Sexual selection is one of the driving forces of evolution, and yet is has received little attention from the scientific community in comparison to its more-popular cousin, natural selection. Sexual selection is a natural process that acts on an organism’s ability to obtain and successfully reproduce with a mate. Looking deeper into the mechanisms of sexual selection has the potential to not only increase our understanding of evolution, but also our understanding of human behavior. In fact, recent research has shown that sexual selection has played a larger role in human evolution than previously assumed (1, 2).
Take a moment to remeber the last time you took a walk through nature. When I think about nature here in the Pacific Northwest, images of lush greenery, tall trees, and rushing water come to mind. Why is nature so appealing to us? One evolutionary explanation is that nature is intrinsically healthy for humans. Time spent in nature has been shown to reduce a huge variety of health issues, including obesity, anxiety disorders, and cancer rates (1).
My interest in wolves started early. In middle school, I remember being assigned a project in which all I had to do was pick a topic I was excited about, do some research it, and present my findings with a poster and a paper. I don’t remember how I came to this decision, but I chose wolves as my topic. The research I did for that project kicked off a lifelong fascination and respect for the Canis lupus, so naturally I was excited when I found a paper about how wolves are at the top of a trophic cascade in Yellowstone National Park. Even more exciting was the discovery that the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone in the 1990s has been mitigating the effects of climate change* on the entire park.
What if I told you that there is one simple way to clean your brain of harmful toxins, significantly improve your memory, reduce your reaction time, and increase general brain function? Some recent research has led scientists to conclude that there really is one simple trick to achieving all the above, and it’s not a pill. It’s sleep.
Alright, it’s confession time: I’m one of those snobby Seattleites who shops at expensive, organic grocery stores. I grew up more at home in a Whole Foods than a Costco. That being said, there is one thing that drives me crazy about the “green” eating movement, and that is the shameless fear-mongering around GMO foods (GMO stands for genetically modified organism). The myth that GMOs are dangerous, or at the very least should be avoided, is both ignorant and dangerous to millions of people.
The interaction between senses has always been fascinating to me. That’s why I was excited today when I stumbled across a couple papers that talked about the interaction between how we perceive the taste of food and the color of the cookware that it’s served in. For example, researchers found that the same coffee, when served in differently colored mugs, was rated differently on metrics of flavor intensity and sweetness. Coffee was rated significantly more intense and less sweet when it was served in a white mug than when it was served in a blue mug or a clear glass mug. *
“Evolution” is one of the most controversial words in human history, and over the course of that history the word has taken on many different meanings. Several of these meanings are misleading-- they don't accurately reflect evolution as a scientific theory. Why are these inaccurate definitions so popular? We're uncomfortable with the full implications of evolution, and what those implications mean for our place in the animal kingdom.
Have you ever been told that you are more of a left-brain or right-brained thinker? Maybe you’ve heard someone use those terms to account for being more inclined towards science and math than art and literature (or vice versa). Growing up, I often felt conflicted about which side of my brain was “dominant,” because I couldn’t choose between my love for the STEM disciplines and the arts. Research has shown, however, that I needn’t have worried— the left-brain right-brain dichotomy is a myth.