Why humans struggled to make 'f' and 'v' sounds until farming came along

Love to drop F-bombs? Thank the shift to agriculture.

Blasi et al.
  • A new study suggests that the f and v sounds were made easier to pronounce by the change in our diets the invention of farming made possible.
  • The idea isn't a new one, but is only now being taken seriously.
  • Even today, many hunter-gather cultures lack labiodentals in their languages.
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Surprising Science

Harvard: Men who can do 40 pushups have a 'significantly' lower risk of heart disease

Turns out pushups are more telling than treadmill tests when it comes to cardiovascular health.

Airman 1st Class Justin Baker completes another push-up during the First Sergeants' push-up a-thon June 28, 2011, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Participants were allowed 10 minutes to do as many push-ups as they could during the fundraiser. Airman Baker, a contract specialist assigned to the 354th Contracting Squadron, completed 278 push-ups. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Janine Thibault)
  • Men who can perform 40 pushups in one minute are 96 percent less likely to have cardiovascular disease than those who do less than 10.
  • The Harvard study focused on over 1,100 firefighters with a median age of 39.
  • The exact results might not be applicable to men of other age groups or to women, researchers warn.
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Surprising Science

Famous fossil is not an Archaeopteryx feather after all

Lasers solve the mystery of the missing quill.

(Daniel Eskriidge/Shutterstock)
  • The famous fossilized feather found in the 1860s is from some unknown animal.
  • The fossil's missing quill has long kept its identity unknown.
  • We're just at the beginning of our awareness of feathered dinosaurs.
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Surprising Science

Psychologically and physically, traffic is terrible for our health

Between the noise and frustration, we're suffering more than ever.

Photo credit: Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash
  • Traffic has been implicated in measurable exhaustion, an increase in blood pressure, negative attitudinal shifts, and a constant release of stress hormones.
  • In 2009, 3.9 billion gallons of fuel and 4.8 billion hours of time were wasted by Americans sitting in traffic.
  • Traffic is costing the US economy $100 billion every year.
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Mind & Brain

The maxim 'use it or lose it' is wrong, researchers say. Here's why.

A new review article makes the case that you can always use it.

Photo credit: GULSHAN KHAN / AFP / Getty Images
  • UMass Amherst biology professor Lawrence M. Schwartz redefines the term by writing, "use it or lose it, until you work at it again."
  • Teenagers "bank" muscle growth potential to help prevent frailty in old age.
  • Exercising over the course of your entire lifetime is necessary for maintaining good physical and cognitive health.
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Surprising Science