EVO 301 Essays; Spring 2018

Essays for Final Exam; EVO 301; GG; SP 2018


Of the following, four will emerge on the final exam – and you’ll be asked to complete three of these during the final exam period. Your encouraged to write drafts ahead of time and bring your work to Glenn or to one of the TAs to get feedback before the exam.

  1. Describe the ideas of “natural selection,” “adaptation,” “genetic fitness,” and “reproductive success.” In your essay, address how these concepts are inter-related. Finally, address what these concepts imply about understanding evolution at level of genes or of individual organisms (compared with evolution at the level of a species).
  2. Glass, Wilson, and Geher (2012) provide evidence that evolution training is hard to obtain in modern higher education. Provide a summary of their reasoning along with a summary of their data.
  3. Describe the specific idea of “Evolutionary Psychology” – including how it conceptualizes behavioral patterns. In your answer, be sure to address the metaphor of the “selfish gene.”
  4. In the first chapter of Evolutionary Psychology 101 (Geher, 2014), the case is made that the concept of “species” is often misunderstood and misrepresented when it comes to evolutionary studies. Describe the reasoning presented therein. In your answer, explain why the case is made that the term “species” should be used excessively sparingly in writing in this field.
  5. Glenn’s talk on Positive Evolutionary Psychology discusses this new field of inquiry as one that uses work from the field of evolutionary psychology to help shed light on questions of positive psychology. Describe three specific content areas that are proposed as areas to be illuminated by this new field. In your answer, briefly describe how work in evolutionary psychology is poised to help improve an understanding of each content area.
  6. The first three talks in our series, by Odenwald, Mayo, and Bartholomew, explored large-scale evolution questions, including the origins of the universe, the evolution of the solar system, and the possibility of life outside earth. Briefly describe the basic ideas of these talks, including how they relate to the broader theme of evolutionary studies. Next, describe the Drake Equation, vis a vis Bartholomew’s talk, and elaborate on the physical constraints that stand in the way of knowing about life outside our planet.
  7. John Long described the evolution of backbones in sharks. He described an interesting trend toward cartilage. Describe why this trend is considered evolutionarily interesting. Next, describe the “adaptive function” that Long and his students discovered in his lab work that can help explain this ancestral evolutionary process.
  8. Joseph Graves made the case that Darwin was a genuine abolitionist and that an evolutionary take on being human is a decidedly non-racist approach to our kind. Briefly summarize what he had to say on Darwin’s abolitionist approach. Next, describe ideas that Graves presented from a geneticist approach that speaks to the idea that biological races in humans are “socially constructed.”
  9. Briefly describe the silver fox studies described by Lee Dugatkin. In your answer, describe the empirical connections between selecting for behavior and selecting for physical traits. Finally, describe how this work, done using “artificial selection” methods, tells us about how natural selection operates.
  10. A few of the readings address evolutionary studies (EvoS) as a truly interdisciplinary endeavor. Explain what “interdisciplinary” means in this context – along with some of the evidence provided in the readings that speak to the idea of EvoS as being particularly interdisciplinary. Finally, take all this information into account in commenting about the future of evolution in higher education.
  11. Describe the idea of “evolutionary mismatch.” In your answer, discuss some specific feature of human life that we can consider as “mismatched.” Explain this phenomenon in evolutionary terms. Finally, discuss how this concept of evolutionary mismatch can help us lead richer lives.
  12. One class period, we engaged in a crayon-based activity that was developed by Tyler Rhodes, a renowned illustrator. Briefly describe the nature of this activity as well as the basic evolutionary concept that this activity was designed to explicate. Next, name and describe two specific evolutionary concepts that emerged during this activity. In your answer, elaborate on how this activity illuminated these particular concepts.
  13. Briefly describe the Ancestor’s Trail project that was connected with this class this semester. Describe the basic, conceptual idea. Next, describe one specific lineage of life that was included in the trail and discuss how the physical distance in that trail corresponded to time markers related to the evolution of life. In your answer, address the main point of this educational project.