Clenched fists and full beards
Humans have not evolved to do any one thing. We evolved to make tools. We evolved to tell stories. We evolved to explore and more. And one thing that some scientists are now coming to recognize is that we also evolved to fight — with each other.
David Carrier is a professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Utah, and the author or co-author of scores of studies suggesting humans’ physiological characteristics were driven by running after other animals and fighting with each other.
In 2021 he and his team of researchers, including U Professor of Mechanical Engineering Steven Naleway and Ethan Beseris HBS’18, were awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Prize for a study exploring whether beards may serve an evolutionary purpose to protect the jaw during a fistfight. A parody of the Nobel Peace Prize, the IG Noble in all of its categories is awarded for research that, at least at first blush, seems odd, silly or weird.
Since the award, Carrier has been hosted to discuss his research in greater, more sober detail ,including recently on Utah Public Radio’s podcast UnDisciplined with Matthew LaPlante.
Have humans, in particular males, evolved to fight each other? That’s the broader question that interviewer LaPlante asks Carrier in this September 7, 2023 episode.