Neanderthals: Sadly, there were too many of us. We crowded them out.

In the latest episode of Human Evolution: The Trooth, "Humans crowded out Europe's Neanderthals" (ABC News, July 29, 2011), we learn,

Researchers at the University of Cambridge found more sites where modern humans settled, larger settlement areas, greater densities of tools and bigger amounts of animal and food remains, suggesting Neanderthals were crowded out.

Homo sapiens also likely had more elaborate social networks and possibly sharper brains, as evidenced by the stone tools, jewellery and artwork they left behind which was much more advanced than Neanderthal creations.

Neanderthals did artwork and jewellery?

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Dinobird flap: Why do they care so much how creationists take it?

Recently Most Holy Icon of Evolution Archaeopteryx got reclassified as a feathered dinosaur rather than First Bird. Which presumably kept museum curators worldwide up all night long, repenning labels. So? Many thought the move was long overdue, and had been put off for PR reasons.

Now, from Creation-Evolution Headlines (July 28, 2011), we learn, “Archaeopteryx Reclassification Raises Fear of Creationists”:

Nature published the paper by Xing Xu et al.1 The fossil that knocked Archaeopteryx off its perch is named Xiaotingia zhengi, but it was not found in situ; Xing purchased it from a dealer. In the same issue of Nature,2 Lawrence Witmer [Ohio U] discussed the implications. "Given this iconic role, Archaeopteryx has also been in the cross-hairs of creationists, and remains a lightning rod for political debates and legal proceedings about teaching evolution in schools," Witmer remarked. "Of course, Xu and co-workers' finding only deepens the impact of Archaeopteryx by highlighting the rich evolutionary nexus of which it is a part, but how the ever-clever creationist community will 'spin' it remains to be seen."

So why these amazing levels of concern?

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Religion correlates with lower IQ among American teenagers?

From "Does religion rot teenagers’ brains?" (MercatorNet, 25 July 2011):

Recently, we looked at a claim, published in a serious science journal, Intelligence, that belief in God correlates worldwide with lower IQ. From the same journal in the same year, we learned that religion correlates with lower IQ among American teenagers.

[ …]

If half of the Catholics and Baptist teens are sporadically observant and doctrinally indifferent (no unusual state of affairs), religious orthodoxy collapses as a predictor of IQ. So it is not clear just what Nyborg is measuring. Social class is a possibility.


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Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

British Linnaean Society seeks “middle way” on evolution – dismissal of 80% of world’s people’s deepest beliefs on afterlife

Their meet will be held on September 8, 2011, seeking to "reignite and reinvigorate the debate in light of current developments in the philosophy of science and of evolutionary biology." The premise?

In scientific circles “The triumph of the Darwinian method” is generally accepted. In the wider world, however, at least 80% of the 6.5 billion people currently alive on Earth have religious beliefs based on a non-material afterlife, and/or reincarnation. Although many intellectuals of religious conviction accept Darwinism, it seems likely that most people do not.


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