Anthropogeny: the study of human origins.

By good fortune, I was among the first doctoral students in the new transdisciplinary program established by the Center for Academic Training and Research in Anthropogeny (C.A.R.T.A.) at UC San Diego. This unique specialization track consists of coursework, attendance at three C.A.R.T.A. symposia per year, and a three-week field course in Tanzania.

Through this program, I have become familiar with the current questions in the study of human origins, and can better comprehend the contributions made by a wide variety of fields; i.e., molecular biology, climate science, medicine, cultural studies, and so many more.

Ultimately, my key interest is the origin of human language. What I have learned thus far leads me to conclude that at least two pervasive features of the human behavioral phenotype must be considered in order to understand how language developed: our habitual sociality and our capacity for symbolic representation.

The transdisciplinary nature of anthropogeny highlights the fact that geneticists, neurologists, cognitive scientists, primatologists, etc. will also contribute to breakthroughs in language origins. For those interested in the origins of language, this is an exciting era.


Hope shooting arrows with the Hadzabe; Tanzania, August 2011