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-- plus the Phil Leo welcome my -- actor Richard -- is a hell Leo anthropologists.
When that's available on.
Director of the -- Smithsonian's human origins program -- curator of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History.
And author -- what does it mean to be human.
Sending our audience may not be familiar with anyway.
Doctor -- -- on the program tonight.
Thank you for being with us.
You hear me okay yeah I -- okay.
And what about now you regret not talk about this discovery in the -- Johannesburg South Africa.
Yeah they -- all bunch of -- -- -- -- try dating back when a million almost two million years.
Yeah yeah now almost two million years almost exactly that in two of the most complete skeletons of early humans ever so what does this mean.
Well for one thing it says situated right in that time period where.
Hell you have to politics -- there are people who study human origins scientifically prove that He human evolutionary.
Perspective and they're situated right at a time period.
The origin of our evolutionary lineage that is the genus homo lineage called Hamas and homo sapiens our species name.
Characterized by a large brain and sophisticated tool making and all -- kind of thing.
And yet these are what these -- show is that -- it did not have a large branding yet it's organized in a way.
That is more closer to life than it is to an -- It had a long terrible.
Seven fingers but it had a strong arm which suggested it was a tool maker not just.
It is a species have never been identified with.
Yeah that's that's that's -- -- well first of all that the fossils were found and a number of years ago when they were first published in 2010.
But what has caused all the uproar recently is this month of -- of articles that came out in the journal science.
That talk about you than usual combinations of features that are somewhat human -- and somewhat knocked.
What does this mean about the age old issue of evolution.
You know those who say well you know like every throughout -- -- -- -- Well I can get our our evolutionary lineage if you look at our DNA for example and and compare it with that -- all -- living creature creatures.
Our lineage is situated right in fact in the middle -- to be great apes.
And so we are emerged from the.
Brady and specifically those of Africa and these fossils are situated right in -- place mainly Africa.
And show a combination of a likened human like features that confirmed that.
A whole wide range of evidence that has been out there for a number of decades.
So is that to say that our ancestors.
Are great great great ancestors were truly -- They were not any living today -- but rather we share a common ancestor with.
The -- other -- and that's why moderate of course still because this.
No we didn't -- problem they -- they didn't change into -- But what we do -- we share a common ancestor and that means that some of the characteristics of the possible that we -- Upright walking creatures with larger brains.
Some of them made stone tools also have a -- features.
So what does that mean in terms -- what does this discovery mean.
In terms of what our knowledge base is about who we are.
Not a really good question of course whenever there's a scientific discovery like like this there's a lot of debate on -- in the scientific community about its well what it all means.
But what -- suggests is that the process of evolution as scientists currently understand it.
Really involved a lot of experimentation.
That is mixing and matching of different -- some of them some of these early.
Human relatives and ancestors had large brains some didn't some.
Had the ability to make stone tools but also declined trees at the same time and these are.
Exactly -- sorts of features that one would expect in an evolutionary picture.
And so every possible discovery is a new task and another test of that idea.
So -- there's a transitional species I guess between.
Apes and humans and we're just trying to figure out what that represents a what that is in this be part of it.
Yeah yeah there are whole theory -- transitional all forms and one shouldn't see it as a single.
Lineage on March through time you know that that that typical kind of icon of the.
The march of the year of the of the human evolution from people like -- human like the crowd there.
Our evolutionary tree -- as we currently understand it.
He is much more diverse and that which many branches on it and this new set -- awful they indicate to a new species.
Identified last year and then -- this year that is well one that we hadn't seen before couldn't.
You know this age old argument between evolution and creationism.
Religion vs science and is this settle any of that.
Well nothing will really -- that in terms.
Many people's minds I think that -- really what a lot of us are looking forward to.
Is a much more.
You know respectful conversation between.
Religious understandings of the world and religious reasoning and scientific understanding and scientific reasoning.
There are many scientists -- are who have very strong religious.
And and there are many people within the religious community including.
I evangelicals and a number of others who are -- These and discovers Johannesburg what do they do in terms of aren't helping us understand us now how we apply that knowledge of whatever these -- -- present.
To our current situation.
Well what's really interesting about the whole pattern of human evolution over time and if these these particular -- contribute to that.
Is that there are there have been a number of species that have evolved.
And our family tree -- evolutionary tree com has been quite diverse but we're the only one -- to all of these other forms of life.
Against some of them large brains some of -- small -- some of them tool users some of them not.
At and they they all are ways of -- that have gone extinct and we're the ones that are -- that raises the big question about.
While all our -- -- as a species.
-- that have do we have any answer to that.
Now we we didn't really happen after the -- but I think that this study of human evolution.
Especially when placed in that context of of environments and survival challenges that can be steady through the course of time.
Gives one pause -- one almost defensive.
But all causes it which I miss having happened one point nine million years ago and now how do we even conceive that's even before the Internet.
Yeah I met adage is seriously -- even I can't even process -- Yeah yeah it's very difficult to wrap our minds around that there's plenty of -- time.
And all we can say is that well the that the past is basically all that we can no about the future in other words.
And studying the past we know -- we have come come to now.
But an -- some of those some of the things that we learn about the survival and extinction of species including in our own lineage.
Including in our own evolutionary tree.
I think do you have messages and and cautions for us today.
And we can't even Begin to predict where we'll be mean we meaning whatever form of us exists a million years now half a million years from now -- that -- 101000 years now.
-- who knows where will be do we have any predictive ability.
Can you know I it's very difficult to that to -- what evolution lol lol.
-- had to -- and mobile come out of it.
A lot of it has to do if what kind of environments that we make ourselves and that we.
Maybe extend ourselves into for example if you think about going out into space or something like bad or.
Changes in the world today it's very hard to know exactly how humans will respond at all.
If we don't destroy the planet the mean time right well -- try that is a concern for many people.
And doctor Leslie thank you symmetrical to literally it's nice thank you summer school program my pleasure -- -- -- --
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