I can’t afford to think about that – “[W]hy are balls of steel so rare in academia? Do they undergo a procedure?” – from greg cochran.
Species Do Not Exist – “[T]he Endangered Species Act has shaky conceptual foundations…. And yet we somehow deal with the fact that the universe is complex when it comes to species, although not with races.” – from steve sailer. see also Should You Fear the Pizzly Bear? h/t werner jensen!
Catastrophes in evolution: Is Cuvier’s world extinct or extant?
Million year hominid dispersal event in Iberia – “Archaeological remains dating to between 1 million to 780,000 years were also found on an excavation that has provided evidence of the first known human occupation in the Iberian Peninsula.” – h/t cultevobot!
Early Exit: When Did Modern Humans First Leave Africa? – “[A] recent study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the genes of indigenous people in southeast Asia has suggested a much earlier date for the first human explorers. Professor Katerina Harvati-Papatheodorou and lead author Hugo Reyes-Centeno of the University of Tubingen in Germany and their colleagues fed this genetic data into a computer model of migration and found that the best explanation was an African exodus around 130,000 years ago, more than twice as far back as most scientists think. They also suggested that this early wave took a different route, spreading along the south coasts of Arabia and Asia towards Australia.”
Early modern humans were ‘culturally diverse’ before they left Africa – “Researchers have carried out the biggest ever comparative study of stone tools dating to between 130,000 and 75,000 years ago found in the region between sub-Saharan Africa and Eurasia. They have discovered there are marked differences in the way stone tools were made, reflecting a diversity of cultural traditions. The study has also identified at least four distinct populations, each relatively isolated from each other with their own different cultural characteristics.”
Indo-Europeans preceded Finno-Ugrians in Finland and Estonia – “An archaic (Northwest-)Indo-European language and a subsequently extinct Paleo-European language were likely spoken in what is now called Finland and Estonia, when the linguistic ancestors of the Finns and the Sami arrived in the eastern and northern Baltic Sea region from the Volga-Kama region probably at the beginning of the Bronze Age.” – @dienekes’.
168 South Asian Genomes – @dienekes’.
Claim: Modern human teeth in southern China 70-125 ka BP – h/t razib!
The Most Violent Era In America Was Before Europeans Arrived – “[A] new paper finds that the 20th century, with its hundreds of millions dead in wars and, in the case of Germany, China, Russia and other dictatorships, genocide, was not the most violent – on a per-capita basis that honor may belong to the central Mesa Verde of southwest Colorado and the Pueblo Indians. Writing in the journal American Antiquity, Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler and colleagues document how nearly 90 percent of human remains from that period had trauma from blows to either their heads or parts of their arms. ‘If we’re identifying that much trauma, many were dying a violent death,’ said Kohler. The study also offers new clues to the mysterious depopulation of the northern Southwest, from a population of about 40,000 people in the mid-1200s to 0 in 30 years.” – h/t hbd bibliography!
The ‘six universal’ facial expressions are not universal, cross-cultural study shows – “It’s a concept that had become universally understood: humans experience six basic emotions — happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise — and use the same set of facial movements to express them…. The only problem with this concept, according to Northeastern University Distinguished Professor of Psychology Lisa Feldman Barrett, is that it isn’t true at all…. [W]hat were assumed to be ‘psychological universals’ may in fact be ‘Western’ — or perhaps even ‘American’ — cultural categories.”
The intelligent pursuit of happiness – “Intelligence is associated with health and longevity, and more intelligent children on average tend to live longer and healthier lives than less intelligent children, although it is not known why. Health is significantly associated with psychological well-being. So, it is possible that more intelligent individuals are more stable in their happiness over time because they are more likely to remain constantly healthy than less intelligent individuals.” – from dr. james thompson.
Clues emerge to genetic architecture of intelligence in children – “‘When we computed the contribution of common variants to these cognitive abilities, we found that some of the contributions were substantial,’ said Hakonarson. For instance, common SNPs accounted for roughly 40 percent of the population differences in nonverbal reasoning, and 30 percent of the differences in language reasoning, with the balance of the differences attributable to rare variants and environmental factors. On the other hand, common gene variants together contributed to only 3 percent of the differences in spatial memory—the ability to navigate in a geographical location. There also were significant overlaps between trait domains. Reading ability, which was 43 percent attributable to common variants, was often inherited together with language reasoning abilities.” – h/t nolasco!
Lead released from African cookware contaminates food – “Researchers tested 29 samples of aluminum cookware made in Cameroon and found almost all had considerable lead content. This cookware is common throughout Africa and Asia and is made from recycled scrap metal including auto and computer parts, cans, and other industrial debris. Lead exposure in children is linked to brain damage, mental retardation, lower educational performance, and a range of other health effects.” – h/t science enabled!
Facial fluctuating asymmetry is not associated with childhood ill-health in a large British cohort study – h/t jelte wicherts! who tweeted: “Contrary to several small N studies, large study finds no relationship between health measures & facial asymmetry.”
Structural Growth Trajectories and Rates of Change in the First 3 Months of Infant Brain Development – h/t simon baron-cohen! who tweeted: “Typical brain growth from birth to 3 months old: the brain grows 1% per day, and male brains grow faster.”
Workaholism: The addiction of this century – “Workaholics scored higher on three personality traits: Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Intellect/Imagination.” – h/t claire lehmann!
Twins separated at birth reveal staggering influence of genetics – “Segal, who wrote a book about the study called ‘Born Together Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twins Study’ (Harvard University Press, 2012), is now doing a prospective study of Chinese twins raised apart, often in different countries, by adoptive families.”
The association between grandparenthood and mortality – h/t neuroskeptic! who tweeted: “People who become grandparents at an early age tend to die sooner.” – because they have faster life histories?
Getting the babes but not the babies – “Who’s making more babies? ‘Good boys’ or ‘bad boys’? Originally, the good boys were, thanks to parental monitoring of relations between single men and single women. The pendulum then swung toward the bad boys in the 1940s, only to swing back after the 1960s.” – from peter frost.
Population-level variability in the social climates of four chimpanzee societies – h/t erwin schmidt! who tweeted: “Some groups of chimpanzees are more egalitarian than others.”
Is empathy in humans and apes actually different? ‘Yawn contagion’ effect studied – “Humans and bonobos are the only two species in which it has been demonstrated that yawn contagion follows an empathic trend, being more frequent between individuals who share a strong emotional bond, such as friends, kin, and mates…. Two features of yawn contagion were compared: how many times the individuals responded to others’ yawns and how quickly. Intriguingly, when the yawner and the responder were not friends or kin, bonobos responded to others’ yawns just as frequently and promptly as humans did. This means that the assumption that emotional contagion is more prominent in humans than in other species is not necessarily the case. However, humans did respond more frequently and more promptly than bonobos when friends and kin were involved, probably because strong relationships between humans are built upon complex and sophisticated emotional foundations linked to cognition, memory, and memories. In this case, the positive feedback linking emotional affinity and the mirroring process seems to spin faster in humans than in bonobos. In humans, such over-activation may explain the potentiated yawning response and also other kinds of unconscious mimicry response, such as happy, pained, or angry facial expressions.”
Self-regulatory failure and the perpetration of adolescent dating violence: Examining an alcohol use by gene explanation – “[A]lcohol use was more strongly associated with dating violence among adolescents who had a high rather than a low multilocus genetic profile composed of five genetic markers that influence dopamine signaling. Alcohol use was more strongly related to dating violence among boys with long rather than short 5-HTTLPR alleles, the opposite of the prediction. MAOA-uVNTR did not interact with alcohol, but it had a main effect on dating violence by boys in later grades in the expected direction: boys with more low activity alleles perpetrated more dating violence. Exploratory analyses found variation in findings by race.” – h/t unsilenced science!
Take Two Sugar Pills and Call Me in the Morning – “Over the past decade, a number of clinical studies have begun to show that people who improve on placebos are genetically different than those who don’t.” – h/t billare! see also here.
Designer babies: selection vs editing – @steve hsu’s.
Anxiety in invertebrates opens research avenues – “[N]euronal mechanisms related to anxiety have been preserved throughout evolution. This analysis of ancestral behavior in a simple animal model opens up new avenues for studying the neuronal bases for this emotion.”
Our Microbiome May Be Looking Out for Itself – sneaky microbiome! h/t mr. robert ford!
New Study To Look At The Genetics Of Inflammatory Bowel Disease – from 23andMe.
Constitutional verbosity and social trust – h/t heartiste! who tweeted: “The more a nation’s people trust each other, the fewer words they need to codify that trust.”
War in the womb – “A ferocious biological struggle between mother and baby belies any sentimental ideas we might have about pregnancy” -h/t charles!
Head Count – ‘Malthus,’ by Robert J. Mayhew
New Saudi ban on marriage to foreigners stirs controversy – “[A] new law bans Saudi men from marrying women from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chad and Burma.” (not a big surprise from the najdis.)
Avoid marrying kin, behave ‘softly on first night’ – “A notice from the Health Ministry [of turkey-h.chick] on ‘Consultancy before Marriage’ has highlighted that one out of every five marriages are among kin. The recently released document also includes sexual advice for couples, especially for the ‘first night.’ ‘Consanguineous marriage is mostly among first-degree relatives, increasing the number of rare genetic diseases,’ it said. ‘This matter is noteworthy. Those who are married to kin and those who carry genetic diseases should consult a health institution before gestation.'” – h/t anatoly karlin!
Avoiding Prince Joffrey: Primates have newly discovered ability that stops inbreeding – “[N]ew research in macaques has revealed for the first time that primates are able to recognise their own relatives. The researchers opted for macaques rather than chimps for their study as the former lives in larger groups with more relatives; allowing them to pick distantly related monkeys who haven’t met, they could rule out ‘familiarity’ as a way for figuring out who is related…. The researchers had no clue as to how they were able to do this. Perhaps they did make a ‘template’ based on relatives they were familiar with, or maybe they had figured out what they looked like somehow, so could use that to figure out who were their relatives.”
Download Pew Datasets!
bonus: Researchers create 1,000-robot swarm – PANIC!!1! HEAD FOR THE HILLS!!
bonus bonus: The Domestic Cat Genome Has Been Fully Sequenced, and It’s Fascinating – “Cats also have what biologists call “a highly conserved ancestral mammal genome organization,” which means that many stretches of their genome haven’t changed much over evolutionary time. Put simply, domestic cats haven’t changed much since they first evolved.”
bonus bonus bonus: Reconstructions show how some of the earliest animals lived — and died – rangeomorphs. h/t mike anissimov!
bonus bonus bonus bonus: Shortest-known abstract for a serious scientific paper (^_^)
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