Modern Research Reflects Ideas that Emerged in Darwin’s “Descent of Man”

American Association for the Advancement of Science—First published in 1871, Charles Darwin’s “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex” has laid the foundations for human evolutionary studies. In this Review*, Peter Richerson and colleagues show how modern research into human origins and cultural evolution reflect the ideas that first emerged in Darwin’s work 150 years ago. Richerson et al. discuss three key Darwinian insights that have been reinforced by modern science. The first is that we share many characteristics (genetic, developmental, physiological, morphological, cognitive, and psychological) with our closest relatives, the anthropoid apes. The second is that humans have a talent for high-level cooperation reinforced by morality and social norms. The third is that we have greatly expanded the social learning capacity that we see already in other primates.

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Photographic portrait of Charles Darwin. Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

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Article Source: AAAS news release

*”Modern theories of human evolution foreshadowed by Darwin’s Descent of Man,” by P.J. Richerson at University of California, Davis in Davis, CA; S. Gavrilets at University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN; F.B.M. de Waal at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

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