In the study of human evolution, dueling hypotheses are commonplace because of long-standing, frequently erupting feuds about the interpretation of the fossil record. The field is so argumentative, in part, because the theories reflect directly on the nature and origin of humans. There is immense room for giving and taking offense when the subject is oneself. Too, the primary data of paleoanthropology-fossilized remains of our ancestors and near-relatives-are rare and difficult to obtain. Hence, it is not a simple matter to collect more evidence to clarify or support hypotheses. Fossil hunting requires tremendous knowledge and effort, good organizational skills, substantial grants, and a huge dollop of luck. New theories are, sadly, easier to come by than new primary evidence. Thus it is a joyous occasion when my paleoanthropologist colleagues appear to resolve one of the most bitterly debated questions in the discipline: the issue of when, where and how modern humans evolved. For simplicity, I use "modern humans" or "recent humans" to denote the species to which I (and all the readers of this magazine) belong, but the formal term is either "anatomically modern Homo sapiens" or "Homo sapiens sapiens." Humans who lived in the past and did not have modern anatomy are often referred to as archaic or primitive.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||4|
|Specialist publication||American Scientist|
|State||Published - Jan 1 2003|
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