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The Week
The Week

The Week Unwrapped: A new human, ME and date-stacking

Does Homo sapiens have a new cousin? Are people with ME about to get better treatment? And is three dates in one day too many?

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days. With Guy Anker, Suchandrika Chakrabarti and Arion McNicoll.

You can subscribe to The Week Unwrapped wherever you get your podcasts:

In this week’s episode, we discuss:

The human family tree

Our understanding of ancient human ancestry took a step forwards this week with the announcement that a skull belonging to a 12 or 13 year old who died about 300,000 years ago seems to have belonged to an entirely new branch of our family tree. It has a combination of bone shapes and structures that have never been seen together in any other skull – part Homo sapiens and part Denisovans, who are themselves a recently discovered cousin of the Neanderthals. What does this tell us about our past – and our present?

A better deal for people with ME

The government is proposing a new approach to treating the estimated 240,000 people in the UK with ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Its goal is to improve understanding of the debilitating condition and remove the remaining stigma attached to it. In the absence of a cure, effective treatments or even a diagnosis, efforts will focus on better managing symptoms and carrying out research into what causes the disease.


A viral trend is courting controversy: date-stacking, or scheduling multiple dates in one day. While some people see it as ruthless, dismissive and logistically taxing, others find it perfectly understandable and extremely efficient. But is it on the rise, or is this a new term for old speed-dating? Is it driven by ticking biological clocks, or time poverty? Or are dating apps teaching us to treat people like disposable commodities? And how long does it really take to know if there’s a spark?

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