Skip to content


Natural selection adapts populations to their environments. Evolutionary biologists examine evidence for adaptation in genes, morphology, and behavior.

Members Public

Did two pulses of evolution supercharge human cognition?

An intriguing new study tries to tabulate the ages of genetic variants associated with human phenotypes, but its claims about recent brain evolution may not pan out.

A stylized image of a brain with lightning pulsing through it
Members Public

What color were Neandertals?

Even with whole genomes, scientists can't say very precisely what pattern of skin, hair, and eye pigmentation was in ancient populations like the Neandertals.

Fifteen Neandertal faces of varied ages and complexions
Members Public

Should we be surprised if Neandertals, Denisovans, and modern humans didn’t form stable hybrid zones?

A geneticist asks why we don't see more persisting hybrid populations, and I find an answer in the theory of population source-sink dynamics.

A Neandertal artist's reconstruction at the Neanderthal Museum, wearing a suit and holding a stone tool.
Members Public

New findings from the Denisova 3 genome at high coverage

Sequencing work by Matthias Meyer and coworkers highlights the demography of ancient Denisovans and genes that may make today's people different from them.

Sediment column in Denisova Cave showing labels with layer numbers
Members Public

Did human language evolve as a spandrel?

A critical look at the point of view that human language did not originate from its adaptive role in communication, but from other cognitive functions.

Early twentieth-century ceramic head with brain and labels.
Members Public

How much of human evolution was due to polygenic adaptation?

This has been an eventful week for those of us who study the dynamics of recent selection in humans. The most significant event was the publication of a paper describing genetic analysis of a long selection experiment in Drosophila. Although the experiment differs from most natural instances of selection in

A photo of a "Galton box" which has beads in slots forming a normal distribution
Members Public

Did Neandertals evolve in a population sink?

The dynamics of adaptation in shrinking populations may help understand how many ancient populations evolved.

Did Neandertals evolve in a population sink?
Members Public

Notes on Ashley Montagu, recent human evolution, and human equality

The anthropologist argued that humans have stopped evolving, but that isn't the way we understand human evolution today.

Poster reading "Every human has rights"
Members Public

How much was migration a creative force for culture change?

An essay by Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd explores the way that cultures evolved by contact.

A globe on a table
Members Public

Our new paper on why human evolution accelerated

I run through our 2007 work on evidence for recent natural selection across the human genome.

A crowd of people