By: David Strait, Ph.D.
Welcome to Simple Beginnings. The title of this blog is an homage to Charles Darwin, who concluded his great treatise, On the Origin of Species, with the following sentence:
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved.”
It is not especially original to refer to this sentence, but it is nonetheless worth doing because of the majesty of the phrasing. A quirk of Darwin’s book, which presents his theory of evolution by means of natural selection, is that he ends many otherwise dense chapters with what can only be described as poetry. I am not a Darwin scholar, but it seems hard to believe that these passages were written only for his scientific peers. Rather, they seem designed to inspire a general audience.
With Darwin’s example as a beacon, the Editorial Team humbly invites you to enjoy Simple Beginnings. This blog is about human evolution, defined broadly. As of this writing, all of the editors are paleoanthropologists, meaning that we study the fossil record of human evolution, but the blog will not simply be about “bones and stones” but rather will encompass the broader discipline of what might be called either human evolutionary biology or evolutionary anthropology.
Blog posts will fall into three categories: News, Perspectives, and Education. News pieces will summarize or contextualize recent discoveries or analyses. Perspectives will offer opinions about the meaning or significance of evolutionary anthropology to the broader world, or may provide insights into what life as an anthropologist is like. And Education posts will explain basic concepts and facts about human evolution to K – 6 and 7 – 12 audiences. The posts geared towards younger children will take the form of infographics. It is hoped that the educational posts will be useful resources for teachers. Our plan is to have a steady rotation among the three types of posts.
There are, of course, other blogs about human evolution, so why should you read ours? Simple Beginnings will be different from other blogs on human evolution in that it will not feature posts from only a single person or members of a single academic unit. Rather it will feature posts drawn from members of the broader Evolutionary Anthropology community. It is hoped that by opening the blog to a broader set of contributors, it will reach a wider audience and reflect the diversity of opinions of our community. Being mindful that labor should not be free, we aspire to provide a nominal honorarium to all guest contributors. If you are an Evolutionary Anthropologist and would like to contribute a post, please visit our Guest Contributors page.
Perhaps fittingly, our blog is beginning simply. We look forward to seeing it evolve.
So, please enjoy!