adarwinstudygroup.org
Periodical articles

Our list of periodical articles is organized by type of publication, the publisher and the date an article was published, with the most recent article listed first. You can access the Web page on adarwinstudgygroup.org where an article is cited, by clicking onto its thumbnail image.
For many of the articles we list, we include links to third-party Web sites, where you can learn more about the cited article or related subjects.
SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Cover of Science magazine from 2 October 2009
Ardipithecus ramidus and the Paleobiology of Early Hominids
2 October 2009
Science 326 (5949), 64, 75–86. doi:10.1126/science.1175802
The 11 papers in this issue, representing the work of a large international team with diverse areas of expertise, describe Ardipithecus ramidus, a hominid species dated to 4.4 Ma, and the habitat in which it lived in the Afar Rift region of northeastern Ethiopia. This species, substantially more primitive than Australopithecus, resolves many uncertainties about early human evolution, including the nature of the last common ancestor that we shared with the line leading to living chimpanzees and bonobos. The Ardipithecus remains were recovered from a sedimentary horizon representing a short span of time (within 100 to 10,000 years). This has enabled us to assess available and preferred habitats for the early hominids by systematic and repeated sampling of the hominid-bearing strata.
Tim D. White, et al
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Cover of Science magazine from 25 September 2009
Antennal Circadian Clocks Coordinate Sun Compass Orientation in Migratory Monarch Butterflies
25 September 2009
Science 325 (5948), 1700–1704. doi:10.1126/science.1176221
During their fall migration, Eastern North American monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) use a time-compensated Sun compass to aid navigation to their overwintering grounds in central Mexico. It has been assumed that the circadian clock that provides time compensation resides in the brain, although this assumption has never been examined directly. Here, we show that the antennae are necessary for proper time-compensated Sun compass orientation in migratory monarch butterflies, that antennal clocks exist in monarchs, and that they likely provide the primary timing mechanism for Sun compass orientation. These unexpected findings pose a novel function for the antennae and open a new line of investigation into clock-compass connections that may extend widely to other insects that use this orientation mechanism.
Christine Merlin, Robert J. Gegear, and Steven M. Reppert
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Cover of Science magazine from 26 October 2007
The Coevolution of Parochial Altruism and War
26 October 2007
Science 318 (5850), 636–640. doi:10.1126/science.1144237.
Altruism—benefiting fellow group members at a cost to oneself—and parochialism—hostility toward individuals not of one's own ethnic, racial, or other group—are common human behaviors. The intersection of the two—which we term “parochial altruism”—is puzzling from an evolutionary perspective because altruistic or parochial behavior reduces one's payoffs by comparison to what one would gain by eschewing these behaviors. But parochial altruism could have evolved if parochialism promoted intergroup hostilities and the combination of altruism and parochialism contributed to success in these conflicts. Our game-theoretic analysis and agent-based simulations show that under conditions likely to have been experienced by late Pleistocene and early Holocene humans, neither parochialism nor altruism would have been viable singly, but by promoting group conflict, they could have evolved jointly
Jung-Kyoo Choi and Samuel Bowles
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Cover of Science Signaling magazine from 9 December 2008
Intercellular Peptide Signals Regulate Plant Meristematic Cell Fate Decisions
9 December 2008
Science Signaling 1 (49), pe53. doi:10.1126/scisignal.149pe53
Plant stem cells secrete peptides that, after processing to release the active form, prevent neighboring cells from adopting a stem cell fate by activating a leucine-rich repeat (LRR) receptor–mediated pathway. Other plant meristematic cell fate decisions, such as those made during the patterning of veins and stomata, also appear to be controlled by similar LRR receptor pathways that are activated by secreted peptide signals. It is therefore probable that peptide ligands regulate meristematic activity in many plant developmental processes.
Julie E. Gray, Stuart Casson, and Lee Hunt
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Cover of Science magazine from 22 September 2006
Sex and Death
22 September 2006
Science 313 (5794), 1711d. doi:10.1126/science.313.5794.1711
The motivations of suicide bombers differ depending on their sex, says a researcher at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Psychiatrist J. Anderson Thomson Jr. says that whereas males see themselves as part of a larger entity, females seem more propelled by individual motives.
Male suicide attackers are not lone losers but members of tightly knit bands bound by ties of rage and religion. Their behavior is consistent with our ancient history of “male-bonded coalitionary violence,” involving “lethal raids“ practiced by small bands against their enemies, argues Thomson. But women do not fit this pattern.
In a paper delivered at the biennial meeting of the International Society for Human Ethology in Detroit, Michigan, last month, Thomson mentioned Chechen, Palestinian, and Hindu female suicide terrorists who had been shunned for adultery or because they had been raped, divorced because of infertility, or whose husbands or brothers had been murdered by the enemy. In these cases, he asserts, the motives have more to do with shame or personal revenge than a larger cause. And rather than being motivated by bonds with their fellows, Thompson added, all these women were “recruited, trained, directed, or in some manner controlled by men.”
Brian Jenkins
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Cover of Science magazine from 22 September 2006
International Affairs: A Prescription for Peace
30 May 2003
Science 300 (5624), 1374. doi:10.1126/science.1084099
A review of No More Killing Fields: Preventing Deadly Conflict. David A. Hamburg. Rowman and Littlefield, 2002. ISBN 0-7425-1674-1.
The best approach to preserving peace and preventing war and terrorism, Hamburg argues, lies in cooperative, international efforts that support preventative diplomacy, build democratic institutions, and upgrade socioeconomic development.
Ashton B. Carter
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Cover of Science magazine from 21 October 2005
Selective Logging in the Brazilian Amazon
21 October 2005
Science 310 (5747), 480–482. doi:10.1126/science.1118051
Amazon deforestation has been measured by remote sensing for three decades. In comparison, selective logging has been mostly invisible to satellites. We developed a large-scale, high-resolution, automated remote-sensing analysis of selective logging in the top five timber-producing states of the Brazilian Amazon. Logged areas ranged from 12,075 to 19,823 square kilometers per year (±14%) between 1999 and 2002, equivalent to 60 to 123% of previously reported deforestation area. Up to 1200 square kilometers per year of logging were observed on conservation lands. Each year, 27 million to 50 million cubic meters of wood were extracted, and a gross flux of 0.1 billion metric tons of carbon was destined for release to the atmosphere by logging.
Gregory P. Asner et al
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Cover of Science magazine from 29 June 2001
New World Pathogen Strategy Disclosed
29 June 2001
Science 292 (5526), 2397. doi:10.1126/science.292.5526.2397
We have recently received, from a highly placed scientific source, a remarkable document. It was appended to an e-mail announcement about a computer virus and appears to be the keynote address from a convention of the World Pathogen Association (WPA). The text bears the label “as delivered” and is entitled “Our Infective Future: The New Agenda.” In it, the WPA leader, the Presidential Prion, announces a profound change in policy that should be of grave concern to humanity, because it portends a shift in the goals of our major predators. We are grateful to Science for communicating the text in its entirety.
Thomas Eisner and Paul R. Ehrlich
Cover of Science magazine from 21 July 1995
Female Responses to Ancestral Advertisement Calls in Túngara Frogs
21 July 1995
Science 269 (5222), 390. doi:10.1126/science.269.5222.390
Phylogenetic techniques were used to estimate and reconstruct advertisement calls at ancestral nodes. These calls were used to investigate the degree of preference of female túngara frogs (Physalaemus pustulosus) for both extant and ancestral calls. Females did not discriminate between calls of males of their own species and calls at their most recent ancestral node. They also recognized calls of three extant species and at four ancestral nodes as the signals of appropriate mates. Both shared ancestral history, and call convergence might differentially influence call preferences.
Michael J. Ryan and A. Stanley Rand
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Animal Communication: A Summing Up
10 March 1978
Science 199 (4333), 1058–1059. doi:10.1126/science.199.4333.1058
Edward O. Wilson
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British Ecological Society
Cover of Journal of Ecology from March 1997
The influence of ant nests on Acacia seed production, herbivory and soil nutrients
March 1997
Journal of Ecology 85, 83–94
The ant Formica perpilosa nests underneath the shrub Acacia constricta in arid regions of south-western United States. The influence of ant nests on seed production, soil nutrient availability and herbivore protection was evaluated.
Plants with basal ant nests were found to produce 1.9 times as many seeds on average than plants of similar size and location without ant nests. Seeds from plants with and without ant nests were equal in fresh mass and were equally likely to germinate.
Soil from beneath plants with ant nests contained significantly higher concentrations of nitrate, ammonium, phosphorus, and water than soil from beneath plants without nests. Soil from ant nests also had significantly higher nitrogen mineralization rates. Seed production was not, however, significantly correlated with the concentration of any single soil nutrient measured. Nutrients may interact in ways that benefit plant reproduction. In addition, the microenvironment of ant nest soils may lead to the proliferation of soil organisms beneficial to the plant.
Because A. constricta is capable of forming symbioses with nitrogen fixing bacteria, it was predicted that plants with ant nests, exposed to greater concentrations and fluxes of available nitrogen, would utilize more soil nitrogen and less atmospheric nitrogen than plants without basal nests. Nitrogen isotopic analysis of seed tissue revealed that plants with and without ant nests obtained nitrogen from the same source or combination of sources, suggesting that nitrogen may not have limited A. constricta reproduction. Additional interpretations are also discussed.
Ants were much more abundant on plants with ant nests at the base than on those without ant nests, but there was little evidence that proximity to ant nests increased protection against herbivory. Plants with and without basal ant nests sustained similar levels of damage to leaves and seeds.
If seed production is correlated with reproductive success, then selection may favour A. constricta plants which harbour Formica perpilosa nests at the base. Enhancement of soil nutrient concentrations may be of general importance in understanding how plants benefit from interaction with ants, especially if ants are more likely to nest near plants bearing extrafloral nectaries.
Diane Wagner
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Genetics Society
Heredity
Intra-sexual selection in Drosophila
1948
Heredity 2, 349–368. doi:10.1038/hdy.1948
Since Darwin first wrote on the subject in 1871, sexual selection has been generally accepted as one of the basic facts of biology. The evidence in its favour seems, however, to be mainly circumstantial. Its existence has usually been inferred from sex differences depending on what are called secondary sexual characters which are supposed to have arisen as results of that selection. Such an approach has its dangers, and Huxley (1938) has made important criticisms of the original concept of sexual selection. He has shown that a large number of characters which have been attributed to sexual selection are unconnected with competition for mates. This is particularly the case in monogamous birds which offer some of the most striking examples of secondary sexual differences. In the first place monogamy, at least when the sexes are numerically equal, is the mating system least likely to develop sexual selection. In the second place, and more important, observations on bird behaviour have shown that much of the display of birds occurs after pairing, when competition must have ceased. Such sexual differences are concerned, either with inducing the female to copulate, or with maintaining the association of the sexes as long as it is necessary for the rearing of the young.
A. J. Bateman
Heredity
Genetic aspects of communication during male-male competition in the Madagascar hissing cockroach: honest signalling of size
1995
Heredity 75, 198–205. doi:10.1038/hdy.1995.124
Male Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Gromphadorhina portentosa, engage in agonistic contests with other males and produce audible sounds or ‘hisses’ during these interactions. Hisses are used to maintain, rather than to establish, social relationships among males. The agonistic hisses of males are variable and could be used as signals to communicate size or competitive ability of an individual.
In this study we examined how size influences male-male competition, as well as the genetic variation and covariation of male body size and components of the agonistic hiss. We found that male size affected the outcome of agonistic interactions between pairs of males: a male that dominated in a pair was significantly larger than the male that was subordinate.
However, we found no differences in the hisses produced by dominant and subordinate males after controlling for male weight. We estimated heritabilities, evolvability and genetic correlations for male size and characteristics of the hiss from a full-sib analysis of brothers. The patterns of heritabilities and evolvabilities were very similar.
The heritabilities of both male weight and duration of the hiss were significantly greater than zero. There was a significant positive genetic correlation between duration of the agonistic hiss and male weight, and a significant negative genetic correlation between hiss duration and the beginning dominant frequency.
There was also a positive phenotypic correlation and a negative environmental correlation between male weight and hiss duration. Thus, hiss duration can signal the present influence of the environment on male size, whereas information from hiss duration and beginning dominant frequency can signal the male's ability to transmit genetic influence for size. Our results are discussed in terms of honest signalling and assessment during male-male and courtship interactions.
Deborah C. Clark and Allen J. Moore
The Lepidoperists' Society
Cover from a recent publication of News of the Lepidopterists' Society
Pupal Mating in Zebra Longwing (Heliconinius charithonia): Photographic Evidence
2008
News of the Lepidopterists' Society 50 (1), 27–32
Pupal mating is a term that describes the behavior of butterfly males seeking out female pupae prior to eclosion and competing for the chance to mate with either phorate (uneclosed) or with teneral (freshly emerged) females. Pupal mating is known for many Heliconius species, but the behavior is otherwise unknown in the Lepidoptera, with the single exception of a lycaenid, Jamenus evagoras. Also, in Heliconius, the behavior arose only once in the course of evolution (all the pupal-mating species form a clade together on the DNA-based evolutionary tree).
Apparently, pupal mating is very well known from observations made in insectaries, but it is observed infrequently in nature. The exception is Heliconius hewitsoni… The latter study suggested, for instance, that males with longer wings and shorter bodies should be favored by selection. The attraction of males of Heliconius charithonia to female pupae was in great detail documented by a physician, Dr. Wm. Wittfeld, of south Florida in the late 19th century and published by his correspondent. Here, I document that attraction and competition of males for female pupae as well as the process of actual pupal mating with the help of digital photography and filmography.
Andrei Zourakov
Massachusetts Medical Society
The New England Journal of Medicine
Beyond Humanitarian Bandages—Confronting Genocide in Sudan
16 December 2004
The New England Journal of Medicine 351 (25), 2574–2576
The basic contours of what is happening in the Darfur region of western Sudan have been extensively documented. In May, I traveled to Chad, Sudan's neighbor to the west, and interviewed dozens of refugees spread out over hundreds of miles. The stories I heard were remarkably consistent. Person after person, the refugees told me that they had fled after attacks on their villages by Arab Janjaweed militias, which have burned hundreds of villages and murdered tens of thousands of civilians from so-called black African ethnic groups. The distinction between Arab and African has a heavy subjective component, but it is…
Jerry Fowler
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Nature Publishing Group
Cover of Nature magazine from 1 January 2009
Year of astronomy: Visions of ourselves
1 January 2009
Nature 456 (7725), 30. doi:10.1038/457030a
Review of Earthwise: How Man First Saw the Earth by Robert Poole
The view of our planet from space is beautiful and humbling, yet this shift in human perspective has not altered how we care for our environment, argues Charles Cockell.
It is human nature to try to understand our place in the cosmos. Changes in our perception of human significance have accompanied many revolutions in scientific thought, such as the theory of evolution and establishing the order of the planets in the Solar System.
Charles Cockell
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Cover of Nature magazine from 17 July 2008
Life after SuperBabe
17 July 2008
Nature 454 (253). doi:10.1038/454253a
In the 30 years since the birth of the world's first “test tube” baby, in vitro fertilization has become commonplace. The next three decades could bring equally transformative technologies.
Editorial
Cover of Nature magazine from 11 November 2003
Sophisticated sperm allocation in male fowl
11 November 2003
Nature 426 (6962), 70–74. doi:10.1038/nature02004
When a female is sexually promiscuous, the ejaculates of different males compete for the fertilization of her eggs; the more sperm a male inseminates into a female, the more likely he is to fertilize her eggs. Because sperm production is limited and costly, theory predicts that males will strategically allocate sperm (1) according to female promiscuity (2) saving some for copulations with new females and (3) to females producing more and/or better offspring.
Whether males allocate sperm in all of these ways is not known, particularly in birds where the collection of natural ejaculates only recently became possible. Here we demonstrate male sperm allocation of unprecedented sophistication in the fowl Gallus gallus. Males show status-dependent sperm investment in females according to the level of female promiscuity; they progressively reduce sperm investment in a particular female but, on encountering a new female, instantaneously increase their sperm investment; and they preferentially allocate sperm to females with large sexual ornaments signalling superior maternal investment. Our results indicate that female promiscuity leads to the evolution of sophisticated male sexual behaviour.
Tommaso Pizzari, et al
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The New York Academy of Science
Cover from January/February 1999 cover of The Sciences
A Woman's Curse?
January/February 1999
The Sciences 39 (1), 24–29
The passage from girlhood to womanhood is marked by a flow of blood from the uterus. Without elaborate ceremony, often without discussion, girls know that when they begin to menstruate, their world is changed forever. For the next thirty years or so, they will spend much energy having babies, or trying not to, reminded at each menstruation that either way, the biology of reproduction has a major impact on their lives.
Anthropologists have underscored the universal importance of menstruation by documenting how the event is interwoven into the ideology as well as the daily activities of cultures around the world. The customs attached to menstruation take peculiarly negative forms: the so-called menstrual taboos. Those taboos may prohibit a woman from having sex with her husband or from cooking for him. They may bar her from visiting sacred places or taking part in sacred activities. They may forbid her to touch certain items used by men, such as hunting gear or weapons, or to eat certain foods or to wash at certain times. They may also require that a woman paint her face red or wear a red hip cord, or that she segregate herself in a special hut while she is menstruating. In short, the taboos set menstruating women apart from the rest of their society, marking them as impure and polluting.
Meredith F. Small
Oxford Journals
Cover of Behavioral Ecology magazine from 22 November 2005
Cooperation, conflict, and coevolution in the attine ant-fungus symbiosis
22 November 2005
Behavioral Ecology 17(2), 291–296. doi:10.1093/beheco/arj028
Fungus-growing ants in the tribe Attini represent a classic example of a mutualism. These ants obligately depend on fungus as their major food source, while the fungus receives both vegetative substrate (nourishment) from the ants and protection from pathogens.
Here, we try to identify both benefits and costs of the association by using cultivar switch experiments. We assessed the benefits to each mutualistic partner by replacing the native fungus (cultivar) used by the primitive attine ant species Cyphomyrmex muelleri with a novel cultivar, that of the closely related ant species Cyphomyrmex longiscapus.
We show that interspecific cultivar switches caused a significant decline in worker number, garden biomass, and the number of reproductives produced by colonies. In contrast, these effects were not seen in intraspecific switches. We also examined possible costs of the mutualistic association. We estimated colony sex ratios for C. longiscapus to determine whether cultivars can bias reproductive allocation toward females; such bias may evolve because only female reproductives can disperse the fungus, and males are therefore of no value to the fungus.
However, intraspecific cultivar switches did not significantly affect ant sex ratios. Cultivar switch experiments represent a new tool for studying cooperation, conflict, and coevolution between mutualistic partners in the attine ant-fungus symbiosis.
Natasha J. Mehdiabadi, Benjamin Hughes and Ulrich G. Mueller
Cover of Behavioral Ecology magazine
Menstrual hut visits by Dogon women: a hormonal test distinguishes deceit from honest signaling
1996
Behavioral Ecology 7 (3), 340–315
In humans the interests of males and females may conflict with respect to the attribution of paternity. If a female has conceived through adultery, or changes mates while she is in early pregnancy, she may protect her reproductive investment by misassigning paternity.
In Mali, West Africa, Dogon males attempt to prevent female deception by mandating honest advertisement of menstruation (Strassmann, 1992). This advertisement takes place at a menstrual hut where women are on display to all the members of their husband's lineage. Knowledge of the timing of menstruation is pivotal because no other physiological event is as useful in paternity assessments.
In this article I use hormonal data and a census of menstrual hut visits to quantify female compliance with the menstrual taboos. The sample includes 93 women who provided urine samples twice weekly for 10 weeks. Analysis of urinary steroid hormone metabolites (pregnanediol-3-glucuronide and estrone-3-glucuronide) demonstrates that the women went to the menstrual huts during 86% of all menses and, with the exception of one woman who may have been spotting, they never went to the menstrual huts during pregnancy or amenorrhea. Thus the menstrual taboos of the Dogon were effective in eliciting honest signals of female reproductive status (pregnant, amenorrheic, or cycling).
This study is the first to use hormonal data to test the honesty of a human behavior in a nonlaboratory setting. It also establishes the feasibility of urinary enzyme immunoassays as a tool for studying human reproduction in remote populations
Beverly Strassmann
The Royal Society
Cover of Proceedings of the Royal Society B magazine from 22 April 1994
A pessimistic estimate of the time required for an eye to evolve
22 April 1994
Proceedings of the Royal Society B 256 (1345), 53–58. doi:10.1098/rspb.1994.0048
Theoretical considerations of eye design allow us to find routes along which the optical structures of eyes may have evolved. If selection constantly favours an increase in the amount of detectable spatial information, a light-sensitive patch will gradually turn into a focused lens eye through continuous small improvements of design. An upper limit for the number of generations required for the complete transformation can be calculated with a minimum of assumptions. Even with a consistently pessimistic approach the time required becomes amazingly short: only a few hundred thousand years.
Dan E. Nilsson and Susanne Pelger
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NEWS MEDIA
Associated Press
USA Today
Iraqi kids play make-believe war games
24 February 2007
Toting menacing looking toy guns, young boys swarm around an abandoned car, chanting battle cries of a Shiite militia and pointing their play weapons at the “terrorist” in the driver's seat. Outnumbered, the boy playing a would-be suicide bomber surrenders.
Hamza Hendawi
BBC
BBC
Iraq torture ’worse after Saddam‘
21 September 2006
Torture may be worse now in Iraq than under former leader Saddam Hussein, the UN's chief anti-torture expert says. Manfred Nowak said the situation in Iraq was “out of control,&rdqup; with abuses being committed by security forces, militia groups and anti-US insurgents.
BBC
Free Sex Offer For US Troops
4 June 2003
A US brothel is offering free sex to US troops who took part in the war against Iraq to thank them for their endeavours abroad.
Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
In desperate times, daughter is currency: Afghan drug lord will take 13-year-old for bride as payment for farmer's debts
30 May 2006
Abdul Satar lost his poppy harvest to a hailstorm. His daughter Esther… will be given as a second wife to a 70-year-old drug lord to pay debt accrued at a grocery shop the dealer runs in Deh Magas, in Badakhshan, Afghanistan.
Officially, it's a marriage.
“We don’t have any choice. If the money lender wants our land or daughters, we have to do whatever makes him happy,” the aging farmer says, his eyes welling with tears as his daughter sits next to him in their mud-brick shack.
Esther quietly fingers the black scarf that covers her hair. Asked how she feels about her impending wedding to local drug baron Khan Mohammed, she looks down at her feet.
“I don't want to marry him,” she whispers.
Almost five years after a U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan led to the overthrow of the Taliban and the establishment of a democratically elected government, Esther's predicament underscores the persistence of a feudal economic system in parts of rural Afghanistan and the continuing low status of women and girls.
Rachel Morarjee
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New York Times
New York Times
Attacks on Homeless Bring Push on Hate Crime Laws
7 August 2009
With economic troubles pushing more people onto the streets in the last few years, law enforcement officials and researchers are seeing a surge in unprovoked attacks against the homeless, and a number of states are considering legislation to treat such assaults as hate crimes.
Eric Lichtblau
New York Times
Genghis Khan Rules Mongolia Again, in a P.R. Campaign
2 August 2009
Jesus Christ looms over Rio de Janeiro, a quartet of American presidents gazes from the face of Mount Rushmore and Lenin keeps watch over St. Petersburg. But if there were a global contest to honor larger-than-life men on a colossal scale, Mongolia might just vanquish them all—again.
Genghis Khan, the legendary horseman who conquered half the known world in the 13th century, has returned to the steppes of Mongolia, and this time he charges admission.
Dan Levin
New York Times
Not a Victim, but a Hero
25 July 2009.
After being kidnapped at the age of 16 by a group of thugs and enduring a year of rapes and beatings, Assiya Rafiq was delivered to the police and thought her problems were over.
Then, she said, four police officers took turns raping her.
The next step for Assiya was obvious: She should commit suicide. That's the customary escape in rural Pakistan for a raped woman, as the only way to cleanse the disgrace to her entire family.
Instead, Assiya summoned the unimaginable courage to go public and fight back. She is seeking to prosecute both her kidnappers and the police, despite threats against her and her younger sisters. This is a kid who left me awed and biting my lip; this isn't a tale of victimization but of valor, empowerment and uncommon heroism.
Nicholas D. Kristof
New York Times
A Love Vaccine?
12 January 2009
Would you rather have a love potion that made you more likely to become attached to someone else, or a love vaccine that stopped you from falling in love with the wrong person?
In my Findings column, I make the case for a love vaccine and discuss an essay about the neurochemistry of love in the new issue of Nature by Larry Young, a neuroscientist who studies prairie voles at the Yerkes National Primate Research Centers at Emory University. He says that pair-bonding in humans (as in voles, one of the few other monogamous mammals) can be enhanced or suppressed by tinkering with brain hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin, and predicts that we’ll be seeing new drugs to do just that.
John Tierney
New York Times
A Cutting Tradition
20 January 2008
When a girl is taken—usually by her mother—to a free circumcision event held each spring in Bandung, Indonesia, she is handed over to a small group of women who, swiftly and yet with apparent affection, cut off a small piece of her genitals. Sponsored by the Assalaam Foundation, an Islamic educational and social-services organization, circumcisions take place in a prayer center or an emptied-out elementary-school classroom where desks are pushed together and covered with sheets and a pillow to serve as makeshift beds.
The procedure takes several minutes. There is little blood involved. Afterward, the girl's genital area is swabbed with the antiseptic Betadine. She is then helped back into her underwear and returned to a waiting area, where she’s given a small, celebratory gift—some fruit or a donated piece of clothing—and offered a cup of milk for refreshment. She has now joined a quiet majority in Indonesia, where, according to a 2003 study by the Population Council, an international research group, 96 percent of families surveyed reported that their daughters had undergone some form of circumcision by the time they reached 14.
Sara Corbett
New York Times
African Crucible: Cast as Witches, Then Cast Out 15 November 2007
Domingos Pedro was only 12 years old when his father died. The passing was sudden; the cause was a mystery to doctors. But not to Domingos's relatives.
They gathered that afternoon in Domingos's mud-clay house, he said, seized him and bound his legs with rope. They tossed the rope over the house's rafters and hoisted him up until he was suspended headfirst over the hard dirt floor. Then they told him they would cut the rope if he did not confess to murdering his father.
“They were yelling, ‘Witch! Witch!’” Domingos recalled, tears rolling down his face. “There were so many people all shouting at me at the same time.”
Sharon LaFraniere
New York Times
Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War
7 October 2007
Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, cannot bear to listen to the stories his patients tell him anymore. Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair.
“We don't know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear,” said Dr. Mukwege, who works in South Kivu Province, the epicenter of Congo’s rape epidemic. “They are done to destroy women.”
Jeffrey Gettleman
New York Times
A conversation with Philip G. Zimbardo: Finding Hope in Knowing the Universal Capacity for Evil
3 April 2007
At Philip G. Zimbardo's town house here, the walls are covered with masks from Indonesia, Africa and the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Zimbardo, a social psychologist and the past president of the American Psychological Association, has made his reputation studying how people disguise the good and bad in themselves and under what conditions either is expressed.
Claudia Dreifus
New York Times
How to Avoid Honor Killing in Turkey? Honor Suicide
16 July 2006
For Derya, a waiflike girl of 17, the order to kill herself came from an uncle and was delivered in a text message to her cellphone. “You have blackened our name,” it read. “Kill yourself and clean our shame or we will kill you first.”
Derya said her crime was to fall for a boy she had met at school last spring. She knew the risks: her aunt had been killed by her grandfather for seeing a boy. But after being cloistered and veiled for most of her life, she said, she felt free for the first time and wanted to express her independence.
When news of the love affair spread to her family, she said, her mother warned her that her father would kill her. But she refused to listen. Then came the threatening text messages, sent by her brothers and uncles, sometimes 15 a day. Derya said they were the equivalent of a death sentence.
Consumed by shame and fearing for her life, she said, she decided to carry out her family's wishes. First, she said, she jumped into the Tigris River, but she survived. Next she tried hanging herself, but an uncle cut her down. Then she slashed her wrists with a kitchen knife.
Dan Bilefsky
New York Times
Alvarez Lizette
Spreading Scandinavian Genes, Without Viking Boats
30 September 2004
If, suddenly, children in some pockets of the world look blonder and taller, if they feel oddly at ease on a bicycle or juggling three languages, there may be an explanation: Arhus and its university men. The students in this gentle seaside city, it turns out, are populating the world.
New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof
Sentenced to Be Raped 29 September 2004
…Mukhtaran Bibi could not be more altruistic or brave, as the men who gang-raped her discovered. I firmly believe that the central moral challenge of this century, equivalent to the struggles against slavery in the 19th century or against totalitarianism in the 20th, will be to address sex inequality in the third world—and it's the stories of women like Ms. Mukhtaran that convince me this is so.
New York Times
L.A.'s Streets of Death
12 June 2003
Ozzie E. Garcia has a shaved head, a crooked grin and three tiny dots tattooed in the shape of a triangle near his right eye. “People think it's a gang symbol,” he said. “I used to scare them by telling them it’s the number of people I killed.” He burst out laughing. “It’s just a symbol of my crazy life.”
Mr. Garcia is a 21-year-old ex-gang member in East Los Angeles who is trying, with some difficulty, to turn his life around. One of the things you notice as you talk to young people in L.A.'s toughest neighborhoods is the extent to which they are shaped and haunted by death—the violent deaths of relatives and close friends, and their own very close calls.
Bob Herbert
New York Times
Fighting Women Enter the Arena, No Holds Barred
15 May 2003
In a futuristic penthouse with floor-to-ceiling windows and holographic artworks, two fierce combatants stare each other down. Muscles ripple and hands clench with menace before the first blow—whack!—is thrown.
A heavily tattooed brute named Exile whose neck is thicker than his clean-shaven head vaults his 6-foot 8-inch, 300-pound frame into the air, sailing boot-first into the jaw of his opponent, who is slammed into a window that shatters on impact.
It doesn't matter that Exile's opponent is 16 years his junior, less than half his weight and more than a foot shorter—and a woman.
Michel Marriott
New York Times
A Prolific Genghis Khan, It Seems, Helped People the World
11 February 2003
A remarkable living legacy of the Mongol empire has been discovered by geneticists in a survey of human populations from the Caucasus to China. They find that as many as 8 percent of the men dwelling in the confines of the former Mongol empire bear Y chromosomes that seem characteristic of the Mongol ruling house. If so, some 16 million men, or half a percent of the world's male population, can probably claim descent from Genghis Khan.
Nicholas Wade
New York Times
A Conversation With: Author Offers Theory on Gray Matter of Love
30 May 2000
As Dr. Miller sees it, the most outstanding features of the human mind—its creativity, its consciousness, its moral sense, its artfulness and its love of a good punch line—were shaped not by natural selection but by the other strong evolutionary force called sexual selection.
Natalie Angier
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Stanford experiment foretold Iraq scandal: ’Inmates‘ got abused in psychology study
8 May 2004
To one Bay Area expert, the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison should have been predictable. “The key is this: Once a prison has a veil of secrecy around it, which most do, it's just open for corruption,” said Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University. “If you know nobody can get in, nobody can know what you’re doing.”
Zimbardo said the report on Abu Ghraib prepared by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba describes a prison that was the perfect petri dish in which the culture of guard violence could flourish.
Matthew B. Stannard
Time Magazine
Page from Time magazine
The Gay Side of Nature
26 April 1999
Giraffes do it, goats do it, birds and bonobos and dolphins do it. Humans beings—a lot of them anyway—like to do it too, but of all the planet’s species, they're the only ones who are oppressed when they try.
What humans share with so many other animals, it now appears, is freewheeling homosexuality. For centuries opponents of gay rights have seen same-gender sex as a uniquely human phenomenon, one of the many ways our famously corruptible species flouts the laws of nature. But nature's morality, it seems, may be remarkably flexible…
Jeffrey Kluger
National Geographic Magazine
National Geographic Magazine
On bin Laden's Trail
December 2004
Faqir Shah sprays machine-gun fire across the black hills of Tora Bora, shooting at phantoms of al Qaeda. The shots echo through a forest of twisted holly trees, zigzagging up through the ravines to the granite peaks, as if searching for a reply. But there is no response, only the wind. Shah lowers his machine gun, smoke curling from the barrel. It's the first time the Afghan militiaman has gone back to Tora Bora since the fierce battle between al Qaeda fighters and the U.S. military in December 2001, and there is an equal measure of bravado and fear in his macho display.
“We fought al Qaeda here for two weeks in the snow,” says Shah, who is wearing U.S. Army-issue camouflage trousers under a ragged gray coat. He points to a nearby bomb crater, 15 feet (4.6 meters) deep, left by one of the U.S. warplanes, and says, “See that hole? An American soldier tossed a piece of concrete in there from the World Trade Center, because he thought al Qaeda was all finished. I told him I didn't think so.”
Tim McGirk
GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS
International Review of the Red Cross
International Review of the Red Cross
Toward a global ban on landmines
August 31, 1995
International Review of the Red Cross, 307, 391–410
With mounting evidence of severe disruption to civilian life, there is universal agreement on the urgency of the global landmines problem. A recent State Department report estimates that roughly 65 million to 110 million uncleared anti-personnel landmines are scattered like seeds of death in fifty-six countries around the world. Even after peace has been negotiated in Cambodia, El Salvador and Mozambique, civilians continue to die or be crippled by exploding landmines at an overall rate of 500 per week.
Although precise international statistics are not kept on landmine injuries or deaths, most of the victims are poor farmers, women or often children who are collecting firewood, tending cattle or gathering food in an area that was previously a battleground A particularly insidious weapon with a distinct purpose in the field of munitions, the anti-personnel mine is designed to maim opposition soldiers. Landmines: A Deadly Legacy describes the effect a mine explosion has on the human body…
Anita Parlow
National Institute of Mental Health
National Institute of Mental Health
Gene Associated with Social Behavior in Animals Has Similar Effects in Human Males
Science News from 2008, 2 September 2008
A gene variant related to the hormone vasopressin appears to be associated with how human males bond with their partners or wives, according to an NIMH-funded study. In voles, a mouse-like animal, the comparable gene has been studied extensively and has long been linked to vole bonding behaviors.
This is the first study to suggest that the wealth of information on vole pair-bonding may also apply to humans and may help to inform research on human disorders related to impaired social interactions and communication, such as autism. The paper was published online on September 2, 2008, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A series of studies on vole populations, begun at the NIMH Intramural Research Program in the mid-1980s by now NIMH director Thomas Insel, M.D, showed that, in male rodents, variations in a section of the gene avpr1a affect social bonding behaviors, such as choosing a mate and parenting. Recently, some research on AVPR1A in humans suggest a possible link with autism and certain social behaviors, such as altruism, but no direct association with human pair-bonding had previously been shown.
National Institute of Mental Health
WEB PUBLICATIONS
ScienceNOW Daily News
Peacock Feathers: That's So Last Year
31 March 2008
ScienceNOW Daily News
It's been a truism since Darwin’s day: Female peahens prefer a male peacock with a gorgeous train–the fancy feathered fan he unfurls to wow the gals. But a new 7-year study questions this long-held notion, reporting that females in a feral population of Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) showed no such preference. The controversial paper contradicts previous, lauded studies that did reveal a link and that are part of the canon of evolutionary biology.
Virginia Morell
Stanford Prison Experiment
Stanford Prison Experiment
1999
What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? These are some of the questions we posed in this dramatic simulation of prison life conducted in the summer of 1971 at Stanford University.
Stanford University
ESSAYS
George Orwell on the Aragon front at Huesca (March 1937)
Looking back on the Spanish War
New Road, 1943
It is curious that more vividly than anything that came afterwards in the Spanish war I remember the week of so-called training that we received before being sent to the front–the huge cavalry barracks in Barcelona with its draughty stables and cobbled yards, the icy cold of the pump where one washed, the filthy meals made tolerable by pannikins of wine, the Trousered militia-women chopping firewood, and the roll-call in the early mornings where my prosaic English name made a sort of comic interlude among the resounding Spanish ones, Manuel Gonzalez, Pedro Aguilar, Ramon Fenellosa, Roque Ballaster, Jaime Domenech, Sebastian Viltron, Ramon Nuvo Bosch. I name those particular men because I remember the faces of all of them. Except for two who were mere riff-raff and have doubtless become good Falangists by this time, it is probable that all of them are dead. Two of them I know to be dead. The eldest would have been about twenty-five, the youngest sixteen.
George Orwell
→ Read the full text online at george-orwell.org
Winston Churchill
Shall we all commit suicide?
Nash's Pall Mall Magazine
June 1924
Mankind has never been in this position before. Without having improved appreciably in virtue or enjoying wiser guidance, it has got into its hands for the first time the tools by which it can unfailingly accomplish its own exterminations… Death stands at attention, obedient,expectant, ready to serve, ready to shear away the peoples en masse; ready, if called, to pulverize, without hope of repair, what is left of civilization. He awaits only the word of command. He awaits it from a frail, bewildered being, long his victim, now—for one occasion only only—his Master…
Winston Churchill