John Hawks is a paleoanthropologist who has been a researcher and commentator in the fields of human evolutionary biology and paleoanthropology for over two decades. With a widely-read weblog, a book on Homo naledi, and highly cited scientific papers, Hawks’ voice is essential to understanding the origin of our species.
In this episode, Hawks talks about how he stumbled onto paleoanthropology, and his work in the 2000’s, where he was at the center of debates between various camps within the field. Then we discuss his shift into genetics as a tool for exploring the big questions in human evolution.
Finally, Hawks and I also address his recent foray into the controversies in the field of ancient DNA, where he has taken a stand against some of the prominent laboratories he believes are destroying specimens needlessly.
Related: My discussion with Hawk’s Ph.D. advisor, Milford Wolpoff, from the spring of 2018.