Anthropology / Everything Human

When Did Sex Become Fun?

Column / Origins

  • Origins

    sexual evolution - Earth is brimming with organisms that sexually reproduce—even stinkhorn fungi do it.

    When Did Sex Become Fun?

    Sexual reproduction has been around for 2 billion years. But when did sex for pleasure arise? And how much did penises have to do with it?

  • Origins

    Labor Pains and Helpless Infants: Eve or Evolution? (Part 2)

    In Part 1 of this post, we discussed two explanations for difficult childbirth and helpless babies: the Fall and the obstetrical dilemma (OD) hypothesis. Both have their weaknesses. Let’s consider another evolutionary-minded explanation, apart from the OD. For humans, the birth process begins at the same time that pregnancy reaches a critical metabolic threshold. This suggests there is a connection between the two. As a fetus develops and …

  • Origins

  • Origins

    Not all frogs begin as tadpoles. However, Lazzaro Spallanzani was the first to show that all frogs, dogs, and humans begin growing only if a male contributes his essence to the process.

    Surprise! Semen Is Required

    Reproduction seems so obvious to us now. Even if we don’t know the details, we know about the birds and the bees. For humans and an overwhelming number of other species, both female and male contribute stuff that, together, transmogrifies into babies. These days we take our understanding of the baby-making process so much for granted that it’s amusing to look back at the intellectual struggles of early …

  • Origins

    Homo erectus: The Winnie-the-Pooh of Fossil Hominins?

    Did you hear about the Homo erectus who lost all but one of his teeth? He died long after the empty sockets healed, his jaw bones almost as smooth as a sea turtle’s. This intriguing specimen (a cranium and mandible with museum numbers D3444/D3900) hails from a site called Dmanisi, in the Republic of Georgia, and paleoanthropologists involved in its discovery noted that it raises some interesting questions …

  • Origins

    Monkeys All the Way Down

    Everyone’s likely heard it or seen it written on a protest sign: “I didn’t evolve from a monkey.” It’s a well-worn refrain of those who resist the evolutionary perspective. The pat response we often hear is, “You’re right! We didn’t evolve from monkeys. We share ancestors with them.” However, this talking point isn’t entirely honest. Yes, we share ancestors with monkeys; we share ancestors with every living thing. …