Redressing the Balance: Levinus Vincent’s Wonder Theatre of Nature

Detail from a print featured in the first part of Vincent’s Wondertooneel der Nature – Rijks Museum Bert van de Roemer explores the curiosity cabinet of the Dutch collector Levinus Vincent and how the aesthetic drive behind his meticulous ordering of the contents was in essence religious, an attempt to emphasise the wonder of God’s creations by restoring[…]

Mother’s Milk Holds the Key to Unlocking an Evolutionary Mystery from the Last Ice Age

Sunrise at noon in the Arctic. Little exposure to sun was a piece of the genetic puzzle. Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, CC BY Why was one gene mutation that affects hair, teeth, sweat glands and breasts ubiquitous among ice age Arctic people? New research points to the advantage it provided for ancestors of Native Americans. By Dr. Leslea Hlusko / 04.26.2018 Associate Professor of Integrative[…]

Disease Evolution: Our Long History of Fighting Viruses

A virus is essentially an information system (encoded in DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protective coat. Tom Thai/Flickr, Creative Commons Humans have a deep history of viral infections, the evidence for which dates back to ancient DNA from Egyptian mummies. By Dr. Peter C. Doherty / 04.26.2016 Laureate Professor The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity A virus[…]

First Peoples: Two Ancient Ancestries ‘Reconverged’ with Settling of South America

New research using ancient DNA finds that a population split after people first arrived in North America was maintained for millennia before mixing again before or during the expansion of humans into the southern continent. Recent research has suggested that the first people to enter the Americas split into two ancestral branches, the northern and[…]

Testing Ancient Human Hearing via Fossilized Ear Bones

3D virtual reconstruction of two-million-year-old ear. Rolf Quam, CC BY-ND Beyond the cool factor of figuring out hominin hearing capacities two million years ago, these findings could help answer the tantalizing question of when did human vocalized language first emerge. By Dr. Rolf Quam / 09.25.2015 Associate Professor of Anthropology Binghamton University (SUNY) How did the world sound to our ancient human relatives[…]

Silk Road Trading Helped Produce the Modern Horse

Yeah, they messed with my genes. attawayjl Research shows that the genes of the modern horse were forged along the way. By Dr. William Feeney / 09.12.2013 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences The University of Queensland The Silk Road snaked across continents for more than a thousand years, shaping civilisations in East and West.[…]

Ancient Human Bone Reveals When We Bred with Neanderthals

Behold the femur. Bence Viola, MPI EVA Radiocarbon-dated to around 45,000 years old. By Dr. Daniel Zadik / 10.24.2014 Postdoctoral Researcher in Genetics University of Leicester When a human bone was found on a gravelly riverbank by a bone-carver who was searching for mammoth ivory, little did he know it would provide the oldest modern-human genome yet sequenced. The[…]

How Tiny Black Spots Shed Light on the Homo Naledi Mystery

A replica of a Homo naledi skull. GCIS/Flickr, CC BY-ND New evidence suggests that Homo naledi didn’t deliberately deposit their dead in a hidden chamber. By Dr. Francis Thackeray / 07.27.2016 Phillip Tobias Chair in Paleoanthropology Evolutionary Studies Institute University of the Witwatersrand Many questions have been thrown up by the discovery in South Africa of a previously unidentified human relative,[…]

How Yersinia Pestis Evolved Its Ability to Kill Millions via Pneumonic Plague

How did Yersinia pestis bacteria start to target the lungs and become so deadly? National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, CC BY It’s a deadly bacterium that can spread like wildfire. New research suggests Yersinia pestisfirst developed its ability to cause lung infection and then evolved to be highly infectious.    By Dr. Daniel Zimbler (left) and Dr. Wyndham Lathem (right) / 06.30.2015 Zimbler: Senior Scientist, Microbiology[…]

Human Ancestors Had the Same Dental Problems as Us – Even Without Fizzy Drinks and Sweets

Teeth fossils with evidence of dental lesions from Australopithecus africanus. Ian Towle, Author provided Prehistoric humans and their predecessors may have had a very different diet but their teeth suffered in similar ways to ours. By Dr. Ian Towle / 03.01.2018 Sessional Lecturer in Anthropology Liverpool John Moores University Dental erosion is one of the most common tooth problems in the world today. Fizzy[…]

Combining Linguistics, Archaeology, and Ancient DNA Genetics to Understand Deep Human History

TonelloPhotography/Shutterstock.com Each discipline tells us only part of the story. And so the truest picture of prehistory comes from triangulating these independent lines of evidence.    By Dr. Michael Dunn (left) and Dr. Annemarie Verkerk (right) / 03.29.2018 Dunn: Professor in Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University Verkerk: Postdoctoral Research Associate in Linguistics, Max Planck Institute for the[…]

Studying Chimpanzee Calls for Clues about the Origins of Human Language

Nisarg Desai observes wild chimps known as Sandi, Ferdinand and Siri in Tanzania. Michael Wilson, CC BY-ND Do chimpanzee talk to each other? Scientists follow and record chimpanzees in the wild to find out – and to fill in details about how human language might have evolved. By Dr. Michael Wilson / 05.08.2018 Associate Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior University of Minnesota Freud, Wilkie and the[…]

Andreas Vesalius: The Man Who Revolutionized Our Knowledge of the Human Body

Drawn directly from the flesh. Public Domain Review/Flickr, CC BY-SA By Dr. Richard Gunderman / 12.31.2014 Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis Andreas Vesalius authored one of the most elegant and influential books in scientific history. His investigations revolutionized our understanding of the interior of the human body and the methods physicians use to[…]

Imprinting and Attachment in Biology

A Mallard Duck hen calls vigorously as she leads her ducklings who have already formed an attachment to her. / Photo by Crystal Marie Lopez (2010), Flickr, Creative Commons By Dr. Patrick Bateson Former Professor of Ethology, University of Cambridge Former President of the Zoological Society of London Introduction[1] Imprinting provides a striking example of[…]

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[…]