CARTA: Comparative Anthropogeny and Other Approaches to Studying Human Origins

Comparative Anthropogeny (CompAnth) is the study of distinctly human traits and characteristics in the context of comparisons with our closest living relatives, the "great apes." This symposium, the third of CARTA's CompAnth series, will present a collection of distinctive human traits, ranging from molecular, cellular, and anatomical biology to behavioral, societal, and cultural features. For each feature, available evidence for the evolution of the distinct trait will be discussed, including the timing of its appearance in the evolutionary history of our species, the mechanism(s) responsible for its appearance, its development during the life span, and its ultimate function for human existence and human health. Whenever possible, the existence of similar traits in animals/organisms outside those belonging to the evolutionary lineage of great apes and humans will be carefully considered. Given the large number of human traits for which no counterparts have yet been described in nature, the limitations of the comparative method will also be addressed and alternative approaches to the singularity that is the human phenomenon will be discussed. The goal is a better understanding of human origins and a full appreciation of our species' planet altering effects.

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