Category Archives: human evolution

Do we need group selection to explain human cooperation?

Readers of this site will know that I’m not a big fan of group selection—the idea that adaptations in different species often result not from selection acting among individuals with different genetic constitutions, but from selection acting among groups, with some whole groups replacing others by virtue of their average genetic difference. One supposedly group-selected […]

Tim White recommends five books on prehistoric man

The Five Books series of interviews and book recommendations on The Browser continues with an interview with paleoanthropologist Tim White from Berkeley.  His choice of the best books on “prehistoric man” (women will surely object to that term) will surprise you. And be sure to bookmark the Browser’s “Evolution” section, which contains links to articles, videos, […]

Ancient artists

by Greg Mayer A paper to be published tomorrow in Science by C.S. Henshilwood and colleagues reports the discovery of a 100,000 year old paint-making shop in a cave in South Africa. They found two abalone shells which had held a mixture of red ochre, animal marrow, and other ingredients, alongside stones and bones apparently […]

Neanderthals are us– More evidence

by Greg Mayer Alert reader daveau has drawn my attention to a  manuscript (abstract only; BBC story here) posted on Science’s website by Laurent Abi-Rached and others on the genetic evidence for interbreeding between anatomically modern Homo sapiens and earlier Eurasian Homo (Neanderthal man, and a related group, the Denisovans.) Jerry and I have addressed […]

Are humans still evolving?: a Radio 4 show.

The other day, BBC Radio 4 presented a half-hour show hosted by  Adam Rutherford:  “Human evolution versus cultural evolution,” the first of a two-part series called “In our own image: evolving humanity”.  You can hear the show at the link, and I understand it will be up for a week. The show features evolutionary luminaries […]

John Horgan equates incompatibilism with racism

John Horgan’s latest post on Cross-Check, his Scientific American website, is called “Defending Stephen Jay Gould’s crusade against biological determinism.”  There he defends Gould against recent charges (documented in a PLoS Biology paper) that Gould was sloppy in his reanalysis of the cranial measurement of human ethnic groups made by Samuel Morton in the nineteenth […]

Evolution 2011: Darwinian medicine

The meetings so far have gone very smoothly; the organizers have done a terrific job (despite us having to live out in the middle of nowhere), and there have been few glitches.  What a great idea it was, too, to have a free happy hour from 5:30-7:30 every day after the last session, with all […]

D. S. Wilson: can Darwin fix Binghamton?

David Sloan Wilson is best known for his vigorous defense of the evolutionary importance of multilevel selection, a variant of group selection.  His ideas haven’t yet become a part of mainstream evolutionary biology: although multilevel selection must operate in some instances (in evolution, every type of selection must have happened at least once!), I’m not […]

NYT editorial on Steve Gould

Today’s New York Times, contains, of all things, an editorial, “Bias and the beholder,” about Steve Gould’s ham-handed analysis of Samuel Morton’s skull-volume data.   Yes, it sure does look like Gould screwed up, and we don’t know the reasons, but why on earth would the Times publish an editorial about it?  The editorial, in fact, […]

Steve Gould gets it in the neck

I always thought that among Steve Gould’s “real” (non-essay-collection) books, The Mismeasure of Man was the best.  Yes, it was tendentious, written to show that scientists could be as biased and racist as anyone else, but it rang true.  And the two-page epilogue, about the forced sterilization of Carrie Buck, a “feeble-minded” black woman, is […]

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