Neanderthals Also Divvied Up Some Chores by Gender
Homo sapiens aren't alone in their division of chores by sex; our Neanderthal cousins also delegated a few tasks according to gender.
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Turns out gender roles date as far back as 100,000 years. Erin Blakemore from the Smithsonian has picked up on an interesting bit of research, showing evidence of how our Neanderthal ancestors split the daily chores by sex — a revelation in the scientific community, which has thought this kind of division was only typical of sapiens societies.
The Spanish National Research Council made these conclusions and published their research in the Journal of Human Evolution after examining 99 incisors and canines from 19 individuals from three different work sites. So, how could one possibly glean what chores were done by looking at some teeth? Well, Neanderthals liked to use their mouths as kind of a third hand. Many of us still do so today, but not to the same extent.
The teeth in the female fossils showed deeper grooves than the males, showing a distinct split in tasks that would require a “third hand.” There were more nicks in the enamel and dentin portions of the upper incisors and canines of the males, whereas females displayed more imperfections in the lower portions of their teeth. The researchers note that they cannot make any certain conclusions as to what kind of work these teeth did, just that there was a division of tasks by sex. However, it's custom within the community to think that women were primarily responsible for preparing furs and crafting garments, while the males sharpened tools with their teeth. Though, the teeth show a limited view of the Neanderthals' day-to-day lives and activities. Almudena Estalrrich, researcher at the Spanish National Museum of Natural Sciences, said in a press release:
"Nevertheless, we believe that the specialization of labor by sex of the individuals was probably limited to a few tasks, as it is possible that both men and women participated equally in the hunting of big animals.”
Read more at Smithsonian.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
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- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
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If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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