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 Entire ArchiveHuman Evolution Items

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When did humans first become human? The answer is far from simple, because the question assumes that sometime in the past, humans achieved modernity and were locked within an evolutionary loophole where natural selection no longer applies. Despite the absurdity of this scenario, and in stark contrast to empirical data, it is widely believed that... Read More
In a recent post, Fred Reed asks: The short answer is that any killing, for whatever reason, increases the likelihood of killing for other reasons. One exception is self-defence, but that's not done for pleasure. Another exception is capital punishment, but that, too, is not done for pleasure. More to the point, no single citizen... Read More
\"FranzBoas\". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
The anthropologist Franz Boas is remembered for moving the social sciences away from genetic determinism and toward environmental determinism. In reality, he felt that genes do contribute substantially to mental and behavioral differences ... and not just between individuals. Most of us identify with certain great teachers of the past: Christ, Marx, Freud … Though... Read More
The contradiction between the vigorous, unapologeticethnonationalism of Jews in Israel and the horror of other peoples’ ethnonationalism expressed by Jewselsewhere has been a recurrent topic here on VDARE.com—see, most recently, Is Immigration Really A ‘Jewish Value’? by Kevin MacDonald. I think this contradiction is not hard to understand. If you are the ethnic majority in... Read More
Infant stump-tailed macaque (source). Other photos showing adults and infants (courtesy of Monte M. Taylor and Christopher H. Taylor). Why do humans have so little body hair? This question is addressed by Sandel (2013) in his comparative review of hair density in 23 primates and 29 nonprimate mammals. There seems to have been a long-term... Read More
The Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness, over a million years ago in the Pleistocene. A founding myth of evolutionary psychology. In the future, how will we look at evolution and human behavior? Perhaps we’ll still be looking through the lens of evolutionary psychology, albeit a more “evolved” one than the current variety. Or perhaps there will... Read More
Andaman Islanders. Related peoples once inhabited the coastal regions of southern, southeastern, and eastern Asia. The past year brought two major advances: the long awaited sequencing of the Neanderthal genome and the genetic sequencing of an another archaic human, the Denisovans of East Asia, whose existence had previously been unsuspected. The bottom line comes down... Read More
Modern humans changed little when they initially spread out of Africa and into the Middle East. Real change occurred farther north, when they entered seasonally varying environments that differed much more even in summer. Three years ago, a research team led by John Hawks found that the rate of genetic change accelerated once ancestral humans... Read More
I’ve been fascinated by a puzzle of modern human evolution: the diverse palette of hair and eye colors that has developed in some populations (Frost, 2006; Frost 2008). Hair may be black, brown, flaxen, golden, or red, and eyes may be brown, blue, gray, hazel, or green. Both polymorphisms are largely confined to Europeans, especially... Read More
What did the first modern humans in Europe look like? The question comes up in a BBC2 series The Incredible Human Journey, which shows the reconstructed head of a man who lived in the Carpathian Mountains some 35,000 years ago. With its brown skin and broad nose, this ‘First European’ looks, well, very un-European. The... Read More
Human genomics The Neanderthal genome will be fully sequenced. There will be no evidence of interbreeding with modern humans (although proponents of the multiregional model will remain unconvinced). By comparing this genome with ours, we may reconstruct the genome of archaic humans who lived almost a million years ago and who were ancestral to Neanderthals... Read More
The French journal L’Histoire has a special issue on reading and writing in ancient societies. One article, about Mesopotamia, makes several points that support an argument I have made: the invention of writing, especially alphabetical writing, created a strong selection pressure for people who had the rare ability to take dictation or copy written texts... Read More
It is often assumed that black Africans, out of all human populations, most closely resemble our common ancestral state. After all, is not Africa the cradle of humanity? And did not modern humans spread ‘out of Africa’ some 50,000 or so years ago? Indeed, we are all offspring of Africa. What is less true is... Read More
Before the Dawn, by Nicholas Wade
"The proper study of mankind is man." The application of scientific method to that study has, however, proved to be much more difficult than an English gent of the 1730s could reasonably have anticipated. Our common sensibilities rule out all but a very limited range of planned experiments on our fellow humans. Observation and classification,... Read More
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Confederate Flag Day, State Capitol, Raleigh, N.C. -- March 3, 2007