Category Archives: human evolution

Bogus accommodationism: The return of Adam and Eve as real people, as proposed by a wonky quasi-scientific theory

If you’re a liberal Christian scientist (no, not the Mary Baker Eddy kind, but the profession), and would like to persuade more fundamentalist Christians that evolution really happened, what do you do? Well, Joshua Swamidass at Washington University, with the help of his secular friend scientist Nathan Lents (a professor of biology at John Jay […]

Vestigial limb muscles in human embryos show common ancestry—for the gazillionth time

There are three kinds of vestiges that constitute evidence for evolution, or rather its sub-claim that modern species share common ancestors. I discuss all three in Why Evolution is True: 1.) Vestigial traits that persist in modern species but either have no adaptive function in a species or a function different from the one served […]

A new and important hominin skull from Ethiopia

A new analysis of a remarkable hominin find in Ethiopia suggests that the species it represents, Australopithecus anamensis, may be one of the very earliest species in our lineage, and possibly the first hominin we know of that is undoubtedly part of our own genealogy. (“Hominins”, formerly called “hominids”, represent all fossils on our side […]

“Modern” Homo sapiens may have been in Eurasia as long as 210,000 years ago

The conventional wisdom about the migration of Homo out of Africa, where the genus originated, involves the spread of Homo erectus about 2 million years ago across Eurasia, with that species appearing to have gone extinct without issue. After that, the Neanderthals, which split from the lineage producing “modern” (i.e., living) H. sapiens about 800,000 […]

Ideology versus science (again): University of New South Wales urges professors to lie about the arrival date of Aboriginals

A reader sent me a link to an article from The Australian which, sadly, is behind a paywall (click on screenshot to see). It is the very height of shameless pandering to ethnic groups who accept false stories about their history, and it’s also the nadir of academic truth. (If you want a transcript of […]

Human Phylogeography: The lessons learned, 1

by Greg Mayer UPDATE. A couple of readers have drawn attention to the website, gcbias, of Graham Coop, a population geneticist at UC Davis. He has excellent discussions, with nice graphics, of issues in genetic genealogy, including calculation of the number of “genetic units” in particular generations. As an example, 7 generations back you have […]

ID craziness: Diarrhea and the appendix are signs of intelligent design

It’s curious how adaptations that could have evolved by natural selection are nevertheless seen as evidence for Intelligent Design. Indeed, in the case of diarrhea and the appendix, as ID advocate David Klinghoffer maintains in the article below from Evolution News (click on screenshot), the evidence is not just an adaptation itself, evincing the wisdom […]

Human Phylogeography

by Greg Mayer For the spring semester, my colleague Dave Rogers and I are teaching a seminar class entitled “Human Phylogeography.” Phylogeography is the study of the history of the genetic variation, and of genetic lineages, within a species (or closely related group of species), and in the seminar we are looking at the phylogeography […]

Determinism doesn’t mean that you can’t change your behavior, or help others to

I’m a free-will “incompatibilist”: someone who sees the existence of physical determinism as dispelling the idea of contracausal, you-could-have-done-otherwise “free will”, which is the notion of free will most common among people. Many people find my view disturbing and fatalistic, and I’m often posed this question: “If everything is determined by the laws of physics […]

Svante Pääbo gives a good public lecture on Neanderthals, Denisovans, and other relatives of modern humans

I think most readers know about Svante Pääbo and his work on “paleoanthropology”: the study of the evolution and ancient movements of H. sapiens through analysis of “fossil DNA”.  His most famous work is on the genetics of Neanderthals, a subject in which I’ve recently become interested. Pääbo’s work been extended to Denisovans and other previously […]