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Lecture 4

Lecture 4 Jan 16 2014

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3100
Pat Barclay

Lecture 4 Evolutionary Psych 3100 Jan 16 2014 ADAPTATIONISM Adaptation: a trait or set of traits that evolved because they serve a particular function - (more efficient feeding, promoting mate choice, increased reproductive success) Reverse Engineering: inferring function from the form = being able to look at a trait and trying to estimate what It could do, and test your hypothesis - Beak shape and sizes have evolved for different things; larger beaks can break open larger seeds and so on 4 criteria people often use: - Reliability – is hunger reliably produced whenever blood sugar drops? - Specificity – hunger is associated with the idea of acquiring nutrients we need - Efficiency – is this a good benefit/cost ratio? Is hunger effective at making us eat - Parsimony – is this the best available explanation? Example: Disgust - Adaptation to protect us from things that will make us sick, reduce the risk of disease - Eventually co-opted into moral disgust, sexual disgust, as well as physical disgust… 1. By-products (spandrels): some traits have no function unto themselves, but are a side effect of some other adaptation - Ex. Benadryl – drowsiness is the side effect - Ex. Birds having hollow bones – results in them being brittle; this is a necessary consequence (by-product) in exchange for their ability to fly - Ex. Masturbation isn’t a result of use for itself but as a by-product of having an organism with a high sex drive (for copulation) where they found a way to satisfy without needing a member of the opposite sex/same species 2. Adaptation Malfunctions: (Phineas Gage) a. Broken: malfunctions. Getting hit on the head multiple times or over exposure to lead can result in brain damage b. Manipulation: there’s a parasite that lives in the ants brain, which pushes the ant to put itself in a situation that they will be eaten by a predator – which is exactly what the parasite wants, to change its host to the predator and infect their brain next. o Parasite: virus causes an animal to have virus around the mouth and then bite, the virus is affecting the brain that causes the host to do something for the virus but is detrimental to the host = parasitic manipulation! o Toxoplasma: goes from rodents to cats for the second part of its life stage… typically rodents are afraid of the cats, but the toxoplas
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