August 28th: the ShanghaiTech Summer School, already at its second week, offers a day fully dedicated to the origin of human beings.
A series of lectures opened by the talk of Prof. Giorgio Manzi “Ape-like Ancestors and Extinct Humans of the Deep Time”. According to Manzi, “human evolution is a process of change that, across millions of years, led from ape-like ancestors to modern humans, or Homo Sapiens”.
Prof. Claudio Tuniz will give a brief review of the most recent dating and micro-analytical methods, with some examples of their application in human origin studies in his lecture “New Clocks and Microscopes to Reconstruct Human History”.
The programme continues with Prof. Guido Barbujani, who will present an overview of the “Genetics in the Study of Human Evolution” presenting recent studies of DNA extracted from fossils that have” raised the possibility that a fraction of modern genomes has been transmitted to us by ancestors belonging to anatomically archaic human forms, Neanderthal and Denisovan among them”.
Prof. Francesco D’Errico, from the University of Bordeaux, will discuss the “Origin of Symbolic Thinking in the Palaeolithic Times”. Building on results of research he has been conducting recently in Africa, Europe and Asia, Prof. D’Errico will propose alternatives to the one-fossil-species-one-cognition axiom.
“Other consequences of the evolutionary process that Geoff Parker has named “sexual cascade”, which started in the seas more than one billion years ago with the evolution of multicellularity, will be illustrated by Prof. Andrea Pilastro, with the last lecture of this intense day, which will focus on “Sex and Evolution”.