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The Smithsonian Institution's Human Origins Program

The Smithsonian Institution's Human Origins Program

The Meaning of Life Revealed! -This post is excerpted, with changes, from the book Darwin, God and the Meaning of Life by Steve Stewart-Williams - available now from , , and . Evolutionary theory answers one of the most profound and fundamental questions human beings have ever asked themselves, a question that has plagued reflective minds for as long as reflective minds have existed in the universe: The question was answered in 1859 by the English naturalist Charles Darwin, and the answer can be stated in just six words: "What?" I hear you exclaim. "Is that it? Dougal Dixon "Man after man. An anthropology of the future" Foreword by Brian Aldiss It has become necessary to look into the future. There must have been a time, long past, when animals much like apes looked up into the night sky and wondered about the stars: what those pinpoints of light were, and what they were for. Only a brief while after that, the apelike things acquired language; then stories began to be told, and fantasies woven about the stars overhead.

Ancestral Lines Evolutionary biologists use a cladogram, the treelike diagram of evolutionary branches or clades, to organize species into lines of evolutionary descent across time. Biologists use three types of evidence to deduce evolutionary connections: genetics, morphology, and geologic dating. (Behavior, normally a key part of evolutionary studies, can only be inferred in extinct species — for example, by examining the ecology in which the species flourished and the species adaptations for eating and locomotion.) Analyses of primate fossils and the genetic relatedness of living primates converge to the conclusion that humans and chimpanzees branched from a common ancestor about 7 million years ago.

Human Evolution: The fossil evidence in 3D Welcome to the UCSB online 3D gallery of modern primate relatives and fossil ancestors of humans. This gallery contains five modern primate crania, and five fossil crania. The crania can be rotated 360 degrees. Each cranium is accompanied by a short description of its relevance to human evolution, and a site map. You will need the Shockwave plugin from Macromedia to view this gallery (most browsers have this installed already).

'Lucy's baby' rattles human evolution The skull of the juvenile Australopithecus afarensis, dubbed 'Lucy's baby' Credit: Zeresenay Alemseged/Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultrual Heritages SYDNEY: The discovery of an infant human ancestor, dubbed ‘Lucy’s baby’, will shake up our understanding of human evolution, according to its finders in Dikika, Ethiopia. Two articles published today in the British journal Nature identified the fossil remains – the oldest and most complete infant skeleton found to date – as those of a three-year-old girl who lived 3.3 million years ago.

Intelligent people have 'unnatural' preferences and values that are novel in human evolution More intelligent people are significantly more likely to exhibit social values and religious and political preferences that are novel to the human species in evolutionary history. Specifically, liberalism and atheism, and for men (but not women), preference for sexual exclusivity correlate with higher intelligence, a new study finds. The study, published in the March 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Social Psychology Quarterly, advances a new theory to explain why people form particular preferences and values. The theory suggests that more intelligent people are more likely than less intelligent people to adopt evolutionarily novel preferences and values, but intelligence does not correlate with preferences and values that are old enough to have been shaped by evolution over millions of years." "Evolutionarily novel" preferences and values are those that humans are not biologically designed to have and our ancestors probably did not possess.

The Future of Homo Sapiens, The Future of Human Evolution Will the human species, Homo Sapiens, continue to evolve in the next millions of years? If so, how? What can we learn from what we know about Homo Sapiens development until now? By professor Jacob Palme, First version 29-May-2006, last revision 23-Mar-2014 The Creation of Homo Sapiens The human species (Homo Sapiens sapiens) started its existence between 110 000 and 50 000 years ago. Human Evolution-Science Tracer Bullet-Library of Congress Sources useful in locating published material on the process of organic change or development by which human beings have acquired the distinguishing morphological and physiological characteristics that they have today. An update of TB 73-13, this guide is intended for those who wish to review published materials on human evolution in the Library of Congress. Not an exhaustive treatment of the subject, this Tracer Bullet, as the name of the series implies, is designed to put the reader "on target." The path of evolution. In The Human dawn.

Why human evolution accelerated This is a story about my work on recent human evolution, describing some of the main results and how the work came about. The story refers to my paper (with Gregory Cochran, Eric Wang, Henry Harpending, and Robert Moyzis), "Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution," which came out in December, 2007. Like most good stories in biology, this one begins with Darwin. Darwin was always very interested in animal breeding, which he considered the best analogy for the process of natural selection.

Neanderthal genome yields insights into human evolution and evidence of interbreeding After extracting ancient DNA from the 40,000-year-old bones of Neanderthals, scientists have obtained a draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome, yielding important new insights into the evolution of modern humans. Among the findings, published in the May 7 issue of Science, is evidence that shortly after early modern humans migrated out of Africa, some of them interbred with Neanderthals, leaving bits of Neanderthal DNA sequences scattered through the genomes of present-day non-Africans. "We can now say that, in all probability, there was gene flow from Neanderthals to modern humans," said the paper's first author, Richard E. (Ed) Green of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Evolution of human intelligence The evolution of human intelligence refers to a set of theories that attempt to explain how human intelligence has evolved. These theories are closely tied to the evolution of the human brain and to the emergence of human language. Many traits of human intelligence, such as empathy, theory of mind, mourning, ritual, and the use of symbols and tools, are already apparent in great apes although in less sophisticated forms than found in humans. History[edit] Hominidae[edit] Chimpanzee mother and baby