Special Topics in Human Origins
CARTA: The Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny
Established at UC San Diego in 2008, CARTA is an international cooperative research forum exploring questions of human origins through transdisciplinary interactions and collaborations. As the word “anthropogeny” implies, CARTA’s primary goal is to apply transdisciplinary approaches to explaining two age-old questions regarding humans: Where did we come from? How did we get here?
CARTA embraces many activities. It hosts thrice-yearly (Winter, Spring, and Fall) free public symposia on human origins and related topics; it offers a specialization in Anthropogeny to graduate students at UC San Diego; it curates a Museum of Primatology (MOP); and it is actively compiling a Matrix of Comparative Anthropogeny (MOCA) that highlights uniquely human differences from closely related primates. In this series of talks, five prominent UCSD scholars, all CARTA members, will address different topics related to human-origins research. To learn more about CARTA and to support its mission, visit carta.anthropogeny.org and/or contact Community Engagement & Advancement Director, Lindsay Hunter (email@example.com).
September 30: Fossil Record of Human Origins
Professor Margaret Schoeninger
This lecture focuses on the fossil record with an emphasis on ecological changes and associated dietary changes facilitating the appearance of anatomically modern humans (AMHs). We begin by tracing the evolution of the earliest primate-like mammals from more than 50 million years ago (mya), to the earliest monkey/ape-like primates about 29 mya, to apes and ape-like members of our own lineage between 23-5 mya. We end with members of our lineage in an unusually bushy portion of our family tree between around 5 and 1 mya, leading to the subsequent appearance of AMHs around 180,000 years ago.
October 7: Evolution of the Human Diet
Professor Pascal Gagneux
This lecture will address the evolution of the human diet in a comparative setting. It will highlight the importance of cultural inventions from hunting prey much larger than ourselves to processing and cooking food. All indications are that humans are now biologically dependent on the cultural practice of cooking.
November 4: The Brains Behind Morality
Professor Patricia S. Churchland
This lecture will discuss the concept of morality as it relates to human behavior. What are the social and neurobiological roots of moral behavior?
November 25: The Evolutionary Roots of Human Sociality
Professor Federico Rossano
Humans are social animals, but so are many other animals. Yet compared to other non-human primates, humans appear to be more cooperative with each other, have greater control of their communicative signals, and appear to spend more time interacting with each other. So what is special about human social life? This lecture introduces some of the building blocks of social cognition that make social living possible without constant fighting. It presents these abilities through a developmental and evolutionary perspective and explains how scientists are trying to tackle the mystery of the primate mind through behavioral studies.
December 2: Overview of Human Origins and Implications for Medicine
Professor Ajit Varki
Describing briefly what is known about the origin of humans, this lecture will discuss how this information is relevant to many human diseases, including some that are unique to us as a species.
Presenter: Margaret Schoeninger is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Anthropology at UC San Diego and Co-Director of CARTA. She has a PhD from the University of Michigan and a UCLA post-doc in Earth and Planetary Sciences. Her research centers on primate pathological, paleontological, and ethnographic fieldwork projects in North America, Mesoamerica, Pakistan, India, Kenya, and Tanzania.
Presenter: Pascal Gagneux is Professor of Pathology and Anthropology at UC San Diego and Associate Director of CARTA. He received his PhD in Zoology at the University of Basel, Switzerland. His research focuses on the evolution of primate molecular diversity and how it is shaped by reproduction and infection.
Presenter: Patricia Smith Churchland is Professor Emerita of Philosophy at UC San Diego. Her fields of specialization include Philosophy of Neuroscience, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Science, and Environmental Ethics. Her research focuses on the interface between neuroscience and philosophy.
Presenter: Federico Rossano is Assistant Professor in the Cognitive Science department at UC San Diego and director of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory. He received his PhD in Psycholinguistics from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen (The Netherlands). He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (Germany). His research focuses on social cognition and the evolution of communicative abilities. He has conducted behavioral studies on adult humans and children in several countries and among non-human animals on chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, gibbons, macaques, marmosets, dogs, wolves, goats, and horses.
Presenter: Ajit Varki is Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at UC San Diego and Co-Director of CARTA. He received training in physiology, medicine, biology, and biochemistry at the Christian Medical College, Vellore; The University of Nebraska; and Washington University in St. Louis. He also has formal training and board certification in internal medicine, hematology, and oncology. His research interests focus on a family of cell-surface sugars called the sialic acids and their roles in biology, evolution, and disease, with a particular emphasis on changes unique to the human lineage.
Coordinator: Eileen Mitchell
9/30/2020 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
10/7/2020 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
11/4/2020 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
11/25/2020 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
12/2/2020 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Included with membership, no registration required.