Everyone’s heard of Harrison Ford’s hero film character, Indiana Jones. Jones is the history expert, defeater of bad guys, and romancer of women. And, while I, like many others, love watching Indiana Jones vanquish evil and save the day, he really, really is a terrible anthropologist.
It’s Thanksgiving. Your mom and dad are debating the art of properly basting a turkey, while grandma is showing you and the rest of the grandkids your family tree. By now, you’ve noticed how long and complicated your tree is. Along with parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, there are second cousins, great aunts, great grand nieces, etc. And, while you may have never known these people directly, all are in some way related to your family and yourself. But what about the family tree that extends beyond your ancestral family tree?
Many of us have wondered about what exactly we are eating. Typically, we can distinguish between what is good or bad nutritionally for us, and what tastes good or bad. And, we recognize that even though flaming hot Cheetos are bad for us, we may eat them anyway because they taste good. But, while we can read the nutrition fact labels on the packages of many foods, informing us of the quantities of calories, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, etc. these don’t explain why these are good or bad for us. There are three main forms of macronutrients: carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins, all of which are incredibly important to our overall health, nutrition, and evolution.
Have you ever found yourself in the paint aisle, staring wordlessly at the seemingly endless array of color fusion? I inevitably find myself staring at those swatches and wondering how on earth there can be hundreds of variations of yellow. Perhaps, I think, I'm just an unrefined savage when it comes to discerning paint color, or perhaps the colors really aren’t that different and it’s simply a trick presented by paint advertisers. However, upon closer inspection, I see the vague tinges of shade difference. So, when presented with such an array of colors and all the designating names categorizing them, I realize that we humans have a deep understanding of color variation. This ability to see color has allowed us to note the vast diversity of skin color among our own species.
The air is hot and dry, the ground dusty. All around young graduate students are cautiously sweeping the dirt away in hopes of finding hominin fossil fragments and quenching their thirst for fame and knowledge. They are paleoanthropologists. Individuals who strive to better understand and catalog human ancestry.
Often when we watch movies, we root for the superhero and despise the supervillain. After all, why would we want Dr. Evil and Mr. Bigglesworth to successfully dominate the world by turning the moon into a death star? His success offers no benefit to anyone other than himself and his cohort of miscreants. If he … Continue reading Supervillain or Superhero? The effects of autosomal recessive disorders on human evolution
Sitting on a park bench one day, you notice a Great Dane and Chihuahua happily sniffing and circling each other in mutual greeting. Staring, you notice how different they are and wonder how it is even possible that they are still part of the same species. This difference you see is known as 'variation'.