One feature common to nonlinear phenomena is how they challenge intuitions. Maybe nowhere is this more apparent than in studying the evolutionary process, and organisms in which not just genes but learned behaviors reproduce themselves provide a fountain of reliable surprises. Teasing out the intricate dynamics of gene-culture co-evolution is no easy feat. The dance of language, tools, and rituals together with anatomy reveals a deeper hidden order in how information spreads, and offers clues to why some strategies for innovation repeat themselves across the tree of life.
This week’s guest is Nicole Creanza, an Assistant Professor in the Biological Sciences department at Vanderbilt University whose research merges computational and theoretical approaches to the comparison of cultural and genetic evolution in both human languages and birdsong. In this episode, we discuss how geography, genetics, behavior, and technology collide in fascinating ways and how the study of gene-culture interactions might answer some of natural history’s greatest riddles.
Nicole’s Google Scholar Page.
Nicole’s Santa Fe Institute Seminar: Cultural Evolution in Structured Populations.
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