When I was working at Dmanisi this summer, I used a lot of my free time to develop a course on human evolutionary developmental biology, or evo-devo. I submitted this to my department, and I’m excited to announce that I’ll be teaching this class at U of M in Spring 2012. So if you’re at UM and want to take a badass class exploring the evolution and development of the human body, keep an eye out for this new anthropology offering (NB I need to come up with a catchy title for the class still).
The tentative textbook for the class will be Lewis Held’s Quirks of Human Anatomy: An Evo-Devo Look at the Human Body, which I just got in the mail yesterday. It got very good reviews and should be an interesting read, and with just under 3000 references it has a pretty useful bibliography, too. I’m really looking forward to reading this, and even the first page of the preface points to something promising:
“In Chapter 13 of Origin, Darwin asserted that the evidence from embryology alone was strong enough to convince him of the principle of common descent. Human embryos make many structures we don’t need, and we destroy others after we’ve gone to the trouble of making them. No engineer in his right mind would ever allow such idiocy.”
I can’t wait to read about these idiocies.
Teaching is an important part of my work, but I’ll admit that sometimes I’d rather be doing other things than preparing lessons, assignments and such. I have to say, though, I’ve had a lot of fun preparing this class so far. I’ll keep you posted about what I think of the book and how the course-planning comes along.