Male physical competition, not attraction, was central in winning mates among human ancestors, according to a Penn State anthropologist. "There is sexual competition in many species, including humans," said David A. Puts, assistant professor of biological anthropology. Many researchers have considered mate choice the main operator in human sexual selection. They thought that people's mating success was mainly determined by attractiveness; but for men, it appears that physical competition among males was more important. Puts sees humans as similar to many of the apes in using male competition to determine access to mates, the winning male choosing the women of his dreams.
Think of it as the Barry White factor: a deep voice, like the rumble of midnight thunder in July. Women love it; men try to imitate it, or failing that, put in a CD and dim the lights to create the right mood.
It wasn't just lyrics that earned Barry his nickname, the Sultan of Smooth Soul. He had talent. He had rhythm. He had... thicker vocal cords.
A renowned Penn State biological anthropologist, Kenneth Weiss, joins an international team of evolution experts in response to a basic question: How did Charles Darwin's seminal book "On the Origin of Species" influence science and society during the last 150 years? Their interviews and essays are part of a new online report Evolution of Evolution: 150 Years of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, created by the National Science Foundation. The interactive multimedia feature celebrates the author's 200th birthday on Feb. 12 and the upcoming anniversary of the book, which will be 150 years old on Nov. 24.
Genetic diseases and genetically mixed populations can help researchers understand human diversity and human origins according to a Penn State physical anthropologist. "We wanted to get to a strategy to predict what a face will look like," said Mark D. Shriver, associate professor of biological anthropology. "We want to understand the path of evolution that leads to that part of the selection process." To pinpoint genes that influence the shape of the human face and head, Shriver began with an online database of genes linked to disease -- Online Mendelian Inheritance of Man.
If '70s pop star Marie Osmond had a sister, would she have been closer to her than her six singing brothers are to each other? While Marie may have had more in common with a fictional sister in the make-up and hairstyle department, their genetic proximity would be the same as the bond the famous brothers share with each other.
This inheritance business? Just about licked. We know where everything goes now, what controls what. Got a copy of the blueprint right here in my pocket—See? It folds out.
"I guess you can tell I'm skeptical," Ken Weiss said, about two-thirds of the way through his Frontiers of Science lecture, "Reflections on a Golden Age." "I think we've highly oversold the idea that the genome is the blueprint for human life."
A zebra has its stripes and a giraffe its neck, birds are known by their wings, and a fish by its gills. For humans, it's two feet and a unique locomotion—bipedalism.
A lot of theories try to explain why humans evolved to walk two-legged. Some say that bipedalism let early hominids rise up to see over the savannah grass and check for predators. Others say that having free hands to tend offspring and gather food was the advantage. Herman Pontzer, a biological anthropology major, supports a third idea: Bipedalism may have been the best way to travel.