The School of Anthropology Distinguished Lecture series welcomes Melissa Emery Thompson to speak about chimpanzee and human life histories. Features of life history are among the most dramatic and puzzling changes during the evolution of the human species. While anthropologists have compelling functional hypotheses about life history evolution, we have relatively little understanding of the mechanisms by which these changes were achieved. In this lecture, Emery Thompson explores the comparative reproductive ecology of chimpanzees and humans, focusing on the relative contributions of physiological versus behavioral adaptations in producing higher fertility in humans. These data provide surprising revelations about similarities and differences between species that are not obvious from simplistic comparisons of life history structure.
Emery Thompson received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2005 and is currently research assistant professor of anthropology at the University of New Mexico. Her work applies non-invasive methods for endocrinology and health physiology towards questions about ecological variation and behavior response. She specializes in reproductive biology and life history variation in great apes and humans.