Course Description for ANTH 50.29:


Why are different modern populations more or less susceptible to certain diseases? Does the “Paleo Diet” actually mimic early human diets? Do differences in rates of lactose intolerance and sensitivity to bitter tastes reflect past diets? How have behaviors, such as cooking and domestication of livestock, influenced co-evolutionary relationships with parasites, such as tapeworms? What genetic material did we acquire through interbreeding with other species of Homo (Neanderthals and Denisovans)? In this course, we will examine how the paleogenomic revolution in biological anthropology is transforming both how we ask questions about early humans and what questions are possible to ask. We will begin the course with an overview of methodologies used to study ancient DNA, paleopathology, and paleoecology, with an emphasis on recent advances in paleogenomics. We will then examine new research where evidence from ancient DNA is supplementing or transforming theories about early human health, diet, and migration, and discuss how these new theories improve our understanding of how our population histories have influenced modern human health, adaptation, and diversity today.