The Evolution – Health Connection

Explore the role of evolution and natural selection in health, illness and prevention. Free with NYSCI admission.

Over 6 million years, humans have evolved. The ways in which we evolved promoted our survival and reproduction, but not always our good health as our lifestyle changed over many, many years. The Evolution – Health Connection includes:

Why is there an “obesity epidemic”? – Explore how our evolutionary history causes us to crave sweets and fatty foods. Watch a 2-minute video on The Evolutionary Roots of Obesity, and compare your favorite irresistible sweet or fatty food with those of other visitors.

Why do so many people have trouble digesting milk? – Find out how genes play a role in whether you can digest dairy products. Watch a 3-minute video, The Roots of Lactose Intolerance, and discover how lactose tolerance arose due to the rise of animal husbandry and find out the percentage of lactose tolerance in populations around the world.

Becoming Bipedal – Learn how walking on two legs instead of four had great advantages for early humans, but also comes with costs to our health as we get older.

Why is giving birth so difficult? – Discover how human evolution has resulted in mismatches between a baby’s head size and the size of the mother’s pelvic opening, leading to uncomfortable births and immature infants.

Where did your ancestor’s skin color evolve? – Find out about melanin, the dark skin-color pigment that regulates how much UV light gets into our skin. Using a skin color reader, find out where your ancestors may have come from.

The Evolution – Health Connection was developed by NYSCI in partnership with the Center for Human Growth and Development and the Natural History Museum, University of Michigan, the Miami Science Museum, and a broad group of science and museum advisors. Funding for the development of The Evolution — Health Connection is provided by the National Institutes of Health.

The Evolution – Health Connection was developed with a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) grant from the National Center for Research Resources, a component of the National Institutes of Health.