Interproximal grooves have been identified on a variety of Pleistocene Homo taxa from different sites across the Old World. A diversity of hypotheses has been proposed to explain these interproximal grooves, ranging from oral hygiene to alleviating pain due to periodontal disease. The most popular explanation appears to be the habitual use of a toothpick, made of bone, horn or plant material. However, evidence of hominin tooth-picking is rarely reported in eastern Asia.
In a paper published online in the journal of Quaternary International, scientists from China, Spain and the United States reported evidence of tooth-picking in the middle Pleistocene Homo erectus recovered from Yiyuan, Shandong Province, eastern China, providing one of the earliest evidence of tooth-picking among Pleistocene hominins in eastern Asia. Read more.
Using data obtained from the archaeological record, a team of researchers at Arizona State University and the University of Colorado, Denver, conducted experiments using complex computer modeling to analyze evidence of how human hunter-gatherers responded culturally and biologically to the dramatic changes that took place during the last Ice Age. The results showed, among other things, that the Neanderthals, thought by many scientists to have become extinct at least in part because of their inadaptability and inability to compete with the expanding presence of modern humans, may have actually been victims of their own success.
The researchers used the archeological record to track human behavioral changes in Late Pleistocene (126,000 - 10,000 B.P.) Western Eurasia over a period of 100,000 years and across the equivalent of 1,500 generations of human hunter-gatherers. Read more.
This summer, archaeologists are continuing work at a 12,000-year-old prehistoric site which is yielding evidence of generations of wandering hunters who camped on a bluff overlooking the Kivalina River. What they have found is contributing new insights—and contrary new evidence—into the thinking on how humans spread throughout North America at the close of the Pleistocene.
The Raven Bluff site was discovered in 2007 by BLM archaeologist Bill Hedman and a crew conducting an archaeological site survey in the far northwest corner of Alaska. The Bering Land Bridge between Russia and North America may have still existed—or had just submerged for the last time—when hunters first frequented Raven Bluff. Read more.