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CARTA Symposium: Behaviorally Modern Humans - The Origin of Us (at UCSD)

Behaviorally Modern Humans: The Origin of Us

Current evidence indicates that multiple upright-walking, tool-dependent species in the genus Homo co-existed in the Old World (Africa, Asia and Europe) for most of the last 2 million years. Yet only one surviving species of Homo exists today. Even 100,000 years ago, at least four Homo species shared the Old World. One of the enduring questions of human origins is when, where and how we "Behaviorally Modern Humans" emerged and why and how we eventually replaced all the other human-like species. In the past, competing theories have generated much controversy and even some acrimonious debate. This symposium will set aside such theories and debates and take a fresh look at the situation today. The focus will be on critical examination of the available evidence from multiple sources, including climate proxies, geology, fossils, archaeology, linguistics, immunology, genetics and genomics, as well as evolutionary neuroscience/cognitive archaeology. While the symposium may not come to any definitive conclusions, it should allow the best interpretation of current evidence, and suggest research agendas for the future.

Admission is free for this event, but registration is required for each person who will attend. Register:

Please note that a full crowd is expected for this event. A seat in the auditorium is NOT guaranteed. Early arrival to secure parking and a seat is recommended.




Fri 5/10 Background and Introductory Remarks - Ajit Varki
Fri 5/10 African Climate of the Last 400,000 Years - Rick Potts
Fri 5/10 Fossil Record of Anatomically Modern Humans - Chris Stringer
Fri 5/10 South African Archaeological Evidence - Lyn Wadley
Fri 5/10 Interbreeding with Archaic Humans in Africa - Michael Hammer
Fri 5/10 Relationships of Ancient African Languages - Christopher Ehret
Fri 5/10 Evidence for Spread of Modern Humans - Ofer Bar-Yosef
Fri 5/10 Interbreeding with Archaic Humans Outside Africa - Richard "Ed" Green
Fri 5/10 Stone Tools and Human Cognition: Lessons from Australia - Iain Davidson
Fri 5/10 Wrap-Up and Overview - Alison S. Brooks


The Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny* (CARTA) was established in a collaboration between faculty at UC San Diego and at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, along with interested scientists at other institutions. CARTA became a UC San Diego recognized Organized Research Unit (ORU) in January 2008.

As the word anthropogeny implies, the primary goal of CARTA is to “explore and explain the origins of the human phenomenon.” In other words, finding the answers to the two age-old questions regarding humans: Where did we come from? And, how did we get here?

*Anthropogeny: The investigation of the origin of man (humans) Oxford English Dictionary, 2006. (1839 HOOPER Med. Dict., Anthropogeny, the study of the generation of man.)

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  • David

    Sorry I missed this... it looks really interesting!

    May 10, 2013

  • NancY

    could someone give me lift home? I'll be taking the bus to class at UCSD in the morning, so would appreciate a ride back to Mira Mesa (across the 805, near the 15 between Carroll Canyon Rd and Mira Mesa Blvd).

    May 10, 2013

  • Jeff

    Plus one!

    May 8, 2013

  • NancY

    I was planning to go to the symposium anyway, but this'll be great, to have people to talk to about it!

    April 30, 2013

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