Anthropology

There’s an idea circulating that humans are the only animal to experience sexual pleasure; that we approach sex in a way that is distinct from others. As with many questions about sex, this exposes some interesting facts about the way we discuss the subject.

On one level, the question of whether humans and non-humans experience sex in the same way is fairly simply dismissed: how would we know? We cannot know how a nonhuman experiences anything – they can’t be asked. Sex as an experiential phenomenon for non-humans is, quite simply, inaccessible. Science is obliged to propose questions that are answerable, and “how does a leopard slug experience sex?” is, at time of writing, about as unanswerable as they get.

It's naïve to pretend there are no profound genetic and epigenetic differences between the sexes. Elephant Gun Studios, CC BY-NC

Gender differences and sexual preferences are frequently a point of conversation. What produces the differences between men and women? Are they trivial or profound? Are they genetic or environmental, or both?

Wild chimpanzees in the forests of Uganda are increasingly eating clay to supplement the minerals in their diet, according to a long-term study published in PLOS ONE. The paper led by the University of Oxford describes how the researchers observed wild chimpanzees in the Budongo forest eating and drinking from clay pits and termite mounds.

The paper concludes that this change in diet may be partly due to the widespread destruction of raffia palm trees that chimps relied on for their minerals in the past. However, the main reason seems to be the chimps have recently started to boost the minerals in their diet by eating the clay which also helps them 'detox' and digest their food.


The Battle of Agincourt, a major English victory in the Hundred Years' War, will have its 600th anniversary on October 25th, 2015, but they had actually landed in August.

How big was the fleet that carried the army? Henry V’s naval fleet, used to transport troops, was much smaller than previously thought, according to a historian. 

Don't expect your social worker to ask you about your religious beliefs, even though licensed clinical social workers, who account for the largest number of clinically trained helping professionals, believe that discussions about clients' religion and spirituality can often lead to improved health and mental health, says Holly Oxhandler, Ph.D., assistant professor in Baylor University's Diana R. Garland School of Social Work.


Facebook traffic and news items tell us a lot of Americans of northern European extraction are anxious and even fearful about the prospect that White Americans will soon be a minority. A subset seems further offended by court decisions bestowing civil rights on gay people. Another subset is inflamed over removals of the Confederate battle flag from public spaces. Then there are environmental regulations that seem to snatch job opportunities from an already embattled middle class – and other kinds of federal regulation that have set some Whites on anti-government, secessionist, or survivalist paths.

Snacking is the new American pastime, acccording to the recent survey by Mintel which found that nearly all Americans (94 percent) report snacking at least once a day and 50 percent of adults snack two to three times per day.


Though drinking alcohol while pregnant is considered a cultural no-no in the United States, that is not the case for other current and former British subjects. 

Data of almost 18,000 women in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand finds that 20% all the way up to almost 80% of those questioned drank during pregnancy, and across all social strata.
The prevalence of drinking alcohol ranged from 20% to 80% in Ireland, and from 40% to 80% in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

Women who smoked were more likely to drink alcohol as well.


A milk-and ochre-based paint dates that may have been used by inhabitants to South Africa to adorn themselves or decorate stone or wood slabs has been dated to 49,000 years ago. 

While the use of ochre by early humans dates to at least 250,000 years ago in Europe and Africa, this is the first time a paint containing ochre and milk has ever been found in association with early humans in South Africa, said Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and lead study author.

The milk likely was obtained by killing lactating members of the bovid family such as buffalo, eland, kudu and impala, she said.


There is a paradox when it comes to guns in America. In states like California, gun ownership has doubled in the last 15 years while murder rates dropped substantially in that time. Today,
almost one in three US adults owns at least one gun, and owners are more likely to be white married men over the age of 55, hardly a high crime demographic.

Instead of being for crime, most guns are used for suicide - and even then fewer people commit suicide with guns in the US than do by hanging in Japan. Though Switzerland had always scoffed at the notion that guns cause crime - gun ownership is even higher there - similar results in more than one country dispel the myth that more legal guns lead to more crime or more murders.