Here’s a look back at some of the most significant archaeological and anthropological discoveries of the past decade that fundamentally changed our understanding of human origins.
The discovery of a new human species—Homo naledi
In 2013, scientists stumbled upon one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the decade: a previously unknown extinct human species, which they named Homo naledi.
The sequencing of Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes
In 2010, scientists managed to sequence the Neanderthal genome. According to archaeogeneticist Christiana Scheib from the University of Cambridge, this achievement not only answered a “hotly debated” question about whether modern humans mated with Neanderthals, it also kickstarted an entirely new field of study in which scientists could study archaic DNA.
The discovery of a Neanderthal-Denisovan hybrid
In 2018, a genetic analysis of a bone fragment found in Siberia’s Denisova Cave revealed the presence of an individual who had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.
The world’s oldest drawing
Archaeologists from the University of the Witwatersrand uncovered the oldest known drawing after analyzing a rock, dubbed L13, found in a South Africa’s Blombos Cave in 2011.
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