Table of contents
Table of contents

Biological anthropologists investigate the evolution of humans, their variability, and adaptations to the environment.

GPT A capuchin monkey is holding a rock, seemingly using it as a tool, with the text "SAPIENS A Podcast for Everything Human" at the top. The episode details "SSN. 07 Cultures of Technology" and "EP. 05 Learning from Handy Primates" are overlaid on the image, which is presented by SAPIENS Magazine and House of Pod.

Learning From Handy Primates

A researcher who studies animal behavior looks at tool use in nonhuman primates to better illuminate tool use in humans.
This image is a promotional graphic for a podcast episode titled "In Search of the First Cyborg" from the series "Cultures of Technology," which is part of the SAPIENS podcast, an editorially independent podcast of the Wenner-Gren Foundation. The visual features a futuristic representation of a female humanoid robot with a sleek white and black design, positioned against a dark background. The robot is depicted with human-like features and proportions, emphasizing the blend of human and machine characteristics typical of cyborgs.

In Search of the First Cyborg

A Paleolithic archaeologist sets out on a journey in search of the first cyborg, making discoveries that end up very close to home.
Against a black background, two faces in profile look in opposite directions. The one on the left has straight brown hair with pale skin, and the one on the right has slightly darker skin and disheveled orange hair.

Excavating the Coexistence of Neanderthals and Modern Humans

An archaeologist explains how remains recently recovered from a cave in present-day Germany suggest that Neanderthals and modern humans populated Europe together for at least 10,000 years.
In a dark and rainy forest, a large Tyrannosaurus rex stares into a green car with its headlights on. The car has a yellow and black graphic on its hood with text that reads, “Jurassic Park.”

Celebrity Status Almost Ruined Ancient DNA Research

An evolutionary anthropologist draws lessons from paleogenetic’s journey from Jurassic Park fiction to Nobel Prize reality.
Surrounded by an otherwise occupied crowd, a person wearing a white cap and shirt uses gloved hands to work with the finger of a person seated beside them. The second person wears a red-orange dress and holds a baby while a slightly older child stands beside them, looking at the viewer.

Gene Therapy’s Promise Meets Nigeria’s Sickle Cell Reality

Breakthrough treatments can now cure sickle cell anemia in the U.S. But the pricey therapies will hardly help in Nigeria, where social changes could do more for millions impacted by the disease.
On a paved city street fenced off and lined with people, three people wearing colorful clothing stand and hold signs. These read: “Monogamy is not for everyone,” “I love my girlfriend’s boyfriend,” and “Sharing is Caring.”

What Is “Natural” for Human Sexual Relationships?

A biological and anthropological researcher explains how humans' diverse ways of mating might have evolved.
A computer-rendered graphic depicts a group of people in torn clothes and furs with black smudges on their faces and bodies. They gather in front of a rock overhang, with one sitting in front and poking at a pile of wood near which are dangling pieces of meat.

Dismantling the “Man the Hunter” Myth

Two biological anthropologists analyze archaeological and physiological evidence to debunk enduring assumptions about the gendered division of labor in ancient times.
A small mammal with brown fur sits on a grassy field with few blades of grass sticking out of its mouth.

Ancient Pollen Is Hiding in a Surprising Place

A paleoecologist explains what pollen in fossilized mammal urine can reveal about past ecosystems and environmental change.
Two black-haired chimpanzees lie on the dirt ground in front of a blurred background of brown rocks and green, leafy trees.

Spend a Day Tracking Chimpanzees

A series of short videos captures a rare view into the lives of wild chimps through the eyes of a researcher.
A pair of hands arrange two placards covered with images of two different people’s faces on a table covered with a black tablecloth.

Restoring Faces and Dignity to Skeletal Remains

An anthropologist explains how a South African university used community-driven research to honor human remains acquired unethically.
A landscape features a grassy complex with a large, tiered structure made of stones that towers upward toward a blue, cloud-filled sky. Mountains taller than the structure are barely visible behind clouds in the distance.

Decoding Diversity and Power at Machu Picchu

New DNA analysis has revealed surprising diversity among remains from burial sites in Peru. A genetic anthropologist explains what this suggests about the 15th century Inca palace.
In a science lab, a masked person wearing a white hazmat suit, face shield, and bouffant cap holds small objects under the glass hood of a silver metal workstation.

The Hidden Ancestry Extracted From an Ancient Pendant

An anthropologist explains how new forensics tools offer unprecedented answers to questions about who likely held or wore Stone Age objects.
Standing on a wooden pier with water below, a person wearing a headset, navy life vest, and parachute pants bends over to put a yellow life vest on a dog.

On the Quandaries of Aquatic Forensics

A team of scientists, including an anthropologist, explains the challenges and methods for locating, identifying, and retrieving human remains from underwater.
A person in a white poncho hugs the head of a horse wearing a colorful mask against a blue sky with white clouds.

Scientists Uplift Indigenous Human-Horse Histories

An archaeologist and a Lakota genomics scientist explain how combining archaeology, DNA, and Indigenous knowledge can help revise colonial human-horse narratives largely associated with the western U.S.
Faces of various hominins span a large wall, each above a descriptive text block. From left to right, the faces get less hairy and lighter in skin tone.

How Power Pervades Portrayals of Human Evolution

An evolutionary scholar examines racist and sexist depictions of human evolution that continue to permeate science, education, and popular culture.
A black-and-white illustration depicts a large, hairy bipedal figure walking in a forest, flanked by leafless trees.

What Bigfoot Teaches Us About Public Mistrust of Science

In the 1960s, credentialed scientists, including physical anthropologists, hunted for the legendary Sasquatch. How did they fall for the hoax?
Two people walk on a sandy shore with a large stone castle and wooden gate to their right.

Ancient DNA Supports Swahili Oral Traditions

Two researchers explain how ancient DNA research is helping to restore the origin story of the Swahili people along the coastal region of East Africa.
A young adult with short, platinum-blonde hair wearing a blue-and-white plaid flannel shirt sits on a long wooden bench in front of an open silver laptop. They look at the screen puzzlingly while holding up a yellow cellphone.

Twitter’s Blue Tick Is a Fake Signal

Evolutionary theory can help us better understand the recent debacle about social media platforms' popular symbol as a signaling problem.
Three people toward the image’s left pull a green net with several lobsters in it from the water while a person wearing a straw hat puts lobsters into a bucket. Two other people look on.

Neighborliness Matters to Your Health

Drawing from cross-cultural research, an anthropologist shows how neighborliness can lessen wealth-based health disparities.
A group of people in jackets and hats gather in an arc on a sidewalk in front of tall concrete buildings. Two hold carboard signs. One reads “Community Control” and the other says “Return the Remains.”

Finding Ceremony for Ancestors Held in the Penn Museum and Other Colonial Institutions

An anthropologist and an organizer try to connect descendant communities with the remains of 20 Black Philadelphians slated for court-ordered burial.
Several people wearing puffy hooded coats, beanies, windbreakers, and backpacks watch lava and smoke pour out of a volcano on the horizon.

Slow Death by Volcano

A biocultural anthropologist shares new research on the surprising long-term hazards of volcanoes in Iceland—and how to address them.
A person on the right of the image looks out at a series of mountains with green trees and foliage.

On Flores Island, Do “Ape-Men” Still Exist?

Islanders have long claimed ape-like humans, remarkably similar to the fossil species Homo floresiensis, survive in secluded forests of Indonesia. An anthropologist investigates why.
A tooth is held up with tweezers against a white brick wall.

What Molars and Math Reveal About the Human Brain

A paleoanthropologist explains what fossilized teeth—analyzed through a recently developed mathematical equation—can tell us about how brains have developed in utero over millions of years of human evolution.
A photograph features a metal statue of a man on an elevated platform in a grassy circle in the center of a park. Orange and yellow flowers surround the platform.

How the Early Battle Over Race Science Was Lost

Celebrated 19th-century biologist Ernst Haeckel pushed race science as his little-known protégé Nikolai Miklucho-Maclay defended Indigenous rights. A biological anthropologist reflects on the impacts of their ruptured relationship.
From below, a photograph features a person in a brown fur coat attaching a large ice block to an in-progress igloo from inside, with a blue sky above.

How Ancient Humans Came to Cope With the Cold

Two anthropologists explain how humans managed to not just survive but dominate northern climates despite evolutionary origins in—and hence, biological predispositions to—warmer environments.
A photograph features a large crowd inside an atrium holding up flyers emblazoned with capitalized red text that reads “Decolonize This Museum.”

Embracing the Poetry of Being Human

A contributor to a special series on decolonizing anthropology rejects the discipline's colonial and racist roots and instead pursues ways of doing science that center human liberation and possibility.
A photograph features a hand holding a ripe red strawberry.

Is a “Sweet Tooth” Genetic?

An anthropologist explains the evolutionary origins of why so many people seem practically programmed to love sugar.
A child wearing a plaid shirt and a beanie looks up and holds the hand of an adult wearing jeans and a plaid shirt but whose head isn’t visible. They stand next to a cholla cactus.

Monogamy. Grandmas. Milk. The Evolution of Childhood Is Very Strange.

In a new book, Growing Up Human, a bioarchaeologist chronicles some of the most surprising evolutionary adaptations of babies, parents, and grandparents.
An illustration features a person with a protruding forehead, long brown hair, and a beard wearing an animal skin over their shoulders and holding a wooden spear. A child with similar long brown hair and clothing sits on the person’s shoulders.

The Family Lives of the Last Neanderthals

Two anthropologists explain a novel genetic analysis of ancient DNA and artifacts that suggests Neanderthals in Siberia lived in close-knit communities.
A photograph features a person in a sleeveless top and jeans kneeling on the ground and reaching down into a hole. Other people surround the person, but their faces aren’t visible.

Hunting Down the Facts About Paleo Diets

An evolutionary anthropologist argues that Paleolithic diets were much more varied than people think based on his research with the Hadza community, contemporary hunter-gatherers in Tanzania.
A close-up image features a hand covered with a white latex glove holding a tiny test tube as it catches drops of small clear liquid from a pipette.

Will a Nobel Prize Make Paleogenomics More Accountable?

An anthropologist offers possible directions for ancient DNA studies moving forward—especially regarding the field’s complex histories with Indigenous communities and public education.
A photograph features a yellow grassy field in the foreground and large orange flames, smoke-covered blue sky, person on a tractor, and lone green leafy tree in the distance.

Why Indigenous Fire Management Works

Three researchers use a study of the cypress pine in Arnhem Land, Australia, to explain why large-scale, institutional fire management is inferior to sustainable cultural burning.