Eikonal Blog


Denialism of science

  • Denialism (WikiPedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denialism
    • In human behavior, denialism is exhibited by individuals choosing to deny reality as a way to avoid dealing with an uncomfortable truth. … “[It] is the refusal to accept an empirically verifiable reality. It is an essentially irrational action that withholds validation of a historical experience or event”. … group denialism [is defined] as “when an entire segment of society, often struggling with the trauma of change, turns away from reality in favor of a more comfortable lie.”
    • In science, denialism has been defined as the rejection of basic concepts that are undisputed and well-supported parts of the scientific consensus on a topic in favor of ideas that are both radical and controversial. … It has been proposed that the various forms of denialism have the common feature of the rejection of overwhelming evidence and the generation of a controversy through attempts to deny that a consensus exists. … A common example is Young Earth creationism and its dispute with the evolutionary theory.


  • “How To Convince Conservative Christians That Global Warming Is Real” by Chris Mooney (Mother Jones; 2014.05.02) – http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/inquiring-minds-katharine-hayhoe-faith-climate
    • Millions of Americans are evangelical Christians. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe is persuading them that our planet is in peril.
    • “Years of Living Dangerously Premiere Full Episode” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brvhCnYvxQQ
  • “Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey” By Rik Myslewski (The Register; 2014.04.21) – http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/04/21/most_americans_doubt_big_bang_not_too_sure_about_evolution_climate_change_survey/
    • Science no match for religion, politics, business interests


  • “AP-GfK Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans” (AP-Gfk; 2014.04.21) – http://ap-gfkpoll.com/featured/findings-from-our-latest-poll-2
    • Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they express bigger doubts as concepts that scientists consider to be truths get further from our own experiences and the present time … Americans have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 billion years ago….
    • Just 4 percent doubt that smoking causes cancer, 6 percent question whether mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain and 8 percent are skeptical there’s a genetic code inside our cells. More – 15 percent – have doubts about the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccines …
    • About 4 in 10 say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts. But a narrow majority – 51 percent – questions the Big Bang theory …
    • “Science ignorance is pervasive in our society, and these attitudes are reinforced when some of our leaders are openly antagonistic to established facts,”…
    • The poll highlights “the iron triangle of science, religion and politics,” … And scientists know they’ve got the shakiest leg in the triangle….
    • To the public “most often values and beliefs trump science” when they conflict, … … Political values were closely tied to views on science in the poll, with Democrats more apt than Republicans to express confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change….
    • Religious values are similarly important… Confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change decline sharply as faith in a supreme being rises, according to the poll. Likewise, those who regularly attend religious services or are evangelical Christians express much greater doubts about scientific concepts they may see as contradictory to their faith … “When you are putting up facts against faith, facts can’t argue against faith,” … “It makes sense now that science would have made no headway because faith is untestable.” …
    • Beyond religious belief, views on science may be tied to what we see with our own eyes. The closer an issue is to our bodies and the less complicated, the easier it is for people to believe, …
    • Marsha Brooks, a 59-year-old nanny who lives in Washington, D.C., said she’s certain smoking causes cancer because she saw her mother, aunts and uncles, all smokers, die of cancer … But when it comes to the universe beginning with a Big Bang or the Earth being about 4.5 billion years old, she has doubts. …
    • Jorge Delarosa, a 39-year-old architect from Bridgewater, N.J., pointed to a warm 2012 without a winter and said, “I feel the change. There must be a reason.” But when it came to Earth’s beginnings 4.5 billion years ago, he has doubts simply because “I wasn’t there.”…
    • Experience and faith aren’t the only things affecting people’s views on science. … “the force of concerted campaigns to discredit scientific fact” as a more striking factor, citing significant interest groups – political, business and religious – campaigning against scientific truths on vaccines, climate change and evolution….
    • … sometimes science wins out even against well-financed and loud opposition, as with smoking. Widespread belief that smoking causes cancer “has come about because of very public, very focused public health campaigns,” … [also, what is very encouraging is] the public’s acceptance that mental illness is a brain disease, something few believed 25 years ago, before just such a campaign.
  • “Why climate deniers are winning: The twisted psychology that overwhelms scientific consensus” by Paul Rosenberg (The Salon; 2014.04.19) – http://www.salon.com/2014/04/19/why_climate_deniers_are_winning_the_twisted_psychology_that_overwhelms_scientific_consensus/
    • There’s a reason why overwhelming evidence hasn’t spurred public action against global warming
    • “The reason ‘consensus’ has not appeared to work in society at large to date isn’t because it’s ineffective – it’s because there is a well-funded counter-movement out there that takes every opportunity to mislead the public into thinking that there isn’t a consensus,”
  • “How politics makes us stupid” by Ezra Klein (Vox; 2014.04.06) – http://www.vox.com/2014/4/6/5556462/brain-dead-how-politics-makes-us-stupid

Older articles

  • “How Do You Get People to Give a Damn About Climate Change?” by Chris Mooney (Mother Jones; 2013.10.18) – http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/10/inquiring-minds-kahan-lewandowsky-communicate-climate
    • Experts have come a long way in figuring out which messages can successfully open minds and move public opinion. There’s just one problem: They disagree about whether the message everyone’s using actually works.
  • “Scientific uncertainty and climate change: Part I. Uncertainty and unabated emissions” by Stephan Lewandowsky, James S. Risbey, Michael Smithson, Ben R. Newell, John Hunter (Springer) – http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-014-1082-7
    • Uncertainty forms an integral part of climate science, and it is often used to argue against mitigative action. This article presents an analysis of uncertainty in climate sensitivity that is robust to a range of assumptions. We show that increasing uncertainty is necessarily associated with greater expected damages from warming, provided the function relating warming to damages is convex. This constraint is unaffected by subjective or cultural risk-perception factors, it is unlikely to be overcome by the discount rate, and it is independent of the presumed magnitude of climate sensitivity. The analysis also extends to “second-order” uncertainty; that is, situations in which experts disagree. Greater disagreement among experts increases the likelihood that the risk of exceeding a global temperature threshold is greater. Likewise, increasing uncertainty requires increasingly greater protective measures against sea level rise. This constraint derives directly from the statistical properties of extreme values. We conclude that any appeal to uncertainty compels a stronger, rather than weaker, concern about unabated warming than in the absence of uncertainty.
  • “Scientific uncertainty and climate change: Part II. Uncertainty and mitigation” by Stephan Lewandowsky, James S. Risbey, Michael Smithson, Ben R. Newell (Springer) – http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-014-1083-6
    • In public debate surrounding climate change, scientific uncertainty is often cited in connection with arguments against mitigative action. This article examines the role of uncertainty about future climate change in determining the likely success or failure of mitigative action. We show by Monte Carlo simulation that greater uncertainty translates into a greater likelihood that mitigation efforts will fail to limit global warming to a target (e.g., 2 °C). The effect of uncertainty can be reduced by limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Taken together with the fact that greater uncertainty also increases the potential damages arising from unabated emissions (Lewandowsky et al. 2014), any appeal to uncertainty implies a stronger, rather than weaker, need to cut greenhouse gas emissions than in the absence of uncertainty.
  • “The pivotal role of perceived scientific consensus in acceptance of science” by Stephan Lewandowsky, Gilles E. Gignac, Samuel Vaughan (Nature Climate Change 3, 399-404 (2013); doi:10.1038/nclimate1720; 2012.10.28) – http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n4/full/nclimate1720.html
    • Although most experts agree that CO2 emissions are causing anthropogenic global warming (AGW), public concern has been declining. One reason for this decline is the ‘manufacture of doubt’ by political and vested interests, which often challenge the existence of the scientific consensus. The role of perceived consensus in shaping public opinion is therefore of considerable interest: in particular, it is unknown whether consensus determines people’s beliefs causally. It is also unclear whether perception of consensus can override people’s ‘worldviews’, which are known to foster rejection of AGW. Study 1 shows that acceptance of several scientific propositions-from HIV/AIDS to AGW-is captured by a common factor that is correlated with another factor that captures perceived scientific consensus. Study 2 reveals a causal role of perceived consensus by showing that acceptance of AGW increases when consensus is highlighted. Consensus information also neutralizes the effect of worldview.



Peopling of Americas

Filed under: anthropology, evolution, geneaology, history, past — Tags: , , — sandokan65 @ 10:43


  • “Discoveries Challenge Beliefs on Humans’ Arrival in the Americas” by Simon Rommero (The New York Times; 2014.03.27) – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/28/world/americas/discoveries-challenge-beliefs-on-humans-arrival-in-the-americas.html?_r=0
    • Researchers here say they have unearthed stone tools proving that humans reached what is now northeast Brazil as early as 22,000 years ago. Their discovery adds to the growing body of research upending a prevailing belief of 20th-century archaeology in the United States known as the Clovis model, which holds that people first arrived in the Americas from Asia about 13,000 years ago.
    • More recently, numerous findings have challenged that narrative. In Texas, archaeologists said in 2011 that they had found projectile points showing that hunter-gatherers had reached another site, known as Buttermilk Creek, as early as 15,500 years ago. Similarly, analysis of human DNA found at an Oregon cave determined that humans were there 14,000 years ago.

      But it is in South America, thousands of miles from the New Mexico site where the Clovis spear points were discovered, where archaeologists are putting forward some of the most profound challenges to the Clovis-first theory.

      Paleontologists in Uruguay published findings in November suggesting that humans hunted giant sloths there about 30,000 years ago. All the way in southern Chile, Tom D. Dillehay, an anthropologist at Vanderbilt University, has shown that humans lived at a coastal site called Monte Verde as early as 14,800 years ago.

    • In what may be another blow to the Clovis model of humans’ coming from northeast Asia, molecular geneticists showed last year that the Botocudo indigenous people living in southeastern Brazil in the late 1800s shared gene sequences commonly found among Pacific Islanders from Polynesia.
  • “Native Americans Descend From Ancient Montana Boy” (Science; 2014.02.12) – http://news.sciencemag.org/archaeology/2014/02/native-americans-descend-ancient-montana-boy


  • “DNA reveals details of the peopling of the Americas” by Tina Hesman Saey (Science news; 2013.11.21) – https://www.sciencenews.org/article/dna-reveals-details-peopling-americas
    • Migrants came in three distinct waves that interbred once in the New World
    • About 15,000 to 18,000 years ago, the first migrant wave spilled from Asia down the Pacific coast and then pushed inland, eventually peopling the land from “the tip of South America all the way to Hudson Bay,” says Andrew Kitchen, a genetic anthropologist at the University of Iowa who was not involved in the new research. That first migrant wave contained the ancestors of all South and Central American tribes, and North Americans, too. But something different was going on in North America, an international team of researchers has discovered.
    • A second wave of migration probably left Siberia only a couple thousand years after the first wave. Instead of trickling down the coast, the second group slipped through an ice-free corridor running from Alaska into what is now southern Canada, the team found. The second wave never made it south of the present-day United States. The mixture of first-wave and second-wave genetic signatures in some Native Americans today indicates that the newcomers and existing populations interbred.
    • A third wave of migration started around 4,000 years ago in Alaska and swept mostly eastward across Canada.
    • Previous studies of human migration into the Americas have sometimes focused on two types of languages that emerged among the tribes: the Na-Dene language family, including Navajo, Apache and Tlingit, and non-Na-Dene languages, including Algonquin, Ojibwe and Chippewa. Scientists had thought the language groups reflected genetic separation, with the second wave being restricted to the Na-Dene language family. But Torroni and his colleagues discovered that second-wave genetic marks occurred in people who spoke languages from both groups. The finding suggests that the languages developed after the people arrived, and gives a more dynamic picture of what was happening in eastern North America, says Kitchen.
  • “DNA testing on 24,000-year-old skeleton reveals that Native Americans could have EUROPEAN origins” by Ellie Zolfagharifard (MailOnline; 2013.11.21) – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2511172/DNA-testing-24-000-year-old-skeleton-reveals-Native-Americans-EUROPEAN-origins.html
    • The genome of the four-year-old boy is the oldest sequenced to date
    • DNA from the remains, discovered in Siberia in the 1920s, are thought to contain a third of Native American ancestry’s gene pool
    • Interestingly, the boy showed no similarities with populations in East Asia
  • “Ancient Bone of 24,000-Year-Old Siberian Youth Shows Native Americans had West Eurasian Origins” by Kathleen Lee (Science World Report; 2013.11.21) – http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/11072/20131121/ancient-bone-of-24-000-year-old-siberian-youth-shows-native-americans-had-west-eurasian-origins.htm
  • “DNA indicates Eurasian roots for Native Americans, new study says” by Meeri Kim (The Washington Post; 2013.11.20) – http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/fossil-indicates-eurasian-roots-for-native-americans/2013/11/20/2777ac24-51fa-11e3-a7f0-b790929232e1_story.html
  • “24,000-Year-Old Body Shows Kinship to Europeans and American Indians” by NICHOLAS WADE (The New York Times; 2013.11.20) – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/21/science/two-surprises-in-dna-of-boy-found-buried-in-siberia.html
  • “”Great Surprise”—Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins” by Brian Handwerk (National Geographic; 2013.11.20) – http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131120-science-native-american-people-migration-siberia-genetics
    • Oldest human genome reveals less of an East Asian ancestry than thought.
    • Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought, according to a newly sequenced genome.
  • “Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans” (Nature; 2013.11.20) – http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12736.html
    • Abstract: The origins of the First Americans remain contentious. Although Native Americans seem to be genetically most closely related to east Asians1, 2, 3, there is no consensus with regard to which specific Old World populations they are closest to4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Here we sequence the draft genome of an approximately 24,000-year-old individual (MA-1), from Mal’ta in south-central Siberia9, to an average depth of 1×. To our knowledge this is the oldest anatomically modern human genome reported to date. The MA-1 mitochondrial genome belongs to haplogroup U, which has also been found at high frequency among Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers10, 11, 12, and the Y chromosome of MA-1 is basal to modern-day western Eurasians and near the root of most Native American lineages5. Similarly, we find autosomal evidence that MA-1 is basal to modern-day western Eurasians and genetically closely related to modern-day Native Americans, with no close affinity to east Asians. This suggests that populations related to contemporary western Eurasians had a more north-easterly distribution 24,000 years ago than commonly thought. Furthermore, we estimate that 14 to 38% of Native American ancestry may originate through gene flow from this ancient population. This is likely to have occurred after the divergence of Native American ancestors from east Asian ancestors, but before the diversification of Native American populations in the New World. Gene flow from the MA-1 lineage into Native American ancestors could explain why several crania from the First Americans have been reported as bearing morphological characteristics that do not resemble those of east Asians2, 13. Sequencing of another south-central Siberian, Afontova Gora-2 dating to approximately 17,000 years ago14, revealed similar autosomal genetic signatures as MA-1, suggesting that the region was continuously occupied by humans throughout the Last Glacial Maximum. Our findings reveal that western Eurasian genetic signatures in modern-day Native Americans derive not only from post-Columbian admixture, as commonly thought, but also from a mixed ancestry of the First Americans.
  • “Disputed finds put humans in South America 22,000 years ago” by Bruce Bower (*Science News; 2013.04.20) – https://www.sciencenews.org/article/disputed-finds-put-humans-south-america-22000-years-ago
    • Brazilian site may have been home to people before the Clovis hunters
    • C. Lahaye et al. Human occupation in South America by 20,000 BC: The Toca da Tira Peia site, Piaui, Brazil. Journal of Archaeological Science. Doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.02.019.



  • “Stone tools cut swathe through Clovis history” by Matt Kaplan (nature; 2011.03.24) – http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110324/full/news.2011.185.html
    • Dig uncovers previously unknown North American culture.
    • The long-standing idea that the Clovis people of ancient North America were the first tool-using humans on the continent 13,200 years ago is being overturned by the discovery of human artefacts in a Texan creek bed that are even older.


Intelligence in Earth’s nonhuman life



  • “Complex thinking goes beyond primates: Dolphins understand zero, elephants rescue each other” by Seth Borenstein (Winnipeg Free Press; 2012.06.24) – http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/sci_tech/complex-thinking-goes-beyond-primates-dolphins-understand-zero-elephants-rescue-each-other-160191285.html
    • Dolphins understand concept of “zero”. Can do everything that chimpanzees and bonobos can do. Likely have personalities.
    • Animal intelligence “is not a linear thing,” said Duke University researcher Brian Hare, who studies bonobos, which are one of man’s closest relatives, and dogs, which are not. “Think of it like a toolbox,” he said. “Some species have an amazing hammer. Some species have an amazing screwdriver.”
    • Elephants work cooperatively, solving problems faster than chimps.
  • “Line blurs between man, animal: Monkeys do math, baboons seem to read, orangutans plan ahead” by Seth Borenstein (Winnipeg Free Press; 2012.06.24) – http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/sci_tech/line-blurs-between-man-animal-monkeys-do-math-baboons-seem-to-read-orangutans-plan-ahead-160191235.html
    • Some of the shifts in scientific understanding of animals are leading to ethical debates. When Emory University researcher Lori Marino in 2001 co-wrote a groundbreaking study on dolphins recognizing themselves in mirrors, proving they have a sense of self similar to humans, she had a revelation. “The more you learn about them, the more you realize that they do have the capacity and characteristics that we think of as a person,” Marino said. “I think it’s impossible to ignore the ethical implications of these kinds of findings.”





Mammals: Primates

Mammals: Elephants

Mammals: Cetaceans (dolphins, whales, …)

  • “Talk with a dolphin via underwater translation machine” by MacGregor Campbell (New Scientist – issue 2811; 2011.05.09) – http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028115.400-talk-with-a-dolphin-via-underwater-translation-machine.html
  • “Intelligence of Dolphins: Ethical and Policy Implications” – http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2010/webprogram/Session1526.html
      Charter: The dolphin brain has a large cerebral cortex and a substantial amount of associational neocortex. Most anatomical ratios that assess cognitive capacity place it second only to the human brain. More important, recent research in marine science has revealed that dolphins have a remarkable degree of cognitive and affective sophistication. For example, dolphins can recognize their image in a mirror as a reflection of themselves — a finding that indicates self-awareness similar to that seen in higher primates and elephants. These and other studies, which have found that dolphins are also capable of advanced cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, artificial language comprehension, and complex social behavior, indicate that dolphins are far more intellectually and emotionally sophisticated than previously thought. Considerable research indicates that they are significantly different from fish and other marine species, and this research has significance for commercial policy and practice. This symposium will present the scientific findings and explore their ethical and policy implications.
    • Lori Marino (Emory University): Anatomical Basis of Dolphin Intelligence – http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2010/webprogram/Paper1487.html
        Many modern dolphin brains are significantly larger than our own and second in mass to the human brain when corrected for body size. Despite evolving along a different neuroanatomical trajectory than human brains, cetacean brains exhibit several features that are correlated with complex intelligence, including a large expanse of neocortical volume that is more convoluted than our own, extensive insular and cingulate regions, and highly differentiated cellular regions.
        These characteristics of dolphin brains are consistent with current behavioral evidence. In this presentation I will discuss the neuroanatomical basis of complex intelligence in dolphins, how the neuroanatomy provides evidence for psychological continuity between humans and dolphins, and the profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions. Specifically, I will focus on the growing worldwide industry of capturing and confining dolphins for amusement in marine park shows, “swim-with-dolphin” and “dolphin-assisted therapy” facilities. Our current knowledge of dolphin brain complexity and intelligence suggests that these practices are potentially psychologically harmful to dolphins and present a misinformed picture of their natural intellectual capacities.
    • Diana Reiss (Hunter College of the City University of New York): Self-Awareness and Dolphins – http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2010/webprogram/Paper1488.html
        Bottlenose dolphins are highly social mammals with large and complex brains. Studies conducted in the field and aquaria have provided increasing evidence for the dolphin’s cognitive-social prowess, revealing that dolphins are cultural animals – much of their behavior is learned and passed down through generations.
        They have demonstrated the capacity for mirror-self recognition (MSR), a hallmark of a level of self-awareness, previously thought to be restricted to humans but also shared by the great apes, elephants and magpies. Despite profound differences in neuroanatomical characteristics and evolutionary histories dolphins, primates (human and great apes), and elephants show striking parallels in both the progression of behavioral stages and actual responses to a mirror providing compelling evidence for convergent cognitive evolution. MSR may index an increased self-other distinction that also underlies the social complexity and altruistic tendencies shared among these species.
        Can our scientific knowledge be used to influence international policy decisions and ethical considerations of the treatment of dolphins? Do scientific facts translate and transcend cultural boundaries? In the dolphin drive hunts in Japan, there are no restrictions on capture or killing methods of the highly sentient dolphin and other small whales. The killing methods fail to meet even the most minimal requirements used in U.S. laboratories and slaughterhouses. Scientists are making the argument on the basis of the scientific evidence that the drive hunts are unjustifiable and indefensible in that they inflict pain and suffering on animals that are intelligent, sentient, socially complex and have capacity to experience pain and suffering.
    • Thomas I. White (Loyola Marymount University): Ethical Implications of Dolphin Intelligence: Dolphins as Nonhuman Persons – http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2010/webprogram/Paper1489.html
        The scientific research on dolphin intelligence suggests that dolphins are “nonhuman persons.” (Like humans, dolphins appear to be self-conscious,
        unique individuals [with distinctive personalities, memories and a sense of self] who are vulnerable to a wide range of physical and emotional pain and harm, and who have the power to reflect upon and choose their actions.) At the same time, fundamental differences between humans and dolphins have also surfaced. (The dolphin brain has an older architecture than the human brain, and dolphin and human brains have features not found in the other. Dolphins possess a sense that humans lack [echolocation]. Humans and dolphins have profoundly different evolutionary histories.) This juxtaposition of important similarities and differences has significant ethical implications.
        The similarities suggest that dolphins qualify for moral standing as individuals-and, therefore, are entitled to treatment of a particular sort. The differences, however, suggest that species-specific standards may apply when it comes to determining something as basic as “harm.” The policy implications are considerable. For example, certain human fishing practices are indefensible and would need to change. (Over 300,000 cetaceans are thought to die annually around the world as a result of fisheries by-catch. Thousands more typically die in the annual Japanese drive hunts.) Similarly, changes would need to be made regarding the hundreds of captive dolphins currently used in entertainment facilities. The economic, political and diplomatic challenges in ending ethically problematic practices, however, are daunting and multi-faceted. Unfortunately, humans have a poor track record for recognizing the rights and interests even of members of our own species once they’ve been dubbed “inferior.” Meaningful change in human/dolphin interaction, then, is likely to unfold slowly. Yet developing an interspecies ethic could mark a significant turning point in the relationship between humans and other intelligent beings on the planet.
  • “Non-human Persons” by petchary (Petchary blog) – http://petchary.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/non-human-persons/ – dog knows more worlds (over 1000) that a two-years old.

Mammals: Carnivora (cats, dogs, …)

Aves (Birds)

Aves (Birds): Corvids [Corvidae]

  • Corvidae (WikiPedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvidae
  • “Rook reveal remarkable tool use” – http://vodpod.com/watch/1672586-rook-reveal-remarkable-tool-use
  • “Bird Tool Use Evolved for Better Grub, Literally” by Jennifer Viegas (Dicsovery News; 2010.09.16) – http://news.discovery.com/animals/bird-tool-use-evolved-for-better-grub-literally.html
  • “Ravens Reconcile after Aggressive Conflicts with Valuable Partners” by Orlaith N. Fraser, Thomas Bugnyar (PLoS; 2011.03.25) – http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0018118
      Reconciliation, a post-conflict affiliative interaction between former opponents, is an important mechanism for reducing the costs of aggressive conflict in primates and some other mammals as it may repair the opponents’ relationship and reduce post-conflict distress. Opponents who share a valuable relationship are expected to be more likely to reconcile as for such partners the benefits of relationship repair should outweigh the risk of renewed aggression. In birds, however, post-conflict behavior has thus far been marked by an apparent absence of reconciliation, suggested to result either from differing avian and mammalian strategies or because birds may not share valuable relationships with partners with whom they engage in aggressive conflict. Here, we demonstrate the occurrence of reconciliation in a group of captive subadult ravens (Corvus corax) and show that it is more likely to occur after conflicts between partners who share a valuable relationship. Furthermore, former opponents were less likely to engage in renewed aggression following reconciliation, suggesting that reconciliation repairs damage caused to their relationship by the preceding conflict. Our findings suggest not only that primate-like valuable relationships exist outside the pair bond in birds, but that such partners may employ the same mechanisms in birds as in primates to ensure that the benefits afforded by their relationships are maintained even when conflicts of interest escalate into aggression. These results provide further support for a convergent evolution of social strategies in avian and mammalian species.
  • “Angry Birds: Crows Never Forget Your Face” by Jennifer Viegas (Discovery News; 2011.06.28) – http://news.discovery.com/animals/angry-crows-memory-life-threatening-behavior-110628.html

    • Mess with a crow, and it will remember your face for over five years, research shows.
    • Crows remember the faces of “dangerous humans,” with the memories likely lasting for a bird’s lifetime.
    • Crows may scold people who threaten them, bringing in relatives and even strangers to mob the person.
    • The crows within mobs then indirectly learn about the person, so they too associate that individual’s face with danger and react accordingly.
    • “Others have shown that some crows make and use tools, forecast future events, understand what other animals know, and — in our case — learn from individual experience as well as by observing parents and peers,” Marzluff explained. “These are all advanced cognitive tasks shown by only a few animals.”
    • He suspects other social, long-lived species that live closely with humans might also share information in a similar manner. Possibilities include animals such as coyotes, raccoons, gulls, pigeons and rats. All could practice a combination of social and trial and error learning. The latter provides the most accurate information, but it is clearly riskier than indirect social learning.
  • “Crows are Feathered Engineers” by Gene Charleton (Discovery News; 2010.06.10) – http://news.discovery.com/tech/feathered-engineers.htmlCrows living in the jungles of New Caledonia use tools to solve problems.
  • “Feathered engineers” by Gene (Texas AM Engineering; 2010.06.02) – http://engineeringworks.tamu.edu/2010/feathered-engineers/
  • “Mirrors and Magpies” by fatfinch (The Fat Finch Bird Brain Blog; ) – http://fatfinch.wordpress.com/2008/08/20/mirrors-and-magpies/
  • “Self-Recognition in the Pica Pica (Magpie)?” (2008.08.19) – http://cognitivetrammeling.wordpress.com/2008/08/19/self-recognition-in-the-pica-pica/

Aves (Birds): Parrots


Cephalopod: Squids, etc

  • Cephalopod intelligence (WikiPedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cephalopod_intelligence
  • This is probably a stretch (in domain of science-fiction), but it sounds like something that just could be the case. Is decoration of your nesting ground a sign of intelligence? Also, assuming that some ancient cephalopod indeed had this intelligence, then the questions is what happened to that intelligence during the following 50 millions of years? It looks like it had gone nowhere to be seen these days.
    • “The Revenge of the Imaginary Kraken” by Brian Switek (Wired; 2011.10.12) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/10/the-revenge-of-the-imaginary-kraken/
    • “Gigantic KRAKEN fingered in prehistoric murder mystery – Prof reckons monster was also a Triassic Van Gogh” by Anna Leach (The Register; 2011.10.12) – http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/12/kraken_killer/
        “The proposed Triassic kraken, which could have been the most intelligent invertebrate ever, arranged the vertebral discs in biserial patterns, with individual pieces nesting in a fitted fashion as if they were part of a puzzle. The arranged vertebrae resemble the pattern of sucker discs on a cephalopod tentacle, with each amphicoelous vertebra strongly resembling a coleoid sucker. Thus the tessellated vertebral disc pavement may represent the earliest known self‑portrait.”
    • “Ancient Krakens Making Self-Portraits?” (SlashDot; 2011.10.11) – http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/10/11/134240/ancient-krakens-making-self-portraits
        First time accepted submitter Sanoj writes “Strange patterns of ichthyosaur bones have been found on an ancient deep-water seabed. One paleontologist has put forward the theory that these could have been the work of giant cephalopods who were eating the swimming dinosaurs and then arranging the vertebrae to resemble their own tentacles [http://www.tgdaily.com/general-sciences-features/58953-triassic-kraken-may-have-created-self-portrait]. Sound far-fetched? Apparently, the modern octopus also does this.”
    • “The Giant, Prehistoric Squid That Ate Common Sense” by Brian Switek (Wired; 2011.10.10) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/10/the-giant-prehistoric-squid-that-ate-common-sense/
    • “Smokin’ Kraken?” by Sarah Simpson(Discovery News; 2011.10.100) – http://news.discovery.com/earth/smokin-kraken-111011.html
    • “Triassic ‘Kraken’ may have created self-portrait” by Kate Taylor (TG Daily; 2011.10.10) – http://www.tgdaily.com/general-sciences-features/58953-triassic-kraken-may-have-created-self-portrait
    • “TRIASSIC KRAKEN: THE BERLIN ICHTHYOSAUR DEATH ASSEMBLAGE INTERPRETED AS A GIANT CEPHALOPOD MIDDEN” by Mark A.S. MCMENAMIN and Dianna L. SCHULTE MCMENAMIN (2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis [9–12 October 2011]; Paper No. 120-3) – http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2011AM/finalprogram/abstract_197227.htm
        The Luning Formation at Berlin‑Ichthyosaur State Park, Nevada, hosts a puzzling assemblage of at least 9 huge (≤14 m) juxtaposed ichthyosaurs (Shonisaurus popularis). Shonisaurs were cephalopod‑eating predators comparable to sperm whales (Physeter). Hypotheses presented to explain the apparent mass mortality at the site have included: tidal flat stranding, sudden burial by slope failure, and phytotoxin poisoning. Citing the wackestone matrix, J. A. Holger argued convincingly for a deeper water setting, but her phytotoxicity hypothesis cannot explain how so many came to rest at virtually the same spot. Skeletal articulation indicates that animals were deposited on the sea floor shortly after death. Currents or other factors placed them in a north‑south orientation. Adjacent skeletons display different taphonomic histories and degrees of disarticulation, ruling out catastrophic mass death, but allowing a scenario in which dead ichthyosaurs were sequentially transported to a sea floor midden. We hypothesize that the shonisaurs were killed and carried to the site by an enormous Triassic cephalopod, a “kraken,” with estimated length of approximately 30 m, twice that of the modern Colossal Squid Mesonychoteuthis. In this scenario, shonisaurs were ambushed by a Triassic kraken, drowned, and dumped on a midden like that of a modern octopus. Where vertebrae in the assemblage are disarticulated, disks are arranged in curious linear patterns with almost geometric regularity. Close fitting due to spinal ligament contraction is disproved by the juxtaposition of different-sized vertebrae from different parts of the vertebral column. The proposed Triassic kraken, which could have been the most intelligent invertebrate ever, arranged the vertebral discs in biserial patterns, with individual pieces nesting in a fitted fashion as if they were part of a puzzle. The arranged vertebrae resemble the pattern of sucker discs on a cephalopod tentacle, with each amphicoelous vertebra strongly resembling a coleoid sucker. Thus the tessellated vertebral disc pavement may represent the earliest known self‑portrait. The submarine contest between cephalopods and seagoing tetrapods has a long history. A Triassic kraken would have posed a deadly risk for shonisaurs as they dove in pursuit of their smaller cephalopod prey.
  • “Octopus Is First Invertebrate to Use Tools, Turning a Coconut Into Mobile Home (Video)”
    by Jaymi Heimbuch (TreeHugger; 2009.12.15) – http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/12/octopus-is-first-invertabrate-to-use-tools-turning-a-coconut-into-mobile-home.php

Plan group intelligence

Bacteria group intelligence

Related here: Intelligence – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/intelligence/.



Filed under: anthropology, evolution, history, paleontology, past — Tags: , , — sandokan65 @ 10:44


Here at this blog: Human species interbreeding – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/human-species-interbreading/


Fermi paradox

Filed under: astronomy, evolution, life, mind & brain, physics — Tags: , — sandokan65 @ 10:03

Be quiet you stupid young species! (or else be gone)

  • “Is ET avoiding us out of a fear of human galactic conquest?” (io9; 2011.04.10) – http://io9.com/#!5790567/is-et-avoiding-us-out-of-a-fear-of-human-galactic-conquest
  • “Is ET Scared of Human Conquest?” (13point7 blog) – http://thirteenpointseven.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/is-et-scared-of-human-conquest/
  • “Interstellar Predation Could Explain Fermi Paradox” (The Physics arXiv blog; 2011.04.08) – http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/26622/
      In a casual chat over lunch back in 1950, the Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi posed a now famous question. If intelligent life has evolved many times in our galaxy and beyond, why do we see no sign of it?

      Kent puts it like this: “If cosmic habitats are widely enough separated that they are very hard to find, by far the best strategy for a typical species to avoid defeat in such competitions may be to avoid entering them, by being inconspicuous enough that no potential adversary identifies its habitat as valuable.”

      That raises important questions about whether humanity is wise to advertise its existence. Various attempts to send messages to the stars have already been made and many scientists have pointed out that this could be a serious mistake, even a suicidal one.

  • “Too Damned Quiet?” by Adrian Kent (arXiv.org > physics > arXiv:1104.0624; 2011.04.04) – http://arxiv.org/abs/1104.0624
      Abstract: It is often suggested that extraterrestial life sufficiently advanced to be capable of interstellar travel or communication must be rare, since otherwise we would have seen evidence of it by now. This in turn is sometimes taken as indirect evidence for the improbability of life evolving at all in our universe. A couple of other possibilities seem worth considering. One is that life capable of evidencing itself on interstellar scales has evolved in many places but that evolutionary selection, acting on a cosmic scale, tends to extinguish species which conspicuously advertise themselves and their habitats. The other is that — whatever the true situation — intelligent species might reasonably worry about the possible dangers of self-advertisement and hence incline towards discretion. These possibilities are discussed here, and some counter-arguments and complicating factors are also considered.


Language evolution and families

Origins of language

Language evolution

Famiies: Semitic

Related here: Linguistics links – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/linguistics-links/ | Learning languages / Language acquisition – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/learning-languages-language-acquisition/ | Bilingualism – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/bilingualism-multilingualism/.


Relatedness and Hamilton’s rule

Filed under: evolution, population genetics — Tags: , — sandokan65 @ 01:27

Definition: Coefficient of relatedness (Sewall Wright 1889-1988) r:

  • r=0.5 for first degree relatives,
  • r=0.25 for 2nd degree relatives,
  • r=0.125 for f3rd degree relatives, etc.

Hamilton’s rule (William Donald Hamilton (1936–2000)): r > \frac{c}{b} where c is cost of gift to donor, and b is benefit of gift to recepient.

Source: Dylan Evans & Oscar Zarate “Introducing Evolutionary Psychology”



Dawkins on Edge

Filed under: evolution — Tags: — sandokan65 @ 14:07

The Edge has biographical excerpt “GROWING UP IN ETHOLOGY” (2009.12.17) by Richard Dawkins: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dawkins09.1/dawkins09.1_index.html.


Horizontal gene transfer

Filed under: evolution — Tags: — sandokan65 @ 13:21

There is an interesting article in the New Scientist magazine (“Horizontal and vertical: The evolution of evolution” by Mark Buchanan; 2010.01.26, Issue 2744; http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527441.500-horizontal-and-vertical-the-evolution-of-evolution.html) describing new research that claims that the dominant form of evolution on this planet was for long time non-Darwinian. According to the described research by microbiologist Carl Woese and physicist Nigel Goldenfeld, there were three phases of evolution (so far):

  • 1) the initial phase when there existed many alternate and compating genetic codes.
  • 2) in the second phase the genetic material was exchanged between organisms horizontally, i.e. not via inheritance.
  • 3) Only in the most recent, third phase, the major (for transfer of genetic mechanism) mechanism is the Darwinian inheritance.


Dino links

Filed under: evolution — sandokan65 @ 16:31


Three requirements for evolution

Filed under: evolution, memetics — Tags: — sandokan65 @ 13:21
  • 1) Variation between the individuals
  • 2) Selection pressure based on differences in survival
  • 3) Heritability of traits

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