Yohannes Haile-Selassie


Committee for Research and Exploration Grantee yohannes.jpg Photograph courtesy Cleveland Museum of Natural History Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie is curator and head of Physical Anthropology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. His main area of research is Plio-Miocene mammalian evolution with a focus on the origin of the earliest hominids and evolutionary history of early Australopithecus. Haile-Selassie is principal investigator of an active fieldwork project in Ethiopia, the Woranso-Mille paleontological project. Scientists from Ethiopia, Europe, and various institutions in the United States collaborate on a variety of subdisciplines of geology and paleontology. His collaborative fieldwork is shedding new light on the relationships among the earliest Australopithecus species and evolution of numerous extinct and extant mammalian taxa. As a member of the Middle Awash project (1993-2007), Haile-Selassie has discovered some of the most important hominid fossils known to science. Among these are the holotype of the 2.5-million-year-old Australopithecus garhi, the first pieces of the 4.4-million-year-old Ardipithecus ramidus partial skeleton, nicknamed “Ardi,” and fossil remains of the 5.8-million-year-old Ardipithecus kadabba. He has recently co-edited a monograph on the latter species, which he named in 2001. Haile-Selassie is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and fellow of the Institute for the Science of Origins at Case Western Reserve University. He is also adjunct professor in the Departments of Anthropology, Anatomy, and Cognitive Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, and adjunct professor in the Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences at the Cleveland State University, where he teaches human evolution courses at both institutions. He serves as a member of the Evolutionary Biology Advisory Committee at Case Western Reserve University in addition to serving as a reviewer for numerous scientific journals and granting agencies. 

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Smithsonian Scientist and Collaborators Revise Timeline of Human Origins

Many traits unique to humans were long thought to have originated in the genus Homo between 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago in Africa. Although scientists have recognized these characteristics for decades, they are reconsidering the true evolutionary factors that drove them. […]

[Smithsonian paleoanthropologist] Richard Potts developed a new climate framework for East African human evolution that depicts most of the era from 2.5 million to 1.5 million years ago as a time of strong climate instability and shifting intensity of annual wet and dry seasons. This framework, which is based on Earth’s astronomical cycles, provides the basis for some of the paper’s key findings, and it suggests that multiple coexisting species of Homo that overlapped geographically emerged in highly changing environments.

“Unstable climate conditions favored the evolution of the roots of human flexibility in our ancestors,” said Potts, curator of anthropology and director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. “The narrative of human evolution that arises from our analyses stresses the importance of adaptability to changing environments, rather than adaptation to any one environment, in the early success of the genus Homo.”

Read the article

In a Tooth, DNA From Some Very Old Cousins, the Denisovans

A tooth fossil discovered in a Siberian cave has yielded DNA from a vanished branch of the human tree, mysterious cousins called the Denisovans, scientists said on Monday.

Their analysis pushes back the oldest known evidence for Denisovans by 60,000 years, suggesting that the species was able to thrive in harsh climates for thousands of generations. The results also suggest that the Denisovans may have interbred with other ancient hominins, relatives of modern humans that science has yet to discover.

Todd Disotell, a paleoanthropologist at New York University who was not involved in the new study, said the report added to growing evidence that our species kept company with many near relatives over the past million years. The world, Dr. Disotell said, “was a lot like Middle-earth. There you’ve got elves and dwarves and hobbits and orcs.” Read more.

Oldest Dentistry Found in 14,000-Year-Old Tooth

An infected tooth partially cleaned with flint tools represents the oldest known dentistry, says a new international study on a 14,000-year-old molar.

The find represents the oldest archaeological example of an operative manual intervention on a pathological condition, according to researchers led by Stefano Benazzi, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Bologna.

“It predates any undisputed evidence of dental and cranial surgery, currently represented by dental drillings and cranial trephinations dating back to the Mesolithic-Neolithic period, about 9,000-7,000 years ago, “ Benazzi said.

The patient was a young man, about 25 years old, living in northern Italy. Read more.
February 6 - Today in Science History

Mary Douglas Leakey

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(source) Born 6 Feb 1913; died 9 Dec 1996 at age 83.
English archaeologist and paleoanthropologist (née Nicol) who made several of the most important fossil finds subsequently interpreted and publicized by her husband, the noted anthropologist Louis Leakey. For every vivid claim made by Louis about the origins of man, the supporting evidence tended to come from Mary’s scrupulous scientific approach. As “the woman who found our ancestors”, Mary’s work in East Africa shed new light on human evolution. After Louis’ death in 1972, she enjoyed her most spectacular find: three trails of fossilised hominid footprints 3.6 million years old, which she discovered at Laetoli in Tanzania (1978-9) showing man’s ancestors were walking upright at a much earlier period than previously believed.

Two million-year-old 'playground' discovered in northern China

At an eroded basin in Hebei province researchers have discovered what could be a “playground” of early hominids nearly two million years ago.

Examination of stone artefacts between 1.77 and 1.95 million years old suggested that they could be toys played with by children.

“This is an amazing discovery,” said professor Wei Qi, paleoanthropologist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and lead scientist of the project at the Heitugou site in Nihewan basin, Yangyuan county.

“The site is a treasure chamber that may hold some useful clues to answer a lot of important questions, from the social structure of the early hominids to whether, when and how they arrived in Asia all the way from Africa.” Read more.

Human ancestor Lucy celebrates 40th anniversary

Donald Johanson recalls pivotal discovery of A. afarensis fossil in 1974

  • by Tom Siegfried
“Donald Johanson is always looking at the ground. “I find more quarters by parking meters than anybody I know,” he says. As he was looking at the ground four decades ago, in a region called Hadar, named for a dry riverbed in Ethiopia, he saw something a lot more exciting than a quarter. It was a fossil bone.

“I found a little piece of elbow,” he said last week in Columbus, Ohio, while addressing a conference of science writers. “And I knew from studies of osteology and comparative anatomy that this had to be from a human ancestor.” By two weeks later, Johanson and his colleagues had collected enough bones to reconstruct about 40 percent of a skeleton. Those bones belonged to a primitive human forerunner now known as Lucy.

Next month paleoanthropologists will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Johanson’s discovery of the elbow bone on November 24, 1974. In the intervening four decades, many more fossils along with other clues have been discovered, rewriting the story of the human race. The evolution of earlier humanlike species and eventually modern humans has grown from the outline of a play with a small cast to an elaborate production with more characters than an Agatha Christie mystery, many remaining enigmatic with relationships still unclear.

“These fossils tell us a great deal about who we are, where we come from and how we fit into the natural world,” said Johanson, of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University. He summarized the fossil story in delivering the annual Patrusky Lecture, honoring Ben Patrusky, emeritus director of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.*

The prelude to the modern story goes back to 1856 — three years before Charles Darwin published his treatise on evolution by natural selection — with the discovery of a fossil in Germany’s Neander Valley in Germany. That fossil was the first specimen from Neandertal man. A dozen years later, fossils of Cro-Magnon man turned up in France.

But Neandertal and Cro-Magnon turned out to be relative youngsters in human history. Darwin and his champion, Thomas Henry Huxley, knew that the whole story would get much more complicated” (read more if you have nothing better to do).

(Source: Science News)



Top) This picture was posted by alternaterealitygame, a white supremacy/ racist idiot here on Tumblr.

Bottom Left) The actual chart showing the “Rethinking Out of Africa” by paleoanthropologist Christopher Stringer.

Bottom Right) Christopher Stringer holding the original chart.

As you can see the chart on top was falsified in an attempt to claim that black people are a separate species called “negroid.”

Also, a pretty bad attempt at quote mining.

Let’s take a look at the conclusions of the actual study:

Here’s a somewhat simpler representation of my current thinking now about human evolution over the last two million years:

We’ve got the lineage of the hobbit, ‘Homo floresiensis’ (in quotation marks because its human status in not yet clear), perhaps diverging more than two million years ago, evolving in isolation in southeast Asia, and apparently going extinct about 17,000 years ago.

We’ve got Homo erectus, most likely originating in Africa, giving rise to lineages which continue in the Far East in China and Java, but which eventually go extinct. In Europe, it perhaps gave rise to the species Homo antecessor, “Pioneer Man,” known from the site of Atapuerca in Spain. Again, going extinct.

In the western part of the Old World, we get the development of a new species, Homo heidelbergensis, present in Europe, Asia and Africa. We knew heidelbergensis had gone two ways, to modern humans and the Neanderthals. But we now know because of the Denisovans that actually heidelbergensis went three ways—in fact the Denisovans seem to represent an off-shoot of the Neanderthal lineage.

North of the Mediterranean, heidelbergensis gave rise to the Neanderthals, over in the Far East, it gave rise to the Denisovans. In Africa heidelbergensis evolved into modern humans, who eventually spread from Africa about 60,000 years ago, but as I mentioned, there’s evidence that heidelbergensis populations carried on in Africa for a period of time. But we now know that the Neanderthals and the Denisovans did not go genetically extinct. They went physically extinct, but their genes were input into modern humans, perhaps in western Asia in the case of the Neanderthals. And then a smaller group of modern humans picked up DNA from the Denisovans in south east Asia.

We end up with quite a complex story, with even some of this ancient DNA coming back into modern humans within Africa. So our evolutionary story is mostly, but not absolutely, a Recent African Origin.

- Christopher Stringer

You can view the entire study here: Rethinking “Out of Africa”

*Do not use science to attempt to further your stupid racist bullshit*

Fell free to visit this persons blog and “tell them how you feel” about their stupidity.

Oldest humanlike hand bone discovered

Excavations at Tanzania’s famed Olduvai Gorge have uncovered the oldest known fossil hand bone resembling those of people today. The bone from a hominid’s left pinkie finger dates to at least 1.84 million years ago and looks more like corresponding bones of modern humans than like finger fossils of previously discovered Olduvai hominids, say paleoanthropologist Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo of Complutense University in Madrid and his colleagues.

This ancient hominid’s entire hand probably looked humanlike, the researchers propose August 18 in Nature Communications. An Olduvai hominid with humanlike hands would have been capable of making stone tools, they say.

The new finger fossil is more humanlike than comparably ancient Olduvai hand fossils from Homo habilis, or handy man, and Paranthropus boisei, or Nutcracker Man, the scientists find.    

H. habilis and P. boisei lived at Olduvai alongside a hominid species represented by the new finger fossil, Domínguez-Rodrigo’s team argues. But using just one or a few fossils to define a new hominid species is controversial. (source)


A new New York Times video examines the life and legacy of Mary Leakey.

The short documentary remembers the pioneering paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey, who discovered footprints of human ancestors on the African savanna. Her colleagues, several of whom help narrate, including American Museum of Natural History Curator Emeritus Ian Tattersall, uniformly remember her as an extraordinary character. Leakey was exacting in her science, and expected the same of her workers. 

Watch the video.


Talus Android Phone App

“Welcome to Talus. Methods used by forensic anthropologists and bioarchaeologists to develop a biological profile from adult human skeletal remains are compiled here. Select an aspect to get started.

Talus is a mobile application that aids in the determination of the biological profile (bioprofile) from human skeletal remains. Forensic anthropologists, bioarchaeologists, and paleoanthropologists use methods such as those reviewed in Talus to assess sex, age, stature, and ancestry.

The most trusted methods are found in scholarly journals and books. Buikstra and Ubelaker’s Standards for data collection from human skeletal remains (1994), the acknowledged comprehensive guide in the field, is almost 20 years old and only available in analog. Talus compiles osteological literature in one application.

Talus is under development by Emily Niespodziewanski, a graduate student in the Michigan State University Department of Anthropology, and is supported by the Michigan State University MATRIX Cultural Heritage Informatics Graduate Fellowship”.

(Source: Talus)

Mary Leakey

Paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey was born in London on February 6, 1913. Leakey made several critical fossil discoveries that help shed light on the origins of the human race. Among her most notable discoveries were the skull fossil of the 18 million year old species Proconsul africanus, as well as a trail of early human footprints.

Mary Leakey died in 1996 at the age of 83.

Archaeology team makes world-first tool discovery

How smart were human-like species of the Stone Age? New research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science by a team led by paleoanthropologist April Nowell of the University of Victoria reveals surprisingly sophisticated adaptations by early humans living 250,000 years ago in a former oasis near Azraq, Jordan.

The research team from UVic and partner universities in the US and Jordan has found the oldest evidence of protein residue—the residual remains of butchered animals including horse, rhinoceros, wild cattle and duck—on stone tools. The discovery draws startling conclusions about how these early humans subsisted in a very demanding habitat, thousands of years before Homo sapiens first evolved in Africa.

The team excavated 10,000 stone tools over three years from what is now a desert in the northwest of Jordan, but was once a wetland that became increasingly arid habitat 250,000 years ago. Read more.

Lectures and Special Events: The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack

June 9, 2015

“In his new book, The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack, paleoanthropologist and American Museum of Natural History curator Ian Tattersall argues that a long tradition of “human exceptionalism” in paleoanthropology has distorted the picture of evolution. Scientists have repeatedly created convoluted, fanciful stories to explain their finds, rather than face the inconvenient possibility that their assumptions were mistaken. Tattersall offers an idiosyncratic look at the competitive world of paleoanthropology, beginning with Charles Darwin 150 years ago, continuing through the Leakey dynasty in Africa, and concluding with the latest astonishing findings in the Caucasus. With tact and humor, Tattersall concludes that we are not the perfected products of natural processes, but instead the result of substantial doses of random happenstance.

A book signing of The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack will follow.”

(Source: AMNH)