Building the Human Animal (3) An exploration of how the same genetic and developmental properites that shape animal evolution produced the unique human form.
ANTH 260H Building the Human Animal (3)
Building the Human Animal: How do animal bodies adapt to their environment? How is the shape of our bodies encoded in our genes, and how can the same genes be used to make animals as different as a fly and a human? How does evolution create such variety in animal forms? What are the evolutionary pressures that made us human? Can the origins of the human body be seen in less advanced animals? These are questions being asked and answered by the relatively new field of evolutionary and developmental biology (evo-devo). We will investigate these questions and learn how their answers help us better understand human evolutionary history. Readings will include excerpts from three classic and accessible popular science books in conjunction with articles from the primary literature. After a brief introduction into the broad field of Anthropology, we will learn how Darwin developed his theory of Natural Selection and show that evolution can actually be observed and tested in living organisms, such as the Galapagos finch. Next we will explore how genes are used to construct animals from single cells to the adult. We will find that similarities between humans and other animals run surprisingly deep. We will follow with a discussion of how these genetic, developmental, and selective pressures effected the evolution of our body from lowly fishes to the walking, large brained primates that we are. Finally, we will discuss how these exciting advances can be communicated to the general public through popular writing and multimedia museum exhibits. This course will consist of lectures and discussions of the readings.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.