Comparative Anthropogeny: From Molecules to Societies

Event Date (Pacific Time): 
Saturday, Oct 16, 2021 - 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 16 starting at 12:00 PM (Pacific Time).

There will be two ways to watch on the day of the event:

  1. using Zoom by visiting
  2. visiting this page and clicking on the video player link that will appear above under "Live Symposium Webcast" on event day

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This is an online-only event. Please email with any technical issues. Talks will be recorded by UCSD-TV and posted on this page in the weeks following the event. Follow this event page, as well as CARTA’s Facebook (@ucsdcarta) and Twitter (@CARTAUCSD) accounts for updates.

This symposium will address several important distinctly human characteristics that range from molecules, to metabolism, anatomy, disease, and behavior. 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).

The CompAnth series gathers dedicated CARTA Members and MOCA entry editors for discussions regarding humans and our closest evolutionary cousins (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans i.e, "great apes"), with an emphasis on uniquely human features. These insights form the foundation for CARTA's "Matrix of Comparative Anthropogeny" (MOCA)" online resource and upcoming NCBI/NLM ebook entitled, "Comparative Anthropogeny (CompAnth)". Funding for this project and this public symposium has been generously provided by longtime CARTA supporter Annette Merle-Smith.

Event Sessions

Session Speakers
LINE1 Retrotransposons Carol Marchetto, University of California, San Diego
ABO Blood Groups Pascal Gagneux, University of California, San Diego
Phytanic Acid Metabolism Joseph Hacia, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine
Siglec-11 Expression in the Brain Ajit Varki, UC San Diego School of Medicine
Human Arcuate Fasciculus James Rilling, Emory University
Incidence of Carcinomas Nissi Varki, UC San Diego School of Medicine
The Impact of Intergroup Social Ties on Coalitionary Aggression Pauline Wiessner, Arizona State University & University of Utah
Food Sharing James O'Connell, University of Utah
Technology Dietrich Stout, Emory University
Quantity and Number Rafael Núñez, University of California, San Diego

REGISTRATION FOR LIVE, ONLINE EVENT: As always, this online-only event is FREE and open to the public, however, please register to express your interest. To register, go to the bottom of this event page.

LIVE WEBCAST: This is an online-only event. Pre-recorded talks will stream beginning at 12:00 PM (Pacific), followed by a live-streamed Q&A where our speakers will answer audience questions beginning around 3:30 PM (Pacific). The Q&A will be also be recorded and posted along with the talks on the event page for viewing soon after the symposium has concluded.

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: Questions for our speakers may be submitted prior to or during the event by completing our question form or by sending email to (please indicate the speakers that your questions are directed to, if applicable).

We hope to answer as many of these questions as possible during the event, but are considering options to deal with possible overflow questions and discussion. Watch our CARTA social media and emails for updates.

Support Opportunities

Free CARTA Zoom Backgrounds

  • Gifts: We invite you to partner with us in CARTA’s quest to explore and explain the human phenomenon. CARTA connects us all – scientists and philosophers, students and teachers, people with questions and others with answers. The global CARTA community grows with each lecture that is experienced and passed forward via FREE access to UCSD-TV broadcasts and archived videos on multiple websites. Please email for support opportunities, which have been modified due to the virtual format. Your gift to the CARTA Symposium Fund enables these valuable resources to remain free for everyone to attend and access online.
  • Insights: We understand that you may not be in a position to make a monetary contribution at this time and invite you to please share with us your insight! Your feedback is invaluable in terms of improving our offerings both in impact and reach. Please take a few moments to provide comments in CARTA's Public Feedback Survey.

Event Glossary

A glossary for this event is available as a Searchable List.


Registration Deadline: Saturday, October 16, 2021 at 5:00 PM

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