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Seminar with Professor Bernard Wood

Endless Forms Seminar Series

25 Oct 2022

"Towards a more realistic interpretation of the human fossil record"

The majority of attempts to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the hominin clade proceed as if the hominin fossil record is a precise, accurate, and comprehensive record of human evolutionary history. In this contribution we review the various ways in which the apparent scarcity of early hominins on the landscape means that the existing hominin fossil record almost certainly falls short of this assumption, especially with respect to taxic diversity, as well as the spatial and temporal distribution of known taxa. We also suggest that interpretations of the hominin fossil record are particularly affected by practices that likely violate the principles of reproducibility, as well as by confirmation bias. The hominin fossil record should be seen for what it is; an incomplete record of human evolutionary history that limits what should be said about it. Generated narratives should be treated as heuristic devices, not as accurate and comprehensive descriptions of past events.

The recording of the seminar can be found on our YouTube channel:

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