Lesson6 - 6 Human Diversity The Emperor's New Clothes Key Terms and Concepts o o o o o o o o o o Geographic population Subspecies Race Restricted

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6 Human Diversity: The Emperor’s New Clothes Key Terms and Concepts o Geographic population o Subspecies o Race o Restricted gene flow o Developmental hypotheses o Selectionist hypotheses o Traditional social science o Lactose intolerance o Gene-culture co-evolution o Racism We covered a lot of new and unfamiliar ground in the previous lesson. We saw how natural selection operates and how it can produce changes in gene frequencies in a population, which constitutes evolution, and how the actions of selection can result in the evolution of characteristics that make individuals better at dealing with the ecological problems they may encounter. Most of the examples in that lesson were from non-human animals. However, there is no reason to expect that humans are exempt from natural selection. After all, as a species we have a great deal of phenotypic variability, much of it stemming from genetic differences. Further, we achieve different degrees of reproductive success (fitness) as a function of our phenotypes. Thus, all the required factors are present for human evolution to occur. Finally, our species radiated around the globe from our ancestral homeland in Africa and our ancestors faced a wide array of ecologies as they settled deserts, grasslands, rainforests, tropical islands, and frozen tundra. Our diverse anatomical phenotypes are testimony to the actions of natural selection on our ancestors. Although we should expect that physiological and behavioral characteristics would also exhibit great diversity, we need to look for evidence of such diversity. Lesson 6 79
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The evolution of human diversity is the subject of this lesson. I decided to develop this lesson in the late 1990s when the administration of the University of Nebraska decreed that faculty should strive to incorporate issues of human diversity into their courses whenever possible. It was certainly possible in Biopsychology, so I was happy to comply. After all, I do research on behavioral diversity in other species (birds), so why not humans? Fortunately, the administration provided some help and scheduled a series of presentations by experts. One of them, Wayne Winborn, gave a presentation titled “How to talk about race” in 1999. He did a terrific job, and one statement really stuck with me. He said “If you’re doing it right, you’re going to make some people uncomfortable.” I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, but I do want to do this thing right. A way to help avoid discomfort is to put human diversity into the context of the diversity that exists between and within other species. We will begin there, then consider the reasons for why the diversity exists. Diversity at Many Levels Diversity among species . To zoologists, humans are classified in the class Mammalia, order Primates, family Hominidae, genus Homo and species sapiens . To everyone, we are special. We are unique. But every species is unique, by definition. True, we are not easily confused with any other species, but the extreme uniqueness that we see in ourselves is probably
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This note was uploaded on 05/27/2010 for the course BIOS 373 B02 taught by Professor Dr.danielleger during the Spring '10 term at UNL.

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Lesson6 - 6 Human Diversity The Emperor's New Clothes Key Terms and Concepts o o o o o o o o o o Geographic population Subspecies Race Restricted

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