Guy Gugliotta’s Review of Modern Human Evolution in the Smithsonian

I caught this Smithsonian review of the evolution of modern humans from Peter Frost’s blog post last night. I got some time to read the piece on the bus this morning, and wanted to briefly share my thoughts of it with you. The piece is written by science writer Guy Gugliotta, he has covered other anthropological topics such as the rise and fall of the Maya and the genetic diversity of early human settlers of the Americas for other sources before.

Guy got a lot of big names in paleoanthropology and archaeology to comment on his latest Smithsonian piece, “The Great Human Migration.” You may recognize Tim White and Ofer Bar-Yosef among the many he’s interviewed. Guy summarizes some major sites and recent finds, such as the artistic and symbolic nature of early Homo sapiens seen in the 164,000 years old artifacts from Pinnacle Point, South Africa and the 77,000 year old shell beads Blombos Cave, also in South Africa. Guy also offers up a physical comparison of Homo sapiens to other hominids, such as Neandertals. He reviews both older and current genetic evidence on the evolution of humans.

You should read it if you don’t know much about paleoanthropology and other disciplines related to the evolution of modern humans and are interested in the subject. Guy synthesizes many different fields, from archaeology to paleontology to genetics, and offers up a pretty succint and clear review of what know about how modern humans got to where we are now.

One thought on “Guy Gugliotta’s Review of Modern Human Evolution in the Smithsonian

  1. Interesting. From the article: “But curiously, the early down under colonists apparently did not make sophisticated tools, relying instead on simple Neanderthal-style flaked stones and scrapers”. Now why would that be? Doesn’t it indicate some sort of disconnect between east and west?

    “To the south, the fossil and archaeological record is clearer and shows that modern humans reached Australia and Papua New Guinea—then part of the same landmass—at least 45,000 years ago, and maybe much earlier”. “They … left scant evidence that they hunted large marsupial mammals in their new homeland”.

    I have a scrapbook in which I have accumulated many interesting newspaper articles over the years. One from the local paper dated August 1st 2001 relates to comments by Mike Smith concerning an exhibition at the Australia National Museum of Australian megafauna and their extinction . Guess what date he gives for the extinction? That’s correct: 46,000 years ago. Not evidence?

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