Monthly Archives: March 2013

First love child of human, Neanderthal believed found


First love child of human, Neanderthal believed found

By Jennifer Viegas
Discover News

The skeletal remains of an individual living in northern Italy 40,000-30,000 years ago are believed to be that of a human/Neanderthal hybrid, according to a paper in PLoS ONE.

If further analysis proves the theory correct, the remains belonged to the first known such hybrid, providing direct evidence that humans and Neanderthals interbred. Prior genetic research determined the DNA of people with European and Asian ancestry is 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal.

The present study focuses on the individual’s jaw, which was unearthed at a rock-shelter called Riparo di Mezzena in the Monti Lessini region of Italy. Both Neanderthals and modern humans inhabited Europe at the time.

PHOTOS: Faces of Our Ancestors

“From the morphology of the lower jaw, the face of the Mezzena individual would have looked somehow intermediate between classic Neanderthals, who had a rather receding lower jaw (no chin), and the modern humans, who present a projecting lower jaw with a strongly developed chin,” co-author Silvana Condemi, an anthropologist, told Discovery News.

Condemi is the CNRS research director at the University of Ai-Marseille. She and her colleagues studied the remains via DNA analysis and 3-D imaging. They then compared those results with the same features from Homo sapiens.

The genetic analysis shows that the individual’s mitochondrial DNA is Neanderthal. Since this DNA is transmitted from a mother to her child, the researchers conclude that it was a “female Neanderthal who mated with male Homo sapiens.”

NEWS: Neanderthals Lacked Social Skills

By the time modern humans arrived in the area, the Neanderthals had already established their own culture, Mousterian, which lasted some 200,000 years. Numerous flint tools, such as axes and spear points, have been associated with the Mousterian. The artifacts are typically found in rock shelters, such as the Riparo di Mezzena, and caves throughout Europe.

The researchers found that, although the hybridization between the two hominid species likely took place, the Neanderthals continued to uphold their own cultural traditions.

That’s an intriguing clue, because it suggests that the two populations did not simply meet, mate and merge into a single group.

NEWS: Neanderthals Died Out Earlier Than Thought 

As Condemi and her colleagues wrote, the mandible supports the theory of “a slow process of replacement of Neanderthals by the invading modern human populations, as well as additional evidence of the upholding of the Neanderthals’ cultural identity.”

Prior fossil finds indicate that modern humans were living in a southern Italy cave as early as 45,000 years ago. Modern humans and Neanderthals therefore lived in roughly the same regions for thousands of years, but the new human arrivals, from the Neanderthal perspective, might not have been welcome, and for good reason. The research team hints that the modern humans may have raped female Neanderthals, bringing to mind modern cases of “ethnic cleansing.”

Ian Tattersall is one of the world’s leading experts on Neanderthals and the human fossil record. He is a paleoanthropologist and a curator emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History.

Tattersall told Discovery News that the hypothesis, presented in the new paper, “is very intriguing and one that invites more research.”

Neanderthal culture and purebred Neanderthals all died out 35,000-30,000 years ago.

How Color Can Confuse Consumers Into Buying Junk Food


How Color Can Confuse Consumers Into Buying Junk Food

The food industry doesn’t want you to have simplified food labels—so they’re using every trick in the book to keep you uninformed.
March 21, 2013
How Color Can Confuse Consumers Into Buying Junk Food

Is that a food label or hieroglyphics? (Photo: Getty Images). 

There’s a kind of turf war going on over the real estate that is the front of the box of your breakfast cereal. And your snack crackers. And your candy bars. Really, over what you see when you first look at pretty much any packaged food head on.
If (like me) you’re a get-in-and-get-out sort of supermarket shopper, you may not have even noticed the neat little labels that have started appearing on the front of lots of foods. They seem utterly benign, taking nutrition info that’s typically relegated to the back or side of the package and bringing it up front: how many calories per serving, say, how much saturated fat, sodium and sugar—maybe how much calcium, iron or fiber, too.
But, as they say, the devil is in the details.
Despite calls by public health advocates and nutrition experts for more consumer-friendly labels (in the face of an American obesity epidemic where lots of people seem to think Froot Loops constitute a serving of fruit), the Food and Drug Administration has been moving at a snail’s pace toward regulation of “front-of-package” (FOP) labels.

Both Mark Bittman and Marion Nestle (a.k.a. perpetual thorns in the side of big food makers) have called for radical new labeling, with Bittman proposing a super easy-to-read label last fall in The New York Times that would, in a glance, communicate to consumers how nutritious a product is, as well as how natural and its social/environmental impact. The label is color coded like a traffic light: red, yellow, green. (No real guessing about the meaning of those colors.)
And, you know, the likelihood of food makers going for Bittman’s scheme is about the same as Cap’n Crunch being named to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
A couple years ago, the Institutes of Medicine recommended that the FDA allow just four items on FOP labels: calories, saturated and trans fats, sodium and sugars. Then the food industry jumped in with its own “Facts Up Front” labeling plan.
You still get the four, but food makers then can add whatever they think you might like to hear, too. You pause because you see a product has, say, 500 mg of sodium per serving—but then you look to the right and see it has 10 percent of the daily value of calcium, so you toss it in your cart.
Critics of these relatively new labels say they confuse consumers—and now, it seems, it’s not just what the labels say that might be arguably deceptive. It’s what color they are.
Remember Bittman’s red, yellow and green proposal. Easy to understand, right? But what if there were no red or yellow. What if everything was just good, “all-natural,” “green-means-go” green?
As The Atlantic reports, Cornell researcher Jonathon Schuldt put FOP labels to the test. He asked a group of almost a hundred students to imagine themselves hungry and standing in line in the grocery store, then showed them one of two pictures of a candy bar. The images were the same, except the FOP calorie label (which said the candy bar was 250 calories) was colored either red or green.
We like to think we’re smart enough to outwit those wily marketers, but the joke may be on us, as Schuldt’s simple test reveals. Participants in the study were more likely to think the candy bar—the same darn candy bar—with the green label was healthier than the one with the red label.
Schuldt devised a similar experiment online, asking participants to rate how much they took the idea of healthiness into account when deciding what food to buy, then showing them candy bars with either green or white nutrition labels. Participants who had said healthiness was important to them ranked the candy bars with white labels as less healthy—but not the green-labeled candy bars.
Kermit was wrong: It may be too easy being green.

“Down the Burning Ropes”- James Vincent McMorrow


“Down the Burning Ropes”- James Vincent McMorrow

When the hills let go
Slowly fade into the water like some ancient lover
On a ship filled with ghosts
It’s something to behold

When the paper thin girls
With twisting little braids in their hair,
They take off their coats and throw
Pebbles and stones from the side of the boat,
Crying out
The stones they float, the stones they float
Oh my God, the stones they float, the stones they float

Down the burning ropes
Past the places where the steal beams meet concrete skies
You make your bed under the moonlight
I think it’s time we said goodbye

Cause nothing moves in the warm air
And words that once would cut like a knife,
They just hang in the cloud and you’re
Pushed by the lord,
But you’re pulled by the crowds and
You’re overboard, you’re overboard
Oh my God, she’s overboard

My love she’s overboard
She’s overboard
My love she’s over board

Not a shell unbroken
In the valley where my heartache and the timbers lay
It’s not the time to be hanging around here
You know what some might say

That people get too reckless
That even with the simplest of crimes
They leave, blood behind,
As I clean the knife for the very last time
I think she knows, I think she knows
Oh my God, I think she knows

I think she knows

8 Studies That Debunk Male Gender Stereotypes


Nature didn’t really design men to be especially rational, aggressive, or insensitive. A lot of that has to do with nurture.

You hear conservatives say it all the time: men should ‘naturally’ be more rational and less sensitive, whereas women’s ‘natural’ brain structures wire them for language and empathy.

You hear conservatives say it all the time: men should 'naturally' be more rational and less sensitive, whereas women's 'natural' brain structures wire them for language and empathy.

But what if these differences aren’t so cut and dry (or even that drastic)? Consider some of these studies:

1. Between infancy and first grade, boys express their emotions more passionately than girls.

Between infancy and first grade, boys express their emotions more passionately than girls.

Boys are taught to keep a stiff upper lip, but Harvard med school researchers found that young boys smiled, cried, and laughed more to researchers than girls did. By elementary school, boys become less likely to express sadness or distress, perhaps because of the influence of parenting and culture.

2. Worldwide, boys aren’t any better at math than girls.

Worldwide, boys aren't any better at math than girls.

Math scores in 86 countries show that K-12 boys don’t significantly do better at math than girls, either in general or at elite levels. And the “math gap” in the US has been closing over time. In the 1970s, the ratio of boys to girls with high math cores SATs was 13:1. By the 1990s, it was 3:1.

3. Young men are more emotionally vulnerable to troubles in their relationships than young women are.

8 Studies That Debunk Male Gender Stereotypes

Florida State researchers found that men between the ages of 18 and 23 were much more likely be emotionally affected by relationship woes than women. The study authors wrote, “for young men, their romantic partners are often their primary source of intimacy,” whereas women feel more encouraged to confide deeply with family and friends. Contrary to what every frat joke tells you, men aren’t just naturally detached.

I mean, just listen to Usher here. Or actually, any guy band at all.

4. Men are less rational investors than women.

Men are less rational investors than women.

A study of 35,000 households in MIT’s Journal of Economics found that men traded stocks with irrational confidence in their judgment. Single men traded less rationally than married men, and married men traded less rationally than single women.

5. Men aren’t worse than women at reading emotional cues.

Men aren't worse than women at reading emotional cues.

When asked to correctly identify emotions of people in video clips, men were no less capable of reading nuances in emotions than women were. (Interestingly, parents were much better emotional detectives than non-parents.) So men can read moods, but whether they do anything about this emotional information may be a matter of cultural upbringing, which can change.

6. Men monitor their partners more than women.

Men monitor their partners more than women.

Women are always been portrayed as jealous, smothering, overly attached girlfriends and wives, but statistics from McAfee show that men are more likely to obsessively check in on their partners online.

7. Men are four times as likely as women to commit suicide after divorce.

Men are four times as likely as women to commit suicide after divorce.

The suicide risk for men doubles after divorce, but divorced women aren’t more likely to commit suicide than single or married women. The suicide risk of men is already twice as high among men, so that means men are four times as likely to end their lives after the breakup of a marriage.

8. In anonymous settings, men aren’t more aggressive than women.

In anonymous settings, men aren't more aggressive than women.

Yes, men are encouraged (and praised for) being physically and socially aggressive, but what happens when you remove societal expectations? In one experiment, men and women were told to win a video game by dropping bombs on others. Playing together in the same room, women dropped fewer bombs than men. But when playing anonymously, women dropped more bombs and sought out other players more aggressively than men did.

And finally…

And finally...

120% of all cosmic surveys show that men and women should just enjoy whatever flavor of Pocky they want. Yes, men still process spatial information faster, and girls still outperform boys in reading comprehension, but ‘nature’ does not set ideals for behavior – people do.

Flout all the silly rules and binaries. They harm everyone.