In this interview for Nutcracker Man, Chris Stringer addresses some key recent discussions in the human evolution field, such as:
- The origin of the anatomically modern humans. The frontier between ‘archaic’ and ‘modern’ Homo sapiens.
- Reassessment of the Homo heidelbergensis species.
- Early and late dispersals of modern humans outside Africa.
- Behavioural modernity vs. Anatomical modernity.
Finally, he talks about a new book he is working on.
Chris Stringer is one of the most important researchers in the field of human evolution. He is Research Leader in Human Origins at the Natural History Museum and previously director of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project. His work is searchable on the Museum’s website and you can follow him on twitter.
Interview with Chris Stringer. Photo: Roberto Sáez
1. The origin of the so-called anatomically modern humans is not so clear now in the post-Neanderthal genome era. In 2016, you argued a new paradigm by setting the origin of our species Homo sapiens back to 500 K years ago rather than 200 K. What is the rationale for that? What is for you an ‘archaic’ Homo sapiens? And what is the frontier between ‘archaic’ and ‘modern’ Homo sapiens?
Reading John Hawks’ reflections on social media is usually a pleasure. I wanted to collect here just 20 of my favorite ones. Enjoy! — Thanks, Professor
- 1- When I think of the students who are entering paleoanthropology, they are going to be my scientific peers five, ten years from now. Why in the world would I not want them to have the best, most current data from our fieldwork? I’m struggling to understand the mindset of scientists who think that students shouldn’t see the fossils.
- 2- Four years ago we did an event at the AAPA meetings where we brought casts of fossils for the membership. What stunned me is that these practicing and teaching biological anthropologists were not only crowding around the new discoveries. They were also straining to see famous fossils that have been out of the ground for 40 years, that they’ve never been able to examine because casts cannot be bought. We must change this culture.
- 3- Tired of seeing question “Which hominin was the stone tool maker?” In absence of further evidence, the correct answer is “Any and all”.
- 4- Paleoanthropologists have an unfortunate tendency to smuggle in assumptions and then act as if the resulting conclusions were real.
- 5- I’m a scientist. I don’t want to people to accept that what I say is accurate. I want to give them the tools to find out for themselves.