Extravagant Weapons: The Story Behind Arms Races in Animals and People

Tuesday, Nov 5, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm

The Jacob Marschak Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Mathematics in the Behavioral Sciences at UCLA

Speaker: Douglas J. Emlen, Professor of Biology, University of Montana

Faculty Host: Dan Blumstein, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Every animal has a weapon of one sort or another, but the overwhelming majority of weapons stay small. Yet sprinkled through the tree of life are species where weapons become extreme. Occasionally, human manufactured weapons also evolve to extremes. In this talk, Emlen reveals that the same critical conditions trigger arms races in both cases, and the most crucial prerequisite is duels. A journey that begins with biology becomes the story of all weapons, as Emlen discusses beetles and battleships, crabs, and the Cold War.

Emlen is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, andthe E.O. Wilson Naturalist Award from the American Society of Naturalists. His book, Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle (Henry Holt, 2014) won the Phi Beta Kappa science book award in 2015, and his textbook, Evolution: Making Sense of Life (co-authored with award-winning journalist Carl Zimmer, Macmillan Publishing, 3rd edition 2019), is presently adopted by more than 250 universities and colleges. His research has been featured in The New York Times, National Public Radio's Fresh Air and Science Friday, and YouTube's SciShow, and he recently starred in documentaries about his work on BBC and NOVA. His first narrative nonfiction book for young adults, Beetle Battles: One Scientist's Journey of Adventure and Discovery (Roaring Book Press) appears on shelves in December.

Light refreshments will be served. Reservations are requested to marschakemlen.eventbrite.com.

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