It is becoming increasingly clear that the earliest members of the human lineage arose in Africa. Over the past four million years, our ancestors underwent many changes in both physical form and behavior, including dramatic increases in brain size and home range, the controlled use of fire, the creation of more complex tool kits, and increased carnivory. Although we have evidence for these changes in the human repertoire, we know very little about the environmental context of these events. This is intriguing given that since the time of Darwin biologists have understood that many of the physical and behavioral changes within species are adaptations to their environmental context.
In his talk, Dr. Patterson will discuss the relationship between environmental change and human adaptation in eastern and southern Africa. Specifically, Dr. Patterson will focus on placing the human lineage within the context of the broader ecosystem for insights into the factors that drove many of the important events in our evolutionary history. He will conclude with an open discussion about the current state of the field.
David Patterson is an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at at the University of North Georgia. He received his B.S. and M.S. from Georgia College and his Ph.D. from George Washington University. His research sits at the intersection of paleontology, archaeology, geology and biology. He is co-director of the Study of Community and Landscape Evolution (SCALE; https://sites.google.com/view/scalelab/home) lab at UNG where he and his wife Jessica Patterson mentor a wide range of undergraduate projects.