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I caught some obscure news of an upcoming conference in Los Angeles that’s packing panels with some big names in anthropology, such as Frans de Waal, Ian Tattersall, Craig Stanford, Donald Johanson, Marc Hauser, Christine Kenneally, and Bruce Lahn. They’ll all be discussing “What Makes Us Human?” which also happens to be the title of the conference.

I’m pretty sure this question has at least once been on almost every human’s mind, and I’m really interested to know what’s gonna be discussed. Unfortunately, the short notice and the awkward timing of the conference (starting the morning of Monday, April 28 and running through Tuesday, April 29) won’t work with my schedule. That’s unfortunate, but the press release does indicate the media will have the opportunity to interview six panelists, which hopefully will result in news pieces and what not. If any readers are gonna attend, please contact me and let me know what you think of the conference.

A related sidenote, earlier this year, one of the panelists, Marc Hauser discussed what he thinks are four factors that make human cognition unique at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. I covered that news and a little discussed brewed about. You maybe interested in checking it out.

One last thing that caught my eye, the press release mentions,

“News of the recently discovered ancient European toothed hominin jawbone fragment, as reported in the March 27, 2008 scientific journal Nature, has raised more questions about human origins. This important find comes at a time when some of the world’s most respected thinkers and researchers… will have the opportunity to discuss its significance.”

I don’t think that the 1.2 million year old mandible from Atapeurca makes any significant waves in figuring out what makes us human. The mandible only tells us that first settlement of Western Europe could be related to a really early migration out of Africa.

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