What is (are) the evolutionary principle(s) being discussed/presented in your example?

Evolutionary explanations:It is not uncommon to come across evolutionary explanations for human behavior and/or anatomy in popular science reporting.  Although many of the reports are based on scientific studies, the presentation in popular news sources can sometimes differ from that which is reported in the scientific literature.

Find an example:

You need to find an example of this type of reporting and then critically examine it. You also need to find the original research article used as the basis for the popular science report. Web of Science (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Answer the questions below before coming to the class session.  Be prepared to share your example with classmates and help brainstorm answers to the questions for their examples as well.


  1. What is (are) the evolutionary principle(s) being discussed/presented in your example? These could include (but are not limited to):
  • Any of the forces of evolution
  • Fitness (differential reproductive success)
  • Selective pressures
  • Phenotypic expression of genetic traits (variation is key for evolution by natural selection!)
  1. What are the assumptions and/or preconceptions about the process of evolution that you can see in your example?
  • Consider how the process (and outcome) of evolution has been presented in our course.
  • This is a place to evaluate the language used in your example – do you see the words ‘need’, ‘want’, or ‘try’ in the description of how your trait evolved? This type of language implies that the organism is directing the evolution of a trait. Based on what you have learned about evolution, is that how it happens?
  • Do you see the words ‘best’ or ‘most’? Does the scenario imply ‘survival of the strongest’? Based on what you have learned about natural selection and genetic drift, what is wrong with that implication?
  1. Describe an alternative evolutionary explanation of the trait being discussed in your article. It is helpful to review the forces of evolution before formulating this answer.
  • We are taught to look for natural selection as an explanation for every trait/behavior; in a selection scenario, the trait that’s evolving results in differential reproductive success.
  • How might the other forces of evolution lead to the adaption in your example

Written Submission (300~500 words)

  •        Briefly present the topic addressed in your example (50 words or less).
  • Present your analysis of this example based on the questions above.
  • You don’t have to specifically answer those questions, but your analysis should incorporate the information you gathered in relation to those questions.
  • You don’t have to decide if the article is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but you need to demonstrate critical thinking about how the information is being presented using what you have learned in this part of the course.
  • Briefly compare/contrast your current awareness relating to this type of reporting to your previous awareness (50 words or less).
  • You must provide a reference (APA format (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.) for BOTH your example and any original research article relating to your example.

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