Jones Seminar: Biomechanical advantages of the human pygmy phenotype

Nathaniel Dominy, Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences, Dartmouth

Friday, May 13, 2016, 3:30–4:30pm

Spanos Auditorium, Cummings Hall

The human pygmy phenotype is defined by small stature, when the average height of adult men in a population is < 155 cm (61 inches). The phenotype has evolved independently at least three times globally, and always among rainforest-inhabiting foraging peoples. It is one of the most striking cases of convergent evolution in modern humans, and yet the selective pressures that favor pygmy size are uncertain. This talk will explore how and why pygmy size evolves, and present new data from three populations to test the hypothesis that pygmy size confers biomechanical advantages when hunting and gathering in tropical rainforests.

About the Speaker

Nathaniel Dominy is Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences at Dartmouth. His field research is focused on the foraging ecology and feeding mechanics of humans and nonhuman primates, with a particular emphasis on populations in Africa and Southeast Asia. He completed his BA at Johns Hopkins University (1998), his PhD at the University of Hong Kong (2001), and his NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Chicago (2004). He is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Geographic Society, the Leakey Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and he is an elected fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and Royal Anthropological Institute. 

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