Anthropology / Everything Human

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

Sex

  • 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

  • Curiosities

    Skeleton Sex Pots

    The Moche, one of the world’s great ancient civilizations, occupied the northern coast of Peru from roughly A.D. 100 to A.D. 800. They produced beautiful ceramic vessels; hundreds of thousands are in museums worldwide. A unique subset is composed of “erotic” pottery, or “sex pots.” Inelegantly—albeit appropriately—named, Moche sex pots depict human figures engaged in a wide range of sex acts involving mouths, hands, nipples, genitals, anuses, and …

  • 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 …

  • Animalia

    The 19th Century anatomist Jones Quain dissected the human testicle, as illustrated by this engraving.

    When Sperm Compete, Nature’s Call Leads to Bigger … Testicles

    [In humans, the testes] are from an inch and a half to two inches long, about an inch and a quarter from the anterior to the posterior border, and nearly an inch from side to side. The weight of each varies from three-quarters of an ounce to an ounce, and the left is often a little the larger of the two. —Quain’s Elements of Anatomy, 1867 Success in …

  • Culture Lab