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Recordings and Tutorials

Event Recording

Genes, Culture and Evolution

Lecture by Dr. Karthik Panchanathan
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
Recording Date: Monday, March 9, 2015, 1:00 PM
Location: Ellis Library, Government Documents Study Area

Epigenetics refers to the study of traits that are heritable but not caused by changes in the DNA sequence. And, in some cases, events that happen during an individual’s life can sometimes result in epigenetic changes that are subsequently heritable. This is a form of Lamarckian inheritance, the idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring. Humans are unique among animals in the degree to which adaptive behavior is shaped by both genes and culture. Cultural transmission is a form of Lamarckian inheritance: individuals pass on cultural traits which they learned during their lifetime to their offspring. In this talk, Dr. Panchanathan will discuss how anthropologists think about and model cultural evolution. In particular, Dr. Panchanathan will discuss how and why natural selection on genes resulted in the human capacity for culture; how cultural evolution is similar to and different from genetic evolution; and how cultural processes have shaped our genes, so-called gene-culture co-evolution.

This event is in conjunction with the 11th Annual Life Sciences and Society Symposium.