UVU celebrates Darwin’s birthday

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Jeanette Blain Staff Writer| Staff Writer | @JeanetteBlain

Friday, Feb. 20, the UVU Department of Biology hosted the 2015 UVU Darwin Day “Cell”ebration in honor of the 206 birthday of Charles Darwin.

The 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. event was located in the Science Building atrium where biology and evolution exhibits were on display to the public. T-shirts and buttons with this year’s Darwin Day logo were also for sale.

From left UVU professor Dr. Robert Robbins with Dr. David Carrier

From left UVU professor Dr. Robert Robbins with Dr. David Carrier

The keynote speaker was Dr. David Carrier, a professor of evolutionary biology from the University of Utah. Carrier’s one-hour presentation, The Anatomical Basis of Aggression in Hominins, featured his research on the biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system in human ancestors. Evidence shows that some ancient changes in anatomy, mainly in the face and hands, were selected by evolution to favor male-to-male combat. Violence also may have caused fragile bones of the face, in males, to become thicker and stronger over time.

“Although the hand is a delicate instrument it can also be turned into an effective club,” said Carrier.

Carrier said that the study of human violence is controversial, but insists that, “An understanding of our evolutionary past may help us make the world a better place. The past matters –  and to the extent that we can understand it –  we’re going to gain by understanding it.”

Carrier presented data showing that the level of violence in non-state societies was higher than in stated societies. The rise of modern cultures allowed us to develop the more peaceful aspects of our human nature. And, we can use evolutionary research to develop even safer communities.

“I liked the evidence he displayed for the evolution of violence in humans,” said attendee Trevor Chamberlain.

Biology major Bryan Price attended the talk because he studies human evolution.

“I’ve always been interested in primates. When I saw the advertisement for this I was definitely interested,” said Price.

To end the event attendees gathered in the Science Atrium for a final tribute. They sang Happy Birthday to Darwin while birthday cake was served.

The event was organized by Professor Robert Robbins, Ph.D. who says that the study of evolution is important at UVU. He quoted evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky, who said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

UVU has held a Darwin Day event annually since 2009, when the world celebrated the 200 anniversary of Darwin’s birth.

“Some years, UVU has been the only school in Utah to hold the event,” said Robbins. The school plans to continue the tradition for the foreseeable future.