ANTHROPOLOGY COLLOQUIUM SERIES
Dr. Zachary Cofran
Anthropology Department, Vassar College; Evolutionary Studies Institute
'Babies, brains and bodies: the evolution of development.'
Friday, January 13, 2017, at 4:00pm in the Anthropology Lounge, 3106 WWPH
Big brains and the cultural niche they enable are the most recognizable products of human evolution. Growth and development comprise the mechanisms that literally make us human: at the most fundamental level these mechanisms are shared with other animals, but patterns of their deployment are what give rise to humans’ unique anatomy and capabilities. Patterns associated with the human niche include the retention of prenatal brain growth rates after birth, and slow and prolonged body growth during childhood. However, it can be difficult to ascertain the evolutionary history of these features given the small and fragmentary nature of the fossil record. This talk presents the results of some recent studies of brain, body and dental development in humans’ fossil forebears. These findings highlight how recent approaches can allow us to obtain new information from old bones.
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