Discovering Anthropology: Week 2


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This week we are looking at evolution, primatology, human mating strategies and the future of mankind.

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  • Strategy doesn’t mean that these behaviours are conscious!
  • From Boyd and Silk (p.180)
  • If infanticide is a male reproductive strategy we would expectInfanticide to be associated with changes in status or residenceMales should kill infants whose deaths hasten their mother’s resumption of cyclingMales should kill other males’ infants, not their ownInfanticidal males should achieve reproductive benefitsThere is empirical support for all of these predictions
  • Discovering Anthropology: Week 2

    1. 1. Biological Anthropology and Human Evolution
    2. 2. Outline • Recap • Species • Evolution • Natural/ Artificial/ Sexual Selection
    3. 3. A definition of species is: “the largest natural population of organisms that can potentially interbreed to produce fertile offspring” (e.g. How many species can you name? I’m looking for variety over numbers!
    4. 4. Key questions Why is there such a variety amongst species? What leads to changes in species? When and how did Humans emerge as a separate species?
    5. 5. Earliest explanations “The Creation of Adam”, Michelangelo (c.1512)
    6. 6. What went wrong?
    7. 7. Evolution Evolution - the cornerstone of Biological Anthropology Evolution = change in a population over time Evolution is a FACT How evolution works is a THEORY see “Evolution is a Fact and a Theory” by Laurence Moran (on DUO)
    8. 8. Evolution Video
    9. 9. Lamarck Acquired characteristics… organisms develop differences in their lifetime and pass them onto their children driven primarily by environment demonstrably incorrect (rat tails, blacksmith offspring’s arms) Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829)
    10. 10. Darwin Natural Selection…A theory of evolutionary mechanism based on three observations: organisms vary organisms look like their parents organisms reproduce exponentially (from Malthus) THUS, there is a struggle for existence, and those organisms that can reproduce better will be ‘selected’ by nature Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
    11. 11. Darwin’s Natural Selection
    12. 12. Natural Selection “the process by which random evolutionary changes are selected for by nature in a consistent, orderly, non- random way” (‘stated clearly’ website)
    13. 13. Artificial Selection
    14. 14. Sexual Selection Approximately 90% of species reproduce sexually (meaning individuals from each sex must meet to reproduce) Reproduction uses resources and can exert evolutionary pressure
    15. 15. Sexual selection “depends on the advantage which certain individuals have over other individuals of the same sex and species, in exclusive relation to reproduction” (Darwin 1871)
    16. 16. Display : intersexual selection
    17. 17. Combat : Intrasexual selection
    18. 18. Intrasexual selection leads to Sexual Dimorphism
    19. 19. Intrasexual selection
    20. 20. Problems The missing links… how do offspring look like their parents? where does variation between members of a species come from?
    21. 21. Mendel Inheritance… The way in which characteristics pass from generation to generation Characteristics pass from one generation to the next in discreet units These units come from each parent, with different ‘strengths’ Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)
    22. 22. Watson & Crick ( + others!) Watson and Crick outlined the complex structure of DNA Errors in reading, writing and reproducing DNA code can cause MUTATION Mutation introduces Variation into a population Our understanding of genetics is constantly evolving (!) [e.g. epigenetics, junk DNA]
    23. 23. Break time
    24. 24. Primatology Primatology: the study of the biology, evolution, behavior, and social life of primates Primates evolved about 70 million years ago The Hominid lineage diverged some 6-7 million years ago All species continually evolve, we are not ‘more evolved’ than any other organism We share many physical and behavioural characteristics with other primates so we can learn a lot about ourselves from studying them
    25. 25. Jane Goodall
    26. 26. Early humans Multiple species of early humans (Homo Erectus, Homo Florensiensis, Homo Neanderthalis etc.) These species were bipedal, hunted, used tools, were in large groups, had rituals Homo Sapiens (us) first evolved around 200,000 years ago, and is now the only human species left. We are constantly finding new evidence and re-formulating our theories
    27. 27. Homo Naledi
    28. 28. Group Activity Discuss human male/female mating strategies •Monogamous pair bonding? (how are mating pairs selected?) •Natural selection? (Darwin’s postulates) •Sexual selection? (Inter/ intra?) •Sexual Dimorphism
    29. 29. What is the future for humanity?
    30. 30. Further reading… “The Future of Man--How Will Evolution Change Humans?” – Scientific American Available in teaching materials (with some other readings) and in external links
    31. 31. Next week… Linguistic Anthropology