Tag Archives: human history

Forelimb bone data predicts predator style

In their quest to understand what kind of hunter the extinct marsupial thylacine was, two paleobiologists built a dataset of forelimb bone measurements that predict the predation style of a wide variety of carnivorous mammals. They describe the data in a study posted online in the Journal of Morphology.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — At the start of their research, paleobiologists Christine Janis and Borja Figueirido simply wanted to determine the hunting style of an extinct marsupial called thylacine (also known as the “marsupial wolf” or the “Tasmanian tiger”). In the end, the Australian relic, which has a very dog-like head but both cat- and dog-like features in the skeleton, proved to be uniquely unspecialized, but what emerged from the effort is a new classification system that can capably predict the hunting behaviors of mammals from measurements of just a few forelimb bones. (more…)

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Maths predicts rise and fall of empires

Researchers have developed a new mathematical model that accurately describes the evolution of ancient empires.

The computer model can predict with 65% accuracy where and when the largest complex societies arose in human history.

The research, which suggests that intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies, is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). It was carried out by researchers from the University of Exeter in collaboration with University of Connecticut and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) in the US. (more…)

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Cool heads likely won’t prevail in a hotter, wetter world

Should climate change trigger the upsurge in heat and rainfall that scientists predict, people may face a threat just as perilous and volatile as extreme weather — each other.

Researchers from Princeton University and the University of California-Berkeley report in the journal Science that even slight spikes in temperature and precipitation have greatly increased the risk of personal violence and social upheaval throughout human history. Projected onto an Earth that is expected to warm by 2 degrees Celsius by 2050, the authors suggest that more human conflict is a likely outcome of climate change. (more…)

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The Universe in the Middle of Nowhere

The UA’s Chris Impey has taught cosmology to Tibetan Buddhist monastics in remote parts of India each summer for the past five years. With a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, he detailed his experiences in a book, “Humble Before the Void,” which likely will publish in 2014.

Chris Impey thinks back to the time he spent living on the edge of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, teaching modern cosmology to Buddhist monastics in India: “On a typical day, they would be up at 5 a.m. and have prayed for a few hours or done meditation before you even see them. And their attention is just as good at the end of a long day as at the beginning.” (more…)

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Climate and Drought Lessons from Ancient Egypt

Using Fossil Pollen to Augment Historical Records

Ancient pollen and charcoal preserved in deeply buried sediments in Egypt’s Nile Delta document the region’s ancient droughts and fires, including a huge drought 4,200 years ago associated with the demise of Egypt’s Old Kingdom, the era known as the pyramid-building time.

“Humans have a long history of having to deal with climate change,” said Christopher Bernhardt, a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey. “Along with other research, this study geologically reveals that the evolution of societies is sometimes tied to climate variability at all scales – whether decadal or millennial.” (more…)

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Prejudice Linked to Women’s Menstrual Cycle

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Women’s bias against male strangers increases when women are fertile, suggesting prejudice may be partly fueled by genetics, according to a study by Michigan State University psychology researchers.

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, appears online in Psychological Science, a major research journal.

“Our findings suggest that women’s prejudice, at least in part, may be a byproduct of their biology,” said Melissa McDonald, a doctoral student and lead author on the paper. (more…)

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Psychological Effects of BP Oil Spill Go Beyond Residents of Impacted Shorelines

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The psychological effects of the BP oil spill, the largest recorded environmental disaster in human history, extend far beyond people living around the areas of the Gulf of Mexico that were directly impacted by the spill, a new study finds.

Writing in the online edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institutes of Health, the researchers reported that even in areas that did not have oil exposure, people still experienced elevated levels of anxiety and depression and reduced ability to show resilience in difficult emotional and financial situations because of the disaster. (more…)

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Earth’s Hot Past: Prologue to Future Climate?

*Study of Earth’s deep past leads to look into the future*

 The magnitude of climate change during Earth’s deep past suggests that future temperatures may eventually rise far more than projected if society continues its pace of emitting greenhouse gases, a new analysis concludes.

The study, by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Jeffrey Kiehl, will appear as a “Perspectives” article in this week’s issue of the journal Science. (more…)

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