Humans are more than just DNA. As partly historical narrative and partly science, the study of human origins has unusual scientific properties, which make it distinct from zoology. Our social relations and cultural histories are unprecedented in the natural world. Thus, understanding the “reality” of a new fossil taxon like Homo naledi, involves grappling with the fact that it is not so much a unit of zoology, as a unit of mythology – that is to say, more real as a human relative than as just a naturalistic species.
Jonathan Marks is a prominent evolutionary anthropologist with a focus on the history of science, racism and human biocultural diversity and has authored several books on these topics, including What It Means To Be 98% Chimpanzee (2002, University of California Press), Why I Am Not A Scientist: Anthropology and Modern Knowledge (2009, University of California Press), Tales of the ex-Apes: How We Think about Human Evolution (2015, University of California Press), and Is Science Racist?: Debating Race (2017, Polity Press).
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