Human Origins

Fossil discovery - new piece in the puzzle

Melanie Gosling A prehistoric human skull from the Eastern Cape has provided a vital "missing link" in the fossil record which shows that modern people originally came from sub-Saharan Africa and migrated to colonise Europe and Asia around 30 000 to 40 000 years ago. The 36 000-year-old Hofmeyr skull, named after the Karoo town where it was found, shows that people living in Africa at that time looked the same as people living in Europe then.

HIV-1 originated in wild chimpanzees

An international team of scientists, assisted by Cameroonian officials, and led by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), has discovered a crucial missing link in the search for the origin of HIV-1, the virus responsible for human AIDS. That missing link is the natural reservoir of the virus, which the team has found in wild-living chimpanzees in southern Cameroon.

Neandertal genome sequence published

Results reveal genetic differences between Neandertals and modern humans, and suggest some interbreeding An international research team has sequenced the Neandertal genome, using pill-sized samples of bone powder from three Neandertal bones found in a cave in Croatia. The results appeared in the 7 May issue of the journal Science, which is published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society.

Every gene tells a story

Izelle Theunissen, MRC News Genes reveal more than whether you were going to have a crooked nose or curly hair. They can also spill the beans about where your ancestors come from. Dr Himla Soodyall of the MRC 's Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research Unit tells more about the origins of the Lemba. The Lemba (or Remba, as they are known in Zimbabwe) is a group of Bantu-speakers who tell a fascinating account of their ancestry. Now genetic techniques pioneered by Dr Soodyall and her team bear their legends out.

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