Filter All Projects

Project Details

McCall Lauren | Fellow Postdoctoral
2006-01-01 - 2006-12-31 | Research area: Cognition and Sociality
Covariation and Heritability of Biological and Cultural Character Suites
The study of human variation and evolution has lagged behind conceptual developments in biology. This shortcoming makes it difficult to assess two important issues, the effect on evolutionary history of covarying character suites, and the characterization of nongenetic heritability, including culture. The proposed research will address these issues in the broad context of brain evolution and cognitive development. Current research on these topics is carried out in isolation in various different fields. A conceptual, multidisciplinary perspective that takes into account the current state of flux in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology is much needed. I believe I can contribute to the emergence of a strong, multidisciplinary perspective, given my training in philosophy, biology and anthropology. There are two primary theoretical aims of the proposed research, which will take part in a continuing program of demonstrating the advantages of large-scale comparative surveys for the study of hominin evolution, development and cultural variation. The primary theoretical aims of the proposed research are: 1) to explore the theoretical and practical value of considering epigenetic heritability as a legitimate form of heredity, ranging from influences on gene expression, to non-organismal, strictly environmental resources at the furthest extreme, and 2) to explore the operational advantages of enriching phylograms with more information about environmental influences, independent of their relationship with organismic heritability.