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What's with the name?

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evolution

Your Stupid Minds! Stupid! Stupid!

Scientist Confirms Your Suspicions: Humans Really Are Getting Dumber

OK all you “those kids today!” naysayers, it appears that you’re at least partially right about the decline of humanity. A study by Stanford University geneticist Gerald Crabtree has found that humanity is getting stupider… albeit very, very gradually. Human intelligence peaked about 2,000 years ago, says Crabtree, and we’ve been on the slow train to Stupidville ever since.

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so long and thanks for all the fish

Hot Flash, Cold Ocean: Orcas Go Through Menopause, Too

Go go Granny Orca power

Humans are weird. Scientifically speaking (as well as in other ways…you saw that cat video, right?), we house a collection of evolutionary traits that are shared by few, or sometimes no, other animals on the planet. One of the weird things that we do, besides have sex that’s not about procreation at all (shared by close primate relatives like the bonobo, and dolphins, those scamps), is that our females have menopause.

And so, it turns out, do killer whales.

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All this has happened before...

Primate Fossils Found in Myanmar Link African Hominids (and Ancient Humans) to Early Simian Ancestors in Asia

It’s been a generally established in the scientific community that the earliest apes to start walking on two legs, the ancestors of humanity, used their newly acquired talent while walking around Africa. But about twenty years ago, fossils that once were the bony parts of tiny primates began to be found in China, Myanmar, and other places on the Asian continent. What it looked like was that the simian family had actually been evolving in Asia, and at some point members of it migrated to Africa and eventually gave rise to homo sapiens, but while there was fossil evidence in Asia and Africa, there wasn’t enough to show which species had migrated or when.

But a new find by a group of international researchers, who’ve labored in Myanmar for six years to find four teeth of a tiny, chipmunk-sized simian ancestor, purports to have filled that gap.

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Clever Girl

The Journals of Henrietta Darwin Show She Endured Spiritual Struggles Similar to Her Father’s

Throughout his life, Charles Darwin endured a religious struggle as he uncovered more and more about evolution in his travels and studies. As he put together his writings on evolution, he brought in his family to help him edit his work, including his daughter Henrietta Darwin (also known as Etty to the family). One of the most famous and controversial pieces of her father’s that she worked on was The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. That was Darwin’s follow-up to The Origin of the Species, and when he doubled down on his theories of evolution as it applied to humans. But Henrietta’s opinions on these matters were never really detailed, and all some people really knew of her was an unflattering portrayal in her niece’s memoir. But now, we’re finding that Henrietta went through similar struggles as her father did, and it’s painting a whole new picture of one of Darwin’s closest confidants.

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Our Adorable Past

Kids Depict Evolution In Adorable Crayon Animation

Thank you Tyler Rhodes for asking a group of children from Patrick Henry School of Science and Art to draw 100 creatures, and then animate it. Throw in some precious sound effects from the kids and you’ve got a winner! Rhodes writes on his blog, “I mainly do animations, but most any art interests me, especially if it has some connection to science or natural forms. I also like the idea of using animation as a tool, and not merely as a form of entertainment, and to perhaps, in some small way, impart knowledge to the viewer.” It may not be the most scientific depiction but Rhodes did put the drawings through six “generations” by destroying some and seeing how they would develop the next time around, so it is it’s own evolution. Read more about the project on Scientific American.

(via io9)

Consider the Following

Watch A Bunch Of Lady Scientists Discuss Evolution

Well this is an interesting new thing. It’s a video called “Let’s Talk About Evolution,” that features a wide range of female scientists, doctors and researchers. Produced by Matt Shipman, David Wescott, Jamie Vernon, Kevin Zelnio and Andrea Kuszewski, the video allows “scientists to explain, in their own words, the importance of evolution to science — and the related importance of teaching evolution in schools,” according to TheSCOPEteam’s YouTube page. “Our goal is to convey the fact that evolution is an amazing, uplifting discovery that has served as the genesis of countless advances in many fields of science. We also wanted to highlight female role models in the science community.”

Some very intelligent, thought-provoking things are said but the group is still asking for further entries to add to the series. “Keep it positive: focus on the importance and wonder of evolution, and not on divisive name-callin,” they wrote. And if you’re interested in seeing what each of these women had to say un-edited, you can watch their full submission on TheSCOPEteam’s YouTube channel.

(via tipster Matt)

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Science: “Ladies, We Still Don’t Understand Your Orgasms”

After all this time, and all this science, scientists are still unsure of the evolutionary purpose of the female orgasm. Men have orgasms so they can ejaculate and spread their seed to continue their lineage. But why do women have orgasms? What it comes down to is this: No one can really figure it out. The female orgasm might be just as vestigial as lactation in men, a byproduct of a bygone part of our biological makeup that shows how very similar we really are.

Not that we’re complaining about our useless orgasms, but still. Sometimes it’s cool to know what’s going on behind all that excitement.
Not that we’re complaining about our useless orgasms, but still. Sometimes it’s cool to know what’s going on behind all that excitement.

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this exists

Project Nim: Chimps Will Be Chimps

Genetically speaking, chimpanzees are the closest non-human relatives to actual humans, falling in the Hominidae family alongside us (humans), gorillas, and orangutans. (Thank you, Wikipedia.) But if we are so closely related, does that mean humans can raise a chimpanzee from birth as a human and it will behave as such? Or is this just a misguided attempt at what I will dub “Reverse Tarzan”? Project Nim is a documentary that explores just this and discovers: nope — still a chimp. But an interesting experiment, nonetheless.

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Olden Lore

Prehistoric Females Ventured Beyond the Cave, Left the Males Behind

Okay, technically, this concerns females before the existence of humans, but at least one species of primate that may have evolved into humans can turn one gender-based assumption on its head: females traveled the land in search of good mates, leaving the males at home. This conclusion was drawn after studying minerals in the fossils of teeth, which revealed that females of the species had ended up in a location far from their birthplace. This was most likely related to the females wanting to prevent inbreeding. Always a good idea.

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