The last decade has brought a multitude of discoveries of ancient human remains, which have led scientists to rethink our ancestral history. Join celebrated human origins expert Chris Stringer as he tackles some of the scientific controversies and current issues around who we are and where we came from.
Stringer is a Research Leader in Human Origins at the Natural History Museum and is one of the leader proponents of the African origin hypothesis, which theorises that modern humans originated in Africa over 100,00 years ago. Modern humans somehow replaced the world’s archaic humans, such as Homo floresiensis and Neanderthals, after migrating out of Africa within the last 50,000-100,000 years.
Neanderthals were historically believed to be the ancestors of our species, with primitive multi-variance statistics being used to determine objectively how different our skulls were- and therefore whether the neanderthals were transitioning closer to our species through time. However, research done by Stringer did not support the idea of an evolutionary transition, with modern humans and Neanderthals seeming consistently different from each other.
Stringer’s theory argues that modern humans migrated out of Africa to replace these other species, rather than evolving from them. Future work will map the spread of modern humans across the globe and their interaction with Neanderthals will also be explored to see how much they overlapped; this will provide insight into where interbreeding may have happened between species and allow us to build a more complete genetic story of our origins.
If you’d like to learn more about Stringer’s work and see him tackle some of the scientific controversies around who we are and where we came from, you can find out more information about his talk at the Festival here.
The British Science Festival is the longest-established science festival in Europe, with this year’s Festival taking place between 6-9 September. It is being hosted by Swansea University with events on campus and across the city of Swansea.
The core Festival programme features daytime and evening activities, followed by a Family Weekend. You can browse activities by day, theme, subject or speaker on the What’s On pages and with 100+ events covering engineering, music, nature, sport and many more subjects, there is sure to be something for everyone!
This year the BSA aims to focus on an audience of non-specialist adults with a broad interest in science, coming out of their new vision: to position science at the heart of our culture and society. We want to celebrate the importance and impact of science and to encourage more people to engage with and enjoy science.
I will be working as part of a volunteer team to curate the X-change,
a daily chat show bringing you the most exciting bits from each day’s festival programme. Featuring inspiring speakers, big issues, exciting research and some familiar faces, the X-change is a fast-paced whistle-stop tour of the day to come.
To top it all off, the Festival will be going out with a bang – fireworks, live music, a chemistry carnival, kite flying ad more at the British Science Festival Beach Party! Taking place on the final day of the Festival, 9th Sep from 17:00 – 22:00, join us for an evening like no other on Swansea Beach for food, music, comedy and fireworks. Booking is required and can be done here.
Keep an eye-out for more Festival-related content closer to the time!