A gene for human speech?

In yesterday’s New York Times, Nicholas Wade reports new research on the FOXP2 gene (see original Cell paper by Enard et al. here).   If you’ve read WEIT, you’ll remember that I discuss FOXP2 as one of those potential genes that “makes us human.”  In other words, evolutionary change at this gene was supposed to […]

Darwinius: what’s at issue?

by Greg Mayer I’m leaving in a few days for Costa Rica, and Jerry is back, so this will be my last post on Darwinius, at least for awhile. At least three different issues have been debated in the blogosphere concerning “Ida“: 1) What are her phylogenetic relationships; 2) Was the media campaign excessive; and […]

Has the name Darwinius masillae been published? And if so, by who?

by Greg Mayer In a previous post on the hype surrounding the online posting of a paper on ‘Ida’, the Eocene primate from the Messel Lagerstatte, I noted that the authors had made a nomenclatural faux pas in allowing the name and a description to be published before their paper appeared, thus making the authorship […]

Paleontology and the media

by Greg Mayer The New York Times is reporting some major media event at the American Museum of Natural History on Tuesday concerning a 47 million year old primate fossil from Germany.  There’re reports of secrecy, exclusivity, and high priced documentaries. It seems a tad curious, since by available reports, the American Museum has nothing […]

Why the evolution of humans was NOT inevitable; BioLogos peddles more dubious science

Over at that hilarious goldmine of accommodationism, Francis Collins’s BioLogos website (generously supported by The Templeton Foundation, they have posted an answer to the question, “Did evolution have to result in human beings?” Now if you know anything about this history of faith/science accommodationism, you know that the answer has to be “yes”, at least […]

Hobbits are back, and they’re REAL!

I’ve written quite a bit about the Homo floresiensis controversy: these are the small (1-meter tall) individuals whose remains were found in a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, originally dated about 18,000 years old.  They are remarkable because of their size, their small brains (about the size of a chimp’s) and their remarkably […]

What early Europeans might have looked like

Today’s Daily Mail reports on an upcoming BBC2 program in which a forensic scientist Richard Neve, using 40,000-year-old bones, recreated the face of a very early inhabitant of Europe.  This was soon after “modern Homo sapiens” began migrating out of Africa and populatint the world (ca. 100,000 to 60,000 years ago). From the article: To […]

Who is the type specimen of Homo sapiens?

by Greg Mayer The answer is: Carl Linnaeus, the great Swedish naturalist. But there’s a story behind this bare fact. One of the great problems facing natural history in the 18th century was the problem of diversity: the great variety of plants and animals from all over the world that began flooding into European museums […]

Neanderthals and sex

by Greg Mayer A couple of news items from the past month deserve a quick comment or two. First, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Chicago last month, Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute announced the completion of a draft genome for Neanderthal man, and that it indicated […]

Homo footprints from Kenya

by Greg Mayer In today’s issue of Science, Matthew Bennett and eleven colleagues from Britain, America, Kenya and South Africa report on the discovery of ancient footprints: Here, we report hominin footprints in two sedimentary layers dated at 1.51 to 1.53 million years ago (Ma) at Ileret, Kenya, providing the oldest evidence of an essentially […]