Articles to 2014-09-04

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First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.

Perry et al. offer another proof, that the characteristic physiognomy of African pygmies is adaptive and highly selected for. One question I don’t know the answer to and haven’t seen discussed so far, is how much the climate and environment on the island of Flores is similar to Africa’s tropical rain forest and induces the same selection pressure.

While agreeing with Sarewitz that it’s silly to regulate e-cigarettes while smoking stays fully legal, his arguments are doubtful. The twenty-fold rise in a rare cancer is highly visible even if still uncommon, but the far more important health risk from smoking are circulatory and heart diseases. These are caused by the nicotine itself and vaping will do nothing to ameliorate them.

Women are adulterous so that men can cooperate better at work. At least that’s what Eliassen & Jørgensen and Sheldon & Mangel claim. Sounds silly at first, but then alpha males like Stalin are prone to kill off all the opposition, even into the millions if not stopped in time. So possibly siring a great number of offspring, like Gengis Khan did, does induce them to spare providers for their own progeny. The worst mass murderers all were more or less celibate.

I find the conclusions by Halley & Rosvold highly unconvincing. While δ15N does measure trophic level, there are many strong confounders and their number rapidly grows in the newer literature. More importantly in regions without an appreciable share of C4 plants, δ13C is the main and most important indicator for fish and seafood. All the carbon values in their study are indistinguishable from a pure C3 plant based nutrition, which pretty much excludes any marine resources including plant matter. One possible explanation coming to mind is the use of offal and fishing waste for manuring fields around the harbour towns.

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