New Horizons in Science

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The 2014 Patrusky Lecture: The human evolutionary journey

Hamed Saber
Sunday, October 19, 2014 -
2:15pm to 3:15pm

As the storehouse of hominid fossils and information about the human genome continues to grow, our evolutionary journey appears to be more complicated than anticipated. Reaching back to 6 million years ago, fossil hominid finds have prompted significant redrawing of the human family tree. Donald Johanson and others have painted a picture of human origins with broad brushstrokes revealing who our ancestors were, where they lived, how they survived and what they contributed to modern Homo sapiens

Forty years after his discovery of the fossil hominid Lucy prompted a redrawing of the human family tree, Johanson says three pillars of humanity make us who we are today: a unique communication system based on symbolic language, an unprecedented level of cooperation, and a capacity for cumulative culture. “The powerful interaction between biology and culture,” he says, “makes us the most creative, but at the same time the most destructive, species on Planet Earth.”


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