Category Archives: anthropology

A very old tool

Here’s my hand holding a 130,000 year old flint spearhead created by a Neanderthal living near what is now Krapina, Croatia. It’s a beautiful point, and amazing to think that this was chipped by a hominin so long ago. I learned a ton today at the Croatia Natural History Museum, as we had a special […]

Did modern Homo sapiens evolve in different parts of Africa?

The general view of human evolution among both scientists and laypeople is that “modern” Homo sapiens emerged from one single area in East Africa: perhaps from just a single population. That population supposedly evolved from an earlier ancestor of unknown identity—perhaps Homo erectus—underwent the transformation into the group of characters that identify our species, and […]

Finally: a sensible discussion of “race”

And by “sensible,” of course, I mean a discussion that aligns with my own views. I’ve often written that while there are no finite and strongly genetically demarcated human “races”, there are meaningful and statistically diagnostic differences between populations, ethnic groups, or whatever you want to call them. This is in opposition to the common […]

Readers’ fieldwork pictures

I’ve put up posts before from Dorsa Amir, a graduate student in biological anthropology at Yale. Here’s her latest contribution: a set of photos from her fieldwork (more photos here). Dorsa’s notes are indented: As an anthropologist, one of my goals is to explore human behavioral variation across diverse contexts. In conjunction with the larger […]

Nature paper suggests humans inhabited North America 130,000 years ago

by Greg Mayer As Jerry noted yesterday, in a new paper in Nature, Steven R. Holen and colleagues report finding the remains of a butchered 130,000 year old mastodon in San Diego. (If you haven’t already done so, do go take a look at Jerry’s post, which includes a video press release, and illustrations from […]

The evolution of sexual dimorphism in humans: Part 2

In a post one week ago, “The ideological opposition to biological truth,” I argued that sexual dimorphism for body size (difference between men and women) in humans is most likely explained by sexual selection, and that it also reflects behavioral differences between males and females: males compete for females, and greater size and strength give males an advantage. […]

A MOOC on Homo floresiensis, the “hobbit” hominin

I just want to let you know about a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Homo floresiensis that reader Dermot C. called to my attention. As you may recall, new dating methods have shown that this 3.5-foot diminutive hominin died out about 50,000 years ago rather than the 12,000 originally posited, and arrived in Flores (Indonesia) […]

New study suggests a single miscreant, Charles Dawson, created the “Piltdown Man” hoax

The story of the fraudulent skull known as “Piltdown Man” is well known. In 1912, lawyer and amateur archaeologist Charles Dawson turned up at the London Natural History Museum with a specimen he claimed to have found at a site in Sussex. He and Arthur Smith Woodward, the head geologist at the Museum, further excavated the site and […]

SCIENCE tells us what Jesus looked like!

Here’s a headline and subheadline from yesterday’s AOL News.  You can immediately spot two things wrong with it: Seriously? That’s a news headline? First of all, it presupposes that a historical Jesus really existed, with the implication that it’s the Jesus who did the stuff described in the Bible. Well, based on the lack of […]

Wrongheaded anthropologist claims that humans aren’t apes

It’s time to affirm once and for all that humans are apes, and to educate those who say otherwise. To deny that is to deny a palpable fact of biology and evolution: our close ancestry with other primates. One of those who need education is Jonathan Marks, a cultural anthropologist at the University of North Carolina […]