HEB and Archaeology Faculty Introductions: "Archaeology of the Invisible", “Research on Wild Bonobos at Kokolopori”, “Introduction to the Evolutionary Neuroscience Lab”


Wednesday, February 26, 2020, 12:00pm


Room 203, Tozzer Anthropology Building, 21 Divinity Avenue

“Archaeology of the Invisible” a talk by Assistant Professor, Christina Warinner

“Research on Wild Bonobos at Kokolopori” a talk by Assistant Professor, Martin Surbeck

“Introduction to the Evolutionary Neuroscience Lab” a talk by Assistant Professor, Erin Hecht


Christina Warinner studies the long and complicated relationship between humans, their food, and their microbes. In doing so, her group studies not only the food cultures and microbiomes of people today but also the microscopic and biomolecular traces of foods and microbes that prehistoric peoples left behind - in dental calculus, paleofeces, and pottery residues: an archaeology of the invisible. We then combine this information with paleogenomic studies of prehistoric migrations and human genetic adaptations to build up a picture of humans' long and tangled dietary, microbial, and technological history.

Martin Surbeck’s research investigates the behavioral ecology of non-human primates, with a focus on our closest living relatives, bonobos and chimpanzees, in order to understand the evolution of human behavior. One branch of the lab’s research addresses questions related to causes and consequences of cooperation and competition within and between groups. For example, we would like to know what facilitates tolerance between groups; in what way social bonds and cooperative behavior link; how female bonobos came to occupy high dominance ranks within groups; and by what means mothers help their sons to reproduce. Another line of work is focused on documenting and describing the social and ecological differences between chimpanzees and bonobos in order to be able to better understand the selection pressures driving these striking differences.


Erin Hecht’s research at the Evolutionary Neuroscience Lab asks how brains change in response to selection pressure on behavior, and how brains acquire heritable adaptations for complex, learned behaviors. One branch of the lab’s research compares brain-behavior relationships in humans and our primate relatives. Another line of work is focused on domestic dogs and selectively-bred foxes, which are other highly encephalized, social species. Current areas of focus include: neural and behavioral variation in domestic dog breeds and domesticated foxes; neural correlates of domestication and selection against aggression; neural plasticity during the acquisition of skills for which species have innate predispositions; and the relationship between individual variation in brain organization and predisposition to acquire new learned skills. To learn more, visit http://hechtlab.org/.