Understanding Climate's Influence on Human Evolution -- March 31 public event

March 26, 2010

Examining how a new research program may shed light on how climate over millions of years influenced human evolution is the subject of a public event that will discuss the findings and recommendations of the National Research Council report Understanding Climate's Influence on Human Evolution. Several members of the committee that wrote the report will present research initiatives that could be carried out in the next 10 to 20 years and answer audience questions.

Climate and fossil records suggest that some events in human evolution -- such as the evolution of new species or movements out of Africa -- coincided with substantial changes in African and Eurasian climate. This raises the intriguing possibility that environmental factors affected or controlled our species' evolution. By altering the landscape, past changes in climate may have exerted pressures that led to innovation and genetic selection in humans. However, because the human fossil record and our understanding of past climate conditions are limited, the details of how climates influenced human evolution remain unclear.

DETAILS: Free and open to the public, the event will begin at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31, in the Baird Auditorium of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Additional information is available online at http://humanorigins.si.edu/about/events/understanding-climates-influence-human-evolution. To receive a copy of the report or register to attend, reporters should contact the Office of News and Public Information, tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail <news@nas.edu>.
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National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

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