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International Darwin Day

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“Scars of Evolution”

12:30PM – 1PM  ISE Lab Room 410

Karen Rosenberg, Professor of Anthropology, President of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, and Co-Organizer of this symposium

“Scars of Evolution”

Abstract: 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 talk focuses on negative consequences of our evolutionary legacy. I will 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. Bio: Professor Karen Rosenberg is a paleoanthropologist with specialties in human evolution, women’s evolution, and Neanderthals. She conducts research into the evolution of women and childbirth practices, and is the co-editor of the journal PaleoAnthropology. She is studying how the evolution of the human brain influenced how humans give birth compared to other species. The American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) is a 1,700-member association that is the world's leading professional organization for physical anthropologists, who are biological scientists dealing with the adaptations, variability and evolution of human beings and their living and fossil relatives.

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International Darwin Day
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  • University of Delaware
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