Category Archives: human evolution

Did humans occupy the New World over 30,000 years ago? New paper suggests it.

This new paper in Nature (click on screenshot, pdf here, reference at bottom) has the potential to be the big human-paleobiology story of the last several years.  It reports finding human occupancy of a high-altitude cave in Mexico during the last glacial maximum (LGM): about 26,000 years ago.  And that, say the authors, implies that humans […]

Nathan Lents on the imperfection of the human body (it’s evolution, of course)

UPDATE:  I found out that the well-known evolutionary geneticist John C. Avise published a related book in 2010, but one that concentrates on a different line of evidence for evolution. John’s book (screenshot of cover below with link to Amazon) lays out the many suboptimal features of the human genome. He thus concentrates on molecular evidence, […]

New discovery: Earliest pictoral art in human history

A new report in Nature displays what is said to be the oldest “figurative artwork” in the world—work that is representational of real-world items rather than just abstract figures.  It shows not only hunting scenes, but “therianthropes” (human-animal hybrid figures), and also is the oldest “narrative art”, as it’s said to depict a hunting scene.  […]

The biology of male aggression, and why it’s not all “socialization”

While I’ve long been a critic of evolutionary psychology, I’m not stupid or woke enough—unlike some bloggers I won’t name—to dismiss the entire field as worthless. While it’s hard to test whether some behaviors in our species have evolved by natural selection, there are degrees of confidence we can get, and predictions one can make, […]

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 […]