Scientists have unearthed the jawbone of what they claim is one of the very first humans.
The 2.8 million-year-old specimen is 400,000 years older than researchers thought that our kind first emerged.
Our planet has existed for 4.5 billion years, and it has been a busy few eons. Here are the 25 biggest milestones in Earth’s history. From leaps forward in evolution to devastating asteroid impacts, these were the turning points that shaped our world.
Zig-zag patterns found on a fossilised shell in Indonesia may be the earliest engraving by a human ancestor, a study has claimed.
The engraving is at least 430,000 years old, meaning it was done by the long-extinct Homo erectus, said the study.
The oldest man-made markings previously found were about 130,000 years old.
Modern humans and Neanderthals co-existed in Europe 10 times longer than previously thought, a study suggests.
The most comprehensive dating of Neanderthal bones and tools ever carried out suggests that the two species lived side-by-side for up to 5,000 years.
The new evidence suggests that the two groups may even have exchanged ideas and culture, say the researchers.
Analysis of the oldest reported trace of human faeces has added weight to the view that Neanderthals ate vegetables.
Found at a dig in Spain, the ancient excrement showed chemical traces of both meat and plant digestion.
An earlier view of these early humans as purely meat-eating has already been partially discredited by plant remains found in their caves and teeth.
Diet has been suggested as one of the reasons for the Neanderthals’ extinction, some 30-40,000 years ago. As meat-eaters, the explanation goes, they were out-competed by the more adaptable Homo sapiens.
A cave in southern France dubbed the “prehistoric Sistine Chapel” has been added to Unesco’s World Heritage list.
The 1,000 drawings carved in the walls of the Decorated Cave of Pont d’Arc, or Grotte Chauvet, are 36,000 years old and include mammoths and hand prints.
Cave experts only discovered it in 1994 as the entrance had been concealed by a rockfall 23,000 years earlier.