“What Makes Us Human?” with Natalia Reagan

Homo erectus (left) and Homo naledi (right). Credit: Natalia Reagan.

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About This Episode

What does it mean to be human? Primatologist Natalia Reagan and comic co-host Patrick Melton try to unlock the answers, with a little help from paleoanthropologist Marc Kissel. Join us as we dive deep into the history of the hominoid lineage. You’ll hear about the evolution of wisdom, the importance of “symbolic thinking,” and why societal examples of behavior are more important than individual examples of behavior when studying the fossil record. You’ll also hear how Marc’s work on Notre Dame’s “Evolution of Wisdom” project could help us better understand ourselves – and why it’s so hard to flesh out wisdom from the fossil record. You’ll learn about the evolutionary mystery of language and the tricks we use to try and put the puzzle together. You’ll also find out if teeth can tell us anything about signs of compassion and altruism amongst early humans. All that, plus, our trio answers previously submitted Cosmic Queries about losing hair, what humans will look like 500,000 years from now, whether another intelligent species could rise to power, and much more!

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: What Makes Us Human?” with Natalia Reagan

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