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Indonesian Hobbit No Numbskull

Whoever Homo florensiensis was (see 10/27/2004 entry), it was no dumb half-ape.  This miniature human packed a lot of brains into a small skull, says Michael Balter in Science1 (see also EurekAlert, National Geographic and BBC News).  A cast of the brain made from the skull shows complexity: convolutions in the frontal lobe suggest an […]

Dating Disaster: Is Neanderthal the New Piltdown?

We all know it by heart: Neanderthal Man was a big-boned, hairy cave-dweller that got pushed out of northern Europe 40,000 years ago by the smarter modern humans.  Could this all be wrong?  Did some bones actually belong to real people living in recorded history?     The man who dated some of these bones, […]

Is Darwinism a Free Lunch Scam?

Neurobiologist William H. Calvin commented at the AAAS meeting this week about the claim that modern humans lived much earlier than thought (see 02/16/2005 entry).  To him, it means that we need to rethink our assumptions that bigger brains are smarter, according to a report on EurekAlert.  If “Homo sapiens was walking around Africa 200,000 […]

Age of Modern Humans Revised, “Depending on Whom You Believe”

The official age of the oldest anatomically modern humans is now 195,000 years, some 65,000 years older than previously thought.  This announcement was made in Nature1 by Ian McDougall, Francis H. Brown and John F. Fleagle, based on revised radiometric dates calculated from sediments surrounding two human skeletons in Ethiopia.  These specimens, named Omo I […]

Anthropologist Claims Humans, Neanderthals, Australopithecines All Variations on One Species

According to a news story in the UK News Telegraph, all fossil hominids, including modern humans, Australopithecines, Neanderthals and the recent Indonesian “hobbit man,” belong to the same species: Homo sapiens.  Reporter Robert Matthews wrote about Maciej Henneberg (U of Adelaide) and his argument, based on skull sizes and body weights for 200 fossil specimens, […]

Human Evolution Falsified

The title of this entry comes from the data, not from the claims being made about it.  The cover story in Cell1 this week has set off a flurry of startling headlines: EurekAlert pronounces, “Evidence that human brain evolution was a special event” and “University of Chicago researchers discovered that humans are a ‘privileged’ evolutionary […]

Paleoanthropologists Fight Tooth and Nail

Ann Gibbons, reporter for Science, seems to enjoy watching the fights about human ancestry.  At Science Now, she began a news item about an alleged fossil human ancestor with a joke: How many paleoanthropologists does it take to locate a molar on the correct side of a fossil jawbone?  The short answer to this joke, […]

The Evolution of Irresponsibility

Evolutionists at the University of Minnesota have developed a theory for the evolution of impulsive behavior, reports EurekAlert.  They say that because our ancestors were hunter-gatherers, they had to grab what they could without thought of future reward or punishment: When psychologists study kids who are good at waiting for a reward, they find those […]

Archaeology Is Hindered by Evolutionary Assumptions

Why was a complex village uncovered in Uruguay called “unexpected”?  Peter W. Stahl (anthropology, Binghamtom U.) asks the question in the Dec. 2 issue of Nature:1 Evidence of unexpected complexity in an ancient community in Uruguay is a further blow to the conventional view of prehistoric development in marginal areas of lowland South America.   […]

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Blurs

How was National Geographic able to publish an artist’s reconstruction of Homo floriensis (aka Hobbit Man) the same day Nature published the find? (See 10/27/2004 headline).  Martin Kemp (U. of Oxford, UK) explains in the Dec. 2 issue1 how Peter Schouten, an artist, got the gig: Tim Flannery, director of the South Australian Museum …. […]

Middle Earth in Indonesia?  Fossil “Hobbits” Smash Evolutionary Ring

Here we go again: another alleged human ancestor fossil that shakes up the evolutionary family tree.  No sooner had Nature1 announced a little 1-meter tall fossil female “hominin” that the discoverers classified as Homo erectus, that the science news media like MSNBC and the BBC flew into action reporting it as “fossil hobbits”  They seem […]

Neandertal Promoted to Fully Human

The myth of the brutish, subhuman Neandertal is apparently almost dead.  Science1 Oct. 1 showed a picture of him in a business suit in an article entitled, “Dressed for Success: Neandertal Culture Wins Respect.”  Michael Balter writes, “respect is growing for Neandertals” as evidence mounts that they made jewelry, wore clothing, and survived a variety […]

Human Common Ancestor Lived 3500 Years Ago

Nature Science Update reported on a surprising find by Joseph Change (Yale) and Douglas Rohde (MIT).  They claim, based on computer modeling of human breeding and migration, that we are all related to the same common ancestor, not millions, but just thousands of years ago, possibly just 1500 BC in Asia, and that perhaps a […]

Name-Calling at the Human Evolution Meeting

As predicted earlier this month (see 09/03/2004 commentary), Lucy’s lovers were not going to take her demotion lying down.  Proponents of Orrorin claim their 6 million year old rival walked upright millions of years before the 2-4 million year old australopithecines, and even had a gait more human-like than Lucy.  To Ann Gibbons, reporting in […]

Scientists Try to Read Neandertal Minds

If dead men tell no tales, living ones certainly do.  Most of us have trouble reading one another’s minds when staring face to face, but some paleoanthropologists, with nothing but skeletons and a few stone tools and burial sites to look at, have no hesitation in reading the Neandertal mind.  Bruce Bower writes in Science […]
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