Origins of Genus Homo – CARTA

8232Despite discoveries of remarkable new fossils in recent years, the evolutionary events surrounding the origins of genus Homo are incompletely understood.

This fascinating CARTA symposium explores evidence bearing on the emergence of our genus. What forces caused the changes in diet and body form as our predecessors evolved toward Homo. Were there forces from within on the molecular scale? Or changes in environment and climate? How did an integrated suite of behaviors, collectively termed hunting and gathering, that emerged sometime between 3 and 2 million years ago affect changes that spurred evolution towards the characteristics which are all associated with our human lineage?

Watch as a diverse cadre of experts from around the world present their observations on the Origins of Genus Homo.

Browse all episodes in CARTA: Origins of Genus Homo

The Evolution of Human Skin

8232While we know much about the structure and function of our skin and the evolution of skin pigmentation, there is much left to learn. How is it that while our mammalian cousins are furry, we are virtually naked and we sweat like we do? And how is it that some of those sweat glands evolved into mammary organs?

This symposium brings together scientists representing evolutionary biology, genetics, dermatology, anthropology, and physiology to share their knowledge and questions about the evolution of human skin and its many purposes.

Check out all of the videos in CARTA’s latest series, The Unique Features of Human Skin.

How did language evolve? New CARTA series explores the evolution of language.

8232Language. In all its forms. We use it everyday, all the time, without thinking, as innately (we might think) as a bird sings…

But the acquisition of this human capacity is a long and complex process, aided by neuro- and physiological specialization born out of the forge of evolution. So when you stop and think a moment, language poses many mysteries.

This new CARTA symposium brings together the world’s top experts in many facets of language to address those and other questions. When and how does language develop structure? What can the differences between old and new, spoken and sign languages, tell us about the evolution of language? Why and how does language evolve over time? And how have our brains evolved both with and for the purpose of language?

Watch this fascinating series on one of humanity’s essential elements: CARTA: How Language Evolves.

The Domestication of Animals and Human Evolution

8232What can the changes that made cuddly pets from steely predators tell us about ourselves? What do differences such as pointy ears or floppy ears, a long snout or a short one, a protruding jaw or a child-like face, or the timing and pace of brain development tell us?

These are just a few of the characteristics that a convergence of views in the study of animal domestication may tell us about our own evolution as a species in the more distant past. Specifically, it has been suggested that a number of the unique anatomical, neural, developmental, social, cognitive and communicative traits that define our species may be attributable to selection for lack of aggression and to a process of self-domestication.

Join another fascinating exploration of ourselves as this symposium brings together researchers from a variety of research backgrounds to examine these concepts and to elucidate further the possible role of domestication in human evolution.

Watch CARTA – Domestication and Human Evolution.

Why are we violent?

786As CARTA co-director Ajit Varki so aptly put it in his concluding remarks, “It was an intellectually stimulating and fascinating but deeply disturbing symposium.”

From interactions in lions and our hominid cousins the chimpanzees, to our Pleistocene ancestors and early human cultures to modern society, CARTA gathered scientists across the spectrum from neurophysiology to sociology to bring their respective microscopes to bear upon the question of aggression within the human species, its role in our development, its causes and its consequences.

While the data are at times grim, disturbing and depressing, it is an important look at an inescapable (or is it?) feature of human evolution, the use of aggression and violence.

Hopefully, if one can remain dispassionate, we are led to ask, can it evolve out of us?

Watch the latest programs from CARTA on Male Aggression and Violence in Human Evolution to learn more.