Friday, February 14, 2020

Moving (and in chaos), not stopping MT!

Dear MT viewers,
We are in the (chaotic) process of moving from Penn State to Massachusetts, so haven't been able to do any posts for a while.

BUT please keep checking, as we will be back!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The VAGGINA hypothesis: Our vaginal, uterine, cervical, clitoral, urinary, rectal, and muscular dimensions of the pelvis, Ourselves.

Two months ago, I did a Twitter Poll.

Link to tweet
When you do polls, Twitter limits the number of choices to 4 and each one has strict character limits. So for example, if I had more room, then I would have written “uterus, vagina, clitoris, bladder, rectum, …”

Because that space in the pelvis is "for" all those four choices (and more), the distribution of answers should have been even, with about 25% of respondents voting for each choice.

However, since the answers were skewed to “birthing baby” that tells me something (exactly what I expected) about what people think of when they think about something’s “primary” reason “for” existence. When asked to choose one, they think that the greater space inside female hips (compared to males') is "for" childbirth.

That birthing and pooping (voiding bowels) were preferred over holding organs tells me that people prefer active reasons “for” something, maybe especially for bone-things, over passive reasons.  

A friend even interpreted “holding” as “holding up” which is not the choice. They action-ated the more passive “holding."

But what about how the sex differences in that space got there in the first place? I'm talking about development (the second choice up there).

If development explains a thing, then suddenly, what it's "for" isn't necessarily anything. It just turned out that way. Maybe sex differences in the pelvis have something to do with sex differences in what's INSIDE the pelvis. Maybe during development and also while these organs are doing their dynamic business throughout life, those bones make room... like how bigger brains develop inside more capacious crania than smaller brains do.

Why look at a woman’s pelvis and think about babies? Why not think about gonads, genitalia, and waste disposal? Maybe you are, but maybe questions about what something is "for" send people's brains straight to evolutionary narratives, which continue to label this space as "obstetric" end of story: Your hips are for babies, ladies, and anyone who tells you otherwise doesn't understand evolution!

In evolutionary circles, we're stuck on childbirth as *the* reason for the patterned sex differences we see in human hips, and we need to get unstuck.

I helped perpetuate that narrow-minded narrative and now I have a paper in press that's trying to help change it.

Until a reviewer of my upcoming paper referred to these ideas as the "spatial packing hypothesis" it didn't occur to me that because I didn't offer a name, people will offer their own dreadful ones!

Meanwhile, a reviewer suggested I stop rattling off "vagina, clitoris, uterus, cervix, ... " and instead refer to them collectively as "reproductive organs" ... completely missing the f-ing point.

It's in that context that I'm conceiving of a better name for this hypothesis to post here, since I missed my chance in my paper. Say it with me...

The VAGGINA hypothesis for sex differences in pelvic dimensions.

VAGGINA =Virile, Active Gonads & Genitalia In Nether Area

It's applicable beyond humans because WOW are there a lot of primates (and beyond) who have sex differences in the dimensions of the pelvis. It's as applicable to bodies with vaginas, uteruses, etc as without, and so one could apply the VAGGINA hypothesis to a study of male pelves. I am not suggesting it is the only explanation for this complex phenomenon (sex differences in pelvic dimensions), but given how we've accepted the power of brains and skulls developing together, I think it deserves some consideration.

That big hole in our hips is rarely "for" babies. It's far more often "for" vaginas and lots of other interesting things!

Even if someone demonstrates that all the organs and tissues normally sequestered to female pelves aren't causing the bones around them to make way, those soft tissues are still present inside the vaginal/uterine/clitoral dimensions of the pelvis far more often than a baby is.

For more about the VAGGINA hypothesis, watch this space and Twitter where I'll announce the paper's publication. Thanks!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Craven: a view in verse



The Craven

Suddenly I heard a rapping,
Rapping at my office door,
And a curious sound a-slopping--
Quoth a cleaner I'd seen before:
“May I mop your office floor?”

But it wasn’t only mopping,
Mopping in the hallway floor:
What I’d heard was mapping, mapping,
Searching for the Patent d’Or:
Fervent, furtive secrets sure!

This lab, that lab, all a-mapping,
Mapping behind tight-shut doors;
Funds from other projects sapping,
Fiscal grabbing, resource hoards,
Ever angling yet for more!

Through the keyhole, deftly peering
Peering at what labs aren’t for:
Scientists, their red eyes tearing,
Working endless hours more:
To claim now what’s not yet clear.

So they needn’t be a-fearing
Fearing loss of patents’ lure,
Belaboring the staff so bleary,
Quoth the craven: “I want more!"

But lo! Is this what schools are for?


(Acknowledgment, of course, to Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven)


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

This year's textbook-free Intro Human Origins and Evolution Syllabus (Biological Anthropology, Spring 2020)


You are a Homo sapiens. We are all Homo sapiens. And no Homo sapiens who doesn’t know their species will be given a final letter grade for this course.


APG 201 (3 credits)
Human Origins and Evolution
for  120 students

Dr. Holly Dunsworth

Acknowledgments: For contributing to this course and syllabus through their lovely influence, I am grateful to Cynthia Taylor, Jeffrey Kurland, Alan Walker, Pat Shipman, Jim Wood, Susan Antón, Briana Pobiner, Paul Beardsley, Anne Buchanan, and Ken Weiss. And I’m grateful to all the authors of the texts referenced here, as well as to everyone who shares relevant content and approaches on social media.

Course Description
The biocultural evolution of humans. An investigation into humankind’s place in nature, including a review of the living primates, human genetics and development, evolutionary theory, and the human fossil record. Fulfills both the General Education outcomes A1 (STEM knowledge) and C3 (Diversity and Inclusion) 

Dunsworth’s Description
This is your origins story. To write it, we will learn from biological and evolutionary anthropologists, who study human and nonhuman primate biology, behavior, diversity, adaptation and evolution in order to better understand the human species and explain how we arrived at our current condition: Incessantly chattering, naked, culturally dependent, big-brained, bipedal creatures who are diverse in appearance and culture and inhabit nearly all types of habitats on Earth. Along our journey we will ask ourselves how we know what we know. We will also address, head-on why so much of this material is culturally controversial. The science of human evolution and its dissemination into the popular imagination has a long history of racism and sexism. In this course we will address that history and the stigma it attached to human origins by identifying bad evolutionary thinking, misconceptions, and the many horrible misapplications of that thinking. Class time will be spent on lectures, activities, and discussions where we take back our species’ shared origins story and make it one that’s fit for all humankind.

Required Materials
1. The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being by Alice Roberts  
2. Moleskine Classic Collection, hardcover, Ruled Notebook, 240 pages, 5 x 8 1/4 inch 

Anthropology Program Learning Outcomes for Students
1. Describe the historical development of anthropology and be able to characterize how each subfield contributes to the unified discipline.
2. Compare past and present cultures, including ecological adaptations, social organization, and belief systems, using a holistic, cross-cultural, relativistic, and scientific approach.
3. Explain biological and biocultural evolution, describe the evidence for human origins and evolution, and evaluate both scientific debates and cultural controversies over genetic determinism, biological race, and evolution.
4. Describe the origin of language and importance of symbolic communication in the human condition, including the social context of linguistic change.
5. Explain quantitative and qualitative methods in the analysis of anthropological data and critically evaluate the logic of anthropological research.
7. Apply anthropological research to contemporary environmental, social, or health issues worldwide.

Assessment
Book of Origins check 5% 
Book of Origins 45%
Quiz 1 10% 
Quiz 2 10%
Quiz 3 10% 
Racism and Sexism Project 20% 
TOTAL 100%

Book of Origins Check 
During the designated timeslots, early in the semester, each student will show me the initial progress they’ve made on their Book of Origins. 

Book of Origins*– Due last day of class, in class
*Mark your cover with your  name or a random sticker or something so you can ID yours in a sea of others’. 
You will write this Book of Origins over the course of the semester and keep it when our course is over. Your Book of Origins is not your notebook. You will need a separate notebook for taking class notes and for organizing handouts, worksheets, quizzes, etc; your Book of Origins is something else. Your Book of Origins is due on the last day of class and will be graded and returned to you at the time of the final exam (which is not really a final exam, see below). Your Book of Origins is your creation and the content includes your assignments entered in preparation for that day’s class meeting as well as all information from your classroom lecture notes, handouts, worksheets, etc. that you find to be meaningful. Assignments (e.g. 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc…. ) that go into the Book of Origins are listed on the schedule and the details of each assignment are located in the long version of this syllabus posted on Sakai. Assignments are choreographed readings and activities that you do outside of class, timed to maximize your engagement with the in-class course material and your mastery of it. Some will ask you to respond to a reading with words or drawings. Others will involve watching films or performing interactive activities on-line. Still others guide you to perform specific exercises in preparation for in-class activities. If the assignment asks you to write something, you must write in your own words. If you want to include quotes in your Book of Origins, please do but they are in addition to any assignment that is to be completed in your own words. You need to fill at least one page, at minimum, for each assignment to get full credit for its completion. Write in sentences strung together in prose. Bullet-pointed notes (even if in sentences) do not count as a completed writing assignment. You may include those kinds of notes in addition to your assignments (and you are encouraged if you value them, understandably), but that is not the method you may use to complete an assignment. This is writing! Write! If your handwriting is illegible, or if you just prefer to type, you can type up your assignments, print them, cut them out, and paste them into your book. You can used mixed methods too, typing some and handwriting others, or parts of others. If you choose to draw more than write, you still need to convey the significance of the drawing. You cannot simply draw some genitalia, for example, and then move on to the next assignment. Those genitalia need an explanation! What are those genitalia doing there on that page of your Book of Origins? Make everything part of your Book of Origins by giving it context for the reader (who is present you, future you, and anyone you may share it with).  Which brings me to this VERY IMPORTANT point: Each assignment must be comprehensible to a total stranger who isn’t part of this course and who has no idea what has been assigned. This is a book, after all, not merely a compendium of homework. So, that means you must write and include context for your answer to each assignment’s prompts. For some of you this will mean transcribing the assignment/prompt into your books while for others may mean you simply write a bit of an introduction, even just a sentence, to orient the reader. Grading is based mostly on whether you completed the assignments thoughtfully and professionally, not whether you completed them entirely correctly. In other words, you earn full credit for each assignment by putting forth the effort to complete it—as long as it’s a solid effort, is mostly accurate, and earnestly attempts to answer the questions that are asked!  I grade this way because these assignments are often struggles that I’m asking you to face on your own ahead of in-class discussion.  Errors in the assignments are therefore tolerated but systematic/egregious inaccuracies are not. Your book’s overall grade will be based on completion of assignments, effort, clarity/legibility, organization, and additional content you have added above and beyond the bare minimum you are asked to include in each assignment. So, the overall grade takes into consideration how thoughtful you are in creating your book, curating materials beyond merely entering complete assignments. Be sure to number your pages so that you can fill out the table of contents, which will be provided and is required.  Your Book of Origins is due on or before the last day of class with no exceptions unless there is an official university-approved excuse and documentation for it. Submit your Book of Origins by the deadline whether it is complete or not because after the deadline I won’t be accepting books. You’d rather have partial credit than zero credit. This deadline is so firm because the point is to encourage you to do these assignments routinely throughout the semester as they’ve been choreographed to accompany classroom activities and lectures. So keep up with it, three times a week and then it will be complete when it’s due which is on the last day of class, in class, and not after that. 

Quizzes 1, 2, and 3
These are take-home quizzes where students are free to consult resources and each other (as long as it’s reciprocal and not parasitic, okay? But if any written answers are similar, that is plagiarism). Quizzes will consist of multiple-choice, short answer, and essay. They are passed out in class and submitted in class, there is no opportunity to submit quizzes late for any points unless students have an excused absence as defined by the university handbook. This way, course attendance and participation (which is not otherwise recorded) is reflected by quiz scores, which will benefit from regular attendance and participation. 

Racism and Sexism Project 
This is a written assignment due at the time of the final exam (which we do not have). It is a multi-part short-answer/essay assignment that should reflect much of what you accomplished over the semester and especially during the last weeks. Leading up to this project’s deadline, we will use class time to prepare and your Book of Origins assignments are also directly relevant to answering these questions. Both hard and digital versions are required; you will be submitting paper to me and uploading the file to Sakai as well. A full set of instructions, helpful guidelines, and grading rubric will be provided separately in class well ahead of the deadline. 
Questions from last semester were...

  • Consult your friends, family, or the Internet, or all. Describe why someone might associate evolution with racism. Describe what you learned/found, consider it carefully as a listener/observer, and perhaps try to understand either by asking follow-up questions, reading further, or empathizing. You are welcome to use images.
  • Consult your friends, family, or the Internet, or all. Describe why someone might associate evolution with sexism. Describe what you learned/found, consider it carefully as a listener/observer, and perhaps try to understand either by asking follow-up questions, reading further, or empathizing. You are welcome to use images.
  • Write a response to the misperception or misbelief or misunderstanding (or whatever it may be) in either #1 or #2 (choose one). Clear it up. Refute it. Help your audience to unlearn the wrong and to learn the right. Whatever it takes. Be kind, be convincing, be scientific, be specific and detailed (relying on course content and examples), be human. You are welcome to use or create images to support your answer. 
  • Racism affects each and every one of us and in profound ways. When it comes to health and livelihood, racism can have a negative impact on individuals. Focusing on one issue, and citing at least 1 source (recommend using materials from lecture or syllabus as either source or springboard to related sources), briefly explain how inequality and inequity due to racism is negatively impacting the biology or health-related well-being of Americans. You may use an example that we have gone over in class—for example, how the infant mortality rate is higher for black Americans than it is for whites—or you may look into another. 
  • Given what we learned in APG 201 and what you’ve learned from being alive, respond to someone, like a friend or a family member, who says to you, “How in the world can someone say that race is a social construct? I see race with my own eyes!” Feel free to respond in a colloquial or casual manner but be kind and convincing. Respond to this person by applying the approach and knowledge of biological anthropology (this course, APG 201) to solving this issue. Be scientific, specific and detailed, incorporate course content. Be human. Make sure to address both the biologically-minded misunderstandings of human variation as well as the socially constructed realities of race. 


Schedule (dates removed for this blog post) of Assignments that go into your Book of Origins  and non-required “resources” that support/complement the course

These assignments, which must each fill at least one page of your book, are due to yourself before class on the day listed on the syllabus. Using the assigned materials (and you’re welcome to use any of the “resources” as well), answer the questions for the assignments by writing, drawing, sketching, collaging, pasting pics, etc in any format that works. Do not do that day’s assignment if you have not read/viewed the assigned material. “Resources” listed at the end of each stage are not assigned, but are provided as support for the assignments and/or the course content in classes for that stage. Resources will be especially helpful if you do not understand something, have missed class, or wish to learn more. Dr. Dunsworth is a helpful resource in all three of those circumstances too.

Write your name inside the front cover. of your Book of Origins. You may wish to make a title page. Then leave 2-4 pages for a Table of Contents (that I will provide in class and you can tape or glue that into these pages). Then, after those blank pages for the Table of Contents, start by making a title page for the first unit “1 – Initial Situation” which is to be labeled PAGE 1 in everyone’s book.  Number each of your pages, subsequently.

Units are each a stage in the hero's journey according to Propp's Morphology of the Folktale via Misia Landau's  Narratives of Human Evolution.



1 - Initial Situation

setting your story in motion as only humans can; anthropology; the scientific process; taxonomy; the Order Primates; observing the natural world and determining our place in it; evolution (change over time in lineages that share common ancestors); phylogeny; species and speciation; fossils and fossilization


Note: Leave at least one page at the end of this section where you will curate key insights from in-class lectures, discussions or handouts. Alternatively, you may add pages throughout this unit where you curate in-class materials/ info/ ideas/ questions. Just make sure you leave room somewhere for this important activity in each and every  unit throughout the book. 


1.1 [This is an activity we do on day 1 of class that you later transfer into your book as written in class.] Write and/or draw at least one page of answers to the following: What is evolution? What do you know about human evolution? What are you interested in learning about evolution and/or human evolution?

1.2  The Scientific Process! First, choose one of the following well-known and established observations:
a)      Children from low income homes show evidence of malnutrition.
b)      In most humans, the right humerus (upper arm bone) is larger than the left one.
c)       Chimpanzees living in zoos tend to be overweight compared to their relatives living in the wild.

Next, without using anything but your own mind, offer up two different hypotheses to explain that one observation. Briefly describe how you would test these hypotheses. Include discussion of the methods and variables for obtaining evidence and the kinds of evidence that you would need to find to both refute and to support each hypothesis. 

1.3  For all four great apes (orangutans, gorillas, bonobos, chimpanzees), use at least one page (that’s one page for each ape) to answer the following questions.  Complete sentences are not necessary and neither are the numbers, as long as the info is there.  Pictures and figures are fine too. Get your information from these excellent websites:
•   Animal Diversity Web: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu /
•    Primate Factsheets: http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets
•    Encyclopedia of Life: http://eol.org/
•    Time Tree: http://www.timetree.org/

1.      [paste or draw a picture of the ape]
2.      What is the species? (for gorillas and orangutans, choose one, but note the others)
3.      Where does it live on Earth?
4.      What is the range of its habitat? Describe the nature of the habitat.
5.      Is your primate nocturnal, diurnal, or crepuscular?
6.      What does it eat?
7.      How does it move about? 
8.      How does it socialize? (i.e. solitary? groups?...)
9.      How does it raise offspring? (i.e. solitary? groups?...)
10.  Body size (both kg/g and lb/oz)? Are male and female different?
11.  What does it look like? Color? Fur?
12.  What are its threats to survival? 
13.  At what point in the past (millions of years ago) did it share a most recent (aka “last”) common ancestor with humans? (go to www.timetree.org to find out)

1.4  Read two chapters from The Autobiography of Charles Darwin: "Voyage…" (p. 71-81 ) and "An account of how several books arose" (p. 116- 135) http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=text&itemID=F1497&pageseq=1
Write and/or draw in at least one page what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

1.5  Read Roberts: Beginnings (chapter 1). Write and/or draw in at least one page what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.


1.6 Using the table of primates and their traits, draw the Human, Baboon, Squirrel Monkey, and Baboon lines on the figure (which you should transfer into a page in your book). Make sure to draw arrows where traits changed. Trees are hypotheses, as long as they are logically based on the information, they are not incorrect. There is more than one correct answer.


1.7 Read Roberts: Heads and brains (chapter 2). Write and/or draw in at least one page what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

1.8 Go to http://www.eskeletons.org/ and based on what you see, draw the os coxa (half of the pelvis) of a chimpanzee and a human, in at least one page. Describe the similarities and differences in anatomy between chimp and human pelves/pelvises (do not worry about applying technical jargon). What kinds of behavioral differences might correlate with the anatomical differences in the pelvis and why? Go to http://www.eskeletons.org/ and based on what you see, draw the skull  (including teeth) of a chimpanzee and a human, in at least one page. Describe the similarities and differences in anatomy between chimp and human skulls and teeth (do not worry about applying technical jargon). What kinds of behavioral differences might correlate with the anatomical differences in skulls and teeth and why?

1.9 Read “Monkeys all the way down” by Dunsworth (Sapiens) https://www.sapiens.org/column/origins/monkeys-all-the-way-down/ - Did we evolve from monkeys and apes? Explain.

1.10 Without looking anything up (except to see better pictures of the primates or to look up terms), write an answer for each of the questions below. In other words, come up with a hypothesis (a good guess) to explain the evolution of each of the four phenomena. These are evolutionary scenarios that you are writing.  This is brainstorming, so have no fear, but be clear.
1.      How did the mandrill get that colorful face? What about the rear (which looks like the face)?
2.      How did the colobus monkey (a leaf-eater or foliovore) get a long, specialized gut?
3.      How did gorillas become the largest primate? And how did silverback gorillas become twice as big as females?

4.      How did humans become “naked”? (i.e. how did we cease to be as furry as the other primates)?
Resources for 1, supports work we do both in class and here in the Book
·         How Science Works (video; 10 min):
·         Understanding science: How Science Works, pages 1-21; starts here:
·         What is it like to be a biological anthropologist? A Field Paleontologist's Point of View – Su (Nature Education) http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/what-is-it-like-to-be-a-59719064
·         Notes from the Field: A Primatologist's Point of View – Morgan (Nature Education)
·         Expedition Rusinga (video; 8 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4y1puNyB9e8  
·         Carl Sagan’s Rules for Critical Thinking and Nonsense Detection
·         10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing
·         Surprise! Semen is required
·         Characteristics of Crown Primates – Kirk (Nature Education)
·         Old World monkeys – Lawrence and Cords (Nature Education)
·         Trait Evolution on a Phylogenetic Tree – Baum (Nature Ed)
·         Human Evolutionary Tree – Adams (Nature Ed)
·         Human evolution is more a muddy delta than a branching tree—Hawks (Aeon)
https://aeon.co/ideas/human-evolution-is-more-a-muddy-delta-than-a-branching-tree
·         Our Fishy Brain (video; 2.5 mins) http://video.pbs.org/video/2365207797/
·         Planet without apes? – Stanford (Huffington Post)
·         Primate Speciation: A Case Study of African Apes – Mitchell & Gonder (Nature Ed)
·         Why should we care about species? – Hey (Nature Ed)
·         Speciation: The origin of new species – Safran (Nature Ed)
·         The maintenance of species diversity – Levine (Nature Ed)
·         Macroevolution: Examples from the Primate World – Clee & Gonder (Nature Ed)
·         Amazing Places, Amazing Fossils: Tiktaalik (video; 5 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2vKlEUX7DI
·         Dating Rocks and Fossils Using Geologic Methods – Peppe (Nature Ed)
·         Overview of hominin evolution – Pontzer (Nature Ed)
·         Seven Million Years of Human Evolution (video; 6 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZv8VyIQ7YU
·         How to Become a Primate Fossil – Dunsworth (Nature Ed)

2 – Hero
the origins of sex; how eggs and sperm get made and how they make you

2.1 Read “When Did Sex Become Fun?” by Dunsworth (Sapiens)  https://www.sapiens.org/column/origins/sexual-evolution-pleasure/ - Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

2.2 Read Roberts: Skulls and Senses (chapter 3) -Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

2.3 Read “Things Genes Can’t Do” by Weiss and Buchanan (Aeon)
http://aeon.co/magazine/nature-and-cosmos/kenneth-weiss-anne-buchanan-genetics/ - Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

Resources for 2, supports work we do both in class and here in the Book
·         Finding the Origins of Human Color Vision (video; 5 mins) http://video.pbs.org/video/2365207765/
·         The Evolution of Your Teeth (video; 3 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohq3CoOKEoo
·         Gregor Mendel and the Principles of Inheritance – Miko (Nature Ed)
·         Mendelian Genetics: Patterns of Inheritance and Single-Gene Disorders – Chial (Nature Ed)
·         Developing the Chromosome Theory – O’Connor (Nature Ed)
·         Genetic Recombination – Clancy (Nature Ed)
·         What is a Gene? Colinearity and Transcription Units – Pray (Nature Ed)
·         RNA functions – Clancy (Nature Ed)
·         Phenotypic Range of Gene Expression: Environmental Influence – Lobo & Shaw (Nature Ed)
·         Genetic Dominance: Genotype-Phenotype Relationships – Miko (Nature Ed)
·         Pleiotropy: One Gene Can Affect Multiple Traits – Lobo (Nature Ed)
·         Polygenic Inheritance and Gene Mapping – Chial (Nature Ed)
·         The Molecular Clock and Estimating Species Divergence – Ho (Nature Ed)
·         Hox Genes in Development: The Hox Code – Myers (Nature Ed)
·         We Hear with the Bones that Reptiles Eat With (video; 4 mins) http://video.pbs.org/video/2365207244/
How Do We Know When Our Ancestors Lost Their Tails? (video; 4 min) http://video.pbs.org/video/2365211775/

3 – Change
mutation; gene flow; natural selection; genetic drift and other evolutionary processes; gestational development; ontogeny and phylogeny; genomics; evo-devo; molecular clocks and the 'Last Common Ancestor'

3.1 Read Roberts: Speech and gills (chapter 4) - Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.


3.2  Read Roberts: Spines and segments (chapter 5) - Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

3.3 Read Roberts: Ribs Lungs and Hearts (chapter 6) - Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

3.4 Read Roberts: Guts and Yolk Sacs (chapter 7) - Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

3.5 Look back at what you wrote for 1.10, for each of your evolutionary scenarios (i.e. your answers to the questions1, 2, 3, and 4), label, there, on the pages of 1.10 which evolutionary mechanisms (discussed in class recently) that you hypothesized were at work in each of your scenarios. You probably didn’t use all the terms and ideas we later (recently) covered in class but you may have been getting at some of them. .
Next, here, rewrite each of the four explanations you wrote back in 1.10. Make them more scientifically accurate by using the four main mechanisms of evolution that we discussed in class and those terms: mutation, gene flow, genetic drift, and natural selection. You may need to just change a few words or you may need to completely revise the entire answer, it depends on what you originally wrote.  Important! Banned words for your scenarios include: Need(s/ed/ing), want(s/ed/ing), try(s/ed/ing), best, most, and fittest.

1.      How did the mandrill get that colorful face? What about the rear?
2.      How did the colobus monkey get a long, specialized gut?
3.      How did gorillas become the largest primate? And how did silverback gorillas become twice as big as females?
4.      How did humans become “naked”? (i.e. how did we cease to be as furry as the other primates)?
Resources for 3
·         Mutation not natural selection drives evolution –  Tarlach (about Nei; Discover Magazine)
·         Evolution Is Change in the Inherited Traits of a Population through Successive Generations – Forbes and Krimmel (Nature Ed)
·         Mutations Are the Raw Materials of Evolution – Carlin (Nature Ed)
·         Neutral Theory: The null hypothesis of molecular evolution – Duret (Nature Ed)
·         Secrets of Charles Darwin’s Breakthrough -  Bauer (Salon)
·         Natural selection, genetic drift and gene flow do not act in isolation in natural populations – Andrews (Nature Ed)
Evolution is the only natural explanation and it’s all we need – Dunsworth (The Mermaid’s Tale) http://ecodevoevo.blogspot.com/2013/06/evolution-is-only-natural-explanation.html
·         Negative selection – Loewe (Nature Ed)
·         On the mythology of natural selection. Part I: Introduction – Weiss (The Mermaid’s Tale)
·         On the mythology of natural selection. Part II: Classical Darwinism– Weiss (The Mermaid’s Tale)
·         Natural Selection: Uncovering Mechanisms of Evolutionary Adaptation to Infectious Disease – Sabeti (Nature Ed)
·         Evolutionary Scenarios and Primate Natural History – Greene (American Naturalist)

4     – Departure
when to get born and why it's so difficult

4.1 Read “Labor Pains and Helpless Infants: Eve or Evolution? (Parts 1 and 2)” by Dunsworth (Sapiens) https://www.sapiens.org/column/origins/labor-pains-helpless-infants-eve-evolution-part-one/ , & https://www.sapiens.org/column/origins/labor-pains-helpless-infants-eve-evolution-part-two/ - Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

Resources for 4
·         Childbirth, Explained (26 min video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BmN8C8IzRw
·         Why is no one interested in vagina size? – Dunsworth (New York Mag)
https://www.thecut.com/2015/12/why-is-no-one-interested-in-vagina-size.html

5 – Test
when you were a big-brained, seemingly helpless baby; milk, and lactase persistence; origins of bipedalism

5.1 Read Roberts: Gonads, genitals, and gestation (chapter 8) - Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

5.2 Read Roberts: On the Nature of Limbs (chapter 9) - Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

5.3 Read Roberts: Hip to Toe (chapter 10) - Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

Resources for 5
·         Overview of hominin evolution – Pontzer (Nature Ed)
·         The Smithsonian Human Origins website
http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils
·         Primate locomotion – Gebo (Nature Education)
·         Ardi-Ardipithecus ramidus and human evolution ((video; 3:33 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5c5syi0124
·         Ancient Human Ancestors: Walking in the woods (video; 4 mins)
·         The Earliest Hominins: Sahelanthropus, Orrorin, and Ardipithecus - Su (Nature Ed):
·         Lucy (video; 5 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8Lkk6u-wQM
·         Lucy: A marvelous specimen – Schrein (Nature Ed)

6 – Donor
development of 'secondary sex traits' and the origins of human sociality; origins of language


6.1 Read Peace Among Primates – Sapolsky (The Greater Good) http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/peace_among_primates - Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

6.2  React to the Whiten et al (1995) paper “Cultures in Chimpanzees” (https://www.nature.com/articles/21415; will be passed out in class and posted on Sakai). To help, try miming each of the behaviors in Table 2 noting some that are familiar to you as a human who behaves as a human, and some that aren’t.

6.3  Read on and then answer questions A and B. Remember…
Most of us were taught incorrectly or led, wrongly, to believe that ‘evolution’ = ‘natural selection’ and that all evolution occurs through natural selection. This leads us to see every evolutionary scenario, all the way from fairy tale ones to the most scientifically legitimate ones, as natural selection. This is, of course, not a correct understanding of evolution.
       Natural selection can result in new adaptations or in the elimination of bad traits. The former is “positive” selection, the latter is “negative” and is always occurring no matter what. Positive selection does happen but is not easy to test, since natural selection occurs via differential reproductive success, but “survival of the luckiest” alleles via genetic drift can look exactly the same by increasing and decreasing allele frequencies just by chance. The difference between the two is that, in a selection scenario, the trait that’s evolving is causing the differential reproduction (whether enhancing or inhibiting, even if ever so slightly affecting it slowly over time), but in a genetic drift scenario the trait is randomly “drifting” to lower or higher frequencies merely due to chance (unlinked to the trait in question) effects on differential reproduction and chance passing of one allele or the other to offspring. Like selection, drift can completely fix or completely eliminate traits. Genetic drift is always occurring, and so is negative selection to some degree (filtering out mutations that prevent survival and reproduction) and positive selection to some degree (increasing the prevalence of mutations, new or old, that enhance survival and reproduction).

Read this blurb from a website below about a very common perception of human evolution:
_______________________________________________________________________________
Wisdom teeth might be lost as people continue to evolve
Why the modern diet may make wisdom teeth unnecessary
About 25 to 35 per cent of people will never get their wisdom teeth
By: Astrid Lange Toronto Star Library, Published on Tue Jun 25 2013
Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early 20s. But not everyone does — the American Dental Association estimates that about 25 to 35 per cent of people will never get their wisdom teeth. Another 30 per cent will only get 1 to 3 of them. Anthropologists believe wisdom teeth evolved due to our ancestors’ diet of coarse, rough food — leaves, roots, nuts and meat — which required more chewing power and resulted in excessive wear of the teeth. Since people are no longer ripping apart meat with their teeth and the modern diet is made of softer foods, wisdom teeth have become less useful. In fact, some experts believe we are on an evolutionary track to losing them altogether.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

A.      Briefly explain the evolutionary mechanism behind the evolutionary scenario for future wisdom tooth loss that the author of the blurb alludes to. In other words, think about what the writer is really hypothesizing for future human evolution and rephrase his explanation, but scientifically, in terms of all or just some of the four main mechanisms of evolution that we discussed in class which are mutation, gene flow, genetic drift, and selection. Important! Banned words for your scenario include: Need(s/ed/ing), want(s/ed/ing), try(s/ed/ing), best, most and fittest.
B.      Write out an alternative scenario where natural selection is responsible for the loss of wisdom teeth in our future selves. If it’s not obvious, this will be a significantly different scenario from what the writer has imagined in the blurb and from what you wrote in response to ‘a.’ Important! Banned words for your scenario include: Need(s/ed/ing), want(s/ed/ing), try(s/ed/ing), best, most, and fittest.

Resources for 6
What Influences the Size of Groups in Which Primates Choose to Live? – Chapman & Teichroeb (Nature Ed) http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/what-influences-the-size-of-groups-in-58068275
·         Primate Sociality and Social Systems – Swedell (Nature Ed)
·         Primates in communities – Lambert (Nature Ed)
·         Primate Communication – Zuberbuhler (Nature Ed)

7 – Transformation
adulthood: the joys; origins of tool use and the relationship to dietary evolution

7.1 Take the quiz “tool or rock?” and in at least one page write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy about the experience. Watch the video in the second link, observe and describe what’s going on, reflect on it.
·         Acheulean Handaxe – Flintknapping: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnmUYIOzRFw

7.2 Read Roberts: Shoulders and Thumbs (11) - Write and/or draw what you found to be meaningful, significant, or noteworthy in the readings. If struggling to identify that information, then pull out what you have questions about, what you’d like to learn more about, what you’re uncertain about, what surprised you, what relates to other material we have already covered in the course, or what may relate to what you anticipate we will cover down the road.

7.3 Using resources and assignments in this syllabus, Roberts’ book, and class notes and handouts, make 4 page-sized informational, fact-filled baseball-like, Pokémon-like, etc cards, one for “Ardi”, one for “Lucy”, one for The “Nariokotome Boy” aka the “Turkana Boy” and one for “Homo sapiens.”  You must use at least one page for each. Why do these individuals and species matter? What is interesting? What do we know? What don’t we know? How do they relate to you? How do you relate to them?

Resources for 7
·         Dietary Detective: Smithsonian Scientist Briana Pobiner https://www.si.edu/object/yt_VYSw0EWwNhw
·         Ancient Hands, Ancient Tools (video; 5 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_ew9J8lpwo
·         The Ancient History of the Human Hand (video; 4 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUL8hKDdY84
·         A Primer on Paleolithic Technology – Ferraro (Nature Ed)
·         Evidence for Meat-Eating by Early Humans – Pobiner (Nature Ed)
·         Archaeologists officially declare collective sigh over “Paleo Diet”
·         Homo erectus - A Bigger, Smarter, Faster Hominin Lineage – Van Arsdale (Nature Ed)
·         The "Robust" Australopiths – Constantino (Nature Ed)
·         Archaic Homo sapiens – Bae (Nature Ed)
·         The Transition to Modern Behavior – Wurz (Nature Ed)

8 – Test Again
adulthood: the oys; removing the racism and sexism from scientific explanations for, and consequent popular beliefs about,  human biological variation and “human nature”

8.1 Read the article linked here. Have you taken a genetic ancestry test? Do you know much about your ancestry? How many generations back do you know about? What is the idea that Terrell says ancestry tests are keeping alive? How are they doing that?
·         Ancestry Tests Pose a Threat to Our Social Fabric: Commercial DNA testing isn’t just harmless entertainment. It’s keeping alive ideas that deserve to die – Terrell (Sapiens) https://www.sapiens.org/technology/dna-test-ethnicity/

8.2 Read the Marks article. What is race? What is racism? What is the difference between human biological variation and race? Choose one of Marks’ ten facts and explain why it’s important to you.
Chapter 15: Ten Facts about human variation – Marks (Human Evolutionary Biology)
                https://webpages.uncc.edu/~jmarks/pubs/tenfacts.pdf (copy and paste that URL, direct link may not work)

8.3 Read the articles linked here. React meaningfully to the readings and make sure to address the following: What’s the link between racism and evolutionary theory and what do you think about it?
·         From the Belgian Congo to the Bronx Zoo (NPR): http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5787947
·         [Note! This is a fictional account based on the real history.]  A True and Faithful Account of Mr. Ota Benga the Pygmy, Written by M. Berman, Zookeeper – Mansbach  http://adammansbach.com/other/otabenga.html
·         [Note! This is very dark sarcasm and not to be taken literally.] How to write about Africa – Wainaina (Granta):  https://granta.com/how-to-write-about-africa/

8.4 Read the articles linked here. What is the difference between sex and gender? What does it mean to say that sex is a spectrum? How has old/bad science encouraged people to deem women “inferior”? Does cutting edge biology impact gender expression and gender stereotypes? What does this mean to you?
·         Sex Redefined – Ainsworth (Nature)
·         The book that fights sexism with science – review of Saini’s book (Guardian)
  
8.5 Read the articles linked here. How does racism affect a person’s health? Racism affects everyone, so how does racism affect you?
·         Being black in America can be hazardous to your health – Khazan (The Atlantic) https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/07/being-black-in-america-can-be-hazardous-to-your-health/561740/
·         Everyday discrimination raises women’s blood pressure – Yong (The Atlantic)
8.6 Read Roberts: The Making of Us (Chapter 12) - Reflect on what she wrote and then add what should also be there, to your mind. This could be additional material and/or a revision of what is there already. You may not say that it is perfect or complete as-is. [Your secrets are safe. I will not tell Alice what you think (unless you want me to).]
Resources for 8
·         The Neanderthal Inside Us (video; 4 mins)
·         Neanderthal Behavior – Monnier (Nature Ed)
·         http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/neanderthal-behavior-59267999What happened to the Neanderthals? – Harvati (Nature Ed)
·         Testing models of modern human origins with archaeology and anatomy – Tryon & Bailey (Nature Ed)
·         Anthropological genetics: Inferring the history of our species through the analysis of DNA – Hodgson & Disotell (Evolution: Education and Outreach)
·         Paternity Testing: Blood Types and DNA – Adams (Nature Ed)
·         Colonialism and narratives of human origins in Asia and Africa— Athreya and Ackerman
·         #WakandanSTEM: Teaching the evolution of skin color—Lasisi
·         For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It: We asked a preeminent historian to investigate our coverage of people of color in the U.S. and abroad. Here’s what he found—Goldberg (NatGeo)
·         In the Name of Darwin – Kevles (PBS) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/darwin/nameof/
·         Why be against Darwin? https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/ajpa.22163
·         Human Skin Color Variation (NMNH): http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/genetics/skin-color
·         There's no such thing as a 'pure' European—or anyone else – Gibbons (Science)
·         Frederick Douglass’s fight against scientific racism – Herschthal (NYT)
·         The unwelcome revival of race science—Evans  (The Guardian)
·         A lot of Southern whites are a little bit black – Ingraham (Washington Post)
·         There’s No Scientific Basis for Race—It's a Made-Up Label: It's been used to define and separate people for millennia. But the concept of race is not grounded in genetics—Kolbert (NatGeo) https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/04/race-genetics-science-africa/
·         On the Origin of White Power – Johnson (SciAm blogs)
·         White People Are Noticing Something New: Their Own Whiteness—Bazelon (The New York Times) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/13/magazine/white-people-are-noticing-something-new-their-own-whiteness.html
·         Surprise! Africans are not all the same (or why we need diversity in science) – Lasisi
·         Why white supremacists are chugging milk (and why geneticists are alarmed) – Harmon (NYT)

·        Sexual selection – Brennan (Nature Ed)  http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/sexual-selection-13255240
How the alt-right’s sexism lures men into white supremacy – Romano (Vox)
·         How Donald Trump Got Human Evolution Wrong – Dunsworth (Washington Post)
·         Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis - Villarosa (The New York Times) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/11/magazine/black-mothers-babies-death-maternal-mortality.html
·         The labor of racism –Davis (Anthrodendum) https://anthrodendum.org/2018/05/07/the-labor-of-racism/

Human Races are not like dog breeds - Norton et al. (EEO)
https://evolution-outreach.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12052-019-0109-y
 Against Human Nature—Ingold
9 – Triumph

9.1 (A) Look back at day 1.1. Write a letter to yourself on day 1.1. Tell yourself what you got right, what you got wrong, what you left out. Now from where you stand on 9.1 today, identify an idea or concept that emerged from the course that’s important to you now. Next, identify a question that emerged from the course that’s important to you now. Go to scholar.google.com to begin to try to find an answer. Describe the steps you took to find an answer and whether or not you found a satisfying answer, and whether you still have questions. (B) What about this stage of the human life course (i.e. this semester’s journey) is so triumphant? What is your triumph this semester in this course (and you’re welcome to go beyond, too, if you’d like to add more triumphs). What makes your triumph a triumph? What, if anything, about your triumph is quintessentially human? What about your triumph is due to human evolutionary history? Is this triumph the end of your story? What triumphs lie in your future?