Upcoming lecture at UW-La Crosse

I’ll be appearing in La Crosse on Thursday evening to lecture at UW-La Crosse. The topic will be the origin of modern humans, with the event sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center.

Booting Up Humanity
The origin of our species was surprisingly complex. We have within us the genes of ancient Africans, Neandertals, and a mysterious population known as the Denisovans. Only a relative handful of genetic changes mark humans today as different from these ancient people. So how did the characteristics of modern humans, including complex social systems, symbolic thought, and language, evolve? New discoveries point in a surprising direction: Modern humans used a diversity of genes in a common social environment to bootstrap themselves to humanity. With the origin of modern human behavior, cultural evolution began to direct our genetic evolution, with rapid and unprecedented results.

I know I have some readers in that area, so here are the details, courtesy of the UW-L Campus News:

  • Who: John Hawks, professor of Anthropology, UW-Madison
  • What: Presentation on human evolution, genetics
  • Where: Valhalla, Cartwright Center-Gunning Addition
  • When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19
  • Admission: Free

UPDATE (2015-02-23): The evening lecture was a wonderful success, with a huge crowd in attendance. I had a great time visiting with colleagues at the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center and hearing about the great work they’ve been doing during the last couple of years. The archaeology program at La Crosse is such a valuable resource to the community and the state. Meanwhile, I got to tell around a hundred undergraduate students about the excavation at the Rising Star site, always a fun talk for me.