Genes Found that May Explain Expansion of Higher Brain Function in Homo sapiens

In the study of human evolution, one conundrum has always vexed us: how did humans evolve such powerful brains? Few Differences in Chimp and Human DNA The genome of Homo sapiens is remarkably similar to those of  our closest extant relatives, the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and the pigmy chimpanzee, or bonobo (Pan paniscus). On the sequence level, we … More Genes Found that May Explain Expansion of Higher Brain Function in Homo sapiens

The Meaning and Meaninglessness of Genealogy

The practice of genealogy, researching one’s ancestors and family tree, has exploded lately. Ancestry.com has become a huge success, boasting millions of subscribers and a net worth well over half a billion dollars. Many, if not most, families in the US have at least one person actively researching the long-forgotten twists and turns of their … More The Meaning and Meaninglessness of Genealogy

Florida Lizards Show that Evolutionary Change Can Be Rapid

Summary Scientists have observed that a Florida lizard species has moved much higher in the trees when faced with competition from a new competitor, an invasive lizard species from Cuba. Living higher in the trees involves different physical demands. Most importantly, the branches are younger, making them thinner and smoother. A recent experiment has shown … More Florida Lizards Show that Evolutionary Change Can Be Rapid

Are Humans Predisposed to Fear Snakes?

(A discussion of how fear and anxiety evolved in animals is found in my book.) Some animals are genetically programmed to fear their predators. Mice naturally fear cats; fish naturally fear birds. But what about humans? Are we naturally disposed to fear certain dangerous animals? It is certainly true that some things are feared more commonly than … More Are Humans Predisposed to Fear Snakes?

Did a Drop in Testosterone Civilize Modern Humans?

 Summary Anatomically modern humans first appeared around 200,000 years ago, but small changes in skull shape continued until around 50,000 years ago. A new study has revealed that several of the changes in the shape of the human face can be explained by a gradual drop in the levels of circulating testosterone. High testosterone is … More Did a Drop in Testosterone Civilize Modern Humans?