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Friday, February 23, 2007

Chimps use spears!

By popular demand:
Female and juvenile chimps in a certain troop have figured out how to hunt bush-babies with spears. They will shape a stick and sharpen it with their teeth, and then stab the stick into holes they know bush-babies live in. If the stick comes back bloody...score!
A)This is incredible!
B)Reseachers bring up the interesting point that it's females and juveniles, not typically hunters, that are doing this practice. One theory is because they weren't getting enough meat from the males, so they went out and got their own.
C)Ooh, ooh, I just thought of a horrible headline: Female Chimps Empower Themselves! Yay Chimp feminism!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Gettin' schooled

I stumbled upon THE exact/perfect Master's program that I want to/should have applied to, the only major problem being it's in London: But then, staying close to home is probably better for getting a job right out of school, which is important.

A study was released recently that says small schools are better for students than big schools, which is a total "DUH!" to me, but I'm glad some bigwigs are saying it too. Just think, I might be a bigwig someday too! The horror! ;)

Friday, February 9, 2007

Activists the world over

Activists in Washington State are trying to pass an initiative that would annul weddings in Washington after three years if no offspring had been produced (it is in reference to arguments made by the state supreme court):
They acknowledge it's silly, and even some gay activist groups have said they won't sign the petition, but even as a straight person who will probably someday get married and have kids, it's damned amusing.

Evangelical Churchies in Kenya are protesting against a skeleton uncovered by Richard Leakey in the 80's, who is claimed to be the most complete prehistoric skeleton ever found, and it's release to the public this month BECAUSE...they think it would disprove the church on creationism:

Jeez, these people are driving me CRAZY! "No, don't release hard science, because it'll hurt our poor little fragile egos that have to be constantly fluffed by all our adoring fans, um, I mean worshippers, um, I mean GOD's worshippers. It is God's will we close our ears and eyes to actually see how the earth is put together!" Argghhdsdlafj! I don't believe in God, but did it every occur to these people that, assuming there was a god, he might have made the earth a little bit differently than some pompous humans living 1000 years ago wrote it down? Or whenever the first written versions of the Bible came out.

*takes a few deep breaths to regain composure*

In other news, refugees are seeking asylum in Mauritania:
Last I heard Spain finally talked Mauritania into letting them dock. My first thought was: why in the world would you want to seek refuge in Mauritania? They say most of the refugees are from Pakistan or India, and unless they're Muslim it's going to get real awkward real fast. And after listening to Tarn's stories of the place, why aren't they going anywhere else on the West Coast of Africa? I mean, yes, they were trying to get to Europe first, but why would anyone pick Mauritania as their second choice?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Love is in the air

For you "for-all-eternity" style romantics out there, archaeologists found a pair of 5000-year-old skeletons who had been buried together in a hug

And finally, in a "the love is gone" feeling, Snickers has pulled their superbowl ad because it was deemed homophobic (which it was), but GM has not pulled its suicidal robot ad, which I and others have dubbed in really, really bad taste, and really callous to people who have dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts, and just all around inappropriate.

Monday, February 5, 2007

First, researchers have discovered primate fossils in Yellowstone National Park that date back to way before the first undisputed primate (55 million years ago):

I was surprised that they found this in North America, but then I only know about human migrations, but honestly I have no idea where they’ve found other primate fossils, and they have done research that shows horses actually developed in North America and then moved into Europe and Asia, so migration among the continents seems common enough.

On to humans:
This article talks about how Indian women are “renting” their wombs to infertile couples who can get a better price in India (up to $5000, versus $10,000 in the U.S.):,,0,4100387.story?coll=la-home-headlines
These articles talk about the cultural implications, how it’s mostly lower-middle-class wives, are rich countries taking advantage of people in need, etc., which is all important, but my first thought was about the biology of it all.
More and more research is showing that the lifelong health and nutrition of the mother have a big effect on the fetus. I don’t mean to sound negative, but India is a poor country (hence why $5000 goes such a long way). The country doesn’t have a very good health care system, a lot of Indians probably don’t have very good nutrition, and living in a big Indian city like Mumbai or New Delhi is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day! They said the majority of these women are living in Anand, which is India’s milk production capital according to Reuters, so the Anand women are possibly healthier overall because of easy access to the milk and they are possibly more prosperous than some other cities, but, bear with me here, I still think it fairly possible that by outsourcing fetus-growth services to a developing nation would result in a lesser-quality product (i.e. baby), as well as putting women at a greater risk for illness and death from the stress of carrying an extra child to term (all these surrogates already have at least one surviving child).
I have spent time in India, and have just spent months writing an article on entrepreneurship in India, and I know that in some ways India is ahead of the game, but in some ways they’re really far behind.
I could be delving into this way too much and I should also point out that so many U.S. women spend their lives drinking Coca-cola and eating McDonald’s, and their kids come out healthy (although they may not stay that way eating that crap), but it just made me stop and think.
Disclaimer: I am also not a mother, medical doctor, or even biological anthropologist, just your average cultural anthropologist who lives with an evolutionary biologist and in a community of hippies that talk about Chakras and don’t drink caffeine while pregnant (although doctors just recently decided a pregnant woman can drink up to three cups of coffee a day without potentially harming the fetus. Just shows that medicine isn’t exact).

Thursday, February 1, 2007

If only women here knew it was that easy

On Orango Island, Guinea-Bissau, the women propose marriage to the man by serving them fish, and the men are culturally bound to accept:

I know a couple of women who would have done this to their boyfriends (or now husbands) if that actually worked in the U.S. Lucky for Rafe I am not interested in getting married anytime soon, and red palm oil is hard to find around here. ;)