Tag Archives: Current Biology

Ancient Easter Islanders Mingled with South Americans

Ancient Easter Islanders Mingled with South Americans

Easter Island is perhaps best known for its mysterious, monolithic stone statues that have been the subject of countless investigations, but the ancient Polynesian people who populated the island are also a focus of study. Easter Island is separated from South America by 2,300 miles (3,700 km) of ocean, ostensibly leaving its population fairly isolated prior to the arrival of Westerners in 1722. However, genetic analysis shows that the islanders had intimate contact with native South Americans sometime between 1300 and 1500, suggesting that a migration route between Polynesia and the Americas had been established by this period. More… Discuss


Mothers Predisposed to “Baby” Baby

Mothers are often criticized for “babying” their youngest child, but we should cut them some slack—they may not be able to help it. Researchers say mothers can estimate the height of their older children with a fair degree of accuracy but consistently underestimate the height of their youngest child by an average of 3 inches (7.5 centimeters). This height illusion could be an adaptive mechanism that makes mothers more likely to nurture and protect what are typically their most vulnerable offspring. More…



Elephants Get the Point of Human Gestures

A simple experiment involving an elephant, a gesturingscientist, two buckets, and a single treat has shown that the intelligent pachyderms appear to have an instinctive understanding of human pointing. The experiment involved placing the two buckets, only one of which contained a treat, in front of an elephant and then having the animal choose which bucket to reach for while a person pointed to the one containing the hidden snack. Researchers hoped to teach the elephants how to interpret the gesture and were surprised to find that the creatures seemed to understand it from the outset. The next step is to investigate whether elephants use gestures in their own communicationMore… Discuss