Posted on

What Studying Primate Communication Tells Us About Our Own Language Abilities

Kanzi is a linguistic all-star among apes. From an early age, the captive bonobo learned over 400 symbols representing words, which he points to, in order to communicate with people. He understands even more spoken English and basic grammar, and followed verbal directions as well as a 2-year-old human during a study conducted in the late 80s.

Having watched Kanzi clips more times than I care to admit, I’m ceaselessly amazed by his communication skills. But still, as the most linguisticall

Posted on

Skeletal Studies Show Sex, Like Gender, Exists Along a Spectrum

She wasn’t especially tall. Her testosterone levels weren’t unusually high for a woman. She was externally entirely female. But in the mid-1980s, when her chromosome results came back as XY instead of the “normal” XX for a woman, the Spanish national team ousted hurdler María José Martínez-Patiño. She was ejected from the Olympic residence and deserted by her teammates, friends, and boyfriend. She lost her records and medals because of a genetic mutation that wasn’t proven to give her any co
Posted on

Why ‘Vampire Deer’ Have Fangs, While Other Hoofed Mammals Have Horns

(Inside Science) — When do you need a broadsword, and when would you be better off with a dagger? That’s the question that faced artiodactyls, the group of mammals that includes deer, antelope, goats, giraffes, pigs, buffalo and cows, during their evolution.

Many male artiodactyls fight over females using weaponized body parts such as horns and antlers. But pigs and several groups of deerlike animals have tusks instead, and a few species have both. Water deer have tusks so pronounced the

Posted on

Neanderthals Were Just As Violent As Early Humans

Is it time to put the stereotype of the violent and brutish Neanderthal to rest? New research paints a different picture of the ancient hominin — one that looks similar to Homo sapiens.

Researchers previously thought that Neanderthal lives were far more nasty, brutish and short than ancient H. sapiens, based mainly on studies looking at levels of injury among both groups. Now, however, in a much more comprehensive look, a team of University of Tübingen (UIT) researchers found that both Ne