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Evolution of the Human Sociality: A Quest for the Origin of Our Social Behavior

Kyoto University via edX

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Overview

Through the process of evolution, animals have developed their biological features and their cultures based on their surrounding environments. How we live our lives today is a direct result of features developed from our primate ancestors as they adapted to new environments.

In primatology, it is essential to think about how cultural development and biological natures are inseparable.

This course will help you rediscover the process of evolution and will introduce primatological studies conducted by researchers at Kyoto University, Japan. Based on carefully conducted research on primate species, we will explore the origins of human beings and provide you with examples of common similarities between human beings and non-human primates.

We will analyze basic features, such as foraging, mating, aggression, and communication from the primatological viewpoint. Furthermore, cultural and social aspects of human society, from the formation of family groups to community activities, will be considered thoroughly, in comparison to those of monkeys and apes.

Our goal is to broaden your view of humans to a wider extent and think dynamically about your biology in terms of human evolution. Through acquiring knowledge of basic primatology in this course, you will establish a viewpoint to think and discuss the evolutionary process of human, and human society, in conjunction with those of our close relatives.

Syllabus

Week 1: History & Concept of Japanese Primatology

  • The Dawn of Primatology
  • The History of Japanese Primatology
  • "Culture" of Non-Human Animals
  • Studies on Gorillas

Week 2: What Primatologists Found on Japanese Macaques

  • Different Models for the Social Evolution in Non-Human Primates
  • Living in the Northern Limit: Japanese Macaques
  • Society of Japanese Macaques and Effects of Provisioning
  • Forests Make Society: A Comparative Study of Japanese Macaques
  • Social Differences between Kinkazan and Yakushima
  • New Findings from Yakushima and Conclusion

Week 3: The Places Where Humans and Primates Evolved

  • Tropical Rain Forest Where Primates Evolved
  • Humans Exited from the Forest
  • Adaptation of Primates in African Tropical Forest
  • Co-Evolution of Plants and Primates
  • Evolution of Human Ancestors
  • How do Gorillas and Chimpanzees Coexist?
  • My Study on Sympatric Gorillas and Chimpanzees in DR Congo

Week 4: Food and Sex Shape Primate Sociality

  • Influences of Food on Primate Society
  • Inter-Individual Relationships and Food Transfer
  • The New Discovery of Food Sharing among Adult Gorillas
  • Human Evolution and Food Sharing
  • How Does Sex Shape Primate Sociality
  • Human Sexuality and Evolution of Social Structure

Week 5: Aggression and Society

  • Has Human Evolved as an Excellent Hunter?
  • Aggression and Social Intelligence of Old World Monkeys
  • Face to Face Communication in Great Apes and Humans
  • Infanticide in Non-Human Primates
  • Infanticide Affects Social Behavior

Week 6: Evolution of Life History Strategy

  • Primates Are Mammals of Slow Life History and Careful Nurturing
  • Female Dispersal Versus Female Philopatry
  • Life History in Human and Great Apes: Similarity and Uniqueness
  • Human Evolution: From Bipedalism to Family Formation
  • Synthesis: Evolution of Human Sociality

Taught by

Juichi Yamagiwa

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