals they are ape-like in structure and more suited to … Read more

Campaigners call for Tory MP to pay reparations over slave deaths at his ancestor’s plantation

Independent MP William Wilberforce wrote the Slave Trade Act in 1807 which abolished the industry across the British Empire. It was enacted in 1833 The transatlantic slave trade was launched by Portuguese traders with the construction of sub-Saharan Africa’s first permanent slave trading post at Elmina in 1492. But it soon passed into Dutch then … Read more

Our primate ancestors developed capacity for language, scientists say 

How apes ‘talked’ 40m years ago: Our primate ancestors developed capacity for language, scientists say Arrival of Homo Sapiens was believed to be when language started taking shape  New research suggests our ancient ancestors developed capacity for language  Researchers at universities of Warwick and Zurich examined how chimpanzees, monkeys and humans processed tones in a … Read more

Genetics: ‘Junk’ DNA inherited from our ancient ancestors could be rewiring our brains, study finds

DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid – is widely known as the molecule found in the nucleus of all our cells that contains genetic information. It is shaped like a double-helix and made of small sections called nucleotides.  Each nucleotide contains a nucleobase, a sugar, and a phosphate group. The sugar component in this particular molecule is … Read more

David Walliams was glad to learn none of his ancestors were ‘horrible like Jack Whitehall’s’

David Walliams has said he was relieved to learn he didn’t have any ‘horrible’ ancestors while filming Who Do You Think You Are? The comedian-turned-children’s author compared his experience to that of fellow TV star Jack Whitehall, who appeared on the BBC series last year. ‘I’m glad there weren’t any “baddies” in my family, because … Read more

Archaeology: our ancestors were using fire to make tools 300,000 years ago, flint blades reveal

Fire was used to make tools by our early human ancestors some 300,000 years ago, an analysis of flint blades unearthed in a cave east of Tel Aviv has revealed.  Researchers from Israel studied stone blades, flakes and pot-lids from the Qesem cave — and discovered evidence that they had been exposed to controlled fires. Exposing … Read more

Mud-slurping chinless fish that was one of ‘man’s earliest ancestors’

One of the earliest human ancestors – that lived 400 million years ago – was a ‘fish’ with no jaw that used spines on its head to shift position in the water, study claims. Researchers from the University of Bristol used computer simulations to create ‘avatars’ of our ancient relatives to explore how they moved … Read more