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Culture democratizes human chances of survival

According to Jaume Bertranpetit, during the B·Debate and CCCB lecture series, the most difficult aspect of our evolutionary process to see is how selection has led to complex characteristics like intelligence.

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Núria Saladié

We no longer need to look at visible traits of species in order to know how they’ve evolved; we can study their genetic information and compare it with other individuals to discover how far apart or close together they are in the evolutionary process of natural selection. However, although we can describe the genome, we don’t yet understand it: as if it were stored on a CD and we don’t have any software to open it.

Jaume Bertranpetit, professor of Biology at Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), spoke about the evolutionary process and the importance of the genome to understanding adaptations at the conference entitled Natural selection in humans: past, present and future as part of the lecture series Evolution and culture. Human nature in transformation held by B·Debate and the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) from 19 October through 11 November 2013. Bertranpetit wove examples to explain how humans have evolved and how culture influences modern adaptation into his lecture. “We’ve expanded our concept of normality; our chances of survival have been democratized,” he said to explain how the force of purifying selection has diminished. 

More information on the B·Debate website.

Date: 19 October through 11 November 2013
Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: CCCB • C/ Montalegre, 5 • Barcelona (map)


Jaume Bertranpetit and Montserrat Vendrell in the B·Debate and CCCB conference last 4 November - Photo: © CCCB.