When It Comes to Neanderthals, Humans May Be the Borg

The extinction and competition hypotheses for the demise of the Neanderthals, notably suggested by interdisciplinary scientist and author Jared Diamond, hinge on the idea that humans were more advanced than Neanderthals. Commonly claimed are the following: that humans had more communicative abilities, were more efficient hunters, had superior weaponry, ate a broader diet, and had … Continue reading When It Comes to Neanderthals, Humans May Be the Borg

Neanderthals were not inferior to modern humans, says CU-Boulder study

Neanderthals thrived in a large swath of Europe and Asia between about 350,000 and 40,000 years ago. They disappeared after our ancestors, a group referred to as “anatomically modern humans,” crossed into Europe from Africa. In the past, some researchers have tried to explain the demise of the Neanderthals by suggesting that the newcomers were … Continue reading Neanderthals were not inferior to modern humans, says CU-Boulder study

Evolution of animal intelligence | Machines Like Us

Mano Singham has a interesting post up on a large scale review of animal intelligence studies.   Animal intelligence is a fascinating topic and there have been many attempts at studying it. Many of the individual studies look at one or other specific trait that we associate with intelligence in one species and the traits … Continue reading Evolution of animal intelligence | Machines Like Us

Neanderthals and Cro-magnons did not coexist on the Iberian Peninsula, suggests re-analysis of dating — ScienceDaily

The meeting between a Neanderthal and one of the first humans, which we used to picture in our minds, did not happen on the Iberian Peninsula. That is the conclusion reached by an scientists after redoing the dating of the remains in three caves located on the route through the Pyrenees of the first beings … Continue reading Neanderthals and Cro-magnons did not coexist on the Iberian Peninsula, suggests re-analysis of dating — ScienceDaily

BBC – Future – How human culture influences our genetics

BBC has an interesting article on the effects of culture on evolution. You shouldn't be able to drink milk. Your ancestors couldn't. It is only in the last 9,000 years that human adults have gained that ability without becoming ill. Children could manage it, but it was only when we turned to dairy farming that … Continue reading BBC – Future – How human culture influences our genetics

Humans and Neandertals interbred, new method confirms — ScienceDaily

  Technical objections to the idea that Neandertals interbred with the ancestors of Eurasians have been overcome, thanks to a new genome analysis method. The technique can more confidently detect the genetic signatures of interbreeding than previous approaches and will be useful for evolutionary studies of other ancient or rare DNA samples. via Humans and … Continue reading Humans and Neandertals interbred, new method confirms — ScienceDaily

Talking Neanderthals challenge the origins of speech

I've posted before about how I think that language is very ancient, probably evolving over hundreds of thousands of years, possibly millions.  The evidence for this view continues to mount.  It now looks like there's stronger evidence that Neanderthals could talk. We humans like to think of ourselves as unique for many reasons, not least … Continue reading Talking Neanderthals challenge the origins of speech

The scope of objective facts and morality

Our recent discussions, particularly on the thread about Jonathan Haidt's response to Sam Harris's challenge, left me thinking about the various scopes of objective facts.  In retrospect, it's a bit obvious to me now that a key question in moral philosophy is, if morality is objective, at what scope is it objective? Haidt used the … Continue reading The scope of objective facts and morality

Moral values aren’t absolute, but aren’t arbitrary either

I'm working on another post with details about foundational moral instincts, but after some discussion on the 'Morality arises from instincts' post, I realized that I failed to make a couple of things clear.  So, I'm inserting this additional post to do that. First, let me clarify that, in these posts, I'm being descriptive, not … Continue reading Moral values aren’t absolute, but aren’t arbitrary either