Human Evolutionary Biology

Evolutionary theory provides a powerful framework for investigating questions about why humans are the way they are. Human evolutionary biologists seek to understand how evolutionary forces have shaped our design, our biology, and our patterns of behavior. Human evolutionary biology is also beginning to influence medical science, through the nascent field of evolutionary medicine, and other areas such as economics, linguistics, psychology, and political science.

This is an exciting time to tackle questions of how evolution made us human. HEB faculty and students conduct research in the high-tech labs in the Peabody Museum, to field-based research in the rainforests of Western Uganda, to work requiring sample collection in the field and analysis in the lab.

Kinds of Questions we Ask:

    • Why do humans walk upright?
    • Are humans adapted to eating cooked food?
    • How do biology and environment interact to affect the timing of puberty?
    • Why do human males invest in their offspring?
    • Are culture and language uniquely human?
    • What are the genetic bases for uniquely human traits?
    • When, where, how and why did Homo sapiens evolve?
    • What has been the impact of environmental change on our human ancestors?

Kinds of Research Opportunities include:

    • Human and primate nutrition
    • Reproductive and behavioral endocrinology
    • Dental histology
    • Evolutionary genetics and phylogenetics
    • Human anatomy
    • Primatology
    • Paleoanthropology
    • Human behavioral ecology