Understanding of Human Evolution: Interview With Chris Stringer

There’s a paradigm shift underway in our understanding of the past 4 million years of human evolution: ours is a story that includes combinations with other Homo species, spread unevenly across today’s populations—not a neat and linear evolutionary progression.

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  • Reading “When we look at the early members of a Homo species, instead of having the term “archaic,” as in having “archaic traits,” I think it’s clearer if we use the term “basal.” Basal puts us on a path without the confusion and baggage that can come with terms like “archaic,” “primitive,” and “modern.” In this usage, “basal” is a relative term, but at least one where we can come up with criteria …”, I was reminded of 1st Class Petty Officer Donald Head’s “question-out-of-nowhere” to me one day, back in 1968,to wit:
    • “A man jumped off a bridge. Where was he when he jumped?”
    • When I answered: “In the air”, Head said: "No, that’s after he jumped.
    • So I said: “Well then, he was on the bridge.” And Head said: “No, that’s before he jumped,” Then Head turned and walked away, leaving me to wonder about it in the 55 years since.

Interesting. I’ve been following these developments as time allows for some years, and I appreciate the details brought up like how Homo floresiensis may be descended from the more archaic form of H. erectus – the variety of small-brained H. erectus found in the Dmanisi region. That is nice to read about since I’ve been wondering about how * floresiensis* got such small brains.
Now the essay kept saying that we hybridized with various other species of humans. But I prefer the practice that when this is indicated, we refer to them and us as members of the same species.


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