Morphology and Diet

Category archives for Morphology and Diet

The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals ,by Donald R. Prothero, is the first extinct animal book that you, dear reader, are going to give to someone for the holidays. This book is an interesting idea. Never mind the field guide part for a moment. This isn’t really set up like a field guide, though…

Sea snakes are true snakes that look a little like eels because of their horizontally flattened rudder-like tails, and they spend a lot of time…for most species, their entire lives…in the ocean. Only one species seems to be able to move on land at all. They seem to all be venomous, some extremely so. They…

Two chimps walked into a bar …

… and made a real mess of the place when one of them spotted the jar of pickles on the counter. They fought over it until one of them had almost all the pickles and the other one had a number of bruises and a tiny fragment of one pickle that the other chimp dropped…

There is a new paper, just coming out in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that explores the idea that humans have undergone an increased rate of evolution over the last several tens of thousands of years. By an increased rate of evolution, the authors mean an increased rate of adaptive change in the…

Size and Scaling in Hominid Evolution

Stephen Jay Gould and David Pilbeam wrote a paper in 1974 that was shown ten years later to be so totally wrong in its conclusions that it has fallen into an obscurity not usually linked to either Gould or Pilbeam. However, they were actually right in ways that they could not have anticipated. And even…

There is a new paper out suggesting that the Flores hominids, known as Hobbits, were “human endemic cretins.” From the abstract of this paper: … We hypothesize that these individuals are myxoedematous endemic (ME) cretins, part of an inland population of (mostly unaffected) Homo sapiens. ME cretins are born without a functioning thyroid; their congenital…

The Potato and Human Evolution

Fallback foods are the foods that an organism eats when it can’t find the good stuff. It has been suggested that adaptive changes in fallback food strategies can leave a more distinct mark on the morphology of an organism, including in the fossil record, than changes in preferred food strategies. This assertion is based on…

Comparing living chimpanzees to living humans, in reference to the species that gave rise to these two closely related species, is one way to frame questions about the evolution of each species.

Homo floresiensis more widely known as the “Hobbit,” may have had arms that were very different from those of modern humans. A paper in the current issue of the Journal of Human Evolution explores the anatomy of H. floresiensis. To explore this we first have to understand the concept of “Humeral torsion.” Humeral torsion is…

Life history trade-offs and human pygmies

Every few years a paper comes out “explaining” short stature in one or more Pygmy groups. Most of the time the new work ads new information and new ideas but fails to be convincing. This is the case with the recent PNAS paper by Migliano et al. From the abstract: