Costly and Cute: How Helpless Newborns Made Us Human

Advanced Seminar, Chairs: Karen R. Rosenberg, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Delaware and Wenda R. Trevathan, Regents Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces

Colloquium, SAR Boardroom

Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

The extremely helpless and highly dependent state of the human infant at birth may have been as important in contributing to human biological and cultural evolution as “man the hunter” and “woman the gatherer.” How and when did such a costly pattern of development evolve and what benefits has it conferred on humans? A number of questions derive from exploring the idea that key human characteristics that distinguish us from other primates owe a significant debt to the helpless infant. These include reliance on culture, tools, language, and cooperative parenting, all of which will be discussed in this colloquium.

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