Category Archives: human evolution

“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 […]

How do we know that Neanderthals were nearly all right-handed?

A while back I wrote about my visit to the Croatia Natural History Museum, where curator Dr. Davorka Radovčić kindly gave three of us a several-hour look at Neanderthal bones from the nearby location of Krapina, one of the most fruitful Neanderthal sites known. At the time I mentioned there was evidence that most Neanderthals were right-handed, […]

Neanderthal bones in Croatia

Note: This has been slightly updated after I ran it by Davorka, who caught a few errors. Over the years we’ve had a number of posts about Neanderthals and their genetic legacy in “modern humans” (see here for a collection), many of them written by Matthew Cobb. Croatia—in particular a hill near the small town […]

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 […]