Chris Stringer

  • Aired:  11/15/12
  •  | Views: 28,370

Paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer shares his book, "Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth." (5:42)

>> THE LONGER THE WORD THE SMARTER YOU MUST BE.

>> POSSIBLY, POSSIBLY.

>> Stephen: YOU'RE ALSO A.

ARER AT THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM IN LONDON, A FELLOW OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY, AND YOU HAVE

A NEW BOOK CALLED "LONE SURVIVORS-- HOW WE CAME TO BE THE ONLY HUMANS ON EARTH."

GOTTA SAY, NOT A GREAT PHOTO OF YOU ON THE COVER THERE.

( LAUGHTER ).

>> YES, YES.

>> Stephen: GAINED A FEW POUNDS.

LONE SURVIVORS, THE ONLY HUMANS ON EARTH-- HUMANS ARE THE ONLY HUMANS.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THIS?

>> WELL, IF YOU GO BACK 100,000 YEARS --

>> Stephen: I RARELY DO, I RARELY DO.

>> I TEND TO STOP ABOUT 6,000 YEARS AGO WHEN EVERYTHING WAS CREATED, BUT GO AHEAD.

>> WE'LL GO BACK EVEN FURTHER.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

AND THEN THERE WERE PROBABLY AT LEAST FIVE KINDS OF HUMANS ON THE EARTH 100,000 YEARS AGO.

THERE WERE NEANDERTHALS IN EUROPE.

THERE WERE PEOPLE IN ASIA CALLED THE DEMISSIVIANS, THERE WERE PEOPLE IN JAFFA AND A WEIRD

THING NICKNAMED HOBBIT LIVING ON THE ISLANDFUL FLORESC.

THE OTHER SPECIES DIED OUT.

WE ARE THE ONLY SURVIVORS.

AND ONE OF THE QUESTIONS IS WHY ARE WE THE ONLY ONE LEFT.

>> Stephen: WHICH WERE WE?

>> WE WERE THE ONES EVOLVING IN AFRICA, HOMO SAPIENS.

AND ABOUT 60,000 YEARS AGO, WE STARTED TO COME OUT OF AFRICA --

>> Stephen: WAIT, WAIT, WHERE DID THE NEANDER THALZ COME FROM IF THEY WEREN'T FROM AFRICA?

>> WE GO BACK NOW ABOUT 500,000 YEARS, HALF A MILLION YEARS.

WE HAVE A COMMON ANCESTOR WITH THE NEANDERTHALS AND WE SPLIT FROM THEM AND WENT IN OUR OWN DIRECTION.

>> Stephen: WAS THAT IN AFRICA WE SPLIT OFF?

>> PROBABLY THERE WAS A SPECIES CALLED HOMOHYDER BERG, THAT SPECIES LIVED IN EUROPE, A

EXPWRARK AFRICA AND STARTED TO EVOLVE INTO NEW SPECIES.

NORTH OF THE MEDITERRANEAN AND EUROPE AND ASIA IT BECAME THE NEANDERTHALS AND SOUTH OF THE

MEDITERRANEAN IN AFRICA IT BECAME US.

WE CAM OUT AND THE BIG QUESTION IS WHAT HAPPENED WHEN WE CAME OUT --

>> Stephen: WE KICKED A LITTLE ASS, DIDN'T WE, KICKED A LITTLE ASS, NEANDERTHAL ASS.

>> ONE VIEW IS WE WIPED THE OTHER SPECIES OUT.

BUT IT LOOKS MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT, AND IT WASN'T A COMPLETE WIPEOUT AS WE'VE

LEARNED IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS.

>> Stephen: WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

>> THERE WAS A BIT OF INTERBREEDING.

>> Stephen: OH, COME ON, COME ON.

>> YOU AND I HAVE GOT A LITTLE BIT OF NEANDERTHAL IN US?

>> Stephen: REALLY?

HOW MUCH?

WHAT PART OF ME IS NEANDERTHAL?

IS IT THE GUY THAT COMES OUT WHEN I'M DRUNK.

HE'S ROUGH TRADE.

>> PROBABLY-- IT'S IN YOUR D.N.A., BUT IT MAY NOT BE SHOWING PHYSICALLY.

>> Stephen: IS IT DOING ANYTHING IN THERE, OR IS IT LIKE A SLEEPER CELL, LIKE A TERRORIST

D.N.A. SLEEPER CELL?

>> IT'S NOT DOING TOO MUCH.

>> Stephen: WE INTERBRED WITH THE NEANDERTHALS.

WE KNOW THIS?

>> WE DID.

BASICALLY WE GET OUR D.N.A. FROM THE NEANDERTHAL FOSSILS NOW AND WE RECREATED MOST OF THEIR GENOME.

COMPARING THAT WITH HUMANS WE FIND PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF AFRICA-- PEOPLE IN EUROPE, CHINA,

AUSTRALIA, NATIVE AMERICANS-- THEY'VE ALL GOT A BIT OF NEANDERTHAL D.N.A. IN THEM.

KIND OF FOR THE NEANDERTHALS IT'S A CHANGE OF RELATIONSHIP.

I USED TO THINK THEY COMPLETELY DIED OUT.

NOW WE KNOW THEY DIDN'T DIE OUT.

SOME OF THEIR D.N.A. LIVES ON IN US.

>> Stephen: CAN WE GET A NEANDERTHAL BACK BY SELECTIVE BREEDING?

THAT WOULD PROBABLY --

>> Stephen: IT'S A QUESTION, SCIENCE I'M ASK AG AT QUESTION.

>> IT'S A GOOD QUESTION.

OBVIOUSLY, THE DEBATE A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO ABOUT CLOPG A NEANDERTHAL, AND IT'S THE SORT

OF THING WE WOULD HAVE SAID WAS IMPOSSIBLE A FEW YEARS AGO.

NOW, AT LEAST SOME IDIOT WITH ENOUGH MONEY AND ARROGANCE COULD ONE DAY PROBABLY DO IT.

( LAUGHTER ) ( APPLAUSE )

>> Stephen: YOU'RE SINGING MY SONG.

ARE WE STILL EVOLVING?

>> WE ARE STILL EVOLVING.

>> Stephen: WHAT'S NEXT FOR US?

>> I THINK WE CAN SAY WHAT ISN'T GOING TO HAPPEN.

YOU SEE THESE DIAGRAMS AND PICTURES SOMETIMES OF STICK PEOPLE WITH GREAT BIG BRAINS.

>> Stephen: EXACTLY.

>> THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

OUR BRAINS HAVE ACTUALLY GOTTEN SMALLER IN THE LAST 20,000 YEARS, SOME MAYBE MORE THAN OTHERS.

I DON'T KNOW.

( LAUGHTER ) BUT OVERALL, WE HAVE-- YEAH.

WE HAVE ACTUALLY HAD SHRINKING BRAINS IN THE LAST 20,000 YEARS.

>> Stephen: HOW ABOUT OUR GUT?

>> THERE'S A THING CALLED THE EXPENSESSIVE TISSUE HYPOTHESIS.

IT SAYS WE ESOLVED OUR LARGE BRAINS BY CHANGE OUR DIET.

OUR ANCESTORS HAD GREAT BIG GUTS BECAUSE THEY WERE VEGETARIAN.

THEY NEVER HAD ENOUGH SPARE ENERGY BECAUSE THEIR GUTS WERE USING 20% OF THEIR ENERGY.

THEY NEVER HAD ENOUGH SPARE ENERGY TO EVOLVE A LARGE BRAIN.

WHEN WE STARTED EATING MEAT, IT FREED UP ENERGY AND WE COULD START TO RUN A BIGGER BRAIN.

>> Stephen: THAT'S WHY VEGETARIANISM SEEMS SO STUPID TO ME.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME.

( APPLAUSE ) THE BOOK IS "LONE SURVIVORS." CHRIS STRINGER, WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.