Comparative Anthropogeny: Exploring The Human-Ape Paradox

Event Date (Pacific Time): 
Saturday, Oct 24, 2020 -
12:00pm to 5:00pm
Event Chairs:

Pascal Gagneux, University of California, San Diego
Alyssa Crittenden, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Live Symposium Webcast:

Access to the live webcast for this symposium will be provided here on Saturday, October 24 starting at 12:00 PM (Pacific Time).

This is an online-only event. Talks will also be recorded and posted on here for viewing soon after the event has concluded. Please check this event page, as well as CARTA’s Facebook (@ucsdcarta) and Twitter (@CARTAUCSD) accounts for updates.

CARTA’s Fall 2020 symposium, Comparative Anthropogeny: Exploring the Human Ape-Paradox, examines humans as a uniquely evolved, "biologically enculturated" species juxtaposed to our closest living relatives, the "great apes" (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans). By definition, each species is unique as it represents the outcome of independent evolution. Yet, humans appear to be a remarkable outlier as we have numerous characteristics so far undescribed in any other primate. Why should this be? Unlike other species, the evident animal nature of humans is interwoven with a distinctly human cultural fabric, forming the paradox of "biological enculturation": a species that is both "biologically cultural" and "culturally biological". In humans, "biological enculturation" is so pervasive that disentangling the cultural and biological components is impossible.

This symposium will address several important distinctly human "biologically enculturated" characteristics, both in relation to each other and in contrast to our evolutionary cousins. Goals include transdisciplinary interactions, improved self-understanding, promotion of ethically sound studies to explain known differences, and the generation of new, potentially unexplored, insights on uniquely-human specializations. Given the interest in understanding our evolution, this symposium will also help to organize how and in what sequence distinctly human physical, mental, social, and cultural features evolved. Such understanding may help explain the origin of our species and how it came to now directly shape the planet, giving rise to the Anthropocene (a proposed geological epoch distinguished by human influence on climate and the environment).

Event Sessions

Session Speakers
The Foundations of Cooperative Breeding Alyssa Crittenden, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Childhood Barry Bogin, Loughborough University
Nutrition & Diet Margaret Schoeninger, University of California, San Diego
Symbolic Play Linda Marchant, Miami University
Language Robert Kluender, University of California, San Diego
Teaching Tetsuro Matsuzawa, Kyoto University
Ancient Grandmothers, African Savannas Kristen Hawkes, University of Utah
Brains Todd Preuss, Emory University School of Medicine, Yerkes Primate Research Center
Skin Nina Jablonski, Pennsylvania State University
Fire and Early Homo Sapiens Innovations Lyn Wadley, University of the Witwatersrand
Music and Gene-Culture Coevolution Aniruddh Patel, Tufts University
Art, Story, Mind Iain Davidson, University of New England, Australia (retired)

Registration Deadline: Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 5:00 PM

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