Humans Without Borders: Evolutionary Processes at Work in Humans and Their Relatives

Sunday, February 20, 2011: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
207A (Washington Convention Center )
The main goals of this symposium are to communicate new research regarding genetic and phenotypic insights into the evolutionary past of humans, our continuing evolution, and the implications of this research. The evolution of humans within the primate lineage (approximately 6 million to 8 million years ago) and the more recent migrations of modern humans across the globe in the past 100,000 years are fascinating topics with a strong scientific foundation. The DNA sequences of chromosomes in all of Earth's living organisms serve as a genetic archeological record, which provides not only a window on our own evolutionary past, but also a framework for making meaningful comparisons of biological phenomena in humans and other primates. The speakers in this symposium will illustrate this framework by describing work based on analyses of DNA sequences and phenotype distributions. For example, recent work on malaria in baboons allows us to exploit our common ancestry with nonhuman primates to help us understand the evolution of human interactions with the malarial parasite, Plasmodium vivax. In other examples, elucidation of the adaptive correlates of human skin color differences, and differences in adult human lactose tolerance, when considered in their geographic context, provide insight into the history of human migration within and out of Africa, and how migrating populations evolved in response to challenges posed by new and different environmental conditions.
James J. Smith, Michigan State University
Robin Smith, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center
Allen Rodrigo, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center
Carl Zimmer, Independent Science Journalist
Nina Jablonski, Pennsylvania State University
Human Skin Pigmentation as an Example of the Action of Natural Selection
Sarah Tishkoff, University of Pennsylvania
Evolution of Lactose Tolerance in Human Populations in Africa
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