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HOME > PAST ISSUE > March-April 2011 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

Refuting a Myth About Human Origins

Homo sapiens emerged once, not as modern-looking people first and as modern-behaving people later

John J. Shea

2011-03SheaF1.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageFor decades, archaeologists believed that our species went through a transformation after emerging on Earth. The first Homo sapiens, the thinking went, looked like us but could not engage in sophisticated behaviors. Somehow, they developed into modern humans, capable of using symbols and developing more advanced tools. Archaeologist John J. Shea says recent evidence, especially from excavations in Africa, is challenging that idea by documenting so-called modern behavior earlier than once was thought possible. Shea proposes studying human variability as a more informative way to understand the experiences of our species through time.


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