Cosponsored by the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)

The 8th Evolution Symposium and Teaching Workshop took place October 14-15, 2011, at the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) Professional Development Conference, Anaheim Marriott, Anaheim, CA.


AIBS and NESCent cosponsored the eighth annual evolution symposium and teaching workshop at the 2011 National Association of Biology Teachers Professional Development Conference.

The symposium featured scientists whose research in human evolution adds to our growing understanding of human origins. Speakers addressed the dynamic interplay between the ecological forces that shaped the distinctive traits that make us human, and human actions that are changing the environment around us.

A workshop on teaching about human evolution in a changing environment took place on Saturday morning.


Friday, October 14, 2011: Symposium
1:30-5:30 pm
Platinum Ballrooms 1 and 2 at the Anaheim Marriott

1:30 pm    Introduction - James P. Collins, AIBS President, Arizona State University, AZ

1:45 pm    Rick Potts, Human Origins Program, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC
Rick PottsThe challenges of becoming human: Evolution in an era of dramatic climate change
How have humans today become one of the most adaptable species on Earth? In this talk, Dr. Potts will illustrate the evidence of extinctions and the emergence of adaptations over the past 6 million years of human evolution, one of the most dramatic eras of environmental change in Earth's history.

2:30 pm  Jill Pruetz, Department of Anthropology, Iowa State University, IA
Jill PruetzWhat can chimpanzees tell us about human evolution?
Studying chimpanzees living in a savanna environment in Senegal allows Dr. Pruetz to assess what is most limiting to apes in this harsh environment, similar to the habitat of the earliest bipedal apes. Comparing the behavior of savanna chimpanzees to those that live in forests allows her to pose hypotheses regarding what may have influenced the behavior and ecology of our earliest relatives.

3:30 pm  Susan Antón, Department of Anthropology, New York University, NY
Susan AntónBecoming human in a changing world: the early evolution of Homo.
The fossil discoveries of the last decade have radically altered our view of the early evolution of our genus. Dr. Antón's research has led to an understanding of the connection between the changing world of the Pleistocene, dietary resources, and small changes in teeth and jaws that increased survival rate, shaping the origin and early evolution of Homo.

4:15 pm  John Hawks, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI

Susan AntónNew discoveries from ancient genomes
The DNA from Neandertals and other ancient people is yielding a new understanding of their biology and relationship to living humans. Many of us carry genes from these people. Dr. Hawks and other scientists are beginning to find out which ones, and what they may do.

5:00 pm  Closing Remarks - Brian Wiegmann, Director of Education and Outreach, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Durham, NC


Saturday, October 15: Teaching Workshop
9:30-11:30 am
in the Orange County 1 Ballroom at the Anaheim Marriott

Interested in receiving teaching materials and learning about strategies to teach human evolution in your classroom? ?Join us to engage in hands-on activities, explore the teaching resources ?that accompany the symposium content, and learn about the ?Smithsonian Institution's Human Origins Program educator resources.


The presentations and teaching resources from this and all previous symposia and workshops are available on the NESCent website. Please visit:

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