Dispute Over Hobbit Man Intensifies with New Bones
October 25, 2005
The debate over the status of Homo florensiensis has not calmed down (see 09/28/2005), even with the discovery of more bones in the Ling Bua cave on the island of Flores as announced in Nature (437, 1012-1017 (13 October 2005) | doi: 10.1038/nature04022). Michael J. Morwood and colleagues are still sticking with their identification of […]
September 28, 2005
BBC News posted an article updating the story of Homo florensiensis, the so-called “Hobbit Man” miniature-human fossil (see 10/27/2004). Opponents of the “missing link” interpretation are becoming more ardent in their claim that the fossils represent diseased modern humans with a condition known as microcephaly. The discoverers are not convinced. Wait for this story to […]
Is Archaeology Like SETI, or is SETI Like Religion?
September 24, 2005
Archaeologists have their Rosetta Stone, but so far, SETI investigators have no artifacts. Still, Douglas Vakoch wrote for Space.com, archaeologists and anthropologists can teach SETI researchers how to prepare for encountering “exotic cultures with strange languages.” Vakoch recounted the interest in this angle at an anthropology conference last year: One of the best-attended […]
More Indications Neandertals Were Like Us
September 23, 2005
Two more hints that Neandertals were only variants of modern humans have surfaced recently. British and American researchers publishing in PNAS1 studied tooth enamel growth patterns, and found that “Neandertal tooth growth and, by extension, somatic growth, appears to be encompassed within the modern human range of interpopulation variation.” This finding was summarized on National […]
Men Arent Going Extinct Yet
September 3, 2005
Not long ago, evolutionary biologists were predicting the demise of manhood (see 11/01/2001, 03/31/2004). The idea was that the Y chromosome, with no redundant copy (unlike the female’s two X chromosomes, and all others) appeared to be shriveling up and mutating itself out of existence. Now that the chimpanzee genome has been published (see 09/01/2005 […]
Chimpanzee Fossil Upsets Early Man Speciation Theory
September 1, 2005
Paleontologists need no longer lament the complete dearth of chimpanzee fossils. Nature announced the discovery of the first fossil chimpanzee teeth. The location, however – the Great Rift Valley in Africa – was unexpected. The discoverers, Sally McBrearty and Nina G. Jablonski,1 explain: There are thousands of fossils of hominins, but no fossil chimpanzee has […]
Chimpanzee Genome Published: Is There a Monkey in Your Genes?
September 1, 2005
Nature’s cover story September 1 is about the publication of the chimpanzee genome. Evolutionists are digging through the data for evidence of human common ancestry. Have they found it? The results, as usual, are mixed: MSNBC News states the situation concisely: “Genome comparison reveals many similarities – and crucial differences.” Here is the gist of […]
Paleoanthropology: Start Over?
August 22, 2005
The September issue of National Geographic, featuring the African continent, has arrived in homes. On page 1, Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post wrote about the quest for early man, asking, “Are we looking for bones in all the right places?” The bulk of the article describes the “messy” story of human origins. It used […]
History Channel Documentary on Human Ancestry: History or Fiction?
August 9, 2005
The History Channel aired a program called “Ape to Man” Monday evening August 7, alleging that modern science had finally pieced together the solution to the puzzle of human evolution. Although it included debunking episodes of Piltdown (11/18/2003) and Java Man (02/27/2003), the flavor of the show was that the picture of human origins has […]
Obsessed With Sex: How Much Can Be Known About the Sexuality of Hominids?
June 17, 2005
Bruce Bower in Science News (June 11, 167:24, p. 379) reported on the controversy about the sex life of Lucy and her mate(s). Owen Lovejoy and Philip L. Reno (Kent State U, Ohio) have “unabashedly” put forth a hypothesis that Mr. and Mrs. Australopithecus afarensis (let’s call him Desi) had long-term relationships and stable families […]
Neanderthals and Modern Humans May Have Interbred
May 19, 2005
They lived together, they morphed into one another, so were members of Homo neanderthalensis really a separate species from Homo sapiens? Findings announced in Nature1 show a mixture of Neanderthal-like characteristics in modern human skeletons from Romania that led Science Now to state, “Oldest Europeans were swingers.” Because new radiocarbon dates of these skeletons put […]
Gorilla or Hominid? Toumaï Controversy Continues
April 14, 2005
Michel Brunet’s controversial Toumaï skull (Sahelanthropus tchadensis) made the cover of Nature last week,1,2 but rivals contend it was not part of the human line. The skull he found in Chad in 2002 (see 07/11/2002 and 10/09/2002 entries) was badly disfigured and needed reconstructive surgery, leading to criticisms that any interpretations were subjective. […]
Do Neurologists Understand Brain Evolution?
April 3, 2005
Jane Bradbury wrote a feature piece for PLOS Biology recently,1 entitled, “Molecular Insights into Human Brain Evolution.” Help us find the insights. First, she marvels on how “humans sit on top of the pile when it comes to relative brain size.” Then she marvels at how quickly the human brain apparently evolved compared to apes. […]
How to Get Something from Nothing: Genetic Code, Syntax Explained?
March 23, 2005
Two articles in recent science literature attempt to show that complex entities, like the genetic code and the syntax of human language, are no big deal. They can emerge from precursors by chance. In PNAS recently,1 veteran researcher Harold J. Morowitz (George Mason U) and two colleagues proposed a new theory for the […]
Are Stone Age Hunter-Gatherers Evolving or Devolving?
March 11, 2005
Anthropologists typically view stone age tribes as stuck in an eddy from primitive beginnings, never advancing into civilization. Yet some tribes of hunter-gatherers in Thailand and Laos appear to have been farmers in their past, reports Science Now with apparent surprise: Traditionally, anthropologists thought that modern hunter-gatherer tribes like the Mlabri descended through the ages […]