Being Human explores topics in anthropology and is created by the faculty of the Anthropology Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The 1-minute segments air at various times throughout the day.
Since the discovery of Neandertal remains in Europe in 1829, scientists have been fascinated by the relationship of Neandertals to modern humans. One question involves whether they communicated through spoken language. Because language doesn’t fossilize, we rely on indirect data. DNA analysis reveals that Neandertals had the human form of the FOXP2 gene, associated with our ability to comprehend grammar and control the mouth movements used in speech. Another clue comes in the form of the hyoid bone, a small horseshoe-shaped bone that supports the muscles involved in sound production.
Do your children sometimes seem to outgrow their clothes or shoes overnight? Research by anthropologist and physician Michelle Lampl has confirmed this conventional wisdom about growth spurts. Children do not grow continuously but rather get taller in brief, rapid periods, likely while they sleep, sometimes growing more than half an inch in a single night. The growing pains that wake some children at night may occur during such spurts. Infants appear to need extra sleep during their growth spurts, explaining some of the irregularity in infant sleep patterns that often frustrates parents.
In polygynous primate species, males tend to be larger than females, and this sex difference in body size is evident starting very early in life. In humans, for example, boys are (on average) heavier than girls from birth. Anthropologist Katie Hinde thus suspected that nursing mothers may produce milk differently for sons vs. daughters. She investigated this hypothesis by examining the energy density and quantity of milk produced by captive rhesus macaques.