expectant dads get fat + parable of hats

New Scientist reports on research in Biology Letters, demonstrating that, in marmosets and tamarind monkeys at least, dads-to-be put on weight during pregnancy as well as the mothers. The hypothesis is that the extra weight gain (about 10%) provides an energetic reserve for when the infants are born and dad has to cart them about … Read more

links: pacific prehistory

At Savage Minds, a great anthropology blog, Rex praises Untangling Oceanic Settlement: The Edge Of The Knowable as a review of the interdisciplinary state of knowledge in Pacific prehistory. It is a great paper, because it is very “four field” in its scope. However, it makes me pout a little to be relegated to The … Read more

Darwin Correspondence

The Rev. Charles Kingsley (he wrote The Water Babies) received a copy of Origin from CD and wrote the following letter: C. KINGSLEY TO C. DARWIN. Eversley Rectory, Winchfield, November 18th, 1859. Dear Sir, I have to thank you for the unexpected honour of your book. That the Naturalist whom, of all naturalists living, I … Read more

Language: hip-hop

Hip-hop and linguistics: you ain’t heard no research like it. Calgary linguist Daryn Howe investigates Black vernacular in hip-hop lyrics. Jeff Long, the GWUM[1], was the hip-hop fan here. The message: Black speech has lots of ain’t. I was sitting on the bus this week idly eavesdropping on conversations and just could not understand the … Read more

Books to read

Graphs, Maps and Trees by Franco Moretti. UCL Library doesn’t have this, wah. The amazon.com reviews said that he had a chapter attempting to create what sounded like phylogenies of literary motifs, such as the clue in detective fiction. Intriguing… hopefully over in the bookshop for a browse.

Darwin Correspondence

The Writings of Charles Darwin on the Web is an amazing resource which allows you to search the texts–including, at an offshoot site, some of his correspondence! When I was writing my honours dissertation I had to stop myself reading the letters obsessively, seeing if I could glean some overlooked insight about language buried in amongst the natural history anecdotes and Darwin’s bleating about his poor health.

This letter (reference only) to his sister Caroline was a great find. In it, Charles used the hypothetical age of the Indo-European languages, and their differences from Chinese to agree with Herschel that yes, the earth must indeed be older than 6000 years as argued by the Bible.
I also love this one (below) that CD wrote to Thomas Henry Huxley. I confess to being a bit of a Huxley fan myself, but their mutual admiration society makes me smile…

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Paper: Application of Phylogenetic Networks in Evolutionary Studies

Application of Phylogenetic Networks in Evolutionary Studies Daniel H. Huson and David Bryant Molecular Biology and Evolution 2006 23(2):254-267 [link] The evolutionary history of a set of taxa is usually represented by a phylogenetic tree, and this model has greatly facilitated the discussion and testing of hypotheses. However, it is well known that more complex … Read more


Found today while adding sites to the Link List at the side: PhyloTaxis, a nifty visualisation thing, that gathers science news headlines and turns them into this geometric flash array. Surname Profiler. A UCL GIS project which produces a spatial map of the frequency of your surname in the UK. The wonders of GIS! My … Read more


I, Fiona Jordan, being of obvious unsound mind by the mere fact of enrolment in a PhD program, do declare this blog to henceforth be a repository of somewhat useful, mostly relevant, occasionally trivial, hopefully entertaining and always diverting anthropological and biological… stuff. For a nearly up-to-date precis of what goes on in my tiny … Read more