DID EATING FAT OUT OF BONES GIVE US OUR BIG BRAINS?

Long before human ancestors began hunting large mammals for meat, a fatty diet provided them with the nutrition to develop bigger brains, a new paper argues.

The paper suggests that our early ancestors acquired a taste for fat by eating marrow scavenged from the skeletal remains of large animals that other predators killed and ate. The argument challenges the widely held view among anthropologists that eating meat was the critical factor in setting the stage for the evolution of humans.

Leer Más







The Evolution of Anxiety: Why We Worry and What to Do About It

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are a giraffe.

You live on the grasslands of the African savannah. You have a neck that is 7 feet long (2.1 meters). Every now and then, you spot a group of humans driving around on a safari taking pictures of you.

YOU MIGHT LIKE

8 Fast Ways to Calm Down When You’re Anxious AFREAD

But it’s not just your neck and their cameras that separate you from the humans. Perhaps the biggest difference between you and your giraffe friends and the humans taking your picture is that nearly every decision you make provides an immediate benefit to your life.

  • When you are hungry, you walk over and munch on a tree.
  • When a storm rolls across the plains, you take shelter under the brush.
  • When you spot a lion stalking you and your friends, you run away.

On any given day, most of your choices as a giraffe—like what to eat or where to sleep or when to avoid a predator—make an immediate impact on your life. You live in what researchers call an “immediate-return environment,” because your actions deliver immediate benefits. Your life is strongly oriented toward the present moment.

Leer Más



Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

download

ere it was, sitting on the mantelpiece, staring at her with hollow eyes and a naked grin. She could not stop staring back. It looked distinctly like the fossilized skull of an extinct baboon. That was the sort of thing Josephine Salmons was likely to know. At the time — 1924 — she was one of the only female students of anatomy attending the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. On this particular day she was visiting her friend Pat Izod, whose father managed a quarry company that had been excavating limestone near the town of Taung. Workers had unearthed numerous fossils during the excavation, and the Izods had kept this one as a memento. Salmons brought news of the skull to her professor, Raymond Dart, an anthropologist with a particular interest in the brain. He was incredulous. Very few primate fossils had been uncovered this far south in Africa. If the Taung site really housed such fossils, it would be an invaluable treasure trove. The next morning Salmons brought Dart the skull, and he could see that she was right: The skull was undeniably simian. Leer Más