You’ve heard of TED talks, right? And on that subject, who could forget one of the best of those? It was given by Elaine Morgan in 2009…

Elaine Morgan, speaking in Oxford in 2009. Still running rings around the field of paleoanthropology at the age of 89.

Well, I’ve decided to start a new series, called WHAT Talks. Like the well known TED brand, they’ll feature “ideas worth spreading” but only on the subject of human evolution and why we are so different, physically, from chimpanzees – the question Elaine always asked at the start of her books. It is a question academics have struggled to answer since Darwin’s time. The standard theory most cling to is what is best described as the savannah hypothesis – that coming down down from the trees somehow forced us out onto the open plains as bipeds, even though no other savannah primate (or any other mammal) adopted this mode of locomotion. Other peculiar human traits Elaine discussed, such our body hair pattern, increased adipocity (especially in infants), the descended larynx and the fine voluntary breath control needed for speech, are hardly mentioned in university-level textbooks on human evolution. If you ask experts in the field if all this might have been something to do with living by the waterside they’ll roll their eyes and scoff, or avert their gaze and change the subject. Something is not right here. It’s time to openly discuss these questions not ignore them as has been the case for sixty years or so.

I’ll start the ball rolling with the first talk, on Sunday, 7th November at 8 pm Western Australian Time, to introduce the series and the theme behind them…

“Ignoring Waterside Hypotheses of Human Evolution
The bizarre non-response by the field of palaeoanthropology to Elaine Morgan’s superbly written books.”

The series will be free, public, global and virtual, using the Zoom platform. Please share the link below with anyone you know who might be interested in human evolution and why we have our peculiar traits. I am particularly keen that students of human biology and related subjects attend because these ideas have been willfully ignored by academia for at least three generations.

Link will be placed here soon.

WHAT Talks? – Humans, right. But how did it evolve? How did we become so different from chimpanzees?

The format will be a 15-20 minute talk, followed by 5 minutes of structured questions before opening it up to the “floor” to anyone present to ask or comment. These virtual meetings will be recorded and placed on a YouTube channel (called WHAT Talks, of course) for anyone to see in the future.

Please pop in, even if just for a few minutes, to see what students of biological anthropology have been missing. If you’d like to give a talk yourself, please write to me (algis@kuliukas.com) and I’ll see if I can fit you in the schedule.

Simon Bearder, professor emeritus at Oxford Brookes University will give the next, on 12th December. His title is “Student feedback on Elaine’s books and the value of open debate.” and Stephen Munro, curator of the Australian National Museum, is next on January 9th.

I hope to see you on line soon!!

Dr Algis Kuliukas

22nd October 2021