EEB 210/396 - Animal Models in Human Evolution
Instructor: Bruce Goldman
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In this course, we will explore various aspects of human evolution. I aim to
demonstrate that an informed evaluation of the general biology of other
animals, taken in conjunction with an understanding of mechanisms of evolution,
can greatly enhance our understanding of, and our appreciation for, several
unique, or relatively unique, features of human biology. This course is
designed to work in two ways---to use the topic of human evolution as a focus
for discussing various fundamental evolutionary concepts
The most important goal of the lecture material will be to explore features that are unique or almost unique to human biology---things like language, the ability to perceive and understand the thoughts and emotions of others, and complex reasoning ability---and to discuss how these things might have evolved. Before we can tackle these challenging subjects we will need to discuss elements of evolutionary biology that are likely to be particularly helpful. We will also need to develop an overview of hominid evolution based mostly on the fossil record, and we will need to discuss some relevant information regarding primate physiology and behavior, since primates are our closest living relatives.
My goal for this class is that we will work together---instructor and students---to explore some fascinating aspects of human biology. I hope that each of you will experience a somewhat new view---a different perspective---on what makes us all the species that we are, with our unique attributes.
In a very real sense, I’m a student in this course as well as being
the instructor. I don’t do research in the area of human evolution, but I
have been fascinated by reading material that I’ll be discussing with
you. Also, my long-standing interest in general issues of evolutionary biology
has considerably influenced the animal research that I have carried out