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New frontiers in the study of human cultural and genetic evolution

In this review, we discuss the dynamic linkages between culture and the genetic evolution of the human species. We begin by briefly describing the framework of gene-culture coevolutionary (or dual-inheritance) models for human evolutionary change. Until recently, the literature on gene-culture coevolution was composed primarily of mathematical models and formalized theory describing the complex dynamics underlying human behavior, adaptation, and technological evolution, but had little empirical support concerning genetics. The rapid progress in the fields of molecular genetics and genomics, however, is now providing the kinds of data needed to produce rich empirical support for gene-culture coevolutionary models. We briefly outline how theoretical and methodological progress in genome sciences has provided ways for the strength of selection on genes to be evaluated, and then outline how evidence of selection on several key genes can be directly linked to human cultural practices. We then describe some exciting new directions in the empirical study of gene-culture coevolution, and conclude with a discussion of the role of gene-culture evolutionary models in the future integration of medical, biological, and social sciences.

Read the paper online or download a preprint here.

Bibtex:

@article{ross2014new,
  title={New frontiers in the study of human cultural and genetic evolution},
  author={Ross, Cody T and Richerson, Peter J},
  journal={Current opinion in genetics \& development},
  volume={29},
  pages={103--109},
  year={2014},
  publisher={Elsevier}
}

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