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Burr and Burton Academy AP Bio TED(ish) Talk: “Survival of the Sickest” and “The Story of the Human Body”

June 5 @ 6:00pm-8:00pm


Survival of the Sickest: The Surprising Connections Between Disease and Longevity by Dr. Sharon Moalem

Presented by: Mason Schaeffer ’24, Carter Robinson ’24, and James Szkutak ’24

When one thinks about diseases, they are often viewed as destructive and harmful. However, it may s3urprise you that there is actually evidence to support that some conditions, viewed as diseases today, helped our ancestors throughout our long evolutionary history. Have you ever wondered why type 1 diabetes is over 20 times more common in people of northern European descent? Or why sickle cell anemia is so much more common in Africans? If natural selection is supposed to continuously refine the human genome, why do genetic diseases like these still exist today? In Survival of the Sickest, Dr. Sharon Moalem explains the advantages diseases may have given our ancestors and why they still exist today. We will look beyond how surprising evolution has impacted humans and also see its effect on animals such as mice, rats, and monkeys. Your DNA is a history book of all the trials and tribulations your ancestors faced, in this presentation we will start to look into the book and understand the why behind sickness.

The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease by Daniel E. Lieberman

Presented by: Mai-Liis Edwards ’25, Maya Williams ’25, and Christin Redmond ’25

In this discussion, we dig deeper into the narrative of human evolution as explored in Daniel E. Lieberman’s acclaimed book, “The Story of the Human Body.” Dr. Lieberman, a renowned evolutionary biologist, takes us on a compelling journey through millions of years of human history, unveiling how our bodies have adapted and changed over time. Beginning with our distant ancestors, Lieberman illustrates the impact that natural selection has on shaping the human body. He explains how key evolutionary adaptations, such as bipedalism, the development of large brains, and changes in diet, have played pivotal roles in our survival and development as a species. Finally he brings up present day challenges, and how new innovations have affected humans in negative ways. This book empowers us to appreciate the many wonders of human evolution and underscores the importance of aligning our behaviors with our evolutionary past to lead healthier and happier lives.

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