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Illustrated Lecture: The Search to Understand Our Human Origins

Is Free: 
Free; no advance reservation or ticket required.
May 23, 2012 - 6:45pm to 8:15pm
Location: Baird Auditorium, NMNH, Smithsonian Institution

When Homo sapiens appeared in Africa about 200,000 years ago, there were a variety of other early humans that included the ancient Homo erectus, still flourishing in eastern Asia; Homo neanderthalensis, Europe’s expert hunter; and the tiny and bizarre Homo floresiensis, on the Indonesian island of Flores. Yet it was not long before Homo sapiens had taken over the entire planet, and its relatives had disappeared.

Following introductory remarks by Rick Potts, director of the Natural History Museum’s Human Origins Program, paleoanthropologist Ian Tattersall discusses why Homo sapiens survived and thrived. He argues that it was our unprecedented form of cognition that made the difference, and he looks at how our early ancestors acquired their superior information-processing abilities. He suggests that our intelligence was an emergent capacity acquired quite recently, changing the world definitively.

Tattersall is a curator emeritus of anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. His book Masters of the Planet: In Search of Human Origins is available for signing at the program.

THIS EVENT REQUIRES TICKETS. To purchase tickets and for more information, please see the Smithsonian Associates web page about this event.