The Corner

Deep History

Not many topics are both (a) as intrinsically fascinating to the imagination, and (b) as fraught with implications for how we think about our species, than the deep history of homo sapiens. Nick Wade’s fine book Before the Dawn (my review here) told the story.

Now the July Smithsonian has an update from Guy Gugliotta. Well worth reading.

I can’t resist recycling Mike Potemra’s quip about Nick’s book. Nick goes into some detail about the “gracilization” that was part of the development of modern humans — the change from stocky, heavy-boned predecessors to the more lithe present-day model. Mike: “I liked the book, but … all that stuff about gracilization? I just couldn’t get it through my thick skull.”

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