My article in Scientific American

The current issue of Scientific American is specially devoted to human evolution. There are great articles by Kate Wong, Ian Tattersall, Frans de Waal, Bernard Wood, and me.

My article, “Still evolving (after all these years)”, covers the evidence for recent natural selection in humans during the last 30,000 years. Only a teaser is available online for free, but the magazine is well worthwhile this month.

I’d like to draw some attention to Kate Wong’s introduction to the issue, “The new science of human origins”. Wong ably describes some of the groundbreaking changes that have swept the world of paleoanthropology during the last ten years, from ancient DNA to, well, the Rising Star Expedition:

Through the Post Box, up the Dragon's Back, down the Chute and over to the Puzzle Box. Last fall the world followed, via tweets, blogs and videos, as scientists negotiated these fancifully named landmarks of the underground system of caves known as Rising Star just outside Johannesburg, South Africa. The tight squeezes and steep drops made for difficult, dangerous work. The researchers, however, had their eyes on the prize: fossilized remains of an extinct member of the human family. Paleoanthropological fieldwork is usually done in secret, but this time the scientists posted thrilling multimedia missives along the way for all to see.

It is a fitting beginning. The excavation at Rising Star shows that many major discoveries are still waiting to be made. The science of the next ten years will increasingly draw upon public participation, and technology makes it possible for us to share the science much faster and more broadly than ever before.