Like the emperor’s new clothes, DNA kits are a tailored illusion

A DNA test promises to reveal your hidden history — but is it all smoke and mirrors?

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

Most people remember the emperor: a vain ruler, swindled into paying for a nonexistent magical garment, parades in public, only to be embarrassed by a little boy. To me, the story is really about the swindling tailors.

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Surprising Science

2 reasons why mothers far outnumbered fathers in human history

Surprising studies revealed why mothers affected the genetic pool more than fathers.

Credit: Pixabay
  • Studies showed that in human history, mothers often outnumbered fathers.
  • This happened because of polygyny and migration patterns.
  • Modern ratio of mothers to fathers is closer to 1 to 1.
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Surprising Science

What would alternate, alien forms of life look like?

All life as we know it relies on carbon and water. But researchers speculate this doesn't have to be the case.

Photo credit: JR Korpa on Unsplash
  • Life on Earth (and therefore all life we know) relies on carbon and water.
  • Carbon and water make for excellent ingredients when making life, but many other elements could serve in their place under the right conditions.
  • What are these alternative forms of life and under what conditions could they flourish?
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Surprising Science

Did humanity evolve to have psychopaths?

Psychopaths are manipulative, violent, impulsive, and lack empathy — but research suggests that psychopathy may be an evolutionary strategy rather than a disorder.

Photo credit: Isai Ramos on Unsplash
  • It's tempting to think of psychopathy as a kind of aberrant mental condition, but several studies suggest that it may be an evolutionary strategy.
  • A study compared the genetic profiles of psychopaths with individuals who were more likely to have children younger and more frequently and found significant overlap.
  • This suggests that the qualities that bring about psychopathy are also qualities that encourage more frequent reproduction, making psychopathy an advantageous strategy.
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Surprising Science

New fossils suggest human ancestors evolved in Europe, not Africa

Experts argue the jaws of an ancient European ape reveal a key human ancestor.

  • The jaw bones of an 8-million-year-old ape were discovered at Nikiti, Greece, in the '90s.
  • Researchers speculate it could be a previously unknown species and one of humanity's earliest evolutionary ancestors.
  • These fossils may change how we view the evolution of our species.
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Surprising Science