Origins of human modernity
Special Issue in Emerging Science Journal
The principal concern of ’emerging science’ is to review and chronicle major developments in science that are likely to affect its future course. In the particular field of hominin evolution, we are currently witnessing — as a result of developments in human genetics and correlated changes in archaeological understanding — the demise of an old paradigm and the ascent of a new one. This has significant implications in various fields of enquiry because it reverberates in how we perceive the narratives of who we are and how we became what we are as a species: it is fundamental to understanding ourselves. The new perceptions currently being secured by the contributors of this Special Issue may seem audacious to some in the conservative mainstream, but that has historically always applied to new paradigms and it is what constitutes ’emerging science’.
The purpose of this Special Issue is to bring together the scholars that have contributed to the demise of the ‘replacement hypothesis’ by exposing its flaws or who have promoted an alternative explanation of ‘modern human’ origins. This collection of articles is intended to provide guidance to developing a new paradigm in the discipline and to encourage open debate of an issue that has significant effects on how our species perceives itself.
The hypothesis that the introduction of human modernity is the result of an unintended domestication of robust Homo sapiens populations occurring during the last quarter of the Late Pleistocene was formally proposed in 2008. It was a response to the replacement hypothesis, also labelled ‘African Eve theory’, which had attributed the change from robust to gracile humans to a speciation event in sub-Saharan Africa, leading to a greatly superior species that replaced all human populations of the world by outcompeting or eradicating them. The replacement hypothesis has been contradicted by genetic evidence in recent years: Neanderthals, Denisovans and extant humans are one species. The inability of scholars to explain how their teleological ‘anatomically modern human’ could have evolved in a geological instant (just a few tens of millennia) prompted them to propose the mass migration of a new species. It has been shown since the early 1990s that there is no substantive evidence in favour of this notion, be it anthropological, archaeological or genetic. Moreover, the replacement theory provides no plausible explanation for any aspects of human modernity, be they somatic changes, susceptibility to detrimental conditions, maladaptions, brain atrophy, loss of oestrus, genetic impairments or general neotenisation. The domestication hypothesis, by contrast, explains all of these factors exhaustively as the outcomes of a process capable of transforming an entire species within very few millennia: selective breeding or domestication.
KEYWORDS: human evolution, Late Pleistocene, archaeology, palaeoanthropology, modern cognition, auto-domestication, cultural evolution.
CALL FOR PAPERS
Contributions are invited on any topic connected with the appearance of ‘modern’ human behaviour or so-called anatomically modern humans, with particular reference to the ‘replacement hypothesis’ and the ‘domestication hypothesis‘. A maximum length of 8000 words, including references, applies to submissions, which need to be received before 31 March 2020. Publication of accepted and edited articles will be in a Special Issue of Emerging Science Journal appearing in September 2020. Please send your contribution, initially as PDF or Word file, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All contributions will be refereed by specialists in the field.
Prof. Robert G. Bednarik
Convener and Editor, International Federation of Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO)