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Human Evolution: Past and Future

University of Wisconsin–Madison via Coursera

This course may be unavailable.


NOTE: This course is no longer available on Coursera. But the videos of the course have been uploaded by the instructor on Youtube here:   This course covers our evolutionary history across more than seven million years, from our origins among the apes up to the biological changes that are still unfolding today. If you enroll, you'll encounter the evidence for the earliest members of our lineage, as they begin the long pathway to humanity. You'll see how scientists are learning about the diets of ancient people, using microscopic evidence and chemical signatures in ancient teeth. We will explore together the exciting fossil discoveries of the last ten years, which have shaken up our notions of the origin of human culture and our own genus. 

Genomics has fundamentally transformed the way we understand our evolution, in many ways opening the direct evidence of our history to anyone. The course will teach you how to look inside the genomes of humans, Neandertals and other ancient people.  If you have used personal genomics to get your own genotypes, the course will guide you in connecting genetics to your ancestry among ancient humans.

The course brings a special focus on the rapid evolutionary changes of the last 10,000 years. You'll learn about the consequences of our shift to agriculture, and the ways that people of industrialized nations are still changing today. At the end, we trek forward to anticipate what evolutionary changes may be in store for humanity in the future, using our knowledge of history and scientific understanding to inform our speculations.

Taught by

John Hawks


4.4 rating, based on 5 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Human Evolution: Past and Future

  • Carlos Cueto Rejas
    Very interested in your course about evolution. Back in the 50's or 60's I remember reading a paper of these people in Africa that use to live in the hills and then came down to the plains and flourished. Then the British came sling and pushed the…
  • Bruce Pohlmann
    This is a class in progress. Different approach from the edX course on the same subject. Less technical, more personal interviews with experts in the field. Take both classes to see what is happening in paleoanthropology.
  • Aana
  • Alan Salsac

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