How did the human body evolve, and how does it develop, grow and function? This lecture and lab course provides an integrative overview of human anatomy and evolution, with a focus on the musculo-skeletal system, including aspects of developmental biology and the fossil record. Topics covered include: muscular and skeletal development; gross anatomy of the nervous and circulatory systems; comparative limb anatomy; dental anatomy and histology; and comparative cranial anatomy.
Teeth are one of the best preserved and most commonly-recovered elements in fossil assemblages. This seminar will focus on ways in which dental remains may inform studies of fossil primate growth and development, ecology, and social structure. Students will read and discuss current scientific literature, create their own histological tooth sections in the Dental Hard Tissue Laboratory, and will conduct pilot research projects.
This course explores the origins and development of human evolutionary theory in parallel with the discovery and study of our “cousins,” the Neanderthals. Readings and discussions highlight breakthroughs in evolutionary theory since the 17th century, ranging from the Darwinian revolution to the field of “evo-devo.” The recent history of the Neanderthals is explored in detail, which mirrors intellectual developments in biological anthropology ranging from the re-conceptualization of race to innovations in recovering ancient DNA.
Human Evolutionary Biology 1423: Human Origins and Evolution
This course traces evidence for hominin evolution to understand how and why we became human. Readings will cover issues in evolutionary and developmental biology, with an emphasis on the fossil record and comparative data on living primates. Hands-on laboratory sessions will feature fossils and comparative primate skeletal material to complement the lectures. Students will be challenged to critically evaluate on-going debates in paleoanthropology, and will develop skills in reading primary literature and interpreting formal scientific writing in preparation for student-led debates.