2019 Human Origin News List!

Pretty cool human origins news this year!

What was your favorite piece of news? What are the implications (if any) for that discovery?


I wish I were more knowledgeable of anthropological issues to be able to glean more than I was able to from the article. Nicely written for a lay audience as it is, I still enjoy reading others here who can further distill all the implications for how our tangled understandings of our recent lineages may be coming just a bit less tangled (or perhaps more?) with each new discovery. In any case, one pattern that is apparent is that old tell-tale signs … i.e. did they use jewelry? bury their dead? care for their wounded? … all seem to have been blurred across these recent lineages whether we call them human or not.

At the risk of trespassing outside the intent of the OP, I do have a science news issue that caught my attention, but it is from the physical sciences (astronomy) and not anthropology. The recent news about the “too big” (yet modest) black holes in our own galaxy continue to pique my interest. Here too, my undergraduate physics knowledge is stretched, but not before causing me much imaginative wonder about what might be “commonplace” even among our own galactic neighborhoods.


All science news welcome! I hadn’t read that story yet! I love space stories. Always more to learn, there.

Really interesting article, thanks for sharing! I find it fascinating that not so long ago there were Sapiens, Neanderthals, Denisovans, Floresiensis, and now Luzonensis, all knocking around together.


Yes interesting…puzzling too. One species seems to be really ancestral to orangutans not to humans? The luzonensis find is impressive, but not sure what to make of it yet. I had the same feeling about the remains from that cave in Siberia…I like the comment in the article that the old “chart” of human evolution or development going from hunched-over chimps to upright man is a bit passe. The real story seems much more complex. Well, it is an ongoing story. Saw online an interview with Dawkins who talked about human brain capacity having increased steadily over the past several million years so he imagines that in the future we really will have more capacity that way still? How do people here feel about that scenario? I thought I had once read that Cro-Magnon had larger brain capacities than we do.

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It seems that the size of our brains is a result of both diet and social environment. I was actually talking about the question you asked with my wife a few nights ago. I don’t know how well this holds up, but my suggestion was that brain size may remain the same or even get smaller in the future due to advances in technology, particularly AI. We already outsource a lot of things are brains can do to the internet (rembering things, working things out etc).

I’d be interested to hear anyone elses thoughts on the topic!

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You and your wife had a great discussion. Speaking of outsourcing…A woman in one of my singles groups told me she relies on her phone now to remember her fiance’s phone number…one of the pastors at church held up a Bible he used in junior high and noted that he had all his old buddies phone numbers written on inside front cover — something he no longer needs to worry about when contacting others. The atrophying brain cells???

These “new” observations bring to mind the old debates about oral memory versus written texts and “how well could the biblical writers have remembered those events by the time they wrote them down?” It does turn out that our memories were used at least for different things in the past. OK…maybe Dawkins was overstating his case in that conversation.

But thanks for your thoughts

Though-provoking and somewhat frightening; I’m not sure of the credentials of this article.

Beautiful space pics (I think you said any science is ok? :slight_smile: )

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