John Hawks: A Year in Paleoanthropology

Razib Khan’s Unsupervised Learning | 13 January 2023 | 1h 06m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with John Hawks discussing the commitment of paleoanthropologists investigating cave systems; the finding that small-brained Homo naledi used fire deep in caves and the implications of that for hominin evolution; the profusion of human lineages discovered in Southeast Asia over the last few years; and the possibilities for ancient DNA and ancient protein analysis.

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Homo Erectus

In Our Time | 12 May 2022 | 0h 51m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of our ancestors, Homo erectus, who thrived on Earth for around two million years. Homo erectus spread from Africa to Asia and it was on the Island of Java that fossilised remains were found in 1891 in an expedition led by Dutch scientist Eugène Dubois. Homo erectus people adapted to different habitats, ate varied food, lived in groups, had stamina to outrun their prey; and discoveries have prompted many theories on the relationship between their diet and the size of their brains, on their ability as seafarers, on their creativity and on their ability to speak and otherwise communicate.

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Origin: How Did Humans Migrate to the Americas?

The Next Big Idea | 14 April 2022 | 1h 10m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Jennifer Raff about her book Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas. Explains the breakthroughs in genetics that have given scientists an entirely new understanding of how the Americas were peopled and what happened in the millennia that followed.

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A Chat on the Invention of Agriculture with Andrea Matranga

GrowthChat | 21 March 2022 | 0h 49m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Andrea Matranga about his paper​ The Ant and the Grasshopper: Seasonality and the Invention of Agriculture. Marshalls the evidence that the invention and adoption of agriculture were both a response to a large increase in climatic seasonality. In the most affected regions, hunter-gatherers abandoned their traditional nomadism in order to store food and smooth their consumption. Their new sedentary lifestyle greatly simplified the invention and adoption of agriculture. Seasonality patterns 10,000 years ago were amongst the major determinants of the present-day global distribution of crop productivities, ethnic groups, cultural traditions, and political institutions.

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Why Did Our Brains Shrink 3000 Years Ago?

Many Minds | 1 February 2022 | 0h 46m | Listen Later | iTunes | Spotify
Interview with Jeremy DeSilva about when and why human brains decreased in size. Describes the research to establish that human brain size decreased about 3,000 years ago. Discusses the possible explanations, including one by analogy with social insects, that brain size decreased, reducing the energy cost, with the externalisation of knowledge in human societies.

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Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human with Richard Wrangham

The Innovation Show | 26 December 2019 | 0h 49m | Listen Later | iTunes | Spotify
Interview with Richard Wrangham about his book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Argues that the habit of eating cooked rather than raw food permitted the digestive tract to shrink and the human brain to grow; helped structure human society; and created the male-female division of labour. As our ancestors adapted to using fire, humans emerged as “the cooking apes.”

This is one of my all-time favourite books.

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Ancient DNA, Indo-Europeans, and the Steppe: Interview with David Anthony

Tides of History | 24 June 2021 | 0h 59m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with David Anthony discussing the Yamnaya and the prehistoric steppe, what ancient DNA can tell us about these past societies, and why they still matter 5000 years later. Draws on his magisterial book The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World and updates for the progress since made with ancient DNA.

If you like this you might like to also listen to David Anthony: The Origin of Indo-Europeans.

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The Teeth Remember

Origin Stories | 2 March 2021 | 0h 20m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with Tanya Smith about her book The Tales Teeth Tell: Development, Evolution, Behavior. Describes her research on the fossil teeth of two Neanderthal children and the detailed and intimate story about the lives she was able to uncover.

See also What Teeth Can Tell Us About People in Roman and Early Medieval Wessex.

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