Lecture series: Paleofantasy: What evolution tells us about modern life, 31 October – 12 November

Need to brush up on your stone-age psychology, and feel like Clan of the Cave Bear might be a wee bit behind the times? Check out this Paleofantasy lecture tour about the history of human interaction with the environment, and how we became what we are today.


The Allan Wilson Centre invites you to reserve seats for the public lectures by Marlene Zuk, Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour at the University of Minnesota, and author of Paleofantasy: What evolution really tells us about sex, diet and how we live, touring New Zealand from 31 October to 12 November.

Are our bodies and brains truly at odds with modern life? Everyone is fond of paleofantasies, stories about how humans lived eons ago, and we use them to explain why many elements of our lives, from the food we eat to the way we raise our children, seem very distant from what nature intended. Many diets and self-help books are predicated on the notion that our behaviour and bodies evolved under a certain set of circumstances, from which we deviate to our peril. Implicit in that idea is the assumption that humans in a modern society aren’t evolving any more, that we have somehow freed ourselves from evolution, or at the very least, that evolution always requires so long to act that we can’t expect to have adapted to our current circumstances. But popular theories about how our ancestors lived and why we should emulate them are often based on speculation, not scientific evidence, and they reflect a basic misunderstanding about how evolution works. There was never a time when everything about us – our bodies, our minds, and our behaviour – was perfectly in synch with the environment.

  • Auckland: Auckland Museum Events Centre, 6.15pm Friday 31 October
  • Wellington: Embassy Theatre, 6pm Monday 3 November
  • Palmerston North: City Library, 6.30pm Tuesday 4 November
  • Nelson: Old St Johns, 320 Hardy Street, Nelson, 6pm Wednesday 5 November
  • Hamilton: Playhouse Theatre, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, Waikato University, 6.30 Thursday 6 November
  • Tauranga: Baycourt Exhibition Space, Baycourt Community and Arts Centre, 6.30pm Friday 7 November
  • Christchurch: University of Canterbury, Central Lecture Theatre 1, 6.30pm Monday 10 November
  • Dunedin: College of Education Auditorium, University of Otago, 6.30pm Wednesday 12 November

Register online.

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