linkfest – 08/17/14

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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linkfest – 10/14/13

Ancient DNA Unravels Europe’s Genetic Diversity“Ancient DNA recovered from a time series of skeletons in Germany spanning 4,000 years of prehistory has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern-day Europeans. The study, published today in ‘Science’, reveals dramatic population changes with waves of prehistoric migration, not only from the accepted path via the Near East, but also from Western and Eastern Europe.” – orig. research article: Ancient DNA Reveals Key Stages in the Formation of Central European Mitochondrial Genetic Diversity. from dienekes: “Anyone adhering to a ‘pots not people’ paradigm will find difficult to explain the sharp discontinuities found in the genetic record.” – and here’s national geographic’s take on the story – my head’s dizzy from all the spin!: “So, just like parts of Europe today are melting pots from different living cultures across the world, Europe is also a melting pot of genetic lineages from different prehistoric cultures that lived there at different periods of time.” – see also: Stone Age farmers, hunters kept their distance.

Genes Suggest European Women at Root of Ashkenazi Family Tree“The women who founded the Ashkenazi Jewish community of Europe were not from the Near East, as previously supposed, and reinforces the idea that many Jewish communities outside Israel were founded by single men who married and converted local women.” – see dienekes and greg cochran.

[Genetic] Link to Oetzi the Iceman found in living Austrians – AWESOME!

Child Behaviour: Not In Their Genes?“Using a powerful approach called GCTA, King’s College London researchers Maciej Trzaskowski and colleagues found no evidence that genetics can explain differences in children’s behavioural and conduct difficulties.” – @neuroskeptic.

“Were the First Artists Mostly Women?“Three-quarters of handprints in ancient cave art were left by women, study finds.” — afaics, there’s no reason to conclude that the individuals who spray painted outlines of their hands (any idiot can do that — I could do that!) were the same individuals who painted the horses and lions, etc. duh. anyway, here’s the interesting bit from the article: “[T]he hands in the caves were much more sexually dimorphic than modern hands, meaning that there was little overlap in the various hand measurements. ‘They fall at the extreme ends, and even beyond the extreme ends,’ Snow said. ‘Twenty thousand years ago, men were men and women were women.'”

Glass always half-empty? Your genes may be to blame“UBC researcher finds some people are genetically predisposed to seeing things in a negative light. Further research is also planned to explore the gene variant’s occurrence across different ethnic groups. While it is believed more than half of Caucasians have ADRA2b, some studies suggest it is much less prominent in other ethnicities….”

Whites More Prone to Certain Heart Condition Than Other Ethnic Groups“In a study to be published online October 8 and in the November 12 issue of ‘Circulation’, researchers discovered that self-described non-Hispanic whites are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than people from other race or ethnic groups. ‘We found that consistently, every other race had a statistically significant lower risk of atrial fibrillation compared to whites…. So this suggests that white race is itself a risk factor for atrial fibrillation.'” – h/t mr. mangan, esq!

Evolution and Bad Boyfriends

Neurons Fire Backward in Sleep“Unusual brain cell activity may underlie memory streng…” wait. NEURONS FIRE BACKWARD IN SLEEP! cool.

Changes in women’s attractiveness perception of masculine men’s dances across the ovulatory cycle: Preliminary data“Women’s preferences for putative cues of genetic quality in men’s voices, faces, bodies, and behavioral displays are stronger during the fertile phase of the ovulatory cycle. Here we show that ovulatory cycle-related changes in women’s attractiveness perceptions of male features are also found with dance movements, especially those perceived as highly masculine.”

Similar chimpanzees form friendships“‘We found that, especially among unrelated friends, the most sociable and bold individuals preferred the company of other highly sociable and bold individuals, whereas shy and less sociable ones spent time with other similarly aloof and shy chimpanzees,’ says the researcher. The researchers argue that such a strong preference for self-like individuals is probably adaptive, because frequent cooperation becomes more reliable when both partners have similar behavioural tendencies and emotional states. This finding strongly resembles the known ‘similarity effect’ in humans: We tend to make friends with people who are equally extraverted, friendly and bold as ourselves.” — same in some birds, too, remember?

All you ever wanted to know about intelligence (but were too bright to ask) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 – from dr. james thompson.

Social Status and Anger Expression: The Cultural Moderation Hypothesis“Individuals with lower social status have been reported to express more anger, but this evidence comes mostly from Western cultures…. Americans with lower social status expressed more anger…. Japanese with higher social status expressed more anger….” – maybe there’s a biological explanation? – h/t neuroskeptic!

Life Purpose Buffers Negative Moods Triggered by Diversity“Being in the minority in an ethnically diverse crowd is distressing, regardless of your ethnicity….” – h/t mr. mangan, esq!

Neandertals ate stomach goop, and you can too – mmmmm! chyme!

Study: Narcissists Only Think They’re Especially Creative“Narcissistic people do undertake more creative things, but their correlation with self-reported creativity is disproportionately strong.” – h/t jayman! – speaking of narcissts: The Double-Edged Sword of Grandiose Narcissism: Implications for Successful and Unsuccessful Leadership Among U.S. Presidents.

The Whites of Their Eyes“The subjects in [milgram’s] experiments notoriously (and shockingly!) were willing to inflict great pain and possibly permanent harm or even death on victims. But they became less willing to do so as the victim was moved progressively closer to them.”

Meritocracy and Its Discontents – @thosewhocansee.

The Paekchong of Korea – from peter frost.

Tribal feuds, local conflicts engulf Libya“Ever since its revolution, Libya has been riddled with tribal conflict. The state remains powerless in the face of weapon proliferation and violence. Societal fragmentation seems inevitable.” — huh. strange.

The Anglosphere miracle – by daniel hannan – “As for the idea that the individual should be as free as possible from state coercion, this is regarded as the ultimate Anglophone fetish. Whenever the E.U. extends its jurisdiction into a new field—decreeing what vitamins we can buy, how much capital banks must hold, what hours we may work, how herbal remedies are to be regulated—I ask what specific problem the new rules are needed to solve. The response is always the same: ‘But the old system was unregulated!’ The idea that absence of regulation might be a natural state of affairs is seen as preposterous.”

A Second Great Depression? – from jayman.

Cheaters always prosper, to a point

Ancient Sundial Discovered In Bronze Age Ukrainian Grave Is Oldest Of Its Kind

Why a medieval peasant got more vacation time than you – d*mn them! h/t mike anissimov!

I tooke a bodkine“‘I tooke a bodkine,’ he wrote in his notebook, ‘& put it betwixt my eye & bone as neare to [the] backside of my eye as I could: pressing my eye [with the] end of it…there appeared severall white & darke & coloured circles…which circles were plainest when I continued to rub my eye [with the] point of [the] bodkine.’ After many months with his bodkins, notebooks and prisms he came to the conclusion that our eyes can deceive us even about something as obvious as daylight, which appears plain and simple to us, but is in fact composed of lights of many different colours. Appearances can conceal as much as they reveal.” – great #longread about isaac newton.

Length of pregnancy can vary by up to five weeks, scientists discover

Preventing penile fractures and Peyronie’s disease – DON’T try this at home!: “In some Middle East regions, men engage in a practice known as *taqaandan* (‘to click’ in Kurdish), explains Dr. Javaad Zargooshi, urology professor at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences in Iran. It’s a painless process, similar to knuckle-cracking, in which the top half of an erect penis is bent forcefully while the rest of the shaft is held stationary. Usually this produces only a loss of erection and a satisfying popping noise, says Zargooshi, who published a report on the phenomenon in December in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Other times, it will fracture the penis.” – wait. what? – via ed west!

Aldeburgh dig unearths teenager’s ‘keepsakes’ box“An Anglo-Saxon teenage girl’s box of trinkets is thought to have been uncovered by archaeologists during a three-week dig in Suffolk.”

bonus: How the Western Banksta System Kills Millions (by accident)

bonus bonus: True scale of European immigration“An EU study has found 600,000 unemployed migrants are living in Britain.”

bonus bonus bonus: Does Some Deeper Level of Physics Underlie Quantum Mechanics? An Interview with Nobelist Gerard ’t Hooft and You probably have no free will. But don’t worry about it.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Swifts stay airborne for six months at a time – whoa!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Southern Flying Squirrels Land in Canada“Southern flying squirrels are moving into the habitat of Northern flying squirrels. Now people are debating what to call the hybrid offspring.” — illegal infiltrators! (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. really sweet bronze anglo-saxon dolphin trinket!)

linkfest – 09/22/13

Flies see the world in slow motion, say scientists“Flies avoid being swatted in the same way Keanu Reeves dodges flying bullets in The Matrix, by watching time pass slowly, research suggests. The smaller an animal is, and the faster its metabolic rate, the slower time passes for it, scientists found. This means that across a wide range of species, time perception is directly related to size, with animals smaller than us seeing the world in slow motion…. ‘It’s tempting to think that for children time moves more slowly than it does for grown ups, and there is some evidence that it might…. People have shown in humans that flicker fusion frequency is related to a person’s subjective perception of time, and it changes with age. It’s certainly faster in children.’ – mind. blown.

Poverty Can Trump a Winning Hand of Genes“When psychologists first started studying twins, they found identical twins much more likely to have similar IQs than fraternal ones. They concluded that IQ was highly “heritable”—that is, due to genetic differences. But those were all high SES twins. Erik Turkheimer of the University of Virginia and his colleagues discovered that the picture was very different for poor, low-SES twins. For these children, there was very little difference between identical and fraternal twins: IQ was hardly heritable at all…. Richer children have similarly good educational opportunities, so genetic differences among them become more apparent…. But for poor children, haphazard differences in educational opportunity swamp genetic differences.”

Shy male birds keep closer ‘friends’“Shy male great tits have fewer ‘friends’ but build stronger bonds than bolder birds, researchers have found.” – speaking of birds: Warblers begin migrating after interbreeding.

Ancient genomes mirror mode of subsistence rather than geography in prehistoric Europe (preprint) – @dienekes’.

Pornography addiction leads to same brain activity as alcoholism or drug abuse, study shows“Cambridge University scientists reveal changes in brain for compulsive porn users which don’t occur in those with no such habit.”

Redneck Psychiatrists“Schizophrenia is more common in men than women – about 1.4 to 1. It’s more common in the lowest SES groups, although that may be downward drift. Schizophrenia is considerably more common among people of African ancestry…. Schizophrenia seems to be more common among people that grew up in cities – about twice as common.” – from greg cochran.

Stronger Sexual Impulses, Not Weaker Self-Control, May Explain Why Men Cheat More Than Women, Study Reveals

Painful and extreme rituals enhance social cohesion and charity“The study of 86 males in Mauritius found both observers and performers of the Kavadi were more charitable than those who only participated in the collective prayers. The researchers also found that higher levels of pain were positively associated with larger donations and a more inclusive self-identity.”

DNA Double Takechimeras! and other neat stuff.

Why parents think your partner isn’t good enough“[P]arents tend to give more resources to children whose partners provide less support, and that this leads to a conflict over mate choice…. ‘Parents are equally related to all of their children, whereas children value themselves more than their siblings — so each child wants to get more than their fair share of parental resources.’ This means that the children are willing to settle for a mate who is less caring than their parents would ideally like.”

The Social Life of Genes“Your DNA is not a blueprint. Day by day, week by week, your genes are in a conversation with your surroundings. Your neighbors, your family, your feelings of loneliness: They don’t just get under your skin, they get into the control rooms of your cells. Inside the new social science of genetics.” – h/t you know who you are!

Lifestyle Influences Metabolism via DNA Methylation“An unhealthy lifestyle leaves traces in the DNA. These may have specific effects on metabolism, causing organ damage or disease. Scientists of Helmholtz Zentrum München have now identified 28 DNA alterations associated with metabolic traits. This world-first epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of modified genes and metabolites has been now published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics.”

From Slavs to slaves. Part II“With the Christianization of Eastern Europe, the trade in fair-skinned women and boys came to an end.” – from peter frost.

The Books Interview: David Epstein – author of The Sports Gene.

In Defense of Neanderthals – from jim goad.

UC Davis research finds Neandertals, not modern humans, made first specialized bone tools in Europe

Who Was Eating Salmon 45,000 Years Ago in the Caucasus?“Neandertals Probably Not as Rigid in Their Diet as Thought” – h/t hbd bibliography!

You’ll never be Chinese“Except where there is economic benefit to be had, communities do not act together, and when they do it is only to ensure equal financial compensation for the pollution, or the government-sponsored illegal land grab, or the poisoned children.”

The £29 DNA dating test that takes a swab of your saliva to find your perfect partner – they’re looking at hla genes. note that this is not an endorsement!

bonus: Sending food to Africa to solve famine is barmy, says Sir David Attenborough as he blames overcrowding for crisis

bonus bonus: The British babies made in India“The surrogate mothers of India’s Akanksha Clinic eagerly await their 600th delivery. But is there an ethical price to pay?” – is there a biological price to pay?

bonus bonus bonus: Sex Jihad raging in Syria, claims minister“A Tunisian minister has revealed local women are travelling to Syria to undertake ‘sex jihad’ by giving battlefield comfort to Islamist fighters battling the regime…. ‘After the sexual liaisons they have there in the name of “jihad al-nikah” – (sexual holy war, in Arabic) – they come home pregnant,’ Ben Jeddou told the MPs. “ – ooohhh-kay.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: joey prusak – good guy! (^_^)

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Dinosaur feathers found in Alberta amber“Feathers believed to be from dinosaurs have been found beautifully preserved in Alberta amber. The primitive, hair-like feathers known as protofeathers likely belonged to theropods — dinosaurs similar to tiny Tyrannosaurus rexes — that roamed the swampy forests of Alberta 80 million years ago….”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: ‘Rotating moon’ filmed by Nasa – video

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Is this the most extraordinary human brain ever seen? – yikes. =(

(note: comments do not require an email. great tits!)

ever decreasing circles

ok. so here’s how i picture the levels (if that’s the right|best word) in which the battle(s) for replication takes place wherein the players (genes, individuals, clans, whatever) compete against each other as well as co-operate (for their own benefit, of course — none of the players gives anything away for free). when a player does help out another altruistically, it’s very often a situation where inclusive fitness is in play.

the flipside of altruism is a whole collection of acts from simply growing more roots to soak up more of the water and other nutrients in the soil before your unrelated neighboring plants do, to out-and-out killing and war.

these levels (which have fuzzy borders) seem to me to be present in all the higher animals. i think they’re kinda different when you start to look at micro-organisms — bacteria and viruses (they’re not even organisms, are they?) and the like — but i’m not sure. there’s some weird, but extremely cool, sh*t going on there anyway!

so, like i said here, i don’t think everything comes down to genetics; but i do think that everything comes down to biology (or chemistry, or physics). not all of our behaviors have to do with competing to reproduce (i don’t think…), but a h*lluva lot do. most people most of the time are not consciously aware of why they do what they do. they give all sorts of other reasons for the things that they do (religious, philosophical, political, etc.) — but those are not the ultimate reasons for why they behave in whatever way that they do. and i’m really only interested in the ultimate reasons.

so, without further ado, here’s my little chart (don’t laugh — i s*ck at photoshop!):

yes, intergenomic conflict does, indeed, occur (my “genes” level up there). i’m guessing that conflict also occurs at the “things smaller than genes” level, but i’m not familiar with any examples. parent-offspring conflict (as most parents can testify to!) definitely occurs, as does conflict between siblings — these are on the “immediate family” level.

westerners might not be all that familiar with extended family conflicts since we don’t bother much with our extended families, but you just have to look at the middle east or asia or even just sicily to start understanding THAT level.

the rest of the levels are pretty self-explanatory, i think. we’ve seen the war between tribes in libya, for example; we know about the french vs. the germans in just about every significant war in europe eveh; the race “wars” are ongoing right here in the u.s.; and, if and when the little green men from mars turn up, humans might just pull together for the “good of the species.”

the natures of group-level conflicts (anything above individual) also depend upon the degree and type of inbreeding (or out-breeding) within the populations in question.

again, i’m not saying that conflicts on any of these levels is (easily) predictable — or guaranteed. most of the competition seems to be over resources of some sort or another (water, sunlight, land, gold, ivy league scholarships), so you’re not going to see conflict unless there is some sort of crisis over some sort of resource (that aids in reproduction).

but, when you do see conflict, it’s a safe bet that it’s got something to do with all this.

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multiple baby daddies

1 in 5 US moms have kids with multiple dads, study says

bad idea.

in more ways than you might think. from “people are animals“:

“When might parent-offspring conflict get to be most intense? One answer is: When parents are in poor condition. Parents do best, in that case, to scrimp now and splurge later on child care. Another answer is: When mother’s babies have different fathers, and when father’s babies have different mothers….

“Second answers second. Do babies by different fathers fight harder with mother? Enter, again, David Haig. Hypertension is, it turns out, more common in mothers who have already borne children by someone other than fetus’ father. That makes sense, Haig says, since such a fetus is draining maternal resources away from its half sibs (brothers and sisters by the same mother but different fathers) rather than from its full sibs (brothers and sisters by the same mother and the same father). ‘Genetic imprinting,’ he suggests, may be the means to that end. Paternal genes, expressed in the fetus, might evolve to raise their demands where mother has had —- or is likely to have —- babies by other fathers. Interestingly, hypertension is less common in women who have lived with fetus’ father for longer. As Haig says, sperm may differently imprint in the testes of men in short-term and long-term relationships….”

i also can’t help but imagine that there will likely be more household conflicts between half-siblings than full-siblings because, of course, half-siblings are not as related to each other as full-siblings are.

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