New fossils suggest human ancestors evolved in Europe, not Africa

Experts argue the jaws of an ancient European ape reveal a key human ancestor.

  • The jaw bones of an 8-million-year-old ape were discovered at Nikiti, Greece, in the '90s.
  • Researchers speculate it could be a previously unknown species and one of humanity's earliest evolutionary ancestors.
  • These fossils may change how we view the evolution of our species.
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Surprising Science

Why the 'alpha male' stereotype is wrong

Big and strong? That's not what makes an alpha male, says primatolgist Frans de Waal.

  • The cultural notion of an alpha male as a strong, mean aggressor is rampant but wrong. The reality is more complex.
  • Frans de Waal notes two types of alpha males: Bullies and leaders. In chimpanzee society, the former terrorizes the group while the latter mediates conflict.
  • The reign of alpha male bullies usually ends poorly in the wild. Chimpanzee bullies get expelled or even killed by their group, while leader alphas are somewhat democratically kept in power, sometimes for as long as 12 years.
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Why people (and chimps) throw temper tantrums

Primatologist Frans de Waal explains the primal instinct that unites humans and chimpanzees.

  • Humans throw temper tantrums when they feel frustrated, lose power, or sense a threat to their status or security.
  • Chimpanzees exhibit the same behavior; alpha male chimps who lose their status throw tantrums to elicit sympathy from their group, hoping to have their power restored.
  • But that tactic almost never works, notes primatologist Frans de Waal. An important lesson for humans from chimps.
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Videos

Human encroachment is obliterating chimpanzee culture

We are destroying who they are.

(Brenda Bakker/Shutterstock)
  • A study finds that human impact is decimating the cultures of chimpanzee communities in the wild.
  • Unique localized behaviors are being reduced by 88 percent.
  • Socialized learning in chimps has finally been established, just in time to be destroyed.
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Surprising Science

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
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Surprising Science