News that "Nutcracker Man didn’t eat nuts" isn’t exactly news

Photosimulation montages of “Nutcracker Man’s” dental microwear. Reference: Ungar et al. PLoS One 2008.  Because of a huge jaw and large, flat molars, Paranthrapus boisei was nicknamed Nutcracker Man and thought to have eaten a diet comprised largely of hard nuts and seeds. But, it turns out, the hominin species who in evolutionary terms has been likened to ourContinue reading “News that "Nutcracker Man didn’t eat nuts" isn’t exactly news”

Michael Ruse on "Origins of Human Evolution"

Michael Ruse Why were the great Greek philosophers (including Plato and Aristotle) firmly set against the idea of natural origins? Why were they so adamant that natural origins were impossible? According to Michael Ruse, a philosopher of biology at Florida State University, the reason is the problem of “final causes.” Aristotle, for example, “could notContinue reading “Michael Ruse on "Origins of Human Evolution"”

Pornography in the Primordial Soup

Panel of scientists debate on “What is Life?” Sometime between 4 and 3.5 billion years ago, the emergence of life had intense beginnings on a young planet in the midst of a so-called primordial soup—consisting of water vapor, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and ammonia and shaped by strong winds, electrical storms, volcanic eruptions, andContinue reading “Pornography in the Primordial Soup”

Evolution of Lactose Tolerance in Africa

Sarah Tishkoff Most African populations have lactose intolerance, but as recently as 3 kya a few pastoral populations have gained the ability to digest milk, which provides evidence of yet another example of ongoing evolution in human population since the time of their origins. Sarah Tishkoff has been studying this phenomenon of recent lactose toleranceContinue reading “Evolution of Lactose Tolerance in Africa”

How diet shaped human evolution

Anyone who is keenly interested in having a better understanding of why we eat what we eat as human beings should take an hour or so to watch this introductory talk given by anthropologist Teresa Steele, of UC Davis, given at the California Academy of Sciences on the topic of evolution of the human diet. I foundContinue reading “How diet shaped human evolution”

Food sharing: Hunter-gatherer "health insurance"

Kim Hill By pure chance (involving a failed attempt to go hiking and a speeding ticket), I found myself at a talk given by anthropologist Kim Hill, speaking on the “Emergence of Human Uniqueness: Characteristics Underlying Behavioral Modernity.” I previously wrote an article for Scientific American on an Arizona State University workshop that Hill headedContinue reading “Food sharing: Hunter-gatherer "health insurance"”