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  • March 8, 2011
  • 11:01 AM

Bittersweet Adaptation: How Genes For Survival May Be Giving Us Diabetes

by A. Goldstein in WiSci

The famous phrase has it that evolution is a process of the “survival of the fittest.” However, it should be noted that this doesn’t imply some great evolutionary gymnasium, with species pumping and sculpting themselves into the most sexually appealing shapes of the day. Rather, the phrase means something more like “the survival of the [...]... Read more »

  • March 8, 2011
  • 10:11 AM

The Science of Dating: Pick-Up Lines

by Ben Good in B Good Science

As a bit of a break from my usual blogging routine, this weeks blogs will all be on a theme. The science of dating, moving from pick-up lines through to the biochemistry of long term relationships. I will go through the staggering amount of research in this area and attempt to find out if you can use … Read more... Read more »

BALE, C., MORRISON, R., & CARYL, P. (2006) Chat-up lines as male sexual displays. Personality and Individual Differences, 40(4), 655-664. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2005.07.016  

  • March 7, 2011
  • 10:00 AM

Defending Your Territory: Is Peeing on the Wall Just for the Dogs?

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

Welcome to Territoriality Week! Every day this week, I'll have a post about some aspect of animal or human territoriality. How do animals mark and control their territories? What determines the size or shape of an animal's territory? What can an animal's territory tell us about neuroanatomy? Today, I begin by asking two questions: first, what is the functional purpose of establishing territories? Second, to what extent can we apply findings from research on animal territorial behavior to underst........ Read more »

Edney, J. (1974) Human territoriality. Psychological Bulletin, 81(12), 959-975. DOI: 10.1037/h0037444  

  • March 5, 2011
  • 10:30 AM

A case of congenital beat deafness?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Of most people that claim things like ‘Oh, but I’m not musical at all’, ‘I’m hopeless at keeping a tune’ or ‘I have no sense of rhythm’, only a small percentage turn out to be unmusical. The condition is known as amusia, and those who suffer from it are literally music-deficient. It is a rather exceptional, mostly inherited condition that comprises a range of handicaps in recognising or reproducing melodies and rhythms. It has been estimated that about 4 per cent of the people in........ Read more »

Phillips-Silver, J., Toiviainen, P., Gosselin, N., Piché, O., Nozaradan, S., Palmer, C., & Peretz, I. (2011) Born to dance but beat deaf: A new form of congenital amusia. Neuropsychologia. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.02.002  

Honing, H., Ladinig, O., Háden, G., & Winkler, I. (2009) Is Beat Induction Innate or Learned?. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1169(1), 93-96. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04761.x  

  • March 4, 2011
  • 11:36 AM

Can infants recognize melodies heard in the womb?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Last week PlosOne published an interesting finding that shows that one month old infants can recognize a melody that they heard about three weeks before they were born.Developmental psychobiologist Carolyn Granier-Deferre (Paris Descartes University, France) and her colleagues asked fifty women to play a brief recording of a descending piano melody (one that gets lower in pitch) twice daily in the 35th, 36th and 37th weeks of their pregnancy. When the infants were one month old, both the descend........ Read more »

  • March 4, 2011
  • 10:07 AM

Mate magnet madness: When the range of possible explanations exceeds your own hypothesis

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

A rebuttal of a Tierney column on the evolutionary psychology of relationship maintenance.... Read more »

Brockelman, W., Reichard, U., Treesucon, U., & Raemaekers, J. (1998) Dispersal, pair formation and social structure in gibbons ( Hylobates lar ). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 42(5), 329-339. DOI: 10.1007/s002650050445  

Miller, S, & Maner, J. (2010) Evolution and relationship maintenance: Fertility cues lead committed men to devalue relationship alternatives. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1081-1084. info:/

Murdock, G., & White, D. (1969) Standard Cross-Cultural Sample. Ethnology, 8(4), 329. DOI: 10.2307/3772907  

  • March 3, 2011
  • 09:47 AM

Earthquakes And Antipsychotics

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

According to a clever little paper just out from Italy, prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs skyrocketed in the months following a major earthquake. But there are some surprising details.On 6th April 2009, an earthquake hit L'Aquila, a medium-sized city in central Italy. Out of about 100,000 people living in the L'Aquila area, over 600 died and over 60,000 were displaced: a major disaster for the local people.Rossi et al from the University of L'Aquila looked at medication prescription in the 6........ Read more »

  • March 2, 2011
  • 04:14 PM

The Combe Capelle burial is Holocene in age

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

So says this Past Horizons report. This is fairly important in that it joins a bunch of other modern Homo sapiens remain long thought to have been associated with the Aurignacian to recently have been directly dated and shown to be much more recent (Churchill and Smith 2000). One recent and well publicized case was that of the Vogelherd remains, which were redated to between 3.9-5kya as opposed ... Read more »

Churchill SE, & Smith FH. (2000) Makers of the early Aurignacian of Europe. American journal of physical anthropology, 61-115. PMID: 11123838  

  • March 2, 2011
  • 05:05 AM

Obsidian blades as surgical tools

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

In my recent post on #hipsterscience, the quote that struck closest to home was the one about the obsidian blade. See, most of my analytical work has been focused on stone tools (aka lithics) and how they were manufactured, used and managed by people in the past. Whenever it was available, obsidian seems to have been one of the preferred materials to make sharp flakes of, mainly because it is ... Read more »

Buck BA. (1982) Ancient technology in contemporary surgery. The Western journal of medicine, 136(3), 265-9. PMID: 7046256  

  • March 1, 2011
  • 09:08 AM

The Mystery of "Whoonga"

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

According to a disturbing BBC news story, South African drug addicts are stealing medication from HIV+ people and using it to get high:'Whoonga' threat to South African HIV patients"Whoonga" is the street name for efavirenz (aka Stocrin), one of the most popular antiretroviral drugs. The pills are apparantly crushed, mixed with marijuana, and smoked for its hallucinogenic effects.This is not, in fact, a new story; Scientific American covered it 18 months ago and the BBC themselves did in 2008 (a........ Read more »

Cavalcante GI, Capistrano VL, Cavalcante FS, Vasconcelos SM, Macêdo DS, Sousa FC, Woods DJ, & Fonteles MM. (2010) Implications of efavirenz for neuropsychiatry: a review. The International journal of neuroscience, 120(12), 739-45. PMID: 20964556  

  • February 28, 2011
  • 03:01 PM

Video: chimpanzees, tools and Treculia fruits

by Djuke Veldhuis in Elements Science

New research shows that the tools a chimpanzee population will use is governed by the environment they live in, reports Louise Ogden.

Related posts:Tricks of the trade: chimpanzees and their tools
... Read more »

  • February 28, 2011
  • 10:16 AM

Polygamy bad for women

by Abi Millar in Elements Science

Polygamy has been shown to harm women’s reproductive success, heightening the mystery as to why it exists at all, reports Abi Millar

Related posts:Men and women’s reasons for running are miles apart
Women in science – a celebration
... Read more »

Jacob A. Moorada, Daniel E.L. Promislow, Ken R. Smith, Michael J. Wade. (2011) Mating system change reduces the strength of sexual selection in an American frontier population of the 19th century. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32(2), 147-155. info:/

  • February 28, 2011
  • 10:14 AM

Effects of the Anthropocene | Indicator Species

by Michael Lombardi in a New Life in the Sea

A recent CNN news piece reported on baby dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico. The report went on to discuss that these deaths were not the norm in considering the shear numbers, and the time of year - that is very early in the birthing season, indicating that some births may be premature. The report went on to imply that this may be a consequence of the BP oil disaster. Makes sense.

For the first time in Planet Earth's histo........ Read more »

  • February 27, 2011
  • 11:27 AM

Got beef with worms?

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

Photo: {}, by Eric Rottinger at kahikai.orgFlipping through the current issue of Current Biology, it sounds like someone has some serious beef with acoelomorph flatworms. Apparently these critters have been used as a model for the 'missing link' between simple-bodied cnidarians (like jellyfish) and bilaterians (bilaterally symmetrical animals like you and me and flies and fish, and really a good deal of animal biodiversity); and this may be pr........ Read more »

  • February 27, 2011
  • 02:47 AM

Best Acknowledgment Ever

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In 1978 H. Martin Wobst of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst published a short article in American Antiquity entitled “The Archaeo-Ethnology of Hunter-Gatherers or the Tyranny of the Ethnographic Record in Archaeology.”  Despite the evocative title, the article itself is a highly theoretical argument about the proper relationship between archaeology and ethnography that is [...]... Read more »

  • February 26, 2011
  • 11:59 AM

Imitation and Social Cognition (III): Man’s best friend

by Michael in A Replicated Typo 2.0


In my two previous posts (here and here) about imitation and social cognition I wrote about experiments which showed that

1)  young children tend to imitate both the necessary as well as the unnecessary actions when shown how to get at a reward, whereas wild chimpanzees only imitate the necessary actions.

And that

2) both 14-month old human infants . . . → Read More: Imitation and Social Cognition (III): Man’s best friend... Read more »

Range F, Viranyi Z, & Huber L. (2007) Selective imitation in domestic dogs. Current biology : CB, 17(10), 868-72. PMID: 17462893  

  • February 25, 2011
  • 04:30 AM

Brazilians, more European than not?

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

Credit: Dragon Horse
The Pith: Brazil is often portrayed as the second largest black nation in the world, after Nigeria. But it turns out that the majority of the ancestors for non-white Brazilians is European.
One of the more popular sources of search engine traffic to this website has to do with the population genomics of Latin America. For example, my post showing that Argentina is not quite as European a country as it likes to consider itself is regularly cited in online arguments (people........ Read more »

Pena SDJ, Di Pietro G, Fuchshube-Moraes M, Genro JP, & Hutz MH. (2011) The Genomic Ancestry of Individuals from Different Geographical Regions of Brazil Is More Uniform Than Expected. PLoS ONE . info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0017063

  • February 24, 2011
  • 09:30 AM

PsychBytes: First Names, Vegetables, and Baseball

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

PsychBytes is an experiment: three recent findings in psychology, each explained in three paragraphs or less. Generally, these are papers that I wouldn't have otherwise covered in this blog. Please share your thoughts on this model in the comments. What works, and what doesn't? Would you like more PsychBytes in the future?

What's In A Name?
People who settle down and build a life in the frontier tend to be more individualistic, even if they started out with more interdependent values. Some feat........ Read more »

Varnum ME, & Kitayama S. (2011) What's in a Name?: Popular Names Are Less Common on Frontiers. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 22(2), 176-83. PMID: 21196534  

Cooke LJ, Chambers LC, Añez EV, Croker HA, Boniface D, Yeomans MR, & Wardle J. (2011) Eating for Pleasure or Profit: The Effect of Incentives on Children's Enjoyment of Vegetables. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 22(2), 190-6. PMID: 21191095  

Pope D, & Simonsohn U. (2011) Round numbers as goals: evidence from baseball, SAT takers, and the lab. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 22(1), 71-9. PMID: 21148460  

  • February 24, 2011
  • 04:49 AM

Neanderthals and ornaments, birds of a feather?

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

© Mauro Cutrona.
M. Peresani and colleagues (2011) report on the discovery of cut-marked bird bones from the latest Mousterian levels at Grotta di Fumane, located in the Veneto region of NE Italy. They interpret the fact that these cutmarks are almost exclusively found on wing bones of only a subset of the 22 species of birds found at Fumane as evidence that Neanderthals there specifically ... Read more »

Zilhao, J., Angelucci, D., Badal-Garcia, E., d'Errico, F., Daniel, F., Dayet, L., Douka, K., Higham, T., Martinez-Sanchez, M., Montes-Bernardez, R.... (2010) Symbolic use of marine shells and mineral pigments by Iberian Neandertals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(3), 1023-1028. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0914088107  

  • February 22, 2011
  • 12:41 PM

Ancestor Worship

by Laelaps in Laelaps

By the close of 2002, there were at least three contenders for the title of “earliest known human.” There was the 7 million year old Sahelanthropus tchadensis from the Djurab Desert, the 6 million year old Orrorin tugenensis from Kenya, and the 5.6 million year old Ardipithecus kadabba from northeastern Ethiopia’s Afar region. Though very [...]... Read more »

Brunet, M., Guy, F., Pilbeam, D., Mackaye, H., Likius, A., Ahounta, D., Beauvilain, A., Blondel, C., Bocherens, H., Boisserie, J.... (2002) A new hominid from the Upper Miocene of Chad, Central Africa. Nature, 418(6894), 145-151. DOI: 10.1038/nature00879  

McBrearty, S., & Jablonski, N. (2005) First fossil chimpanzee. Nature, 437(7055), 105-108. DOI: 10.1038/nature04008  

White, T., Asfaw, B., Beyene, Y., Haile-Selassie, Y., Lovejoy, C., Suwa, G., & WoldeGabriel, G. (2009) Ardipithecus ramidus and the Paleobiology of Early Hominids. Science, 326(5949), 64-64. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175802  

Wood, B., & Harrison, T. (2011) The evolutionary context of the first hominins. Nature, 470(7334), 347-352. DOI: 10.1038/nature09709  

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