UW-Madison’s recently released Origins project links together different academic fields to paint a picture of how scientists research Earth’s and mankind’s beginnings. Anthropology professor John Hawks is featured in the project, and spoke with Nina Kravinsky about the study.
The quest to understand our beginnings — of our universe, of life on Earth, of our species — inspires people all over the world. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researchers have forged partnerships with colleagues in South Africa and are uncovering answers and opening new scientific frontiers.
The stories of their work are presented in "Origins," a three-part multimedia narrative exploring the beginnings of the universe, life on earth and humankind.
John Hawks quoted in Mashable: Fossil find gives middle finger to previous understanding of human exodus from Africa
Quoted: "I think this is a cool discovery and it definitely suggests that we need to explore the Arabian peninsula much more for fossil humans and their ancestors," John Hawks, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, who was not involved in the study, said via email.
Ghosts in the Genome: John Hawks reviews "Who We Are and How We Got Here" for the Wall Street Journal
Some 4,500 years ago, the Bell Beakers invaded Britain. Roughly 90% of the genes of later Britons came from this group, named for the distinctive shape of their pottery. Archaeologists long thought that Britain’s early farmers, who built Stonehenge five millennia ago, adopted the pots from continental neighbors. Instead DNA evidence shows that the farmers were nearly annihilated by the Bell Beakers.
One scholar from each of four faculty divisions — Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences — is selected to receive the Hilldale Award. L&S faculty members received three of the four awards.
Twelve faculty members - nine of them from the College of Letters & Science - have been chosen to receive this year’s Distinguished Teaching Awards, an honor given out since 1953 to recognize the university’s finest educators.
You aren’t what you eat, exactly. But over many generations, what we eat does shape our evolutionary path. “Diet,” says anthropologist John Hawks, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “has been a fundamental story throughout our evolutionary history. Over the last million years there have been changes in human anatomy, teeth and the skull, that we think are probably related to changes in diet.”
Professor John Hawks quoted in National Geographic: World's oldest cave art found—and Neanderthals made it
“Neanderthals appear to have had a cultural competence that was shared by modern humans,” says John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “They were not dumb brutes, they were recognizably human.”
John Hawks quoted in The Verge: Ancient cave paintings turn out to be by Neanderthals, not modern humans
Other experts agree with the dates and that the timing means the art must have been created by Neanderthals. There’s no fossil evidence of modern humans in Spain that long ago, says John Hawks a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who wasn’t involved in the research. “There’s no secret story,” he says. “The results are just, ‘Hey, Neanderthals were making these things, and you didn’t know it.’”