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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Evolution of Vulnerability

11th March 2015, 17:30 to 18:30, Penthouse Suite, Collingwood College, Professor David C Geary, University of Missouri-Columbia

Biologists have known for decades that many, probably most, traits involved in competition for mates or mate choice are exaggerated and their expression is influenced by the health, fitness, genes, et cetera of the individual. For instance, the bright plumage of the males of many species of bird can only be expressed by healthy males; in part because high testosterone needed to express these traits suppresses the immune system and thus sick males cannot ‘afford’ to express the traits. 

The sensitivity of these traits to environment and social conditions evolved so that less fit individuals cannot ‘fake’ good health, provisioning potential etc. The concept has been applied to humans for some triats (e.g., male facial features) but not widely. Professor David Geary will review these studies but more importantly will reframe the issue entirely. He will illustrate that when applied to humans, condition dependent traits can be used to identify children, adolescents, or populations at risk for poor long-term outcomes.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Details about Professor David C Geary

Directions to Collingwood College

Map - Collingwood College is denoted as building No: 6

Contact for more information about this event.