21 2013

TJC - 55 Plus Lecture Series

10:00AM - 10:30AM  

The Jewish Center 435 Nassau St
Princeton, NJ


Topic: The Scars of Human Evolution Speaker: Alan Mann, Professor of Anthroplogy at Princeton University; Professor Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania One of the major reasons an understanding of the mechanisms of evolution is so important, and why attempts to undermine its presence in the classroom are so damaging, are the insights this knowledge gives us about ourselves. Evolution represents change and while these modifications can result in more successful animals, rarely does evolution produce perfection. Humans, part of this pattern, have evolved many very special features, including our ability to stand erect and move using only our rear limbs. Our upright posture came about not from the introduction of new features, but from modifications to the anatomy of an ancestral four-legged, ape-like animal. These modifications produced a functional but not a perfect anatomy for two-legged walking. Indeed, such common problems as lower back pain associated with slipped or herniated disks and significant difficulties in giving birth with almost 40% of births in the U.S. now accomplished by surgically removing the infant from the uterus, can be traced back to the course of our evolution. These ‘scars’ of our biological past will be the focus of my presentation to the 55 Plus audience. Professor Mann is a physical anthropologist whose interests include paleoanthropology and human evolution. He is the author of Some Paleodemographic Aspects of the South African Australopithecines and is the co-author (with Mark L. Weiss) of Human Biology and Behavior: An Anthropological Perspective. Professor Mann is also affiliated with Evolution at Princeton. He teaches courses on human adaptation and evolution and a summer field course on modern human origins in France. Professor Mann received his Ph. D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1968.