|Stephen's got an interesting guest tonight -- big-shot paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer:
The Natural History Museum's Research Leader in Human Origins, Professor Chris Stringer, is one of London's 1,000 most influential people in 2012, the Evening Standard announced this week.There's plenty about him floating around out there, should you be intrigued.
His newest book is Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth (Amazon, B&N). Here's the publisher's thing:
leading researcher on human evolution proposes a new and controversial theory of how our species came to beHere's Publisher's Weekly:
How did modern humans beat out Neanderthals, Homo erectus, and other early humans to become the only people on Earth? That’s the big question paleoanthropologist Stringer (The Complete World of Human Evolution) probes in this scholarly yet accessible survey of contemporary knowledge about human evolution. Some other questions: How did humans and Neanderthals interact? What forces produced our modern genes and behavior? Stringer explores these along with the major trends in human evolutionary theory since Darwin’s time, following the pendulum of scientific opinion as it swings from multiregionalism—the idea that humans evolved through various phases around the globe, with no place serving as a particular origin—to recent African origin theory, and back. Though a prominent out of Africa proponent, Stringer refines his earlier ideas, still focusing on an African beginning, but investigating the possibility that humans interbred with Neanderthals and other ancient humans. The book digs into fossil finds, advanced dating methods, and genetic tools, and shows how experts can deduce so much about our millennia-dead ancestors. Yet, as Stringer reminds us, even experts have only managed to obtain a small part of the picture. More than anything, the book impresses us with how much we still have to learn about our roots.And Kirkus:
Not an overall history of human evolution but the story of the last million years, which began with three or four Homo species roaming the world but ended about 30,000 years ago with the disappearance of all but one. British paleoanthropologist Stringer (Homo Britannicus, 2006, etc.) points out that most scientists agree that our first hominid ancestors appeared in Africa 5 million years ago; many species evolved, and a few wandered north about 2 million years ago. Where Homo sapiens originated and how it came out on top remains a matter of intense debate, but Stringer marshals the latest evidence and concludes that his own opinion is correct: Modern humans appeared in a small area of Africa about 200,000 years ago and then moved across the world exchanging genes, tools and behavior with rival human species before supplanting them. Besides trying to make sense of headline-producing fossil and archeological discoveries, the author explains dazzling advances that have solved many problems: precise techniques for dating, DNA studies (we have the complete Neanderthal genome), isotope analysis to determine an ancient species' diet and travels, CT scans to reveal hidden and even microscopic details and geometric morphometrics and stereolithography to re-create, manipulate and compare skulls and other structures. The book's title remains a subject of controversy, but readers seeking to advance beyond the usual flamboyant field researchers will enjoy this intense, detailed account of what the world's anthropologists are doing, thinking and quarreling about.There are almost certainly more reviews (etc) out there (at goodreads, for one), but I got distracted & ended up buying a copy for Dad -- his birthday's coming up (one gifting occasion gift accounted for! Yay!). And then my internet started playing games again, and one of the cats is quite disturbed that I'm out of her gushyfood (there's plenty of food, just not the kind she wants. It's a limited-diet thing I have to get at the vet, & the order will arrive Monday. So yay, a weekend of being intensely thought at).
|Coming up:(and after the break):
(listings and occasional links via The Late Night TV Page, some links & more guest info available at thedailyshow.com/guests, colbertnewshub.com, and a judiciously-used google.com.
And sometimes even maybe DuckDuckGo. 'Cause.)
(Note: Whenever reading reviews from the NYTimes (particularly Janet Maslin), remember this.)