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  • May 26, 2010
  • 08:15 AM

Whales, Dolphins, and Human Rights

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

The perspective that whales, dolphins, and other such marine mammals should be afforded "human rights" has surfaced again.

I thought I'd revisit a post I wrote about this several months ago, from the archives, when this first hit the news after the AAAS conference in San Diego. So here's a modified, updated version of the original post.

The blogosphere is all a-twitter with talk of the recent commentary in Science that dolphins should be considered people. Well, sort of people. Non-human peopl........ Read more »

Grimm, D. (2010) Is a Dolphin a Person?. Science, 327(5969), 1070-1071. DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5969.1070-c  

Marino, L. (2004) Dolphin cognition. Current Biology, 14(21). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2004.10.010  

  • May 25, 2010
  • 03:34 PM

Evolution of Darwin: Hollywood Style

by avi_wener in American Biotechnologist

According to popular thought, Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species was heavily influenced by his grandfather Erasmus Darwin (1). The impact that a grandparent can have upon an impressionable child should never be underestimated. To what extent do you think that Dana Carvey was influenced by his grandfather?

Dana Carvey is “DARWIN” – watch more funny [...]... Read more »

  • May 25, 2010
  • 09:13 AM

New Study: 'Celebrity Endorsements' Sway Chimps, Too

by David Berreby in Mind Matters

Human beings give their attention readily to people who already have it. It doesn't matter if a guy won fame for his action movies, people will listen to his advice on carbon sequestration, and go out an buy his brand of shoe. That's not logical, but it does follow a predictable rule, which is that being famous, "cool" and/or prestigious gives you ready access to the minds of others. That bias may have evolved a very long time ago, according to this paper in the journal PLoS One last w........ Read more »

Horner, V., Proctor, D., Bonnie, K., Whiten, A., & de Waal, F. (2010) Prestige Affects Cultural Learning in Chimpanzees. PLoS ONE, 5(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010625  

  • May 25, 2010
  • 08:32 AM

ResearchBlogCast #7: Why would we ever cooperate?

by Dave Munger in News

Cooperation is seen not only in humans, but in societies formed by organisms from ants to baboons. But in many cases, it’s difficult to figure out why any individual would want to cooperate. Wouldn’t it be easier just to take what you want without doing any work? While cooperation is good for the group, why [...]... Read more »

  • May 24, 2010
  • 06:10 PM

Is a Little Bullying—Offline and Online—Good for You?

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice

Following my discussion on bullying and cyberbullying, the NYT featured an article discussing the ways "antagonistic relationships can often enhance social and emotional development more than they impede it." The article suggests that when someone dislikes you, "it may be adaptive to dislike them back." This two part post will explore the following questions:Are there documented benefits to

... Read more »

  • May 22, 2010
  • 01:37 AM

The f-word on the move

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

Installment #7 in the mini-series on multilingual signage
When I lived in Basel in Switzerland, my then-preschool child was just learning to make sense of the alphabet and to sound out words – a development I obviously encouraged as much as I could by seizing every literacy opportunity. Generally speaking, pretty much everything can be a [...]... Read more »

Jørgensen, J. (2008) Urban Wall Languaging. International Journal of Multilingualism, 5(3), 237-252. DOI: 10.1080/14790710802390186  

  • May 21, 2010
  • 05:37 PM

Hunters and the Hunted

by Laelaps in Laelaps

A Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer), photographed at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Outside of the trash-grubbing black bears I occasionally come across when driving to hikes in northern New Jersey, I never encounter large predators near my home. The imposing carnivores which once roamed the "garden state" were extirpated long ago. This is a very unusual thing. For the majority of the past six million years or so hominins have lived alongside, and have regularly been hunted by, ........ Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 11:34 AM

The Landscape of Obesity: considerations of race as a factor

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

SciCurious has written a review of an interesting paper suggesting a correlation between obesity and city vs. non-city life. As usual, the review by Sci is excellent, but I have a comment or two to add.

Having read the review and then the paper, I had to ask if it might be possible to conclude based on the data presentation that "race" (and thus "genetics") underlies the observed effect. This is because of this graph: Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 07:51 AM

Does Oral Sex Confer An Evolutionary Advantage? Evidence From Bats

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

Regular readers of this blog know that while I think studying animal cognition, behavior, and communication is (sometimes) fun and (always) interesting, the real importance - the why should I care about this - is because by understanding animals, we can attempt to learn more about ourselves.

I've written about this before. Here are the relevant excerpts:
When human adults show complex, possibly culture-specific skills, they emerge from a set of psychological (and thus neural) mechanisms which ........ Read more »

Tan M, Jones G, Zhu G, Ye J, Hong T, Zhou S, Zhang S, & Zhang L. (2009) Fellatio by fruit bats prolongs copulation time. PLoS ONE, 4(10). PMID: 19862320  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 12:48 AM

Atlatls to Bows: A Very Strange Atlatl from Washington State

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Sometime in the early 1950s a wooden object was dredged from the mouth of the Skagit River, north of Seattle.  It ended up in the possession of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Johnson, residents of the nearby town of La Conner.  In 1952 the Johnsons showed it to two local archaeologists, Herbert Taylor of Western Washington [...]... Read more »

Taylor, H., & Caldwell, W. (1954) Carved Atlatl from Northwest Coast. American Antiquity, 19(3), 279. DOI: 10.2307/277136  

  • May 18, 2010
  • 12:10 PM

Time-Space Compression in the Digital Realm

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice

My work on time in the digital realm is coming slowly but surely. At the moment I'm thinking of multiple temporalities and the ways in which we occupy these dimensions while adhering to standardized time. Birth (2007) explores these issues with an article that deals with the conflicts that can arise out of a meeting of biology, clock, sun, and sociality. Birth raises a point in particular that

... Read more »

  • May 18, 2010
  • 12:00 PM

Punishing Cheaters Promotes the Evolution of Cooperation

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

   Could punishing bad behavior be the origin                  of human cooperation?Humans are one of the most cooperative species on the planet. Our ability to coordinate behavior and work collaboratively with others has allowed us to create the natural world's largest and most densely populated societies, outside of deep sea microbial mats and a few Hymenoptera mega-colonies.

A key problem........ Read more »

  • May 18, 2010
  • 03:10 AM

Atlatls to Bows: A Very Strange Atlatl from California

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In November of 1793 a British naval expedition commanded by Captain George Vancouver arrived at the small Spanish settlement of Santa Barbara on the coast of California.  Vancouver’s primary mission was to explore and map the poorly understood northwest coast of North America, building on the more preliminary information provided earlier by Captain James Cook.  [...]... Read more »

  • May 17, 2010
  • 03:01 PM

ResearchBlogCast #6: Emotional Intelligence and Bullying, In Person and Online

by Dave Munger in News

Cyber-bullying is a growing problem, but it’s so new that there’s not much research about it. So Krystal D’Costa begins her work studying cyber-bullying by considering what goes into real-world bullying.
Each week, Kevin Zelnio, Razib Khan, and I choose one or more journal articles to discuss in podcast form. This week, while Kevin is on [...]... Read more »

  • May 16, 2010
  • 06:08 PM

Genetics of High Altitude Life

by in

Almost every biological anthropology text-book I’ve ever looked at has described the adaptations of human populations to the environments they occupy. Examples they give are the short stalky Inuit adapted to conserving heat in cold environments, the long lanky East African nomads adapted to far distant travels, and the barrel chested Peruvian and Tibetans living [...]... Read more »

Simonson TS, Yang Y, Huff CD, Yun H, Qin G, Witherspoon DJ, Bai Z, Lorenzo FR, Xing J, Jorde LB.... (2010) Genetic Evidence for High-Altitude Adaptation in Tibet. Science (New York, N.Y.). PMID: 20466884  

  • May 16, 2010
  • 09:02 AM

Of Brains and Faces

by zinjanthropus in A Primate of Modern Aspect

A new paper in the Journal of Human Evolution discusses the effect of both brain size and facial size on the basicranium. I am excited to see it because it talks about an old hypothesis by one of my favorite Great Anatomists, Josef Biegert. The basicranium is basically the bottom of your skull. When you [...]... Read more »

Bastir, M., Rosas, A., Stringer, C., Manuel Cuétara, J., Kruszynski, R., Weber, G., Ross, C., & Ravosa, M. (2010) Effects of brain and facial size on basicranial form in human and primate evolution. Journal of Human Evolution, 58(5), 424-431. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.03.001  

  • May 14, 2010
  • 04:55 AM

Planets and Anomalies in the Antikythera Mechanism

by Alun in AlunSalt

Mathematicians have a concept, Omega, that is defined as something so huge that any attempt to define it actually defines something smaller. In a similar vein I reckon that any attempt to describe the ingenuity of the Antikythera Mechanism actually ends up describing something less ingenious instead. More research on the device has been published [...]... Read more »

Evans, J., Carman, C.C., & Thorndike, A.S. (2010) Solar Anomaly and Planetary Displays in the Antikythera Mechanism. Journal for the History of Astronomy, 41(1), 1-39. info:/

  • May 12, 2010
  • 03:12 PM

What is it? - 37 million year old fossil primate puzzles paleontologists

by Laelaps in Laelaps

In the Fayum desert of northern Egypt, not too far from the banks of the Nile, the vestiges of ancient forests are preserved in the sand-covered strata. The fossils are ghosts of a vanished oasis in which prehistoric cousins of modern elephants wallowed in lush wetlands and a host of ancient primates scrambled through the trees, and despite being known as one of the world's best fossil sites for over a century paleontologists are continuing to discovery new species from the desert rock. The tr........ Read more »

Seiffert, E., Simons, E., Boyer, D., Perry, J., Ryan, T., & Sallam, H. (2010) A fossil primate of uncertain affinities from the earliest late Eocene of Egypt. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1001393107  

  • May 11, 2010
  • 06:38 PM


by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

By now, unless you live under a rock, you should have heard the news: New genetic studies indicate that Neanderthals and modern humans likely interbred: Among the findings, published in the May 7 issue of Science, is evidence that shortly after early modern humans migrated out of Africa, some of them interbred with Neanderthals, leaving bits of Neanderthal DNA sequences scattered through the genomes of present-day non-Africans. "We can now say that, in all probability, there was gene flow fro........ Read more »

Burbano, H., Hodges, E., Green, R., Briggs, A., Krause, J., Meyer, M., Good, J., Maricic, T., Johnson, P., Xuan, Z.... (2010) Targeted Investigation of the Neandertal Genome by Array-Based Sequence Capture. Science, 328(5979), 723-725. DOI: 10.1126/science.1188046  

ESWARAN, V., HARPENDING, H., & ROGERS, A. (2005) Genomics refutes an exclusively African origin of humans. Journal of Human Evolution, 49(1), 1-18. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2005.02.006  

Green, R., Krause, J., Briggs, A., Maricic, T., Stenzel, U., Kircher, M., Patterson, N., Li, H., Zhai, W., Fritz, M.... (2010) A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome. Science, 328(5979), 710-722. DOI: 10.1126/science.1188021  

  • May 11, 2010
  • 12:21 AM

Atlatls to Bows: Loopy

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Intact atlatls are rarely found, but when they are it’s usually in the Southwest or the Great Basin, arid regions with good preservation conditions for perishable materials like wood and leather.  Some, but not all, of the examples that have been found in these areas have pieces of leather attached as apparent finger loops to [...]... Read more »

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