Table of Contents
Journal of Anthropology
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 581689, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/581689
Review Article

A Brief Overview of the Last 10 Years of Major Late Pleistocene Discoveries in the Old World: Homo floresiensis, Neanderthal, and Denisovan

Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA

Received 26 February 2014; Revised 6 May 2014; Accepted 26 May 2014; Published 15 June 2014

Academic Editor: Santos Alonso

Copyright © 2014 Fernanda Neubauer. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

In the last ten years, new fossil, archaeological, and genetic data have significantly altered our understanding of the peopling of the Old World in the Late Pleistocene. Scholars have long been challenged to define humanity’s place in evolution and to trace our phylogeny. Differences in the skeletal morphology of hominin fossils have often led to the naming of distinct new species, but recent genetic findings have challenged the traditional perspective by demonstrating that modern human DNA contains genes inherited from Neanderthals and Denisovans, thus questioning their status as separate species. The recent discovery of Homo floresiensis from Flores Island has also raised interesting queries about how much genetic and morphological diversity was present during the Late Pleistocene. This paper discusses the nature and implications of the evidence with respect to Homo floresiensis, Neanderthals, and Denisovans and briefly reviews major Late Pleistocene discoveries from the last ten years of research in the Old World and their significance to the study of human evolution.