Behaviorally Modern Humans: The Origin of Us

Event Date (Pacific Time): 
Friday, May 10, 2013 - 1:00pm to 5:30pm
Event Chairs:

Ajit Varki, UC San Diego School of Medicine
Alison Brooks, George Washington University

Current evidence indicates that multiple upright-walking, tool-dependent species in the genus Homo co-existed in the Old World (Africa, Asia and Europe) for most of the last 2 million years. Yet only one surviving species of Homo exists today. Even 100,000 years ago, at least four Homo species shared the Old World. One of the enduring questions of human origins is when, where and how we "Behaviorally Modern Humans" emerged and why and how we eventually replaced all the other human-like species. In the past, competing theories have generated much controversy and even some acrimonious debate. This symposium set aside such theories and debates and took a fresh look at the situation today. The focus was on critical examination of the available evidence from multiple sources, including climate proxies, geology, fossils, archaeology, linguistics, immunology, genetics and genomics, as well as evolutionary neuroscience/cognitive archaeology. While the symposium may not have come to any definitive conclusions, it offered the best interpretation of current evidence, and suggested research agendas for the future. [DOWNLOAD ABSTRACTS AND BIO FILES BELOW]


Event Sessions

Media for each talk can be played by clicking on icons in the "Media" column, or by clicking on the individual talk titles below and then the attachment file at the bottom of the page.

Media Session Speakers
Welcome Margaret Schoeninger, University of California, San Diego
File Background and Introductory Remarks Ajit Varki, UC San Diego School of Medicine
File African Climate of the Last 400,000 Years Rick Potts, Smithsonian Institution
File Fossil Record of Anatomically Modern Humans Chris Stringer, Natural History Museum, London
File East African Archaeological Evidence Alison Brooks, George Washington University
Sally McBrearty, University of Connecticut, Storrs
File South African Archaeological Evidence Lyn Wadley, University of the Witwatersrand
File Interbreeding with Archaic Humans in Africa Michael Hammer, University of Arizona
File Relationships of Ancient African Languages Christopher Ehret, UCLA
File Evidence for the Spread of Modern Humans Ofer Bar-Yosef, Harvard University
File Interbreeding with Archaic Humans Outside Africa Richard Green , University of California, Santa Cruz
File Stone Tools and Cognition: Lessons from Australia Iain Davidson, University of New England, Australia (retired)
File Wrap-Up and Overview Alison Brooks, George Washington University
File Question and Answer Session Ajit Varki, UC San Diego School of Medicine
Alison Brooks, George Washington University
Closing Remarks Fred Gage, Salk Institute for Biological Studies

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