Archive for Human Evolution

The Secrets Behind Penis Shape and Vigorous Sex

Posted in Science with tags , , , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by neandergal

No, these secrets have nothing to do with the sexual prowess of the new found love of your life, but a human evolutionary process that gives rise (no pun intended) to the shape of the human penis today.

An article, Secrets of the Phallus: Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? in Scientific American by Jesse Berring gives us an explanation of why the shape of the penis is the way it is today and how its anatomy plays a role in reproductive success by displacing sperm in the vagina placed there by other mates. The process is known as the “Semen Displacement Theory.”

The “head”, otherwise known as the glans penis acts as a plunger that sucks out semen possibly placed by a competitor. Those mates equipped with a better “plunger” stood a better chance of displacing another male’s semen and therefore more chance of passing on their genes. The article refers to a behavioral study that shows how sex is more vigorous if a mate suspects infidelity. More vigorous and deeper penetration also means more semen displacement.

Another revelation is how the post ejaculatory sleepy affect acts as prevention against the possibility of “self-displacement of semen” by a second helping of subsequent sex. The refractory period plays a part in reproductive success by acting as a mechanism for avoiding self displacement of semen and gives sperm time to reach an ovum. If you are too tired and temporarily impotent to engage in a second helping soon afterwards, there is less chance of displacing semen and therefore more chance of impregnation.

In other words, the evolutionary process is most definitely involved in the shape of things to come, in a manner of speaking.

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“Ida” Hype

Posted in Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2009 by neandergal

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It is unfortunate to have such a magnificent discovery like the 47 million year old fossil “Ida” or Darwinius masillae marred by the mass media that interject misleading statements such as the “missing link” and “how it will change everything” in regard to human evolution.

New Scientist explains that the discussion is on where Ida split off in the evolutionary tree and not whether she is the “missing link”.

New Scientist interviews the palaeontologist, Jørn Hurum at the University of Oslo in Norway who sets the fossil record straight in regard to recent hype.

On the one hand he applauds that the media coverage encourages public discussion on primate evolution, but on the other hand negates this progress because creationists use the misinformation by the media against evolutionary biologists.

Inaccurate and hasty reporting inadvertently discredits science. Creationists like Creation Ministries International hijack the hype of Ida and use it to further discredit science in the eyes of the public.

Dinosaurs, Camels and Bears, Oh My!

Posted in Religion, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2009 by neandergal

The animals went in two by two… A model of Noah’s Ark on display at a UK zoo has dinosaurs happily boarding the ark between the polar bears and camels. Noah dolls and other biblical tat are for sale in its gift shop. Sounds like something out of a Monty Python sketch, doesn’t it? Alas, it is not.

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm near Bristol in the UK, has a distinctly Christian theme and openly discredits science in favor of creationism on its page, Evolution: A Theory Under Pressure.

The Facebook group Sink the Ark protests the zoo on the grounds that it markets religion to children and schools. The group page includes a collection of photographs. Among the pictures is a photo of a happy looking Noah for sale in the gift shop. Unfortunately, some of the pictures (including the one of the Noah’s Ark model) are no longer available due to a Facebook account closure. This blog will post a link to them when they reappear which they undoubtedly will at some point..

One can only imagine the look on Noah’s face if he saw two Stegosauruses walking up the plank especially alongside the camels and polar bears.

Why are women more religious than men?

Posted in Religion with tags , , , , , on March 1, 2009 by neandergal

March is Women’s History Month. It appears that religious beliefs are not history among women. A recent survey by the Pew Research Institute shows that 63% of women compared to only 49% of men say that “religion is very important in their lives” and 66% “pray at least daily” compared to only 49% of men. Women’s close affinity with religion seems odd given that religious dogma tends to be misogynistic.

So why do women flock to religion? Larry Moran, a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto addresses the question in his blog, Why Are Women Religious? He points out that, “The idea that women might feel the need to belong to a group isn’t wrong. There may even be some biological differences between men and women (hormones?) that underlie this preference for belonging.” Even if it is true that women are genetically predisposed to behaving more socially, it does not adequately explain the need for more religious affiliation.

So far, no evidence for a “religious” gene exists. Moran concludes in his article, “The fact that, today, women in Western industrialized nations tend to be more religious than men could be entirely due to culture.” Religion is as man-made as the bogey man or tooth-fairy. It is not genes that make us believe, but vivid imaginations and indoctrination.

Creative Creationists Promoting that Ol’ Time Genesis

Posted in Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2009 by neandergal

It is almost 85 years ago since H. L. Mencken wrote Homo Neanderthalensis. Mencken wrote, “They know little if anything that is worth knowing, and there is not the slightest sign of a natural desire among them to increase their knowledge.” It is sad that this amusing essay is as relevant today as it was back in 1925 during the Scopes Trial. Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was almost 70 years old at the time of the Scopes Monkey trial. Scientific progress faces the same level of ignorance and opposition as it did back in the days of the 1925 Scopes Monkey trial in Dayton, Tennessee. It is now 150 years ago since the publication of On the Origin of Species yet we still face the same drivel today as back then. This is clearly evident in the article, “Where Evolution Has Gaps, Creation Might Offer Answers—If We Will Listen” published in the opinion section of US News and World Report.

The author of the article, Henry Morris III, CEO of the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas explains that, “Embarrassingly, this “theory” cannot be scientifically observed in action today, nor can it be forensically observed in nature’s record of the past.” It is very clear that Henry Morris III does not understand the theory of evolution. He is obviously ignorant of the very “theory” that he opposes when he describes evolution as “Everything happened quite by accident.” Any evolutionary biologist, physical anthropologist, microbiologist, geneticists or paleontologist will explain that evolution is not random. It is genetic mutation that is random. Genetic mutations lead to variation. Organisms inheriting variations best suited to an environment have a higher probability of surviving long enough to reproduce and pass their genes on to the next generation. The fossil record is evidence of the fact that organisms take a great deal longer than 10,000 years to evolve and confirms common ancestry among different species.

Evolution is a continuing process. Microbiologists see this all the time with new strains of bacteria and viruses. MRSA is a perfect example of evolution at work. We can go on and on with examples, but there is no point in trying to reason with the unreasonable. As H.L Mencken said, “The inferior man’s reasons for hating knowledge are not hard to discern. He hates it because it is complex-because it puts an unbearable burden upon his meager capacity for taking in ideas.” Evolution is not an opinion or belief. Evolution is a fact supported by evidence and continues to be supported with new scientific discoveries. We have relatively new sciences like the discovery of DNA and Microbiology that continually supply evidence that support the evolutionary process.

Despite scientific progress and more sophisticated technology, a study by the Pew Research Institute shows that almost 50% of Americans believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. To this day, court rooms across the country still witness battles between school boards and science advocates about whether or not creationism has a place alongside evolution in a science classroom. H.L. Mencken wrote in Homo Neanderthalensis, “The hypothesis of evolution” is credited by all men of education; they themselves can’t understand it. Ergo, its teaching must be put down.” Thankfully, reason does have its day and rulings tend to be in favor of science advocates. That is good news. However, the power base is still very much with religion.

The Future of Man–How Will Evolution Change Humans?

Posted in Science with tags , , , on January 8, 2009 by neandergal

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-future-of-man

Peter Ward’s article, Future of Man – How Will Evolution Change Humans? in Scientific American Magazine discusses how we may have and continue to shape our evolution through changing the environment through technology. A study of genetic markers from 270 people showed that humans underwent some evolution as little as 5,000 years ago. In another study, large data sets of genetic variation showed how changes to the genome increased survival chances through increased resistance to diseases like Lasser fever and malaria and may explain differences in peoples’ ability to digest milk in different regions of the world.

Whatever the future holds for human evolution, it makes for interesting speculation and food for thought…for the time being.