Christine Hertler: Extended Evolution

Macroevolution, the formation of novel body structures or the formation of complex structure that work only if assembled into a functional unit (for instance, the eye) belongs to the hardest nuts to be cracked for evolution theory. Darwin always evaded this question a bit and the pseudointellectual form of creationism, so called Intelligent Design that are currently booming in the US, are basically touching this open flank to derive from there the "proof" that there must have been an act of creation. 

Can we explain in a rational way the evolution of such complex forms?

Here, it is not sufficient to consider an organism in isolation, its environment, its functional context is of relevance. If this functional context changes, this can cause with fairly little genetics a fairly conspicuous change. An impressive example is human evolution - here, climate change led in East Africa around 2.5 Mya to a serious food crisis. In frame of this crisis, a novel (genetically hardly traceable) innovation gained momentum: culture. This launched a completely new evolutionary history, where suddenly completely different selective constraints moved into the focus.

Speaker: Christine Hertler die her Ph.D. at the Senckenberg Museum on Paleoanthropology and later coordinated a project on primordial humans in South East Asia, taught in Frankfurt and Tübingen, and has been working since 2008 for the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences at Senckenberg. Her major topic is the role of culture for human evolution.