The Scars of Human Evolution

Friday, February 15, 2013: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room 302 (Hynes Convention Center)
In an evolutionary sense, humans are by far the most successful primate on the planet, with the world population close to 7 billion. We owe this success to a number of well-known adaptations that contribute to human uniqueness: bipedalism; large, complex brains and cognitive adaptations permitting abstract thought; slow life histories coupled with high fertility and longer lifespan; and scores of other adaptations that constitute our evolutionary legacy. There are, however, costs to this inheritance; many of our adaptations have produced negative consequences that affect our quality of life today. Some of these affect only a small portion of the population; others affect most of us at some time in our lives. In 1951, in a Scientific American article by the same name, Wilton Krogman referred to these negative outcomes as "the scars of human evolution." This research has important consequences for understanding present-day health. This symposium focuses on negative consequences of our evolutionary legacy. We examine the scars of human evolution in a number of areas, including orthopedics, obstetrics, dentistry, gerontology, diet, and nutrition. Far from a product of intelligent design, it is clear that human biology and behavior is the consequence of an evolutionary process that involved a number of trade-offs, which result in many of the problems associated with the current human condition.
Karen Rosenberg, University of Delaware
Rachel Caspari, Central Michigan University
Milford Wolpoff, University of Michigan
and Matt Cartmill, Boston University
Rachel Caspari, Central Michigan University
Recent Longevity and Its Consequences
Jeremy DeSilva, Boston University
Starting Off on the Wrong Foot
Karen Rosenberg, University of Delaware
Laboring Humans
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