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How human are humans? Is Darwin’s extraordinary idea relevant for our species? This subject examines the role of evolution in shaping human biology, by examining our past origins, our current behavior and life-histories, and our future relationships with other organisms. Topics include the evolutionary history of hominids, patterns of migration and variation in skin colour; human reproductive strategies and sex ratios; why language makes us different; how genes and environment shape sexual and cooperative behavior; antagonistic co-evolutionary processes and antimicrobial resistance, pathogen virulence, and management of natural resources. Lectures draw on contemporary examples from the primary literature, complemented with TV documentaries. There is a strong emphasis on distinguishing between unsubstantiated conjecture and concepts that are supported by rigorous science.
Intended learning outcomes
This subject aims to provide students with an understanding of the evolution of adaptation by natural and sexual selection; knowledge of how evolutionary theory explains human behavior and life-histories; and how an understanding of evolutionary processes can help resolve questions about human interactions with other species
The subject builds upon existing generic skills, including an ability to assimilate and critically evaluate new knowledge within a scientific paradigm, and to communicate that knowledge to a broad audience.
Last updated: 22 July 2021