Category: Anthropology

Debunking pseudogenetics at Skepticon

A few weeks ago I gave a talk at Skepticon 9 about pseudoscience, specifically the use of genetics to promote ideas like genetic astrology, “Nephilim DNA” from the Paracas skulls, and genetic determinism (with a special emphasis on “Rutherford’s law”). The conference organizers filmed it and uploaded it to Youtube, and so I’ve embedded it […]

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Humans Walked Along the Beaches of British Columbia 13,000 Years Ago

Off the shore of Calvert Island in B.C., Duncan McLaren of the University of Victoria & Hakai Institute and team discovered 29 footprints about 60 ccm below the surface of the sand. They initially found the place in ’14 and excavated it between ’15 and ’16. They published their findings several days ago in PLoS One. […]

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Al Wusta Phalanxes Document Humans Travel East of Africa Earlier

Earlier this year we learned about the Misliya maxilla which pushed our understanding of out of Africa by 50,000 years. Last week, the discovery of a 87,000-year-old human intermediate phalanx (Al Wusta-1 (AW-1)) from the Nefud desert in Saudi Arabia was published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. The importance of both discoveries show that modern humans existed outside Africa […]

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Someone Butchered a Rhino in the Philippines 700,000 Years Ago, But Who?

Yesterday, Nature published an alarming find of butchered rhinoceros remains from the Kalinga site in the Cagayan Valley on Luzon in the Philippines. The long bones were clearly smashed as if to have access to marrow. The cut marks over the ribs are also clear signs of processing the meat off the bones. These marks were not […]

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Growing ‘Mini-Brains’ With Neanderthal DNA

  Svante Pääbo, director of the genetics department at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany wants to grow brain organoids from human stem cells that are edited to contain “Neanderthalized” versions of several genes. These blobs of brain are incapable of thoughts or feelings, but replicate basic structures of the brain, […]

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First Native American Population Was Just Around 250 People

No one knows exactly the population of Native Americans when contact with Europeans occured. There are some estimates claiming there were 18 million in North America and upwards to 40 million in the combined continents. It’s estimated that the population in the Americas dropped by almost 90% within a few hundred years after the arrival of […]

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In the wake of Wakefield

Colin and I were just interviewed on BBC Radio 4 for a commemoration of sorts. It’s been 20 years since Andrew Wakefield published his infamous paper, “Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children” alleging an MMR vaccine/colitis/autism link. This paper was retracted after Brian Deer’s and the Lancet’s investigations revealed: -severe undisclosed […]

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The Presence of the Frontal Opercula in Homo naledi

When it comes to the evolution of the human brain, size isn’t everything. In fact, shape is a huge determinant. A new study from Hawks in PNAS suggests that morphology may proceeded size in the evolution of hominin brains. Hawks and team performed a comparative anatomy study of Homo and Australopithecus brains based on endocasts. Endocasts […]

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