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Evolutionary theory is the core concept that frames entire fields of inquiry and informs countless insights and discoveries in a wide range of disciplines, from biology and paleontology to linguistics to medicine. In the spring of 2013, the museum presented the annual Evolution Matters lectures, a series of talks by scientists from Harvard and around the world who are on the cutting-edge of advancing our understanding of evolutionary science—from the origins of life to the genetics behind human adaptations. Supported by a generous gift from Drs. Herman and Joan Suit.

What Art Thou, Little Bird? Developmental Mechanisms for the Origin and Evolution of Birds
Lecture by Arkhat Abzhanov
Harvard Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Arkhat Abzhanov explored the new science of evolutionary developmental biology ("evo-devo"). It sheds light on how birds' highly distinct skulls with toothless beaks have evolved and how modern birds can generate a seemingly endless array of beak shapes. We might think robins are just a common backyard bird, but they actually represent one of the most unusual, successful, and abundant animal groups (the order Aves) in Earth's history, tracing their origins to a single group of carnivorous bipedal dinosaurs.

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Jurassic Mothers from China: Origins and
Lecture by Zhe-Xi Luo
Paleontologist Zhe-Xi Luo discusses both the originations of modern mammalian biological adaptations in the deep times of the Mesozoic--dominated by the dinosaurs—and how Jurassic fossils discovered in China shed light on the earliest evolution of placental mammals.

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From the Big Bang to Broadway: How Things Evolve
Lecture by Robert Hazen, Research Scientist, Carnegie Geophysical Laboratory and Professor of Earth Sciences, George Mason University
The concept of evolution by natural selection has long been a lightning rod for anti-science rhetoric. Such attacks are usually aimed at the biological realm, but Darwin's opponents must now face evidence that complex evolving systems also drive phenomena beyond life science, such as the diversification of minerals on earth.

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Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live
Lecture by Marlene Zuk, Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota
From the Stone Age diet plan to Paleo workouts, our culture is rife with pseudo-scientific fads based on a time when we supposedly were more "in sync" with nature. Marlene Zuk dismantles this nostalgia and argues that evolution yields neither perfection nor a final product.

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