Evolution by Natural Selection

1) Evolution by Natural Selection (Everyone must answer this first question) Give a full and detailed explanation of the theory of evolution by natural selection. In order to do this, use as your example an explanation of how terrestrial rodents evolved into early primates. For this answer you will need to combine together: all the necessary steps of natural selection, with some of the common traits seen in the “primate pattern”, with theories about the selection pressures that caused the primate adaptation.

Now choose only 4 of the following questions to answer.

2) Genetics

Variation in traits is necessary for evolution by natural selection. First, explain these four genetic processes and how they can influence evolution: meiosis, mutation, genetic drift, and gene flow. Then, choose two specific examples from the readings that illustrates how one (or more) of these genetic processes can be used to study or understand evolution by natural selection. For each of your 2 examples, clearly explain what the problem or issue is, and then clearly explain how these genetic processes can help us better understand it.

3) Reproductive Success

Using examples from the readings, explain 2 ways that primate behaviors are shaped by adaptations to increase reproductive success. First, explain infanticide: explain how and when it can be an adaptive male reproductive strategy. Be careful to explain when it is and is not adaptive for males to commit infanticide, and also explain the adaptive female response to infanticide. Then, choose a different example from the readings about competition for another resource (e.g. food, mates, sleeping sites, etc…) that has interesting effects of primate behavior. For this answer do not use baboons, chimpanzees, or bonobos as your example species.

4) Baboons: social life & sex

First, describe and explain the social relationships of female savanna baboons. Then, describe and explain the social relationships of male savanna baboons. Then, describe and explain the mating behaviors of savanna baboons, by explaining the how the reproductive strategies of female and males interact.

To answer this question you will need to combine what you have learned about theories of primate social and mating behaviors, with what you have learned about male vs. female reproductive strategies, and use specific examples from the readings and other course materials. You will probably want to discuss behaviors relating to things such as: competition, hierarchy, status, aggression, friendships, alliances, social bonds, mate choice, etc…

5) Chimpanzees vs. Bonobos: social life & sex

Explain the differences between chimpanzee and bonobo social relationships and mating behaviors. First, describe and explain the social relationships and mating behaviors of female and male chimpanzees. Then, describe and explain the social relationships and mating behaviors of female and male bonobos. Then, explain how both sex and food affect these difference in behaviors between these two closely related species.

To answer this question you will need to combine what you have learned about theories of primate social and mating behaviors, with what you have learned about male vs. female reproductive strategies, and use specific examples from the readings and other course materials. You will probably want to discuss behaviors relating to things such as: competition, hierarchy, status, aggression, friendships, alliances, social bonds, mate choice, etc…

6) Culture & Cognitive Abilities

First define what “culture” is for non-human primates. Now, describe and explain 2 different behaviors that might qualify as culture, and explain why they fit the criteria to be called a cultural behavior. Then, describe and explain 2 other behaviors that demonstrate complex cognitive abilities (not culture) in non-human primates. Explain how each of these abilities or behaviors are similar to or different from what we see in humans.

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