Svante Pääbo once said, “We are all Africans, either living in Africa or in recent exile from Africa.”
It is now abundantly clear that Africa was the “cradle of humanity,” with multiple waves of hominins arising on that continent and spreading across the old world, eventually being effectively displaced by our own species, which also arose in Africa.
Given these facts, it is not surprising that the strong emphasis of anthropogeny is on the continent of Africa with wide-ranging studies including genetic, paleontological, archeological, primatological, climatological, sociocultural and more.
This CARTA symposium focuses on the contributions of scientists and scholars of anthropogeny who live and work in Africa.
Browse more programs in Anthropogeny: The Perspective from Africa.
In short, they interbred, according to Svante Pääbo, a Swedish biologist and pioneer of paleogenetics, the study of preserved genetic material from the remains of ancient organisms, including ancient human DNA. He has served as director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, since 1997.
He explains in this lecture that Neanderthals and Denisovans have a common ancestor in Africa. About half a million years ago, these species of humans came out of Africa and evolved into what we call Neanderthals in Western Eurasia and Denisovans in Eastern Eurasia. Much later modern humans appeared in Africa and then spread, initially to the Middle East, then to Eurasia where they encountered Neanderthals and Denisovans. Eventually, those earlier species became extinct, replaced by modern humans.
Pääbo’s lab famously retrieved and sequenced ancient Neanderthal DNA and produced a high-quality genome sequence that allowed for the reconstruction of the recent evolutionary history of our species. Once the genome was sequenced and studied it became apparent that ancient and modern humans interbred. In fact, most present-day humans have some Neanderthal DNA.
Svante Pääbo’s was selected by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the UC San Diego as the recipient of the 2018 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest. He gave this fascinating lecture on that occasion.
Watch A Neanderthal Perspective on Human Origins with Svante Pääbo – 2018 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest
Despite discoveries of remarkable new fossils in recent years, the evolutionary events surrounding the origins of genus Homo are incompletely understood.
This fascinating CARTA symposium explores evidence bearing on the emergence of our genus. What forces caused the changes in diet and body form as our predecessors evolved toward Homo. Were there forces from within on the molecular scale? Or changes in environment and climate? How did an integrated suite of behaviors, collectively termed hunting and gathering, that emerged sometime between 3 and 2 million years ago affect changes that spurred evolution towards the characteristics which are all associated with our human lineage?
Watch as a diverse cadre of experts from around the world present their observations on the Origins of Genus Homo.
Browse all episodes in CARTA: Origins of Genus Homo
This latest CARTA series, Behaviorally Modern Humans, the Origin of Us, explores the questions of when, where and how humans evolved into the modern species we are today and what set us apart from the other human species on the planet that we replaced.
This first episode in the series, African Climate of the Last 400,000 Years, East African Archaeological Evidence, and South African Archaeological Evidence examines the latest evidence from multiple disciplines to answer these questions about our origins.
First, Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution introduces an analysis of the climate in which our ancient ancestors lived 400,000 years ago in Africa. His talk is followed by Alison S. Brooks of George Washington University and the Smithsonian Institution, who discusses what archaeological evidence can tell us about our past in East Africa. Then, Lyn Wadley from University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg discusses what clues are hidden in the archaeological finds of South Africa.
See what you might learn about your history and stay tuned for more episodes in this series!
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