Ow, My Head

Unlike the widespread reporting of the credulous media, the human skull is not specifically evolved to take a punch from other humans. Brian Switek explains the many problems with this hypothesis at National Geographic’s Phenomena. I admit that I thought, throughout my rugby career, that my head, and only my head, had evolved to be punched. It turns out that the way I played rugby had evolved to make people want to punch me in the head1. I was a particularly annoying person to play rugby against2.

Fortunately, human skulls are pretty robust in some key ways. It is just very unlikely that they got that way due to the evolutionary pressure of hominids punching each other in the noodle. One of the key problems with the punching hypothesis is that it is pure conjecture (and unreasonable conjecture, at that) without supporting experimental evidence. What would it take to really test the punching hypothesis?

WARNING: This post may contain a Game of Thrones spoiler “below the fold”. 

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Growing up Sea Turtle

NEW LINKONOMICON ENTRY: “Where Do Baby Sea Turtles Go During Their Lost Years?” by Ed Yong in Not Exactly Rocket Science at National Geographic Phenomena

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Hatchling sea turtle heads toward the North Hartsville Gyre (Photo Credit: Josh Witten; CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Ever wonder where baby sea turtles go to grow up – those awkward middle years between hatchlings racing through a seagull flock of attrition and being nearly impervious adults?

My kids have. Until now, I had to tell them “I don’t know.” Not just because I didn’t know, but because no one really knew. There were guesses, but there wasn’t evidence.

Read Ed Yong’s great piece at National Geographic Phenomena to hear the clever way researchers from the University of Central Florida collected data to back up (mostly) some well-reasoned hypotheses.

NatGeo Found: Tumblr achieves its ultimate purpose

Dancing men brandish spears and palm-leaf shields in Fiji, November 1958. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUIS MARDEN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Dancing men brandish spears and palm-leaf shields in Fiji, November 1958. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUIS MARDEN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

National Geographic has created a tumblr blog, Found, showcasing curated images from its archives to celebrate its 125th anniversary. If this is not the blog that tumblr was created to host, I don’t know what is.