Category Archives: human evolution

Yes, Neanderthals are us!

by Greg Mayer In a paper published today in Nature, Qiaomei Fu and colleagues report a high quality genome sequence derived from a 45,000 year old, anatomically modern human femur found in western Siberia. “Ust’-Ishim Man” has provided the oldest known genome of an anatomically modern human (there are earlier genomes of archaic humans). So, […]

When did the Neanderthals go extinct?

by Greg Mayer In a recent paper in Nature (abstract only), Tom Higham of Oxford and several colleagues report on their effort to determine by radiocarbon dating when Neanderthals went extinct. Higham et al. conclude that it was about 40,000 years ago. It’s gotten a fair amount of media coverage—more on this below—but let’s look at the […]

There was no first human

From PBS (via Matthew Cobb), and inspired by Richard Dawkins’s The Magic of Reality, we get a short video explaining to non-scientists why there was no first human. Matthew tells me he’s going to show it to his students, and it’s a good didactic tool. Have a look:

Our letter to the New York Times criticizing Nicholas Wade’s book on race

Sunday’s New York Times Book Review (already up) features a letter signed by 139 population geneticists, including myself. It is, in essence, a group of scientists objecting en masse to Nicholas Wade’s shoddy treatment of race and evolution in his new book A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History.  The book was about the genetics of ethnic […]

Catholicism and theistic evolution

Below is part of a short post called “What does the Catholic Church teach about evolution,” appearing on The Catholic Difference, produced by the Parish of St. James in Hopewell, Virginia—very close to where I went to school in Williamsburg. This is pretty much official Catholic doctrine as I understand it. The emphasis in the second paragraph […]

Will humans become two subspecies?

UPDATE: I’ve heard from Dr. Curry about this piece; he’s appalled that it was published and explains the situation: I’m sorry that you had to waste some of your valuable time dealing with the old news story about the future of human evolution. The story purports to be about my ‘research’ on the future of […]

800,000-year-old hominin footprints found in England

While modern Homo sapiens almost certainly descends —with the exception of a few genes contributed from Neandertals and Denisovans—from a group of ancestors who left Africa around 60,000 years ago and subsequently colonized the world, this was not the first hominin exodus from Africa.  There are likely to have been several, beginning with the spread […]

Shaping Humanity- a new book by John Gurche on science and art

by Greg Mayer John Gurche, the well known scientific illustrator and “Paleo-Artist” has recently published a new book, Shaping Humanity: How Science, Art, and Imagination Help Us Understand Our Origins (Yale University Press, 345 pages, $49.95) Gurche is best known for his exacting reconstructions of fossil hominids in paintings, bronzes, and life reconstructions, although he […]

Caturday felid: a rationalist cat writes in about human evolution

As I’ve mentioned before, I am friends with Malgorzata Koraszewska and Andrzej Koraszewski, who run the highly popular Polish website Racjonalista, which has thousands of secular followers starved for a non-theist viewpoint in an overwhelmingly Catholic country. Malgorzata translates many of this website’s articles into Polish, and so we have struck a deal: in return […]

Human evolution: the hobbits were probably real

I’m spending most of the day writing now, and it’s difficult to find time to read scientific papers and report on them.  So do excuse me for a while if I summarize new findings from (reliable) journalistic results, even though I’ll scan and link to the original paper when possible. There are two evolution-related findings […]

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