Certain warm-blooded social animals and birds appear to react selectively and specifically to the death of other members of their group. Humans seem to be very unusual in the quality and extent of our responses – and in our ability to translate these experiences into an understanding of our personal mortality. When during childhood do these levels of understanding emerge? What is the underlying neurobiological basis for fears of death and mortality? When during human evolution did these fears emerge, and how did our ancestors tolerate them without sinking into an evolutionary dead end of depression or hopelessness? Assuming we found a solution to this dilemma, why are we still the only mammals that commit suicide? What does the archaeological, historical and cross-cultural record tell us about these matters? And what are the consequences for our current human condition, ranging from self-esteem to social organization, to political leanings? This symposium brings together expert speakers from a wide range of different disciplines that are relevant to seeking answers to these questions. In the process, we will gain a better understanding of how increasing awareness of death and personal mortality shaped the origin of humans.
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
While 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.
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.
What 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.