Confronting the jigsaw puzzle of human uniqueness head on, as the organizers did, follows in the tradition of Charles Darwin, according to molecular biologist and geneticist Sean B. Carroll of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Carroll said that Darwin himself would approach the topic of the workshop by saying, "What are the fresh facts? Let's put them on the table."
On Saturday and Sunday the fresh facts were indeed rolled out as each scientist gave a 20-minute presentation on findings in their field relevant to the question of human uniqueness, followed by five minutes of questions and discussion. On Monday morning Hill and Marean moderated a discussion of the sequence of events—including genetic, anatomical and behavioral adaptations—that led humans to where we are today.
The researchers plan to post the results to a Web site, but for now it will remain private, so the rest of us will have to wait a bit longer for a resolution to the question of what makes humans unique. However, more details from the conference will be reported at ScientificAmerican.com in the coming days, so stay tuned.