Darwin’s Polar Bear

“Polar Bear”, artist unknown, ca. 1870s — Library of Congress Musings upon the whys and wherefores of polar bears, particularly in relation to their forest-dwelling cousins, played an important but often overlooked role in the development of evolutionary theory. By Michael Engelhard / 02.21.2018 Anthropologist As any good high school student should know, the beaks of[…]

An Introduction to Intelligence, Its Measurements, and Its Extremes

Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 03.09.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief 1 – Introduction to Intelligence 1.1 – Defining Intelligence 1.1.1 – Introduction Over the last century or so, intelligence has been defined in many different ways. The meaning of the word “intelligence” has been hotly contested for many years. In today’s psychological landscape, intelligence can[…]

New Type of Virus Found in the Ocean

Electron microscope images of marine bacteria infected with the non-tailed viruses studied in this research. The bacterial cell walls are seen as long double lines, and the viruses are the small round objects with dark centers. / Courtesy of researchers The unusual characteristics of these abundant, bacteria-killing viruses could lead to evolutionary insights. By David L.[…]

Plague Bacteria Hiding in Soil and Water Microbes, Waiting to Emerge

Children at a school in Antananarivo, Madagascar, during a plague outbreak, Oct. 3, 2017. AP Photo/Alexander Joe By David Markman / 02.26.2018 PhD Candidate in Biology (Biosecurity and Infectious Disease) Colorado State University Plague is a highly contagious disease that has killed millions of people over the past 1,400 years. Outbreaks still sporadically occur in as[…]

Dogs Love to Play, but They Don’t Do So for Pleasure

Andy McLemore/Flickr/Creative Commons    By Dr. Raymond Coppinger (left) and Dr. Mark Feinstein (right) / 05.04.2016 Coppinger: Professor Emeritus of Biology Feinstein: Professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science Hampshire College A Jack Russell terrier tears in and out of its doggie door, skidding and sliding on a hardwood floor, only to repeat the performance over[…]

How Rejuvenation of Stem Cells Could Lead to Healthier Aging

Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com By Dr. Elisa Lazarri / 01.16.2018 Postdoctoral Associate in Biomedical Sciences Cornell University “Rampant” and “elderly” are words rarely used in the same sentence, unless we are talking of the percentage of people over 65 years old worldwide. Life expectancy has considerably increased, but it is still unknown how many of those years are going to[…]

Fossil Jaw Bone from Israel is Oldest Modern Human Found Outside Africa

Fossilized teeth from a modern human who lived in Israel close to 200,000 years ago. Israel Hershkovitz, Tel Aviv University, Creative Commons By Dr. Rolf Quam / 01.25.2018 Associate Professor of Anthropology Binghamton University (SUNY) New fossil finds over the past few years have been forcing anthropologists to reexamine our evolutionary path to becoming human. Now[…]

The Naturalist and the Neurologist: On Charles Darwin and James Crichton-Browne

James Crichton-Browne, A woman with pursed lips, West Riding Lunatic Asylum, c. 1869 – Wellcome Library Stassa Edwards explores Charles Darwin’s photography collection, which includes almost forty portraits of mental patients given to him by the neurologist James Crichton-Browne. The study of these photographs, and the related correspondence between the two men, would prove instrumental in the[…]

Virtual Fossils Revolution the Study of Evolution

Courtesy Doug Boyer/Morphosource By Dr. Douglas Martin Boyer / 02.25.2016 Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology Duke University ‘Seeing is believing’, as the saying goes, and so empirical data are the lifeblood of science and the scientific method. Science progresses by winnowing out those hypotheses or theories that fail under increasingly large amounts of data; favoured hypotheses[…]

Neanderthals in 3D: L’Homme de La Chapelle

A neanderthal skull, left hand side of one of Boule’s stereographs included in his L’Homme de La Chapelle (1911) – Source: author’s scan. More than just a favourite of Victorian home entertainment, the stereoscope and the 3D images it created were also used in the field of science. Lydia Pyne explores how the French palaeontologist Marcellin Boule[…]

In Conversation with Jane Goodall

Henry Nicholls talks to Jane Goodall about her remarkable career studying chimpanzee behaviour, her animal welfare activism, and accusations of plagiarism in her latest book. By Henry Nicholls / 03.31.2014 In February 1935, the year of King George V’s silver jubilee, a chimpanzee at London Zoo called Boo-Boo gave birth to a baby daughter. A couple of months later, a little[…]

‘A Natural History of Human Thinking’: Time and Other Primates

Dr. Michael Tomasello    By Dr. Nicolas Langlitz (left), Stephanie Schiavenato (right), and Esther Rottenburg (no photo) / 12.20.2016 Langlitz: Associate Professor of Anthropology, The New School for Social Research Schiavenato: Doctoral Student in Anthropology, New York University Rottenburg: MA Candidate in Global Health, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands Tomasello, Michael. 2014. A Natural History of Human[…]

How the Orchestra is Arranged by the Biology of the Brain

Charlie Nguyen/Flickr/Creative Commons By Richard Kunert / 04.20.2016 PhD Candidate Donders Institute Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics Imagine yourself at a concert hall looking at a symphonic orchestra on stage. Have you ever noticed that high-pitched strings sit left of low-pitched strings? Going from left to right, one usually sees violins, violas, cellos and double[…]

The AMNH ‘Man in Africa Hall’ at 50: Exploring African Ethnographic History

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in NY circa 2000. Photo from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.    By Dr. Enid Schildkrout (left) and Jacklyn Lacey (right) / 10.14.2017 Schildkrout: Curator Emerita of African Ethnology, Division of Anthropology Lacey: Museum Specialist II, African Ethnology, Pacific Ethnology American Museum of Natural History The “Man in Africa Hall”[…]

Biologist Dives Hundreds of Underwater Caves in Search of New Forms of Life

Author Tom Iliffe leads scientists on a cave dive. Jill Heinerth , CC BY-ND By Dr. Thomas M. Iliffe / 01.07.2018 Professor of Marine Biology Texas A&M University at Galveston Maybe when you picture a university professor doing research it involves test tubes and beakers, or perhaps poring over musty manuscripts in a dimly lit library, or maybe[…]

Charles Darwin’s American Adventure: A Melodrama in Three Acts

British scientist Charles Darwin. Darwin’s scientific discoveries concerning evolution had an immediate impact on the scientific community. But, their impact on society, politics, and debates about science and religion have had much longer term implications for American society. / Wikimedia Commons 2009 was celebrated around the world as ‘The Darwin Year.’ It marked the 200th[…]

As Emerging Diseases Spread from Wildlife to Humans, Can We Predict the Next Big Pandemic?

Photo courtesy of PREDICT/Mike Cranfield Two ambitious projects aim to understand when and how the next human disease will emerge from wildlife, and what we can do to minimize harm when it does. By Karl Gruber / 12.07.2017 PhD Candidate in Biological Sciences University of Western Australia Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO)[…]

On Being Human

Analyzing the genetics of ancient humans means changing ideas about our evolution. By Gaia Vince / 03.07.2017 The Rock of Gibraltar appears out of the plane window as an immense limestone monolith sharply rearing up from the base of Spain into the Mediterranean. One of the ancient Pillars of Hercules, it marked the end of[…]

The Biology and Psychology of Good and Bad Behavior

Tipping the balance of behavior: Social neurons and asocial neurons / Image by ZEISS Microscopy (Creative Commons) In Behave, Robert Sapolsky offers an inspired synthesis of how biology shapes human behavior—both the good and the bad. By Dr. C. Brandon Ogbunu / 12.01.2017 Assistant Professor of Evolutionary Biology University of Vermont The re-emergence of Neo-Nazi ideology; crowd-funded[…]

Hundreds of Pterosaur Eggs Help Reveal the Early Life of Flying Reptiles

Alexander Kellner (Museu Nacional/UFRJ) By Dr. Elizabeth Martin-Silverstone / 11.30.2017 Postgraduate Research Assistant in Palaeontology University of Bristol A hoard of fossilised pterosaur eggs discovered in China is helping scientists gain a rare insight into the extinct flying reptiles. Newly released research into over 200 eggs and 16 embryos from the pterosaur Hamipterus, including the first computed tomography[…]

Exploring Genetic Causation in Biology

By John McLaughlin / 07.02.2015 PhD Candidate in Developmental Biology Hunter College City University of New York In both popular culture and the technical literature in biology, the word “genetic” is ubiquitous. Despite its common usage and universal recognition, discussions centered around this concept usually leave its meaning taken for granted. We have the vague[…]