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Mitt­woch, 7. Mai 2014, 15:00 Uhr
Lar­ge Ope­ron, Euro­pean Mole­cu­lar Bio­lo­gy Labo­ra­to­ry
Mey­er­hof­stra­ße 1, 69117 Hei­del­berg

Jere­my DeSil­va, Bos­ton Uni­ver­si­ty

The com­ple­xi­ty and beau­ty of the human form has been cele­bra­ted in art, music, and poe­try for cen­tu­ries. But a much clo­ser exami­na­ti­on of human mus­cu­los­keletal ana­to­my reveals a puz­zling and see­min­gly jer­ry-rig­ged “design” held toge­ther by the ana­to­mi­c­al equi­va­lents of duct tape and paper clips.

Our backs, hips, feet, and teeth are far from opti­mal and are une­qui­vo­cal evi­dence for the tin­ke­ring effects of evo­lu­ti­on by means of natu­ral selec­tion. Back­aches, dif­fi­cul­ty in child­birth, col­lap­sed arches, and impac­ted wis­dom teeth are the pain­ful remin­ders that evo­lu­ti­on does not crea­te per­fec­tion. Nor does evo­lu­ti­on start from scratch, mea­ning that humans are necessa­ri­ly modi­fied apes, inheri­ting many of our imper­fect ana­to­mies from a qua­dru­pedal, small-brai­ned ances­tor, well-equip­ped for life in the trees.

The gro­wing human fos­sil record is rich with tran­si­tio­nal forms that unco­ver the pat­tern by which modern ana­to­mies evol­ved, and fur­t­her reveals that many modern mus­cu­los­keletal ail­ments have anci­ent roots. So, too, the­re­fo­re may the traits of empa­thy, com­pas­si­on and con­s­pe­ci­fic care be deeply ing­rai­ned in the human psy­che.

While intel­li­gent design and other “crea­tio­nism-in-dis­gui­se” move­ments con­ti­nue to infil­tra­te Ame­ri­can public class­rooms, actu­al sci­ence is uneart­hing over­whel­ming evi­dence for a human epic with more dep­th and magni­ficence than any poet, artist, or theo­lo­gi­an could have ima­gi­ned.

The human form is not to be vene­ra­ted for its per­fec­tion, but as a stun­ning, and qui­te per­so­nal, examp­le of the pro­cess of evo­lu­ti­on and the power of natu­ral selec­tion.

Jere­my DeSil­va is an Assi­stant Pro­fes­sor of bio­lo­gi­cal anthro­po­lo­gy at Bos­ton Uni­ver­si­ty. He is a func­tio­nal mor­pho­lo­gist, spe­cia­li­zing in the loco­mo­ti­on of ear­ly apes (homi­no­ids) and human ances­tors (homi­nins).

His par­ti­cu­lar ana­to­mi­c­al exper­ti­se – the evo­lu­ti­on of the human foot and ankle – has con­tri­bu­t­ed to the on-going deba­te of Aus­tra­lo­pi­the­ci­ne loco­mo­ti­on. He has stu­di­ed fos­sil mate­ri­al in Muse­ums throught Eas­tern and South Afri­ca and is cur­r­ent­ly working on the foot and leg fos­sils from the the South Afri­can spe­ci­es Aus­tra­lo­pi­the­cus sedi­ba.

He has stu­di­ed loco­mo­ti­on in wild chim­pan­zees in Wes­tern Ugan­da, and cur­r­ent­ly over­sees a rese­arch pro­ject stu­dy­ing the ran­ge of varia­ti­on in modern human wal­king. In addi­ti­on to his work with foot fos­sils, he has an inte­rest in brain onto­ge­ny and how it rela­tes to the evo­lu­ti­on of the pel­vis.

This work has led to new infe­ren­ces about the mecha­nism of child­birth in ear­ly human ances­tors and how this has shaped the ana­to­my and the evo­lu­ti­on of the pel­vis.

Befo­re ent­e­ring aca­de­mia, Jere­my worked as an edu­ca­tor at the Bos­ton Muse­um of Sci­ence and con­ti­nues to be pas­sio­na­te about sci­ence edu­ca­ti­on.

When he is not stu­dy­ing fos­sil foot bones, or lec­tu­ring on human evo­lu­ti­on, Jere­my and his wife, Erin, are qui­te busy with their 3.5 year-old twin todd­lers, Ben­ja­min and Jose­phi­ne.

For more infor­ma­ti­on plea­se go to: http://www.embl.de/aboutus/science_society/forum/forums_2014/05–07/index.html

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One Response to “Unintelligent Design and The Scars of Human Evolution”

  1. […] Sie­he auch: Unin­tel­li­gent Design and The Scars of Human Evo­lu­ti­on […]

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