Curating bits and pieces of Anthropology, Archaeology, Primatology, Psychology, Biology...

Basically any and all the 'ologies' that can help us attempt to understand the past, present and future of our utterly bizarre yet fabulous species.
theolduvaigorge:

Humans May Be Most Adaptive Species

Constant climate change may have given Homo sapiens our flexibility

by Nathanael Massey and ClimateWire
“In the 5 million years since early hominids first emerged from east Africa’s Rift Valley, the Earth’s climate has grown increasingly erratic. Over cycles lasting hundreds of thousands of years, arid regions of central Africa were overrun by forests, forests gave way to grasslands and contiguous landscapes were fractured by deep lakes.
It was within the context of this swiftly changing landscape that humans evolved their sizable brains and capacity for adaptive behavior, said Rick Potts, director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. In such a world, the ability to think creatively, to imagine novel solutions to survival threats, proved to be a major asset, he said.
"The evolution of the brain is the most obvious example of how we evolve to adapt," he explained. "But in the modern era, we know that in the human genome there are all kinds of interactions that allow human organisms to have plasticity — the capacity to adjust is itself an evolved characteristic."
Man had two key advantages, he said: our brains and our capacity for culture.
"Our brains are essentially social brains," he added. "We share information, we create and pass on knowledge. That’s the means by which humans are able to adjust to new situations, and it’s what differentiates humans from our earlier ancestors, and our earlier ancestors from primates."
This adaptive ability not only allowed our progenitors to ride the massive seesaws of climate shifts but subsequently helped them to colonize new habitats. The earlier hominid species Homo erectus ranged across much of Africa and Asia. Meanwhile, Homo neanderthalensis — Neanderthals — occupied large parts of Europe. Our own species, Homo sapiens, dispersed to even more far-flung corners of the globe, employing boats to reach Australia more than 50,000 years ago” (read more).
(Source: Scientific American)

theolduvaigorge:

Humans May Be Most Adaptive Species

Constant climate change may have given Homo sapiens our flexibility

It was within the context of this swiftly changing landscape that humans evolved their sizable brains and capacity for adaptive behavior, said Rick Potts, director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. In such a world, the ability to think creatively, to imagine novel solutions to survival threats, proved to be a major asset, he said.

"The evolution of the brain is the most obvious example of how we evolve to adapt," he explained. "But in the modern era, we know that in the human genome there are all kinds of interactions that allow human organisms to have plasticity — the capacity to adjust is itself an evolved characteristic."

Man had two key advantages, he said: our brains and our capacity for culture.

"Our brains are essentially social brains," he added. "We share information, we create and pass on knowledge. That’s the means by which humans are able to adjust to new situations, and it’s what differentiates humans from our earlier ancestors, and our earlier ancestors from primates."

This adaptive ability not only allowed our progenitors to ride the massive seesaws of climate shifts but subsequently helped them to colonize new habitats. The earlier hominid species Homo erectus ranged across much of Africa and Asia. Meanwhile, Homo neanderthalensis — Neanderthals — occupied large parts of Europe. Our own species, Homo sapiens, dispersed to even more far-flung corners of the globe, employing boats to reach Australia more than 50,000 years ago” (read more).

(Source: Scientific American)

scienceyoucanlove:

Human embryo at 7 weeks gestation, measuring approximately 14 mm (crown to rump). the fingers and face are developing and growing rapidly but are still forming their shape. It is possible to clearly see the formation of the skull, which begins to close, which will form the fontanelle (“soft spots”) that subsequently shut as children grow, creating a suture in the skull. This openness facilitates at birth in normal delivery, and allows the growth of the child’s brain.

Photo: Ralph Hutchings/Getty images 
via https://www.facebook.com/vidabiologia
source

scienceyoucanlove:

Human embryo at 7 weeks gestation, measuring approximately 14 mm (crown to rump). the fingers and face are developing and growing rapidly but are still forming their shape. It is possible to clearly see the formation of the skull, which begins to close, which will form the fontanelle (“soft spots”) that subsequently shut as children grow, creating a suture in the skull. This openness facilitates at birth in normal delivery, and allows the growth of the child’s brain.

Photo: Ralph Hutchings/Getty images 

via https://www.facebook.com/vidabiologia

source

aeonmagazine:

The pleasure we take in beauty must have been shaped by evolution — but what adaptive advantage did it give us?
'Aesthetic pleasure is the fun of perceptual play, and it is valuable because it develops perceptual skill. This complements a suggestion made by the British neuroscientist Semir Zeki: art, he wrote in 1998, is a search for ‘the constant, lasting, essential and enduring features of objects, surfaces, faces, situations’. The objects we pleasurably gaze at are those that afford us a rich field for such a search. We begin our lives by taking pleasure in looking and listening to things, which is how we learn to perceive.' …

aeonmagazine:

The pleasure we take in beauty must have been shaped by evolution — but what adaptive advantage did it give us?

'Aesthetic pleasure is the fun of perceptual play, and it is valuable because it develops perceptual skill. This complements a suggestion made by the British neuroscientist Semir Zeki: art, he wrote in 1998, is a search for ‘the constant, lasting, essential and enduring features of objects, surfaces, faces, situations’. The objects we pleasurably gaze at are those that afford us a rich field for such a search. We begin our lives by taking pleasure in looking and listening to things, which is how we learn to perceive.' …

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Human Face Is Far More Expressive Than We Thought

ziyadnazem:

The Human Face Is Far More Expressive Than We Thought

In a study that now seems embarrassingly overdue, scientists have tripled the list of human facial expressions from six to 21 — adding such emotions as “sadly surprised” and “happily disgusted.”

Previous studies on emotional facial expressions have…

"With language we can ask, as can no other living beings, those questions about who we are and why we are here. And this highly developed intellect means, surely, that we have a responsibility toward the other life-forms of our planet whose continued existence is threatened by the thoughtless behavior of our own human species — quite regardless of whether or not we believe in God. Indeed, those who acknowledge no God, but are convinced that we are in this world as an evolutionary accident, may be more active in environmental responsibility — for if there is no God, then, obviously, it is entirely up to us to put things right."
Pioneering primatologist Jane Goodall, who turns 80 today, on science, religion, and our human responsibility (via explore-blog)
Sunday, March 30, 2014
laboratoryequipment:

Water-Wrinkled Fingers Hold Evolutionary PurposeWrinkly fingers caused by soaking them in water for a long time, such as in the bath or doing the dishes, have been shown to improve our grip on wet objects or objects under water. Scientists at Newcastle Univ. studied people taking objects out of water with wrinkled fingers and again without wrinkled fingers to explain why the effect occurs.Author Tom Smulders, publishing the paper in Biology Letters says, “We have shown that wrinkled fingers give a better grip in wet conditions – it could be working like treads on your car tires which allow more of the tire to be in contact with the road and gives you a better grip. Going back in time this wrinkling of our fingers in wet conditions could have helped with gathering food from wet vegetation or streams. And as we see the effect in our toes too, this may have been an advantage as it may have meant our ancestors were able to get a better footing in the rain.”Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/01/water-wrinkled-fingers-hold-evolutionary-purpose

laboratoryequipment:

Water-Wrinkled Fingers Hold Evolutionary Purpose

Wrinkly fingers caused by soaking them in water for a long time, such as in the bath or doing the dishes, have been shown to improve our grip on wet objects or objects under water. Scientists at Newcastle Univ. studied people taking objects out of water with wrinkled fingers and again without wrinkled fingers to explain why the effect occurs.

Author Tom Smulders, publishing the paper in Biology Letters says, “We have shown that wrinkled fingers give a better grip in wet conditions – it could be working like treads on your car tires which allow more of the tire to be in contact with the road and gives you a better grip. Going back in time this wrinkling of our fingers in wet conditions could have helped with gathering food from wet vegetation or streams. And as we see the effect in our toes too, this may have been an advantage as it may have meant our ancestors were able to get a better footing in the rain.”

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/01/water-wrinkled-fingers-hold-evolutionary-purpose

anthrocentric:

The Strange Truth About The Earliest Cannibals In History

Cannibalism is one of those cringe-worthy practices that we all hope to avoid, even if we can sometimes understand why people are forced to do it to survive. However, researchers have found that the earliest common ancestor of both modern humans and Neanderthals were cannibals just because they wanted to be. They had plenty of access to other meat, but still regularly ate the flesh of rival families. Cannibalism was also practiced by Neanderthals, but more often it was out of necessity.
[read more]

anthrocentric:

The Strange Truth About The Earliest Cannibals In History

Cannibalism is one of those cringe-worthy practices that we all hope to avoid, even if we can sometimes understand why people are forced to do it to survive. However, researchers have found that the earliest common ancestor of both modern humans and Neanderthals were cannibals just because they wanted to be. They had plenty of access to other meat, but still regularly ate the flesh of rival families. Cannibalism was also practiced by Neanderthals, but more often it was out of necessity.

[read more]

allthingsprimate:

Bonobos vs. Crew from the BBC Documentary Monkey Planetdue to broadcast on Wednesday the 3rd of April 2014 at 9:00pm on BBC1. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

gothamknowledge:

How Neanderthal are you? Tracing our genetic ancestry | Natural History Museum

Scientists examining the evolutionary history recorded within our DNA are uncovering the global human story in greater detail.

Watch the film to discover what DNA analyses taught six well-known figures, Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Clive Anderson, Bill Bailey, Kevin Fong, Alice Roberts and Sian Williams about their genetic ancestry.”

Svante Pääbo: the DNA hunter taking us back to our roots Through his study of ancient DNA, the geneticist Svante Pääbo has identified the Neanderthal lurking in many of us – and turned paleontology on its head. 

Svante Pääbo: the DNA hunter taking us back to our roots
Through his study of ancient DNA, the geneticist Svante Pääbo has identified the Neanderthal lurking in many of us – and turned paleontology on its head. 

 
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