The Primate Diaries

Archives for October, 2009

There may need to be a significant revision in the recent description of one of humanity’s oldest ancestors. Ardipithecus ramidus (or “Ardi” for short), the 4.4 million year old hominid fossil discovery, has been a godsend to paleoanthropologists (pun intended). But one of the key researchers has made what could be a serious error in…

I Want To Hear From You

The Primate Diaries will have been at its new home here at ScienceBlogs for three months this coming Halloween. I know there are a considerable number of regular readers but from where I sit you’re all a faceless mob, sitting invisibly out there in the impenetrable dark. I’d like to turn on the houselights for…

In my earlier post I discussed the “Grandmother Hypothesis” as an explanation for human reproductive senescence, or menopause. A problem arises in understanding why women forgo one-third (and sometimes as much as one-half) of their reproductive lives, a condition unique in the natural world. Could this just be a neutral mutation, an artifact of longer…

1984 Meets the Age of O’Reilly

This, of course, refers to the famous remarks (almost four days old now) in which Richard Dawkins’ suggestion that there be a separation of church and state in public schools was shouted down by O’Reilly’s claim that he was imposing fascism. Poor Winston Smith. When Orwell wrote his novel there was only a three minute…

Domestic Violence Through a Child’s Eyes

“Babul” performed by Shubha Mudgal is a gorgeously produced music video that emphasizes the heartbreak of female domestic violence as seen through the eyes of a child. According to Amnesty International: In this video about female domestic abuse, a child walks through a party in which all the adult couples seem happy as they socialize.…

Why Do Women Experience Menopause?

Whether they’re referred to as hot flashes, power surges or personal summers, the experience of menopause is not fun. But could it be the result of human evolution? One of the most fascinating areas of research in evolutionary studies is the question of reproductive senescence. Why do women go through menopause? Chimpanzees and bonobos, our…

Sell the Vatican, Feed the World

You know, it could work. Consider the Vatican’s net worth as reported by Paul Velelli in the London Independent:

In the classic film Casablanca, the drama hinges on Ilsa’s choice between two men: her kind and supportive husband or her rugged and passionate ex-lover. In a moment of abandon, Ilsa returns to her lover’s arms only to later change her mind and choose the more stable life she would have with her long-term partner.…

Chicago Can Still Host the Silly Olympics

Bidding opens soon and I think the chances are good that we could nail this one. Top contenders so far are Azerbaijan and Sierra Leone. Chicago has some issues with government corruption and public safety, which is why it’s currently in third place. The Silly Olympics From Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl

In Aztec cosmology, Venus was associated with the god Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli (Nahuatl for “Lord of the Dawn”). In the mythic tale Legend of the Suns, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli attempted to shoot the sun with an arrow, but he missed and shot himself instead. The Aztecs had a sophisticated science of astronomy that focused on the movements of Venus…