Genes, Evolution and Behavior (4) This course explores how genes influence our traits and how our traits evolve, with special emphasis on behavior.
ANTH 218 Genes, Evolution and Behavior (4)
Genes, Evolution & Behavior is a science course designed to introduce students to modern genetics and explore the genetic and evolutionary bases for human and nonhuman primate traits, with special focus on behavior. In particular, students will investigate the main features of DNA, genomes, genes and how genetic variation can be associated with both rare Mendelian traits and common traits that vary continuously. That is, we will consider how some traits vary primarily due to genetic variants with relatively large effects, while other traits vary due to differences between individuals in many genes with small effects, along with environmental differences. Students will gain an understanding of human and nonhuman primate behavioral ecology and how the evolutionary forces of mutation, migration, genetic drift and selection shape behaviors and their underlying genes. The approach to the material will be both practical and personalized, as students will be invited to assay their own DNA for particular genetic variants and to measure some of the traits studied (e.g., facial features using 3d photos, voice pitch, skin color, and personality traits) on themselves. During the course of the semester, we will consider how various physical traits such as facial appearance, voice, bitter tasting ability, skin pigmentation, disease risks, and body odor, and behavioral/psychological traits such as diet, territoriality, cooperation, altruism, cognition, mating behaviors and parenting are influenced by genes and shaped by the forces of evolution. Numerous hands-on experiments will be used to help students to visualize the sometimes-abstract methods and concepts occurring on unfamiliar scales of time and size. Students should come away from the course with a basic understanding of modern genetics, how genes influence the characteristics of organisms, and how anatomy, physiology, behavior and their underlying genes evolve. This course has a lab component and thus fulfills lab requirements, as well as serving toward the major and minor in Anthropology.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.