Friday seminar: The evolution of difficult birth in humans
By Barbara Fischer, University of Vienna, Austria
Barbara Fischer. Photo from Universität Wien.
Birth is a remarkably difficult process in humans, in comparison to the other great apes, and it is associated with significant mortality and morbidity. In this talk, I will review why human birth evolved this way. To ease birth, humans evolved a sexually dimorphic pelvis with a wider pelvic canal in females, compared to males. I will present results on the variation in pelvic morphology in humans and some new evidence from a comparative study in humans and chimpanzees on the evolutionary origin of pelvic sex differences. Surprisingly, these results suggest that the pattern of pelvic sex differences did not evolve de novo in modern humans but that it is much older and likely of mammalian or maybe even of amniote origin.
By Barbara Fisher (homepage), the University of Vienna, Department of Theoretical Biology.
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