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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cavemen on NPR

Caught the second half of this show this afternoon. Fun and super interesting.

In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge - Caveman. We'll discover how the Ice Age gave birth to the first modern humans. And, the real secret of evolution…cooking. Also, the founder of today's caveman movement. He grunts in a more modern way.


A recent study of DNA from Neanderthal bones changed everything we thought we knew. Paleo Anthropologist John Hawks tells Steve Paulson the new information reveals that modern humans are one to four percent Neanderthal. And Brian Fagan tells Jim Fleming the rest of us is something else - Cro-Magnon. In his book "Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans," he argues that they were just like us - anatomically modern humans.


Sir Ian McKellen is heard first, reading from the novel "Wolf Brother" by Michelle Paver. It's part of her "Chronicles of Ancient Darkness" series, set 6000 years ago. She tells Anne Strainchamps how she got interested in the Stone Age.


Not all cavemen are in the past. The Modern Caveman Movement involves men in urban gyms, grunting and sprinting on all fours, lifting heavy stones, and running barefoot. They're eating a Paleolithic diet of meat, often raw, with no grains or beans or bread or dairy. 72 year-old Arthur De Vany is an economics professor whose physical accomplishments could awe a 20 year-old. He tells Anne Strainchamps it's all about mimicking what our cavemen ancestors would have done. Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham says the big question is WHEN did we become human? He tells Steve Paulson it's clearly when we started cooking [he wrote a book called Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human]. Otherwise we never would have survived.



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