Visiting Scholars Program (For Dr A Magdalena Hurtado)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Visiting Scholars Program (For Dr A Magdalena Hurtado) Visiting Scholars Program (For Dr. A. Magdalena Hurtado) The Human Colony: Origins and co-evolution of public health traits PI: A. Magdalena Hurtado Why humans have long maximum life spans in spite of high fertility for their body size continues to be an unresolved paradox in Modern Synthesis (MS) models of human origins (Kaplan et al 2000 and refs therein). These observations cease to be paradoxical when viewed from an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (ESS) perspective (Laland et al 2014 and refs therein). We hypothesize that humans evolved a heritable and transportable niche, a sociocultural-biological system (SCB), composed of cultural, behavioral and biological dynamical patterning modules. We argue that this system is the innovation that simultaneously gave humans the capacity to live long and to have short birth intervals and many surviving offspring (Hurtado et al 2015). Taken together, the meta-function of SCBs components is to solve public health collective action problems (PHCA), otherwise referred to as social immunity mechanisms in the animal literature. The PHCA key to human origins is group-level coordination of care and provisioning of 1) male and female reproductives, 2) children and adolescents, and 3) individuals of all ages and genders who are acutely or chronically disabled by disease and/or senescence. The specific aims of this project are to deconstruct the SCB components into EES hypotheses in order to better understand human origins, and present-day epidemiological transitions caused by a fundamental mismatch between human physiology and novel non-soil dwelling SCBs. These hypotheses will be tested with comparative data from multiple extant soil dwelling human colonies at different stages of transition from strictly nonwestern to primarily western contexts. Mainstream health sciences have ignored the role of soil as the primary microbial vector of all pre-industrial resource patches in the human niche wild animals, plants, ecto-parasites, insects and sources of water. The all-encompassing omnivorous capacity of Homo sapiens turned the soils of human settlements into magnets of micro and macrobiota in their midst. In spite of high disease burden, our soil dwelling ancestors for millennia successfully invaded most eco-zones and achieved demographic advantage over other mammals by relying on SCBs five components: 1) Fire-based technological innovations, mainly, food acquisition and processing tools, water extraction and storage containers, shelter, clothing and medical substances; 2) Immensely plastic and complex innate immunological phenotypes housed in the first line of defense in humans the integumentary system and the largest human organ; 3) Public health solutions (PHS) to collective action problems easily adaptable to unpredictable changes in disease ecologies across time and space; 4) Disease susceptibility based divisions of labor; and 5) Emotional regulation of PHS-related behaviors and divisions of labor (Zak and Barraza 2013) whereby the brain here is viewed as a neuro-endocrinological repository of problem-solving traits and knowledge required for PHS to work. In our view, PHS as a phenomenon unique to humans is key to the emergence of H. sapiens large brain. References: Hurtado, AM, Hurtado IA. 2015. The Human Colony: How Niche Construction Gave Us Long Lives. Evolutionary Ecology (under internal review). Kaplan, HS, Hill, KR, Lancaster, JB, Hurtado, AM. A Theory of Human Life History Evolution: Diet, Intelligence, and Longevity. 2000. Evolutionary Anthropology 9:156-185. Laland, K., T. Uller, M. Feldman, K. Sterelny, G. B. Mller, A. Moczek, E. Jablonka, J. Odling-Smee, G. A. Wray, H. E. Hoekstra, D. J. Futuyma, R. E. Lenski, T. F. C. Mackay, D. Schluter, and J. E. Strassmann. 2014. Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? Nature 514:161-164. Zak, PJ, Barraza, JA. 2013. The Neurobiology of Collective Action. Frontiers in Neuroscience. Vol 7:211-267. ------------------------- Collaborators and field sites: LATIN AMERICA ARGENTINA: Claudia Valeggia, Department of Anthropology, , USA. Indigenous groups of Argentina. BOLIVIA: Mike Gurven, Broom Center for Demography, Univ of California, Santa Barbara. Indigenous groups of Bolivia. BRAZIL: Francisco Salzano, Institute of Biosciences Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Indigenous groups of Brazil. COLOMBIA: Carlos Rojas, Facultad Nacional de Salud Pblica, Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia. Indigenous groups of Colombia. ECUADOR: Richard Bribiescas, Department of Anthropology, , USA. Indigenous groups of Ecuador. GUATEMALA: Pablo Nepomanschy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Canada. Indigenous groups of Guatemala. PANAMA: William Wicslo, Interim Director (with A. Magdalena Hurtado). Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panam. Indigenous groups of Panam. PARAGUAY: Antonieta Arias, Instituto para el Desarrollo de la Investigacin Cientfica, Paraguay. Indigenous groups of Paraguay. VENEZUELA: Cristina Gomes, Director, Proyecto Sanma, Edo. Bolivar, Venezuela. Indigenous groups of the Caura Region, Venezuela. OTHER CONTINENTS: AFRICA and ASIA: Lee Cronk, Rutgers University, Director, The Human Generosity Project (funding: John Templeton Foundation) Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda; Fiji, Mongolia.
Effective start/end date6/1/155/31/16


  • OTHER: Domestic Non-ABOR University: $120,000.00


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