Anthropology Professor John J. Shea, who is also a research associate at Stony Brook University’s Turkana Basin Institute in Kenya, will present a Darwin Day lecture, “Myths of ‘Modern’ Human Origins: New Perspectives from Africa’s Oldest Humans,” on Friday, February 15, at 7:30 pm in Earth and Space Sciences, room 001.
For decades, paleoanthropologists have explained differences between the earliest member of our species, Homo sapiens, and recent humans as reflecting the evolution of “behavioral modernity.” If there were a trend toward behavioral modernity in human evolution, it should be apparent in the archaeological record for Eastern Africa, the region with the longest fossil record for Homo sapiens. Analysis of variability in stone tool technology during the past 275,000 years in Eastern Africa reveals no trend in human behavioral evolution, but instead a wide range of behavioral variability from before our species origins to recent times.
Shea’s research focuses on the archaeology of human evolution, namely the origin of our species, Homo sapiens, and the extinction of the Neanderthals. He is an expert at making, using and analyzing stone tools, and his work has been featured in more than a dozen television documentaries and in exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution). Shea has conducted archaeological surveys and excavations in Israel, Jordan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya. His new book, Stone Tools in the Paleolithic and Neolithic Near East, has just been published by Cambridge University Press.
This lecture and other Darwin Day activities are a continuation of a regular annual celebration of Darwin and the implications of organic evolution in science and society held at Stony Brook and many other institutions to celebrate the birthday of Charles Darwin. Click here for information about more Darwin Day events on campus.