Why do so many people hate winter?

It turns out that indigenous Arctic groups, and men are more tolerant of cold weather (and me… I am too).

So as you contemplate the cold weather outside and wonder: oh god, oh god why me, read about exactly why here!

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Where did language come from?

There is research occurring right now on the cutting-edge intersection of evolutionary biology, experimental archaeology, neuroscience, and linguistics. And it all centers around a surprisingly simple question: where does language come from?

And the latest research argues that it revolves around our ancestors’ hard-earned ability to produce complex tools.

Want to know these two ideas are related? Read more here!

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How Not To Talk About Race And Genetics

“In his newly published book Who We Are and How We Got Here, geneticist David Reich engages with the complex and often fraught intersections of genetics with our understandings of human differences — most prominently, race.

He admirably challenges misrepresentations about race and genetics made by the likes of former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade and Nobel Laureate James Watson. As an eminent scientist, Reich clearly has experience with the genetics side of this relationship. But his skillfulness with ancient and contemporary DNA should not be confused with a mastery of the cultural, political, and biological meanings of human groups.

As a group of 67 scholars from disciplines ranging across the natural sciences, medical and population health sciences, social sciences, law, and humanities, we would like to make it clear that Reich’s understanding of “race” — most recently in a Times column warning that “it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races’” — is seriously flawed.”

Read about it here.

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The Origin of Modern Languages

“Five thousand years ago nomadic horseback riders from the Ukrainian steppe charged through Europe and parts of Asia. They brought with them a language that is the root of many of those spoken today—including English, Spanish, Hindi, Russian and Persian. That is the most widely accepted explanation for the origin of this ancient tongue, termed Proto-Indo-European (PIE). Recent genetic findings confirm this hypothesis but also raise questions about how the prehistoric language evolved and spread.”

Want to know more? Read about it here!

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How The Black Death Caused Medieval Women To Shrink

The Black Death (the OG “plague”) killed a large proportion of the population of Europe in the 14th century (30%!). But even after it had run it’s course it left long lasting and interesting effects on the population left behind.

People were on average healthier after the Black Death passed through. And for some reason, women were smaller. What’s interesting is these two factors might be correlated.

What does being healthier have to do with being shorter? Read about it here!

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CRISPR just got really real

The great things about CRISPR is its potential do all kinds of interesting things! The scary part about CRISPR is its ability to mutate human embryos and the slippery slope to designer babies. That last part might be an exaggeration… but given that scientists just removed a dangerous mutation from human embryos…. its not too far off.

You can read about it all over the place, but I particularly like this NY Times article.

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Embryos before and after editing.

The field of human evolution is crazy right now

I’ve been avoiding posting about this for weeks. Every time I go to write a post, I find a new article explaining how everything we know might actually be wrong.

Which is an alarming pace for any field to be moving, but in a field with such a paucity of resources, it’s nothing short of awesome.

Want to know what’s currently being shaken up in the field of human evolution?

Read about it here!

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