Happy anniversary

Blogging has been kind of slow due to the birth of my son 2 weeks ago. I’ll be back at it soon, I promise. In the meanwhile, let me briefly pause to wish a happy anniversary to On the Origin of Species, which was published 150 years ago today. I recommend that you celebrate by buying yourself a t-shirt.

Perhaps a minor credibility problem

Richard Dawkins has a new book coming out, titled The Greatest Show on Earth, in which he tries to win over fence-sitters with a case for evolution.

But, is it just me, or did his last book The God Delusion (as in, if you believe in God you’re delusional) maybe alienate some of his potential audience? Or is there a big market segment of creationist atheists that I don’t know about?

On sex and our ever-larger organs

Male chimpanzees exchange meat for sex from females, according to a new study in PLoS One.

This study is bound to trigger lots of tittering and jokes about the “oldest profession.” However, what I found most interesting about it was this:

“We looked at chimps when they were not in oestrus, this means they don’t have sexual swellings and aren’t copulating.”

“The males still share with them – they might share meat with a female one day, and only copulate with her a day or two later.”

In other words, these aren’t just instantaneous you-give-me-this, I-give-you-that trades. Rather, these seem to be more like long-term contracts. Evolutionary psychologists like Leda Cosmides has argued that these kinds of long-term social exchanges played an important role in the evolution of human brains, because they require specialized and complex reasoning.

Of course, it would be a huge leap from modern-day chimps to human ancestors… but wouldn’t it be funny if it turned out that proto-prostitution is what made our brains so big?