In this, the second of two Radio Curious interviews, we continue our discussion of human evolution with Gregory Cochran an aerospace physicist and professor of anthropology at the University of Utah; his expertise is in genetic anthropology. Gregory Cochran along with Henry Harpending, also a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah, are the co-authors of the 2009 book “The 10,000 Year Explosion – How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution.” This book explores how humans appear to have evolved over the last 10,000 years, largely driven by civilization-the place, culture and lifestyle of the time.
In this two part conversation, recorded by phone with Gregory Cochran from his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico on February 23rd, 2009, we discuss how humans have genetically evolved.
In part one we discussed the changes in human biology such as lactose tolerance and resistance to malaria that represent human evolution accelerated by civilization. We also discussed the intermixing of neanderthals and humans and the genetic benefits in our species that continue to this day.
In part two, Cochran discusses how gene mutations have allowed specific human advantages in different locations around the world. We began with his discussion of the migration of the human species out of Africa, which resulted in some people living in the northern latitudes. People born in these areas with a random genetic mutation resulting in skin of a lighter color allowed them to absorb more vitamin D from the sun, thus giving them better health and a greater opportunity to have off spring. We also discuss the genetic mutations that contribute to certain types of intelligence.
The book Gregory Cochran recommends is”Tthe Princeton Companion to Mathematics,” edited by Timothy Gowers.
Click here or on the media player below to listen to part two.