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 us - our biology, our patterns of behavior, and our culture. Research in human evolutionary biology is increasingly influencing 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. Research opportunities in HEB are quite varied and may involve work in the high-tech labs in the Peabody Museum, field-based research in the rainforests of Western Uganda, or a combination of field and lab-based research.

Kinds of Questions we Ask:

    • Why do humans walk upright?
    • Are humans adapted to eating cooked food?
    • How does the content of a mother’s milk influence her adult offspring's health and behavior?
    • How are humans different from non-human primates?
    • What are the genetic bases for these uniquely human traits?
    • When, where, how and why did Homo sapiens evolve?
    • What is the role of hormones in behavior and development?

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