From an evolutionary standpoint, homosexuality is a trait that should not develop and persist in the face of natural selection. Yet it exists in most cultures, among men and women. Analyses have noted that homosexuality can run in families, leading researchers to hypothesize a genetic underpinning of sexual preference but no gene or group of genes for homosexuality have been found, despite numerous studies searching for a genetic connection.
Neuroscientists think they have some insight for evolutionary biologists into how humans, and other mammals, have evolved to have intelligence. They say they have identified the moment in history when the genes that enabled us to think and reason evolved.
This point 500 million years ago provided our ability to learn complex skills, analyze situations and have flexibility in the way in which we think, says Professor Seth Grant of the University of Edinburgh, who led the research - "One of the greatest scientific problems is to explain how intelligence and complex behaviours arose during evolution."
What happens when the modern evolutionary theory of punctuated equilibrium collides with the older theory of mosaic evolution? That's the issue addressed by paleobiologists Melanie J Hopkins at the Museum fuer Naturkunde Berlin and Scott Lidgard at the Field Museum in Chicago.
Genetic blending between Europeans and Asians occurred over 2,000 years ago in the Altai region of Mongolia, according to a new analysis. The remains of ancient Scythian warriors indicate that this blending was not due to an eastward migration of Europeans, but to a demographic expansion of local Central Asian populations and that was due to the technological improvements the Scythian culture brought with them.
The Scythians were an Indo-European people dedicated to nomadic pasturing and horse breeding. They crossed the Eurasian steppes from the Caspian Sea until reaching the Altai Mountains during the 2nd and 7th century BCE. We know about them primarily due to ancient texts written by the Greek historian Herodotus.
Using the family tree linking every known bird species, scientists now say that birds appear to be accelerating their rate of evolution. Most people did not predict that.
They spent five years creating their tree, using millions of years worth of fossil data stretching back to Dinosaurs. They then mapped where on Earth and when in history birds' diversification took place. Their paper in Nature contains results of how 9,993 bird species currently alive globally made it to where they are today. Based on previous studies, the researchers expected to see bird speciation slowing down, but they instead found that birds' speciation rate is increasing, not declining.
Kids driving you crazy? Most parents don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call grandma when they need a hand in caring for their children. Grandparents are often an invaluable resource when it comes to childrearing, and can be a lifesaver for frazzled parents everywhere.
A study led by Kristen Hawkes with mathematical biologist Peter Kim found that in a computer simulation of a population of chimpanzees the contribution of grandmothers in caring for infants and children increased the average lifespan by almost 25 years. Their findings ultimately support the ‘grandmother hypothesis’, which attempts to explain why humans survive long after their childbearing years have passed, a quality which is somewhat unique to humans.
Researchers have discovered that females with multiple sexual partners can be more fertile than those that are monogamous, and this because of an “overproduction” of sons. The study, published as a provisional article but already one of the most accessed in BCM Evolutionary Biology, helps to explain a puzzle haunting evolutionary biologist for decades: why so many females chase multiple sexual partners in a mating season, when this is costly and dangerous, and one is enough to fertilize all her eggs.
“Anatomically modern humans” (AMH), or the first subspecies which bore the closest resemblance to modern humans, lived in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago (the exact time frame is a point of contention for most archaelogists, but we'll stick with this one). AMH inhabited a relatively small region of Africa until somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000 years ago, when our ancestors suddenly became restless and began to venture out into surrounding areas, eventually reaching Europe and Asia 40,000 years ago.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The idea that we are already inside a simulation is in a sense true anyway (if we define “simulation” as the possibility of being described as emergent from a computational substrate). Nick Bostrom, the director of Oxford University’s 'Future of Humanity Institute', and others became famous with such ideas, see Simulation Hypothesis on Wikipedia.
The holographic universe: A “simulation” anyway!
"Heritability" is a term used in many articles and through much of the scientific literature and invariably promotes the idea that it relates specifically to inherited traits. As a result, it is often assumed that the heritability of a particular trait relates to how much influence genetics has on the trait manifesting in an individual.
However, that isn't what it means.
Heritability attempts to address the relationship between nature (genetics) and nurture (environment), so that as each changes, the variation between individuals within a population can be estimated based on these influences. In this context, "environment" simply represents everything external to the genome that could effect expression.