Dr. Michael Gurven


TIMe: T R 2:00-3:15Pm                     Location: 2600 TD-W

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Office: 2060 HSSB; Phone: 893-2202

Office hours: T R 1:00-2:00pm, or by appointment


Class website:



course Description:

Have you ever wondered why children have such large heads but relatively small bodies? Why do humans grow differently than other primates and other animals? Are Pygmies "small but healthy"? Why is there now an obesity epidemic? How does development early in life relate to decline late in life? This upper-division course will analyze human growth and development from an evolutionary and cross-cultural perspective. Prenatal, infant, childhood, juvenile and adolescent periods and behavior will be compared and contrasted with developmental life history stages of other primates, particularly those of our closest living relative, the chimpanzee. A special emphasis will be given to differences across human cultures and to the ontogeny and evolution of the human brain. We will also focus on senescent decline in late adulthood, and the relationship between early fetal environment and late-life health outcomes. Other related topics include sexual dimorphism, fluctuating asymmetry, immune function, chronic disease, body composition, and the origins of human "childhood" and "adolescence". Students will also learn basic tools for measuring and modeling growth, and assessing nutritional status.


REQuired Course materials:

1. Textbook: Barry Bogin (1999) Patterns of Human Growth. Cambridge Univ. Press.

2. Assigned articles for particular weeks are available online through class website. Readings followed by "grad" are required for graduate students only, and recommended for undergraduates.†† Click here to download lectures and homework materials.

3. You will need to download and install WHO Anthro and Curve Expert Basic on your computers.



  1. Min mid-term exam (20%)
  2. Four homework assignments (40%)
  3. Final Exam (35%)
  4. Attendance/Class Participation (5%)


Course prerequisites:

1)      Students should have taken ANTH 5 or 7, or an equivalent course.

2)      Students should have taken at least one statistics course: ANTH 9, 123MG, or equivalent.

3)      Students must not be afraid of numbers, equations nor graphical representation of information. You will be using math (mostly algebra) in this course. You will need to manipulate quantitative data in a spreadsheet. Competency in algebra and simple statistics are required, and in calculus a plus!

4)      No slackers please. If you do not intend to come to class prepared and motivated, do the readings and the work, then drop now.


Class policies (READ VERY CAREFULLY):

1)      The readings and lectures complement one another, but do not duplicate each other. You must attend the lectures and do the readings to do well in the class.

2)      Attendance is essential to gain a full understanding of the course content. Your education is your responsibility. In order to get the most out of this class: attend lectures, do the reading, and thoughtfully complete the exams and exercises.

3)      If you ever have questions I encourage you to visit me during office hours, or we can set up an appointment. Iím always eager to help students in need but you must take the initiative. Office hours exist for you! I generally do not answer questions by email.

4)      Arriving on time to class is critical. Students should arrive on time to class. Arriving late or leaving early are disruptions to other students and to the professor. Two latenesses count as an absence from class. One unexcused absence is allowed. If you are going to be absent, you are responsible for finding out what you missed from other classmates. Saying you were not in class and therefore didnít know about an assignment or exam will not be accepted as an excuse. You should find a buddy in class to fill you in on any assignments or material you may have missed during an absence. Do not email me asking me to teach you what you missed. I'm happy to help you, but after you've studied the material. No make-ups are allowed if notification occurs AFTER the exam or assignment was turned in. Without prior notification, all absences are counted as unexcused. Every two unexcused absences may result in a grade reduction (A to A-, B+ to B, etc.). Class attendance will be checked periodically.

5)      You are encouraged to be self-reliant and to take good notes. This will help you study for the exam.

6)      Plagiarism of any kind in any class assignment will not be tolerated. This includes copying from websites. Remember that Wikipedia is not a valid source. As stated in University policy, "Any act of academic dishonesty such as cheating or plagiarism, will subject a person to University disciplinary action." Click here for full statement about proper academic conduct.

7)      Make sure to turn your cellphones off during class. You may use your laptops for taking notes but no Facebook, Google chat, WhatsApp, or other networking software is permitted.

8)      The class schedule is flexible and WILL change. Do not panic. Be aware that the dates given below are tentative. Check this class website for updates. Readings and homework assignments for the next couple of classes will always be repeated at the beginning of class.




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 Links to: Lectures and Homework



Week Date Topics Reading/Assignments
1 9/24 Introduction: What is growth? Development? Bogin Introduction, Chapter 1 (skim).
2 9/29 Genetics, heritability, plasticity Bogin Chapter 2
  10/1 Optimality and growth. How do animals grow?

Bogin Chapter 3; Jolicoeur, P. et al. 1988. [grad]


3 10/6, 8 Human life cycle, humans vs. chimpanzees

Bogin Chapter 4; Charnov and Berrigan (1993) [grad]


  10/13 Anthropometry; using Excel, WHO Anthro; Curve Expert Basic (vital for homework)

FANTA Readings: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, Appendix; Browse help file in Curve Expert Basic

4 10/15 Variation in modern growth. Part 1

Bogin Chapter 5; Walker et al. 2006; Leigh 2001 [grad]


  10/20 Variation in modern growth. Part 2

Bogin Chapter 6


5 10/22 Allometry and energy. Part 1

Moses & Brown 2003; Charnov & Ernest 2006 [grad]; West et al. 2001 [grad]


  10/27 Allometry and energy. Part 2


MINI MIDTERM EXAM Handed out; Study Guide

6 10/29 Brains, expensive tissues, tradeoffs.

Leigh 2004; Kuzawa 1998 [grad]


  11/3, 5 Growth and disease, immune function.

McDade 2005; Blackwell et al. 2010


7 11/10 Developmental origins of health and disease Part 1.

Gluckman 2007


  11/12 DOHaD Part 2 + Obesity

Barker et al. 1993


8 11/17 Film: Killer at Large: Why Obesity is America's Greatest Threat  
  11/19 Physical decline and aging. Part 1. Weindruch 2007; Gavrilov & Gavrilova 2004
9 11/24 Physical decline and aging. Part 2.


Costa 2002 [grad]

10 12/1 Odds and ends: Fluctuating asymmetry. Sexual dimorphism.

Ruff 1997


  12/3 Pygmies as special case? Also: How big were ancient humans? Wrap-up and Review

Ruff 2002; Ulijaszek et al. (1998) [grad]


11 WTF? Wrap-up and Review  

Final exam (Wednesday, 12/9 12-3pm). Multiple choice. STUDY GUIDE