An eclectic collection from my column this week, but all well worth the read:

  • At EvoAnth, Adam Benton wonders whether human ancestors may have mastered tool use earlier than we think. He shares research (containing admittedly scant evidence) that includes a nice discussion of the challenges of this data.
  • Sarah Jane Alger of The Scorpion and the Frog delivers a hair raising tale about obligate brood parasites— insidious offspring that are actually transplants who usurp resources to boost their survival. She asks why these invaders are sometimes murderous and sometimes not, and investigates whether their survival strategy is actually adaptive.
  • The Neuroskeptic maintains that there is a degree of universality to some facial expressions despite the assertions otherwise of a recent paper. The skeptic dissects the study's results to demonstrate that recognition of "basic" emotions (e.g., happy, sad) is relatively consistent.
  • How much has your hometown changed since you first moved there? At Per Square Mile, Tim DeChant discusses the "last settler syndrome," explaining how this might color the way we see and remember the spaces around us.
  • Have you been subject to gaslighting? Juliana Breines explains this subtle method of manipulation at Psych Your Mind which may leave you wondering why you believe the things you do.

Until next time, folks. I'll be back next week with more from anthropology, philosophy, and research.