ASU In the News

Anthropologist says human height doesn't represent progress

<p>Arizona State University biological anthropology professor Alexandra Brewis addresses the trade-offs for being tall on the "Room for Debate" page of the New York Times.</p><p>In “Do We Want to be Supersize Humans?” Brewis, who is the executive director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, explains that human height does not necessarily represent progress. During gestation and the formative years, height is often sacrificed by the body for other life-saving or -enhancing traits, such as a stronger brain or immune system.</p><p>“Often, trade-offs against height are for more immediate and critical challenges that make sense when viewed in a developmental or evolutionary perspective,” Brewis said.</p><p>She notes that the value placed on height by our society is arbitrary and in contrast to the preference for small or moderate statures in many other societies.</p><p>“Being short makes sense in many contexts. Perhaps not right now, but as social and ecological conditions change, it likely will again,” Brewis concluded.</p>

Article Source: New York Times
Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change