Tag Archives: anthropology

What Happened When Modern Humans Met Neanderthals?

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

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Behaviorally Modern Humans: Interbreeding with Archaic Humans

There are many theories as to how humans evolved to who we are today.

Fossils tell us that there once existed many human-like species, such as the Neanderthals, that had similar yet archaic skull shapes. Some people believe that there was just one ancestor of our modern species who evolved into the species we are today — but that straightforward trajectory seems too simple to be evolutionarily possible. Another theory suggests that there were many variations of our ancestors, but whose lineages did not persist as ours did. Eventually, modern humans replaced those sub-human species — but not before our ancestors interbred with them to create the variations of humans we have today.

In this episode of the latest CARTA series, Behaviorally Modern Humans: The Origins of Us, Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum of London takes us through his analysis of the fossil record to present his theory on how humans and our ancestors evolved and dominated the globe. Then, Michael Hammer from the University of Arizona discusses the possibility of interbreeding of human subspecies to create the species known as modern humans. Followed by Richard “Ed” Green of UC Santa Cruz who also talks about the possibility of interbreeding, but with species even outside of Africa.

Watch “Behaviorally Modern Humans: Interbreeding with Archaic Humans” to see what you really know about your family history.

Don’t miss other episodes in this new series!

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New Series! Behaviorally Modern Humans: The Origin of Us

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!

Discover more anthropology videos from UCTV.

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32 Cluttered Families… Mine, too!

By Shannon Bradley, UCTV Producer

As the UCTV Prime producer behind “A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance,” I was drawn to this project because I am that demographic – I’m a middle-class, married mom who juggles work and family and who often feels overwhelmed by the stuff that fills our Southern California home.  I was curious about what the anthropologists (or ethnoarchaeologists, as they call themselves) would say about our lives.

I opened the book (on which this series is based), with a sense of fascination and dread.

photo[4]

I felt like a voyeur at first, seeing these vivid, intimate photographs of the insides of people’s homes. I couldn’t help but compare their bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and garages to my own.  And,like a New Year’s resolution, I was inspired to de-clutter the parts of my house that I control.

I started with my sons’ bedrooms.  After nearly drowning in toys, trucks, and yes, Beanie Babies, they now each have rooms that reflect who they are today –

Boy's room

a baseball shrine for one and a soccer/Lego/surf museum for the other.  Their old stuff is long gone to AmVets.

But then, I stopped.  I did light cleans in the kitchen and living areas, but there was no way I could make a dent in my husband’s office or the garage, which are the messiest spaces.

garage

OfficeInstead, I took what I learned from the book about the causes of clutter and chose to apply those lessons forward for the rest of the house.  I’m more careful now about adding to our possessions, by limiting bulk purchases and taking inventory before I shop, but I also understand that as long as I share my household with others, I will be surrounded by their stuff. And, like Lyn Repath-Martos (Family 27),  I’ve made peace with that.


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Is Your Kitchen a “Command Center?”

Think about your home for a second. What room gets the most traffic? Where do your kids do their homework? What does all of that stuff on the refrigerator door say about your family?

For middle-class American families, real estate inside the home can be as precious as the land underneath.  In “Space,” the final installment of UCTV Prime’s series “A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance,” UCLA anthropologists track how 32 families organize and prioritize their living space, with kitchens as command centers, bathrooms as bottlenecks, and master suites, in some cases, remodeled into hotel-like sanctuaries.

Don’t miss “Space — A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance (Ep. 3)” and, if you haven’t already, catch up with “Stuff (Ep. 1)” and “Food (Ep. 2”). You just might view your home — and maybe your family — a whole lot differently.

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