Candidate Profile

Anthropology & Cultural Studies
Earth Sciences, Geology & Geography
Professor Chris Stringer has worked at The Natural History Museum London since 1973, and is now Research Leader in Human Origins and a Fellow of the Royal Society. His early research was on the relationship of Neanderthals and early modern humans in Europe, but through his work on the ‘Recent African Origin’ theory of modern human origins, he now collaborates with archaeologists, dating specialists, and geneticists in attempting to reconstruct the evolution of modern humans globally. He has excavated at sites in Britain and abroad, and he is currently co-directing the Pathways to Ancient Britain project, funded by the Calleva Foundation.

He has published over 400 scientific papers and his recent books include The Origin of Our Species (UK 2011), published in the USA as Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth (2012), Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story (2014, with Rob Dinnis), and Our Human Story (2018, with Louise Humphrey). He regularly lectures to University and public audiences, including cruises and tours for Fred Olsen, Voyages to Antiquity, Celebrity Cruises, Scientific American and National Geographic.

Chris Stringer is a regular contributor to news items on human evolution for UK TV and Radio channels, national and international newspapers and websites, and he has made many appearances on documentaries for UK and international TV channels. He is on Twitter @ChrisStringer65 with more than 13,000 followers.

Click here to read more about Chris's work at The Natural History Museum >>

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1. Human Evolution: the Big Picture
Where did we come from? An introduction to 7 million years of human evolution, from the time of our split from the African apes to the emergence of humans. In 1871, before there was any significant fossil evidence, Charles Darwin suggested that our evolution began in Africa. But it took another 50 years before that evidence started to emerge. In this talk I’ll look at our fundamental features such as a big brain, walking upright on two legs, and making and using tools, and how and when these might have begun.

2. The First Humans
About 2 million years ago the first humans appeared in Africa. Through their larger brains, human body shape, tool-making and meat-eating, they were different from their African ancestors. Discover what drove their evolution and led to a spread from their evolutionary homeland to Asia and Europe. We’ll look at how these people lived and survived in the face of increasingly unstable Ice Ages, and we’ll look at remarkable new finds that change the way we think about our early evolution.

3. The Early Human Occupations of Britain
Over the last 20 years I’ve been leading 2 large projects investigating the big questions about early human colonisations of Britain and Europe. Questions include the earliest evidence for the arrival of people in Britain, and the overall pattern of occupation during the last million years. It seems that Britain was colonised at least 10 times, by different human populations, but 9 of those colonisations were ended by severe climate change – we are in the 10th occupation now.

4. The Neanderthals: Another Kind of Human
Our close relatives the Neanderthals evolved in parallel with our own species, living in Europe and Asia. They are often depicted as bestial ape-men, but in reality they walked upright as well as we do, and their brains were as large as ours. So how much like us were they, and what was their fate? Although they physically disappeared about 40,000 years ago, we now know that they live on in our genes - many of us are made up of about 2% Neanderthal DNA. That means our ancestors must have interbred with some Neanderthals before they vanished!

5. The Rise of Homo sapiens
Modern humans are characterised by large brains and creativity. How did our species arise and spread across the world, and how did we interact with other human species in Africa, Europe, Asia and Australasia? How and when did modern regional (‘racial’) differences arise? We will examine different ideas about our own origins and the origins of complex tools, art and burial of the dead. Insights into what might have led to our success could explain why we are the only humans left on Earth.

6. Mysteries of Human Evolution
In 2004 a controversial new discovery from the remote island of Flores in Indonesia was announced: a new species of primitive human, Homo floresiensis (aka "The Hobbit"). It was supposedly living on Flores as recently as 17,000 years ago, and was only 1 metre tall, with a brain the size of a chimpanzee's. Other experts challenged the evidence, saying that the remains were those of a diseased or pygmy modern human. Ten years later, thousands of fossils of a similarly peculiar human named Homo naledi were discovered deep in Rising Star Cave, South Africa, and later dated to about 300,000 years old. Who were these creatures, where do they fit in evolution, and what was their fate?

7. A fossil who-dun-it
In 1912 the sensational discovery of ‘Piltdown Man’ was announced to the world. Seemingly fossilised remains of an ape-like jawbone and a human-like braincase were assembled into a new ancient human “Eoanthropus dawsoni” (‘The Dawn Man of Dawson’). Many hailed the find as a ‘missing link’ on British soil, but it was to be another 40 years before the brutal truth began to emerge: all the finds had been forged and planted at the site. Over a dozen people have now been named as the hoaxer or hoaxers, including Arthur Conan-Doyle - I’ll review the whole saga and discuss new approaches to solving this enduring fossil who-dun-it.
I lecture on cruise ships for Voyages to Antiquity, Celebrity Cruises, Fred Olsen, for Scientific American, and also on land tours for National Geographic.
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Braemar M1703 Amazon River Adventure 14 Bridgetown Thursday, February 2, 2017
Balmoral L1627 Madeira, Lisbon & the Canaries 13 Southampton Sunday, October 30, 2016