New Studies Reveal Intriguing Details About Ancient Humans

The beauty of archeology is that things are never really fully certain. Why? Because a single discovery has the power to change all of our perceptions about our ancestors’ lives and biology. New studies have found not one but three major discoveries that have pushed timelines, solved mysteries, and made us ask even more questions about our origins. Let’s take a look!

Homo Erectus Is Older Than We Thought

Homo Erectus Is Older Than We Thought
New Studies Reveal Intriguing Details About Ancient Humans

Around two million years ago, there were three hominins — or ancient human ancestors — who lived in the Cradle of Humankind, present-day Johannesburg. Only one of these three would survive, and that would be the Homo erectus. Austraolpithecus and Paranthropus would sadly vanish. Excavations of the Drimolen site outside of Johannesburg found bone fragments that were pieced together to reveal the skullcap of a Homo erectus. The age of the fossil showed that the Homo erectus actually existed between 150,000 and 200,000 years earlier than previously considered.

Inside Lucy’s Brain

Lucy - an Australopithecus afarensi
New Studies Reveal Intriguing Details About Ancient Humans

More than 3.18 million years ago, Lucy — an Australopithecus afarensis and our ancient ancestor — walked the Earth. She was from a species that bridged the gap between chimpanzees and humans. Recent studies of her brain showed that while it was organized like an ape’s brain, it actually developed more slowly, like with humans. That means the early stages of childhood in which children depend on caregivers actually started with Lucy’s species.

The New Ancestor Humans — The Homo Naledi

The New Ancestor Humans - The Homo Naledi
New Studies Reveal Intriguing Details About Ancient Humans

In 2015, archeologists discovered fossils of an unknown ancient human ancestor. They called it the Homo naledi. They lived sometime between 226,000 and 335,000 years ago. They lived fast and died young. A recent study of a partial Homo naledi skeleton revealed surprising similarities with present-day children. The skeleton belonged to a young Homo naledi aged between eight and eleven years old. The teeth and bones haven’t developed completely, which proved the child matured similarly to modern-day humans.