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Republican Losers Have Lower Testosterone

In a new understanding of the term power grab, researchers have shown that the supporters of a political candidate literally have their power taken from them after they lose an election. In a new study by Steven J. Stanton and colleagues in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, researchers asked 163 Republican and Democratic voters (57…

Female chimpanzee with her infant requests meat after a successful hunt. Image: David Bygott / Tree of Life Web Project Owen Lovejoy’s recent paper about Ardipithecus ramidus and human origins (see my detailed critique here) bases its argument on the male provisioning observed in chimpanzees. However, what went unacknowledged in his theory was the inherent…

Grand evolutionary dramas about human origins capture our imagination and the stories provide context as to how we view ourselves. They are the scientific version of creation myths. However, unlike Adam and Eve being fashioned in the garden or humanity being vomited up by the giant Mbombo (as the Bakuba people of Congo believed), scientific…

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.…

Heracles battles Death for generosity’s sake / Frederic Lord Leighton (1869-71) Whereas great scientific theories stand the test of time when they accurately predict the natural world through repeated empirical trials, great literature transcends the ages when it speaks to universal qualities of human experience. Such inspirational works can also, without the authors realizing at…

Bonobos “Red in Tooth and Claw”

As part of the series of reposts leading up to my review of Frans de Waal’s newest book The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society I present the third of three pieces that appeared after Ian Parker’s 2007 article “Swingers” appeared in The New Yorker. In my earlier pieces “Bonobo (Re)Visions” as…

Unicolonial ants, such as these Argentine ants (Linepithema humile), are genetically unrelated but will cooperate to defeat a much larger adversary. Source: Alex Wild / Live Science It has been a mainstay of evolutionary theory since the 1970s. Natural selection acts purely on the level of the individual and any cooperation observed between organisms merely…

The Bonding Brain

Primate sociality is linked to brain networks for pair bonds. Social conservatives are fond of linking morality with monogamy and will be quick to condemn the moral crimes of adulterous felatio while ignoring the moral crimes of cutting social programs for poor mothers. However, in a bizarre twist, research suggests that morality and monogamy are…

Adoption in Non-Human Primates

How genes for altruism can benefit strangers as well as kin The generosity of adoption has long been considered a unique human hallmark. Image: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors For decades it was conventional dogma that humans were the only species that used tools. “Man the Toolmaker” was our celebrated designation. The hominin fossil Homo habilis…

Greenpeace banner deployed on Mt. Rushmore. Image: S.J. Carrera / Greenpeace There have been few more passionate and prescient figures in the history of science than the Russian naturalist and political radical Peter Kropotkin. Upon the confirmation of his geological research that demonstrated an ancient ice sheet had once extended across the Russian landscape, this…