IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Evolution of Vulnerability
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
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