The Most Momentous Year in the History of Paleoanthropology

1950 was the most momentous year in the twentieth-century intellectual history of paleoanthropology. Theodosius Dobzhansky had, of course, already put the Synthesis cat among the paleoanthropological pigeons back in 1944, but it was wartime, and nobody seems to have taken much immediate notice. Nonetheless, Dobzhansky’s take on human evolution pointed to the future, and in many ways the end of World War II. The time had come for a new cast of characters to step onto the paleoanthropological stage. In 1950 an ornithologist Ernst Mayr gave a notable presentation at a conference Dobzhansky organized called The Origin and Evolution of Man. During the conference he rebutted traditional ideas of evolution, saying the assumed diversity of human species didn't existt



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