Which discoveries are most important

The 13 most important discoveries in human history in 2020

Even amid the pandemic, anthropologists and archaeologists around the world have consistently made amazing discoveries about our human ancestors. For example, one analysis found that the earliest known example of crossbreeding between different human populations occurred 700,000 years ago - more than 600,000 years before modern humans interbred with Neanderthals.

Finds from a Mexican cave also showed that the earliest humans came to America by boat rather than across the land bridge. And researchers also found a new reason to believe that climate change was responsible for the extinction of many of our ancestors; taken together, these and other discoveries make our understanding of human history more difficult and more difficult.

You can see which important discoveries were made in 2020 in our picture gallery.

These 13 discoveries changed our understanding of human history in 2020

These 13 discoveries changed our understanding of human history in 2020

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  • Genetic analysis revealed the earliest known example of mating between different human populations.

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    Will Oliver / PA Images / Getty

  • Our crossing with Neanderthals could explain why humans have low pain tolerance.

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    Nikola Solic / Reuters

  • Neanderthals used their hands differently than we did.

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    Stefan Scheer

  • New bones were found from the Denisova man.

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    Dongju Zhang, Lanzhou University

  • But not all of our ancestors were so robust. Some have become extinct due to the changing climate, new research shows.

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    Reuters / Nikola Solic

  • The earliest people to come to America from Asia turned out to be creative and skillful. During the last ice age they crossed the sea between what is now Siberia and Alaska by boat.

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    Devlin A. Gandy

  • Another study of the earliest rural American residents showed that women played a role in hunting big game.

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    Matthew Verdolivo, UC Davis IET Academic Technology Services

  • Thousands of drawings hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest tell the story of the hunting practices of an ancient tribe some 12,000 years ago.

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    Jeison Lenis Chaparro-Cárdenas

  • Other recently discovered petroglyphs in America likely depict a psychoactive plant called thorn apple.

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    Devlin Gandy

  • On the other side of the world, Egyptologists have discovered hundreds of sarcophagi in an ancient city of the dead under Saqqara.

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    Ziad Ahmed / NurPhoto via Getty

  • In England, researchers were able to determine the origin of some of the boulders that make up Stonehenge.

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    ames Davies / English Heritage

  • Near Rome, archaeologists discovered an ancient city buried underground without ever excavating it.

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    Antiquity Publications Ltd / L. Verdonck

  • Not all ancient archaeological sites are on land. A team in Australia discovered 270 Aboriginal artifacts underwater - off the country's northwest coast.

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    Hiro Yoshida