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Anthropology Speakers' Series

The Evolution of the Human Ecological Niche


Speaker: Marcus J. Hamilton | Associate Professor, University of Texas at San Antonio | Santa Fe Institute
Filmed: Friday, November 9, 2018

The human species has evolved a wide diversity of lifestyles, from hunting and gathering to trading stocks on Wall Street. Consequently, the human species occupies an enormous ecological niche, encompassing most environments on the planet, and accessing a variety of energy sources. While human ecology has evolved over millions of years, the diversity of human ecologies we see now has evolved only quite recently. In this talk I discuss my research into the evolution of human ecology. I use data and mathematical models to understand how energy and information flow through social networks and interact with each other to create the human ecological niche. In essence, humans form groups that share information to extract energy from their environments more efficiently than other species, and we now have data and theory that explains how this happens.