Wednesday, September 8th 2010

Around the web: behavioral ecology

The “Around the Web” series highlights informative websites, and also targeted blog posts and news articles, relevant to the courses I teach. This semester I teach Anth 143: Biology of Human Behavior, an introductory-level course that covers the basics of evolution, behavioral biology, and the interaction of biology and culture. My hope is that these posts are useful not only for my current students, but other people hoping to gain background or insight into these topics.

This week I wanted to share a few cool TED talks and other links to introduce you to our closest relatives and the methods of behavioral ecology. These should be useful for Anth 143 students at the University of Illinois, but also anyone hoping to learn more about biological anthropology.

Robert Sapolsky’s TED talk on the uniqueness of humans. Always engaging and fun, and will give you a perspective on primate field work, why humans are special, and why they are not.

Jane Goodall’s TED talk on a similar topic, what separates us from the apes. Also engaging, and it has a full interactive transcript.

Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science shows us that even non-primate species pass on cultural traditions. This also hints to us that humans, and even primates, aren’t necessarily unique-ier (to use Sapolsky’s term) than other animals.

Here is a podcast by author Vanessa Woods and blogger/anthropologist Greg Laden covering new book Bonobo Handshake and the falsehood of primitive cultures.

A cool PLoS paper that just came out on bonobo versus chimpanzee cognitive abilities. An important read since they’re our two closest relatives. Plus, one of the authors Brian Hare is featured in Ape Genius, which we watch later in the semester in Anth 143.

And remember, you can see all the relevant articles I retweet from my @KateClancy account by following the hashtag #anth143.

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