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Walter P. Kistler Book Award


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Christopher B. Stringer, 2008 Winner of the
Walter P. Kistler Book Award

Dr. Stringer is the 2008 recipient of the Walter P. Kistler Book Award, which recognizes authors of science-based books that make important contributions to the public’s understanding of the factors that may impact the long-term future of humanity. He was selected for his book Homo britannicus: The Incredible Story of Human Life in Britain, published by Penguin Books in 2006 [paperback, 2007].

Dr. Stringer is Britain’s foremost expert on human origins. He is a Research Leader in Human Origins at the Natural History Museum, London, and is Director of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB) Project. AHOB has determined, among other discoveries, that humans first set foot in what is now Britain at least 200,000 years earlier than had previously been thought.

“Dr. Stringer’s work has shown that the inability to adjust to climate change was the main reason for failure in several attempts by humans to colonize Britain over the last 700,000 years,” said Sesh Velamoor, Foundation Deputy Director, Programs. “We are now about 12,000 years into the eighth colonization of Britain – following seven attempts when humans died out completely – and indications are that climate change of unprecedented proportion lies ahead of us. How will we manage differently from how these earlier human populations did?”

Walter Kistler formally presented the Walter P. Kistler Book Award to Dr. Christopher B. Stringer on March 13, 2020, at Kane Hall, University of Washington, Seattle. Dr. Stringer was then interviewed by Sesh Velamoor and fielded several questions from the audience. Subjects ranged from climate change, human origins, evolution, and interactions of Neanderthals and modern humans, to ownership rights in connection with fossil remains. [Flyer]



In view of the debates currently raging about impending climate change, how much longer can this latest human occupation last?

The history of Britain and Europe over the last 700,000 years is littered with rapid and severe climatic changes, when apparently settled plant, animal, and human communities were swept away in periods as short as ten years…. Some of the world’s leading climatologists predict that we will see more climatic change in the next hundred years than we have seen in the previous 700,000.

—Dr. Christopher B. Stringer, Homo britannicus