Evolution

Reports Jennifer Viegas in Discovery News:

The ancestors of humans, apes and monkeys evolved first in Asia before moving on to Africa, suggests a new fossil find from Myanmar.

Remains of a newly found primate, Afrasia djijidae, show this monkey-like animal lived 37 million years ago and was a likely ancestor of anthropoids — the group including humans, apes and monkeys.

“Many people have heard about the ‘Out of Africa’ story of human origins and human evolution,” said Christopher Beard, a Carnegie Museum of Natural History vertebrate paleontologist who co-authored a study about the fossil find in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Our paper is the logical precursor to that, because we are showing how the anthropoid ancestors of humans made their way ‘Into Africa’ in the first place.”…


Writes Jacqueline Howard on the Huffington Post:

Did the 20th century make us big-headed? Maybe so, since forensic anthropologists at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville found that white Americans’ heads are getting bigger and bigger … in size, that is.

The researchers studied about 1,500 skulls that dated from the mid-1800s through the 1980s. They noticed that the skulls gradually became larger, taller, and narrower. As a result, faces have become longer.

“The surprising thing is the skull size increase has not been documented in modern Americans,” researcher Dr. Richard Jantz told the Huffington Post. “We might have suspected that that was happening but this documents it … The shape of the skull has also changed rather dramatically. In fact, shape change has been more dramatic than size change.”…


We’re screwing with our own nature as well as that of many other species and the Earth itself, with unpredictable consequences. Matt Ridley offers his opinion on what that might mean in…


Suzan Mazur interviews James Shapiro, author of Evolution: A View from the 21st Century, for Counterpunch: Suzan Mazur: I went through the book over the weekend. It’s very thoughtful the way you’ve put…


I remember reading long ago an article about how man’s own psychological and sociological biases can shape how they view scientific phenomenon. (Sadly, as this was in the pre-Internet days, I can’t…



Fantastic Adventures 1940 Oct coverOkaaaay, Dr. Breslow, let’s hear your theory… (via TG Daily):

It sounds like the plot to a science fiction story, but new scientific research hypothesizes that “advanced dinosaurs” may have evolved on other planets in the universe.

According to Dr. Ronald Breslow, the advanced versions of T. rex and other dinosaurs would likely be monstrous creatures with the intelligence and cunning of humans.

“We would be better off not meeting them,” Breslow concludes in a study that appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

In his report, Breslow discusses the age-old mystery of why the building blocks of terrestrial amino acids (which make up proteins), sugars, and the genetic materials DNA and RNA exist mainly in one orientation or shape…






Via ScienceDaily:

We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, absorbing information, weighing it carefully, and making thoughtful decisions. But, as it turns out, we’re kidding ourselves. Over the past few decades, scientists have shown there are many different internal and external factors influencing how we think, feel, communicate, and make decisions at any given moment.

One particularly powerful influence may be our own bodies, according to new research reviewed in the December issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Cognitive scientist Daniel Casasanto, of The New School for Social Research, has shown that quirks of our bodies affect our thinking in predictable ways, across many different areas of life, from language to mental imagery to emotion …


People think Tennesseans are remarkably stupid. Like the late Bill Hicks, who continually mocked my state during his comedy routines. “In many parts of our troubled world, people are yelling ‘Revolution!’” he…



Via ScienceDaily: Evolutionary psychologists suspect that prejudice is rooted in survival: Our distant ancestors had to avoid outsiders who might have carried disease. Research still shows that when people feel vulnerable to…







Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media It might be odd to say and seemingly unconnected, but when I consider what’s happening on Wall Street, or the halls of government, or the streets…



Scientists in Scotland are attempting to dramatically expand our concept of what we consider “alive” by creating entities that reproduce and evolve, but are made out of non-carbon-based materials. Can plastic truly…



Violet Blue explains why the new SlutWalk protests are “a significant tipping point in cultural evolution” — and she’s serious. “Yes: I think scantily clad girls marching in the streets around the…