Paleoanthropology Foundations of Evolutionary Psychology and Behavioral Ecology

Since this talk is conducted by paleoanthropologists, it should be worthwhile for those interested in both evolutionary psychology and diets related to evolution. The topics are listed below. The talk progresses from an introduction of evolution within the context of the paleolithic, then introduces EvPsych from the perspective of language and culture. The discussion of the three research methods used in early language development was particularly interesting. DeGusta and Gilbert spend a few minutes on the pros and cons of using fossils, genetics, and archaeology to attempt to date the rise of spoken language.

Aside from Richard Dawkins interviewing Stephen Pinker, there’s not a lot of evolutionary psychology related video content online. So I was pretty excited to find this recent talk from Wonderfest. An added bonus is that it’s not by evolutionary psychologists, but a pair of paleoanthropologists. Since critiques of evolutionary psychology are often levied by non-anthropologists by dismissing EvPsych for making too many assumptions about life in the paleolithic, this has a different flavor of credibility.

One point that I appreciated was Dr. Gilbert’s view on the “job” of scientists. Some scientists (and its critics) are fond of implying that us laymen should just sit around and wait for scraps of knowledge to be tossed our way. Here’s a more enlightened view:

[As scientists], our business is not to speculate stories that you can then think about. Our business is to give you empirical evidence that you can go home and have all that fun of speculation yourself.”  – Henry Gilbert, PhD.

Protagonists

David DeGusta is a Research Paleontologist at the Paleoanthropology Institute.

Henry Gilbert is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at California State University, East Bay.

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Topics

  • Studying the Evolution of Human Traits
  • The Science of Human Origins
  • Examining How Evolution Has Shaped Behavior
  • Landmarks in Human Evolution
  • The History of Evolutionary Psychology
  • The Rise of Behaviorism
  • Cognitive Psychology and the Refinement of Adaptationism
  • Nature vs. Nurture and Modern Evolutionary Psychology
  • The Dangers of Discussing Hardwired Behavior
  • Studying the Evolutionary Origins of Language
  • Studying Language Through the Fossil Record
  • Studying Language Through the Genetic Record
  • Studying Language Through the Archaeological Record
  • Discussion on the Evolution of Language
  • Studying the Evolution of Culture
  • Possible Causes for the Development of Culture
  • Discussion on the Evolution of Culture
  • The Evolutionary Origins of Art
  • Signs of Neanderthal Culture and Language
  • Animals and the Neurological Basis of Lan
3 Comments
  1. Victoria 5 years ago

    Got snowed in and finally had a chance to listen to this… Has Broca's area been dispelled as a tool for predicting speech? That's what i remember from college, but they don't mention it.

  2. Author
    Andrew 5 years ago

    As a compact region in the brain, I'd have to give them the benefit of the doubt and lump Broca's area into the "doesn't fossilize" so can't be studied archaeologically category.

    • Victoria 5 years ago

      Sorry- should have said 'brain casts' in their somewhere… I thought Homo habilis had a bulge in the frontal cortex where Broca's area is located, a clue to some sort of speech.

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