I will be at the American Anthropological Association meetings in San Francisco for the rest of the week. If you’re an anthropologist, I hope to see you there! Remember you can tweet me @johnhawks and I’ll be following some of the sessions while tweeting on the #aaa2012 hashtag.
I will be participating in an exciting podium session on Saturday afternoon, organized by Jamie Clark and Adam Van Arsdale. Adam has a list of the talks in the session, which includes some really great young anthropologists from cultural, archaeological, and biological perspectives.
Here’s my abstract, which is a pretty strong statement of where I think the biological species concept applies to archaic humans:
Neandertal Genetics: Drawing a New Boundary for Humanity
John Hawks (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Genetic information from ancient skeletons has transformed our understanding of human origins. For more than 160 years, anthropologists defined humanity in contrast to the Neandertals. Now it is clear that the genealogical ties between living people include Neandertals and other archaic humans within our biological species. An accounting of the shared genetic ancestry in humans worldwide and the ancient Neandertal and Denisova genomes helps to show the pattern of population structure in the Middle Pleistocene populations that gave rise to modern humans. Our species included variations that no longer exist today, while our evolution within the last 100,000 years has been a process of amalgamation and rejoining of populations that were once much more different. As we redraw our genealogical boundaries to recognize this pattern of relationships and evolution, we are beginning to discover the way that the present traits of humans around the world emerged in a variable population.