Recent Developments in Paleoanthropology

These pages use a fairly conservative naming system. In recent years a number of changes have been suggested in the classification of hominid fossils.

Many people are now using the genus name Paranthropus, originally given to robustus, to refer to the robust australopithecines (robustus, boisei, and aethiopicus). This change makes sense if all these species form a clade (all of the species descended from a common ancestor) but it is not yet known if this is the case.

Here is a selection of recent discoveries and other developments in paleoanthropology:


Abbate E., Albianelli A., Azzaroli A., Benvenuti M., Tesfamariam B., Bruni P. et al. (1998): A one-million-year-old Homo cranium from the Danakil (Afar) depression of Eritrea. Nature, 393:458.

Adcock G.J., Dennis E.S., Easteal S., Huttley G.A., Jermiin L.S., Peacock W.J. et al. (2001): Mitochondrial DNA sequences in ancient Australians: implications for modern human origins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 98:537-42.

Aiello L. and Collard M. (2001): Our newest oldest ancestor? Nature, 410:526-7. (a skeptical look at Orrorin tugenensis)

Alemseged Z., Spoor F., Kimbel W.H., Bobe R., Geraards D., Reed D. et al. (2006): A juvenile early hominin skeleton from Dikika, Ethiopia. Nature, 443:296-301.

Asfaw B., White T.D., Lovejoy C.O., Suwa G., and Simpson S. (1999): Australopithecus garhi: a new species of early hominid from Ethiopia. Science, 284:629-35.

Asfaw B., Gilbert W.H., Beyene Y., Hart W.K., Renne P., WoldeGabriel G. et al. (2002): Remains of Homo erectus from Bouri, Middle Awash, Ethiopia. Nature, 416:317-20.

Balter M. (2010): Candidate human ancestor from South Africa sparks praise and debate. Science, 328:154.

Balter M. and Gibbons A. (2002): Were 'Little People' the first to venture out of Africa? Science, 297:26-7. (D2700 from Dmanisi)

Balter M. and Gibbons A. (2000): A glimpse of humans first journey out of Africa. Science, 288:948-50.

Begun D.R. (2004): The earliest hominins - is less more? Science, 303:1478-80. (Ardipithecus kadabba)

Berger L.R., de Ruiter D.J., Churchill S.E. et al. (2010): Australopithecus sediba: a new species of Homo-like australopith from South Africa. Science, 238:195.

Bermudez de Castro J.M., Arsuaga J., Carbonell E., Rosas A., Martinez I., and Mosquera M. (1997): A hominid from the lower Pleistocene of Atapuerca, Spain: possible ancestor to Neandertals and modern humans. Science, 276:1392-5.

Blumenschine R.J., Peters C.R., Masao F.T., Clarke R.J., Deino A., Hay R.L. et al. (2003): Late Pliocene Homo and hominid land use from western Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Science, 299:1217-21. (discovery of OH 65)

Brown P., Sutikna T., Morwood M., Soejono R.P., Jatmiko, Saptomo E.W. et al. (2004): A new small-bodied hominin from the late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia. Nature, 431:1055-61.

Brunet M., Guy F., Pilbeam D., Mackay H.T., Likius A., Djimboumalbaye A. et al. (2002): A new hominid from the upper Miocene of Chad, central Africa. Nature, 418:145-51.

Brunet M., Beauvilain A., Coppens Y., Heintz E., Moutaye A.H.E., and Pilbeam D. (1995): The first australopithecine 2,500 kilometres west of the rift valley (Chad). Nature, 378:273-5.

Burenhult G. (1993): The first humans: human origins and history to 10,000 BC. New York: HarperCollins.

Clarke R.J. and Tobias P.V. (1995): Sterkfontein member 2 foot bones of the oldest South African hominid. Science, 269:521-4.

Cooper, A., Rambaut, A., Macaulay, V., Willerslev, E., Hansen, A. & Stringer, C. (2001): Human origins and ancient human DNA. Science, 292: 1655-6

Dean C., Leakey M.G., Reid D., Schrenk F., Schwartz G.T., Stringer C.B. et al. (2001): Growth processes in teeth distinguish modern humans from Homo erectus and earlier hominins. Nature, 414:628-31.

Delson E. (1997): One skull does not a species make. Nature, 389:445-6.

Dobson J.E. (1998): The iodine factor in health and evolution. The Geographical Review, 88:1-28.

Duarte C., Mauricio J., Pettitt P.B., Souto P., Trinkaus E., van der Plicht H. et al. (1999): The early upper Paleolithic human skeleton from the Abrigo do Lagar Velho (Portugal) and modern human emergence in Iberia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 96:7604-9.

Gabunia L., de Lumley M.-A., Vekua A., Lordkipanidze D., and de Lumley H. (2002): Découvert d'un nouvel hominidé à Dmanissi (Transcaucasie, Georgie). C.R.Palevol 1, 2002:243-53.

Gabunia L., Vekua A., Swisher C.C., III, Ferring R., Justus A., Nioradze M. et al. (2000): Earliest Pleistocene hominid cranial remains from Dmanisi, Republic of Georgia: taxonomy, geological setting, and age. Science, 288:1019-25.

Gibbons, A. (2009): A new kind of ancestor: Ardipithecus unveiled. Nature, 326:36-40.

Green et al. 2010: A draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome. Science, 328:710.

Haile-Selassie Y. (2001): Late Miocene hominids from the Middle Awash, Ethiopia. Nature, 412:178-81. (Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba)

Haile-Selassie Y., Suwa G., and White T.D. (2004): Late Miocene teeth from Middle Awash, Ethiopia, and early hominid dental evolution. Science, 303:1503-5. (Ardipithecus kadabba)

Höss M. (2000): Neanderthal population genetics. Nature, 404:453-4.

Huang W., Ciochon R., Gu Y., Larick R., Fang Q., Schwarcz H.P. et al. (1995): Early Homo and associated artefacts from Asia. Nature, 378:275-40.

Hublin J., Spoor F., Braun M., Zonneveld F., and Condemi S. (1996): A late neanderthal associated with upper palaeolithic artefacts. Nature, 381:224-6.

Kahn P. and Gibbons A. (1997): DNA from an extinct human. Science, 277:176-8.

Keyser A.W. (2000): The Drimolen skull: the most complete australopithecine cranium and mandible to date. South African Journal of Science, 96:189-93.

Kimbel W.H., Walter R.C., Johanson D.C., Reed K.E., Aronson J.L., Assefa Z. et al. (1996): Late pliocene Homo and oldowan tools from the Hadar formation (kada hadar member), Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution, 31:549-61.

Krings M., Stone A., Schmitz R.W., Krainitzki H., Stoneking M., and Paabo S. (1997): Neandertal DNA sequences and the origin of modern humans. Cell, 90:19-30.

Krings M., Capelli C., Tschentscher F., Geisert H., Meyer S., von Haeseler A. et al. (2000): A view of Neandertal genetic diversity. Nature Genetics, 26:144-6.

Kunzig R. (1997): The face of an ancestral child. Discover, 18, 88-101.

Lahr M.M. and Foley R. (2004): Human evolution writ small. Nature, 431:1043-4. (Commentary on Homo floresiensis)

Leakey M.G., Spoor F., Brown F., Gathogo P.N., Kiarie C., Leakey L.N. et al. (2001): New hominin genus from eastern Africa shows diverse middle Pliocene lineages. Nature, 410:433-40. (announcement of the discovery of Kenyanthropus platyops)

Lieberman D.E. (2001): Another face in our family tree. Nature, 410:419-20. (commentary on K. platyops)

Lontcho F. (2000): Georgia Homo erectus crania. Archaeology 53(1)

McDougall I., Brown F.H., and Fleagle J.G. (2005): Stratigraphic placement and age of modern humans from Kibish, Ethiopia. Nature, 433:733-6.

McHenry H.M., Berger L.R. (1998): Body proportions in Australopithecus afarensis and A. africanus and the origin of the genus Homo. Journal of Human Evolution, 35:1-22.

Moggi-Cecchi J. (2001): Questions of growth. Nature, 414:595-6.

Morwood M., Soejono R.P., Roberts R.G., Sutikna T., Turney C.S.M., Westaway K.E. et al. (2004): Archaeology and age of a new hominin from Flores in eastern Indonesia. Nature, 431:1087-91.

Ovchinnikov I.V., Götherström A., Romanova G.P., Kharitonov V.M., Liden K., and Goodwin W. (2000): Molecular analysis of Neanderthal DNA from the northern Caucasus. Nature, 404:490-3.

Partridge T.C., Granger D.E., Caffee M.W., and Clarke R.J. (2003): Lower Pliocene hominid remains from Sterkfontein. Science, 300:607-12.

Potts R., Behrensmeyer A.K., Deino A., Ditchfield P., and Clark J. (2004): Small mid-Pleistocene hominin associated with East African Acheulean technology. Science, 305:75-8. (discovery of OL 45500)

Reich, Green, Kircher et al. 2010: Genetic history of an archaic hominin group from Denisova Cave in Siberia. Nature 468:1053.

Schwartz J.H. (2004): Getting to know Homo erectus. Science, 305:53-4. (commentary on Potts et al. 2004)

Semaw S., Renne P., Harris J.W.K., Feibel C.S., Bernor R.L., Fesseka N. et al. (1997): 2.5-million-year-old stone tools from Gona, Ethiopia. Nature, 385:333-6.

Senut B., Pickford M., Gommery D., Mein P., Cheboi C., and Coppens Y. (2001): First hominid from the Miocene (Lukeino Formation, Kenya). Comptes rendus des seances de l'academie des sciences, 332:137-44. (discovery of Orrorin tugenensis)

Serre D., Langaney A., Chech M., Teschler-Nicola M., Paunovic M., Mennecier P. et al. (2004): No evidence of Neandertal mtDNA contribution to early modern humans. PLoS Biology, 2:313-7.

Stringer C.B. (2003): Out of Ethiopia. Nature, 423:692-4. (Commentary on the Herto skulls)

Susman R.L. (1994): Fossil evidence for early hominid tool use. Science, 265:1570-3.

Suwa G., Asfaw B., Beyene Y., White T.D., Katoh S., Nagaoka S. et al. (1997): The first skull of Australopithecus boisei. Nature, 389:489-92.

Swisher C.C. III, Rink W.J., Anton S.C., Schwarcz H.P., Curtis G., Supryo A., and Widiasmoro (1996): Latest Homo erectus of Java: potential contemporaneity with Homo sapiens in southeast Asia. Science 274:1870-1874.

Tattersall I. (1993): The human odyssey: four million years of human evolution. New York: Prentice Hall.

Tattersall I. and Schwartz J.H. (1996): Significance of some previously unrecognized apomorphies in the nasal region of Homo neanderthalensis. Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.USA 93:10852-10854

Tobias P.V. (2003): Encore Olduvai. Science, 299:1193-4. (commentary on OH 65)

Vekua A., Lordkipanidze D., Rightmire G.P., Agusti J., Ferring R., Maisuradze G. et al. (2002): A new skull of early Homo from Dmanisi, Georgia. Science, 297:85-9. (D2700)

White T.D., Asfaw B., DeGusta D., Gilbert H., Richards G.D., Suwa G. et al. (2003): Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia. Nature, 423:742-7. (Herto skulls)

White T.D., Asfaw B, Beyene Y., Haile-Selassie Y., Lovejoy C.O., Suwa G., WoldeGabriel G. (2009): Australopithecus ramidus and the paleobiology of early hominids. Science, 326:75-86.

Wood B. (2002): Hominid revelations from Chad. Nature, 418:133-5. (Sahelanthropus tchadensis)

Wood B.A. and Collard M. (1999): The human genus. Science, 284:65-71.

Wood B.A. and Collard M. (1999): The changing face of genus Homo. Evolutionary Anthropology, 8:195-207.

Wood, B. (2006): Palaeoanthropology: a precious little bundle. Nature, 443:296-301. (the Dikika skeleton)

This page is part of the Fossil Hominids FAQ at the Archive.

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