x-rays & age

In the LA Times there’s a story about using X-rays of bones to estimate people’s age. The reporter’s talking about the potential for this technique to obtain fairly accurate ages for those tiny, brilliant, and possibly under-age Chinese gymnasts from the 2008 Olympics. But the underlying anatomical and developmental data have been applied to some equally problematic, but […]

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brain food

Your brain is an energy-hungry organ – even when you’re resting, it can use up to 25% of available energy (chimp brains use about 8%: Gibbons, 2007). In other words, the running costs of a large brain are quite high. And yet humans, with their large brains, take in about the same number of calories […]

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mtDNA & neandertal/sapiens relationships

When I was at high school, mumblety-mumble years ago, the accepted wisdom was that modern humans and Neandertals were sub-species in the same genus: Homo sapiens sapiens and H. sapiens neandertalensis. That changed, to the view that they were probably separate species, with analyses of new fossil finds. More recently, molecular biology techniques have enabled researchers to compare sapiens & […]

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a question for you…

Here's a question for you. In 2006 scientists announced the discovery of a new hominin fossil: a juvenile Australopithecus afarensis. The media quickly dubbed it "Lucy's child" (well, it was a catchy name, even though the underlying implied relationship had no evidence to support it!). So, tell me, how could scientists be sure that this individual was an […]

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