ANT 150 Section 001: Evolution for Everyone

Spring 2012

3 Credit Hours
Primary Instructor: Dr. Christopher Lynn
Syllabus subject to change.
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From the Student Records System

No prerequisites found.

Course Description

This course is the introduction of the Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) minor.  This course is team-taught to provide you an interdisciplinary introduction to evolutionary theory and applications.  Several of our meetings will also involve guest experts from other institutions as part of the Alabama Lectures on Life's Evolution (ALLELE) series and video lectures culled from the EvoS Consortium archives.  The disciplines represented this semester include biology, anthropology, psychology, geology, philosophy, and history.  These meetings will all include readings assigned by the lecturer or readings of the guest speaker that will be assigned.  This course is designed to open your mind to what evolution is and how it applies to all life.  Topics will be diverse and may include speciation, animal behavior, dinosaur paleontology, evolution of religion, evolutionary medicine, human emotions, deception, human fossils, and the evolutionary biology of physical attractiveness.  This diversity of topics should make for an academic experience that is nothing short of fascinating.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of this term, you should be able to:

·         Describe the basic principles of evolutionary theory

·         Summarize the nature of the forces of evolution

·         Use evolutionary theory to explain species variation

·         Outline how evolutionary theory applies across academic disciplines

·         Critically evaluate different scholarly approaches to evolution

·         Explain the interface between evolutionary scholarship and human societies

·         Critique topics that have been explained using evolutionary theory or use evolutionary theory as a critical device

·         Generate testable hypotheses about topics related to evolution

·         Effectively research and write a paper related to evolution

Attendance Policy

This course will meet in ten Hoor 22, NOT ten Hoor 30 as originally scheduled.

Attendance will be monitored through in-class quizzes and exams.  If you fail to come to class, you will received a 0 for that quiz.  You will not be penalized further for the absence, but if you attend ALL meetings of the course, you will receive 5 bonus course points.  You are not excepted from this policy if your absence is excused--to earn the bonus points, no absences period.

Required Texts

UA Supply Store Textbook Information


Other Course Materials


This course will use eLearning to distribute additional readings.  Access eLearning via myBama.  There is a box called eLearning on the Academics tab that should list your courses that are currently let up with eLearning.  Log in and set your eLearning email up to direct your email to your Bama account (and be sure to set up your Bama account to forward to your regular personal account if you don’t plan on using it as your primary account).  To do this, go to the My Setting option in the upper right-hand corner.  On the My Profile tab, make sure your email address is correct (select Edit Profile if not and correct it).  Then select the My Tool Options tab.  Scroll down to Mail and check the box “Forward all mail message to the e-mail address in my profile.”  Click Save at the bottom of the page, and you are good to go (be sure to do this, as it doesn’t do it automatically).  This is important, as you likely won’t remember to check eLearning regularly for messages from me, but I will not accept that as an excuse for missing information (however, given that eLearning is not 100% reliable, I will often send important message via your Bama email—which, again, is why you need to make sure that account is your primary email or set up to forward to your primary email).

Exams and Assignments

Quizzes (25 points):  There will be a quiz at each class meeting, except on exam dates. The quizzes will cover the assigned reading for the date.  There will be 36 quizzes.  Each quiz will be 1-2 multiple choice, true/false, or short answer questions.  Quiz scores will be calculated as % correct out of 100%.  This percent will then be divided by 4 to determine your course points out of 20.

Research Proposal (15 points):  A 3-page research proposal will be due April 19.  The purpose of this proposal is to help you start thinking about evolutionary problems in terms of testable hypotheses.  Your proposal should outline a study you could do here at UA as an undergraduate and one that, in fact, you might conduct in a future semester.  Your proposal should (1) outline the background of your topic and how you came to formulate your hypothesis, (2) state your pursuit in terms of a falsifiable hypothesis, (3) the methods you would use to conduct your study (including the population or subject of interest, the materials you would use for the study, and how you would analyze your data), and (4) what you expect to find and the implications of these findings with regard to the existing literature on the topic.  You will be expected to cite that literature appropriately.  If you do not know how to cite literature scientifically, I will post relevant links on eLearning to assist you.  Your proposal should take the following form and contain section headers to indicate you have used this form:

  1. Introduction (3 points)
    • background (summarizes what you're going to say)

    • hypothesis

  2. Methods (10 points)

    • subjects/population

    • materials

    • procedure

    • analysis

  3. Discussion (10 points)

    • implications

    • significance

  4. Conclusion (2 points)

    • summarize what you've said

Exams (60 points):  There two exams, worth 30 points each.  Exams are NOT cumulative.  Exams are based on readings, lectures, and discussion material.  You are responsible for all the material of the course, so it is imperative that you come to every session of class, take notes, participate, and seek clarification for material you do not understand.

Grading Policy

25 points = QUIZZES


30 points = MIDTERM EXAM

30 points = FINAL EXAM

100 points

Outline of Topics






Thurs, Jan 12


Introduction, EvoS program, ALLELE series, research proposal

Quammen pp. 11-48

Tues, Jan 17


Scientific method

Quammen pp. 49-85

Thurs, Jan 19


History of Evolutionary Theory

Quammen pp. 86-122

Tues, Jan 24


Forces of Evolution

Quammen pp. 123-159

Thurs, Jan 26


ALLELE guest: Eugenie Scott

Scott & Matzke 2007;

Mead & Mates 2009

Tues, Jan 31


History of Evolutionary Theory

Quammen pp. 160-196

Thurs, Feb 2


Quammen pp. 197-233

Tues Feb 7



Quammen pp. 234-253

Thurs, Feb 9


Wilson pp. 1-37

Tues, Feb 14


Wilson pp. 38-75

Thurs, Feb 16


ALLELE guest: Brian Fagan

Chapters from “The Ice Age”

Tues, Feb 21


Evolutionary Biology

“Animal Self”; Sih 2004

Thurs, Feb 23


Andy Sih visit

Wilson pp. 76-112

Tues, Feb 28



Wilson pp. 113-149

Thurs, Mar 1


Animal Behavior

Wilson pp. 150-186

Tues, Mar 6


Wilson pp. 187-223

Thurs, Mar 8


Midterm Exam

Mar 13 & 15



Tues, Mar 20


Animal Behavior

Wilson pp. 224-260

Thurs, Mar 22


Evolutionary Medicine

Wilson pp. 261-297

Tues, Mar 27



Wilson pp. 298-334

Thurs, Mar 29


ALLELE guest: Ryosuke Motani

Motani 1999; Motani 2010

Tues, Apr 3



Lane pp. 118-131

Thurs, Apr 5


Evolutionary Psychology

Lane pp. 131-143

Tues, Apr 10


Lane pp. 232-245

Thurs, Apr 12


ALLELE guest: Frans de Waal

De Waal & Ferrari 2010

Tues, Apr 17



Lane pp. 245-259

Thurs, Apr 19


Evolution & Philosophy

Lane pp. 260-269

Tues, Apr 24


Lane pp. 269-285

Thurs, Apr 26



Wed, May 2

8-10:30 AM




Policy on Missed Exams & Coursework

Attendance:  If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to utilize Tegrity to view lectures or contact a classmate to get notes.  However, I cannot guarantee that every lecture will be posted to Tegrity.  Furthermore, discussions will be an important aspect of this course, which is difficult to re-experience via Tegrity.

Exams:  If you miss an exam for any reason whatsoever, whether excused or unexcused, you will be able to make it up by completing a 15-page research paper.  The topic will be chosen by Dr. Lynn and format instructions will be provided.  If you miss the midterm, the research paper will be due on the day of the final exam.  If you miss the final exam, you will be given two weeks to complete and turn in the research paper make-up.

Research Proposal:  Late submissions will only be accepted by prior arrangement and/or with a very good reason.  Otherwise, I will begin deducting 1 point from the research proposal score for each day or portion thereof.  If it is received more than 15 days late, you will receive a 0 for the assignment.  Many assignments being due at the same time is never a good reason, and extensions will never be authorized on that basis, so please don’t ask.  No extensions will be authorized during the 3 days immediately prior to the due date except in the case of a legitimate medical emergency.

Extra Credit Opportunities

There are at least 3 ways to earn extra credit.  You may do any or all of these things, earning a possible 15 total extra credit points:

  • You can receive extra credit by attending ALLELE lectures.  There are 4 lectures.  You will receive 2 course points per lecture.  You will be required to sign in to verify your attendance.
  • Perfect attendance will earn you 4 extra course points.  No exceptions.  This means you cannot miss ANY class sessions, even if they are excused or reasonable absences.
  • You may have the opportunity to participate in miscellaneous studies conducted by students or faculty at UA.  Participating in research is a great way of learning how studies are designed and conducted.  Extra credit will be granted for such participation.  The number of points will be determined by the extent of your participation, not to exceed 3 points.  Proof of your participation must be submitted by the researcher(s) conducting the study with an indication of the extent (e.g., time, activities) of your participation.
  • Other opportunities may arise and be announced during the course of the semester.  Points will be assigned based on the extent of your participation, not to exceed 15 course points in total.

Policy on Academic Misconduct

All students in attendance at the University of Alabama are expected to be honorable and to observe standards of conduct appropriate to a community of scholars. The University expects from its students a higher standard of conduct than the minimum required to avoid discipline. Academic misconduct includes all acts of dishonesty in any academically related matter and any knowing or intentional help or attempt to help, or conspiracy to help, another student.

The Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Policy will be followed in the event of academic misconduct.

Disability Statement

If you are registered with the Office of Disability Services, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible to discuss any course accommodations that may be necessary. If you have a disability, but have not contacted the Office of Disability Services, please call 348-4285 or visit 133-B Martha Parham Hall East to register for services. Students who may need course adaptations because of a disability are welcome to make an appointment to see me during office hours. Students with disabilities must be registered with the Office of Disability Services, 133-B Martha Parham Hall East, before receiving academic adjustments.

Evolutionary Studies

This course is the introduction to a minor in Evolutionary Studies (EvoS).  It is open to all students but is a requirement for the minor.  If you have not already decided to declare a minor in EvoS, we hope this course leads you to consider doing so.  EvoS is an interdisciplinary minor, designed to introduce students to the fundamental importance of evolutionary theory as an explanatory model for life and behavior.  Requirements of the minor include two capstone courses (including this introduction), a 200-level course in the biological principles of evolution, and another foundational course in one of three disciplines.  Additionally, minors are required to complete six elective hours in two separate disciplines.

This program is integrated with UA's Evolution and Origins Working Group (EVOWOG)and its Alabama Lectures on Life's Evolution (ALLELE) speaker series ("Like" us on Facebook [] to stay informed!).  The speakers you will meet this semester are here as part of that series.  In addition to meeting with this class, they will each present a public lecture and a lecture for a sponsoring department.  You are strongly encouraged to attend these lectures.  This minor is part of a larger EvoS Consortium, which includes approximately 42 other institutions worldwide, though we are only one of four full-fledged minors.  We take pride in this fact, given that Alabama recently scored at the very bottom of the 50 states in teaching evolution at the k-12 levels (even worse than Mississippi!).

As part of the EvoS program, we are starting an EvoS club, that we hope will grow out of this class.  You are welcome to become part of this club whether you declare yourself an EvoS minor or simply maintain an abiding interest in evolutionary theory and its myriad applications and implications.  We hope the activities of the club will include regular evolution-oriented field trips and organizing activities around ALLELE speakers.  The first trip that is being planned is one to visit the new human evolution exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

If you are interested in the EvoS minor (either to declare or for more information), contact Dr. Lynn ( or Dr. Rissler (


There is a closed Facebook group for the course at  This group is used to share relevant information from media sources and facilitate discussion.  Please request to join the group.

"Like" the UA Department of Anthropology ( and the ALLELE series ( on Facebook so that we can keep in touch with you and you can stay informed about our events and activities.

Severe Weather Protocol

In the case of a tornado warning (tornado has been sighted or detected by radar, sirens activated), all university activities are automatically suspended, including all classes and laboratories. If you are in a building, please move immediately to the lowest level and toward the center of the building away from windows (interior classrooms, offices, or corridors) and remain there until the tornado warning has expired. Classes in session when the tornado warning is issued can resume immediately after the warning has expired at the discretion of the instructor. Classes that have not yet begun will resume 30 minutes after the tornado warning has expired provided at least half of the class period remains.

UA is a residential campus with many students living on or near campus. In general classes will remain in session until the National Weather Service issues safety warnings for the city of Tuscaloosa. Clearly, some students and faculty commute from adjacent counties. These counties may experience weather related problems not encountered in Tuscaloosa. Individuals should follow the advice of the National Weather Service for that area taking the necessary precautions to ensure personal safety. Whenever the National Weather Service and the Emergency Management Agency issue a warning, people in the path of the storm (tornado or severe thunderstorm) should take immediate life saving actions.

When West Alabama is under a severe weather advisory, conditions can change rapidly. It is imperative to get to where you can receive information from the National Weather Service and to follow the instructions provided. Personal safety should dictate the actions that faculty, staff and students take. The Office of Public Relations will disseminate the latest information regarding conditions on campus in the following ways:

  • Weather advisory posted on the UA homepage
  • Weather advisory sent out through Connect-ED--faculty, staff and students (sign up at myBama)
  • Weather advisory broadcast over WVUA at 90.7 FM
  • Weather advisory broadcast over Alabama Public Radio (WUAL) at 91.5 FM
  • Weather advisories are broadcast via WUOA/WVUA-TV, which can be viewed across Central Alabama. Also, visit for up-to-the-minute weather information. A mobile Web site is also available for your convenience.