The presenter of the BBC’s The Incredible Human Journey gives us a new and highly accessible look at our own bodies, allowing us to understand how we develop as an embryo, from a single egg into a complex body, and how our embryos contain echoes of our evolutionary past.
Bringing together the latest scientific discoveries, Professor Alice Roberts illustrates that evolution has made something which is far from perfect. Our bodies are a quirky mix of new and old, with strokes of genius alongside glitches and imperfections which are all inherited from distant ancestors. Our development and evolutionary past explains why, as embryos, we have what look like gills, and as adults we suffer from back pain.
This is a tale of discovery, not only exploring why and how we have developed as we have, but also looking at the history of our anatomical understanding. It combines the remarkable skills and qualifications Alice Roberts has as a doctor, anatomist, osteoarchaeologist and writer. Above all, she has a rare ability to make science accessible, relevant and interesting to mainstream audiences and readers.
What’s really happening when you have a drink of water.
Mystery humans spiced up ancients’ rampant sex lives
Genome analysis suggests interbreeding between modern humans, Neanderthals, Denisovans and a mysterious archaic population.
The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a different archaic human group, the Denisovans, were presented on 18 November at a meeting at the Royal Society in London. They suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia.
“What it begins to suggest is that we’re looking at a ‘Lord of the Rings’-type world — that there were many hominid populations,” says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London who was at the meeting but was not involved in the work.
The first Neanderthal1 and the Denisovan2 genome sequences revolutionized the study of ancient human history, not least because they showed that these groups interbred with anatomically modern humans, contributing to the genetic diversity of many people alive today.
Race to be scrapped from Swedish legislation
The Swedish government announced that it plans to remove all mentions of race from Swedish legislation, saying that race is a social construct which should not be encouraged in law. The concept of race is included in around 20 Swedish laws, including criminal code, student financial aid laws, and credit information laws. On Thursday the Swedish government began an investigation into how to remove the concept from all legislation, as has been done in Austria and Finland.
Do you tumblr anthropologists agree with the Swedish Government? Should the concept of race be eradicated from legislation?
Criss-cross patterns deep in a Gibraltan cave suggest that the species had minds capable of abstract artistic expression.
It looks like a game of tic tac toe, but engravings found deep inside a cave in Gibraltar might be a Neanderthal masterpiece. At more than 39,000 years old, the etchings rival in age the oldest cave art in Europe — and they are the first to be unquestionably done by a Neanderthal, claim the researchers who discovered them. Other scientists, however, say that the artwork’s attribution is not an open-and-shut case…
Your DNA includes the genes from at least eight retroviruses. These are a kind of virus that makes use of the cell’s mechanisms for coding DNA to take over a cell. At some point in human history, these genes became incorporated into human DNA. These viral genes in DNA now perform important functions in human reproduction, yet they are entirely alien to our genetic ancestry.
The Origin of Humans Is Surprisingly Complicated
Human family tree used to be a scraggly thing. With relatively few fossils to work from, scientists’ best guess was that they could all be assigned to just two lineages, one of which went extinct and the other of which ultimately gave rise to us. Discoveries made over the past few decades have revealed a far more luxuriant tree, however—one abounding with branches and twigs that eventually petered out. This newfound diversity paints a much more interesting picture of our origins but makes sorting our ancestors from the evolutionary dead ends all the more challenging.
Source: Scientific American
These stunning photos come from a recent National Geographic article exploring how our current US system of categorizing race is not only insufficient for a modern, increasingly mix-raced world, but can cause pain for people who don’t fit into tiny boxes. (Although many would argue we’ve always mixed together, we’re just coming from farther parts of the globe to do it today).
In many ways race is about difference and how those differences are codified through language, categories, boxes, segmentation, and even the implicit sorting that goes on in our heads in terms of the way we label others and even ourselves.
Now that race has been proven to be a cultural concept, should we continue to use it to categorize people, or are the creative solutions waiting to be discovered?