Aerobic conditioning - see entry for cardiovascular health

Anthropologists - include physical anthropologists, archaeologists, botanists, palaeoecologists, zoologists, geologists whose chief concern is the study of human physical and cultural development.

Archaic Homo sapiens - this is a disputed term [19]. It is generally used to embrace Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo rhodesiensis and sometimes Homo antecessor and their remains date from around 500,000 ya. The term "archaic Homo sapiens" is used by some to distinguish the above-named groups from anatomically modern humans. We follow the conventional practice and refer to the former by the names used above and refer to latter as Homo sapiens, not Homo sapiens sapiens.

Ardipithecus ramidus - A 2009 study of an 4.4 million year old Ardepithecus ramidus skeleton found that 'Ardi' walked upright but also had prehensile feet with opposing large toes. Ardi points to bipedalism as a feature of early tree-dwelling primates in a forest environment, not as a characteristic that emerged in response to a grassland environment. The skeleton was found in the Middle Awash area of Ethiopia and was reported in January 2005. Our opinion is that humans evolved most rapidly on the forest edge; edge dwelling provides a wider range of challenges and opportunities than does dwelling in a single environment.

Australopithecines (‘southern ape’) – the early hominid group that lived in Southern Africa between 4.5 and 1 mya. They are sometimes divided into gracile (A. afarensis, A. garhi, A sediba, and A. africanus) and robust (A. robustus, A. boisei).

Australopithecus sediba - discovered 2008 and announced in 2010 as a descendant of A. africanus. The fossil was dated at 1.78-1.95 million years ago and was reported as being a contemporary or the earliest Homo species.

Bear running - running on all fours - illustrated here.

Bedu - the traditional occupants of the southern Arabian Peninsula. Known in English-speaking countries as the Bedouin.

Bottlenecks - 70% of the European gene pool can be traced to 7 males who lived as hunter-gatherers before the end of the ice ages. 80% of the mitochondial DNA can be traced to 3 - 5 women living during the ice ages. [22]

Brain size and diet - John Wilford (NYT 21 October 2003) examines the debate in palaeoanthropology as to which came first, a significant advance in the brain that enabled human ancestors to make tools, or the toolmaking ability that led to an enriched diet and then to an evolutionary change in the brain. He quotes Sileshi Semaw (Indiana University): 'I believe the use of stone tools came first and the larger brain came later with a more substantial meat diet'.


Cannibalism - see my notes here.


Cardiovascular health - Cardiovascular health is often confused with aerobic conditioning, the latter of which is always specific to a particular activity, such as running or stationary cycling. Cardiovascular health, by contrast, equates to the ability of the heart, lungs and bloodstream to supply whatever the muscles need. According to an abundance of studies, the cardiovascular system receives tremendous stimulation and benefit from resistance exercise. [11]


Cholesterol - Cholesterol is a white waxy material. It is not a fat, but a form of alcohol called a lipid alcohol. In higher animals it is found in all cells and is especially abundant in the brain and nervous tissue. In cells it is used principally as a structural material; it contrubutes to cell wall membranes. In these membranes, its ratio with other lipids has a large impact on the stability and permeability of the membranes. As well as its structural function, cholesterol performs other important functions: it is a precursor for several hormones, including both oestrogen and testosterone; in the liver it is used to make the bile acids and bile salts which are secreted into the gut as part of the digestive process; and it is used by the body to manufacture vitamin D in conjunction with sunlight. Cholesterol is found in similar amounts in both the lean and fat portions of meat.

Cholesterol in the blood is measured in mille-moles per litre (mmol/L) in Australia and Europe and in milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) in the US. Normal concentration of cholesterol is 3.6-7.8 mmol/L (140-300 mg/dL) but this rises naturally with age; at age 50, for example, 9.0 mmol/L (346 mg/dL) need not be abnormal. The normal Western intake of cholesterol from food is 500-1000 mg/day. However, the body uses considerably more than this and the extra required is synthesized from acetate mainly in the liver. Normally the amount of cholesterol in the blood from these two sources is constant because, under feedback control, if more is eaten, the liver compensates by making less. On a low-cholesterol diet, the amount synthesized by the liver rises accordingly.

HDL and LDL cholesterol [25] - Cholesterol is transported around the body by a group of proteins combined with lipids called lipoproteins. The higher the ratio of proteins to lipids, the higher the density of the lipoprotein. Although the popular media refer only to high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, the 'good' cholesterol which is believed by some to be protective from heart disease) and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL, the 'bad' cholesterol, which is believed by some to cause heart disease), there are actually several distinct lipoprotein densities: very low density (VLDL), intermediate density, and even HDL comprises HDL1 and HDL2. Lipoproteins are not cholesterols, they are merely carriers of cholesterol: LDL carries cholesterol from the liver out around the body to where it is needed for cell repair and all other necessary jobs that cholesterol does in a healthy body. HDL carries used cholesterol from cells being replaced back to liver for re-use. [24]


Compound exercises - exercises that involve rotation around several joint axes and thus those that use several muscle groups in each exercise. Compound exercises stand in contrast to isolation exercises. Natural, functional movements are compound; isolation movements are rare out of the gym. [8]

Cro-Magnon -
(French for Magnon's cavity or hollow, Monsieur Magnon being the landowner at the time of the discovery in 1868) reminds us that the first of these Upper Palaeolithic discoveries were made in a rock shelter at the foot of a cliff being excavated beside the Dordogne village of Les Eyzies. Five skeletons were discovered and their description was published in the same year. This caught the public imagination as a contrast to the stockier Neanderthals (discovered 1856) who had been depicted as brutish and clumsy. The reputation of the Cro-Magnons has been further enhanced with their association with the cave paintings at Chauvet (35,000 ya), Lascaux (20,000 ya) and Altimira (17,000 ya).The Cro-Magnons are representatives of 'early modern people' of the Upper Paleolithic who are associated with the Aurignacian, Perigordian, Gravettian, Solutrean and Magdalenian tool industries. As well as being favourably compared with the Neanderthals and their creation of sophisticated art, there is also the anatomical evidence: their skulls indicate larger brains - and, therefore, possibly greater intelligence - than present-day humans. Their skeletons are of an elegant (rather than stocky) frame but with tendon attachments indicating greater muscular strength than people today. Donald Johanson (FLTL 244) declares, however, that the Cro-Magnons were 'unnecessarily valorized' in popular writing.


Dopamine - for conventional science relating to dopamine, see Wikipedia. For an insightful elaboration on the role of dopamine as a shaper of Homo sapiens psychology, see Nate Hagens' postings to the Oil Drum. Nate's synthesis and observations lead us to speculate that dopamine's previously (Palaeolithic) role as a driver of human behaviour had a net positive impact on individual and group survival when human numbers were small, technology was unsophisticated, energy sources were limited to current or recent solar radiation and the human impact on the biosphere (particularly on the eco-system services we value) was negligible in the medium-term and even less over the long term. It is dopamine that makes us as individuals feel good neuro-chemically as a result of behaviour like sex, conquest, success, eating rich foods, drug taking. Dopamine increases with comfort and the pursuit of dopamine is what motivates us to avoid discomfort. Discomfort may come from winter cold, summer heat, disease, deferring gratification, relatively low status. Civilization has been a ten milennia pursuit of dopamine (that is, comfort and the avoidance of discomfort) and abundant fossil fuel energy has given humans the ability to succeed in this pursuit. While humans have massively expanded their use of fossil fuel energy and increased their technological sophistication and interdependence, the ability of the environment to make good the damage caused to the land, water, air and biosphere processes has not increased. Indeed, it has diminished with human-induced desertification, soil sodicity, paving over food-producing land, ocean dead-zones. The pursuit of dopamine has shaped almost all aspects of our civilization - indirectly where not directly, and a civilization so based is in no position to "change" (as our politicians say) easily.


Epigenetics - Epigenetics refers to heritable changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by changes to the operation of DNAbut not to the underlying DNA sequence - the genotype (hence the name epi"in addition to"genetics). These changes are like 'on' and 'off' switches; they either turn on or turn off a given gene. These switches (actually networks or arrays of switches) are critical to our health and longevity and we can turn on or turn off genes depending on what we do (diet, stress, exercise etc.) [12]. These behavioural changes do not have a linear impact: if the switch is 'on' the impact occurs—the switch cannot be partially on and so deliver a partial impact. Such changes may persist through cell divisions for the remainder of the cell's life and may also last for multiple human generations. However, there is no change in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism; instead, non-genetic (that is, environmental) factors have caused the organism's genes to express themselves differently. Until recently scientists believed that unless environmental factors caused genetic mutations, the effects were not passed on to offspring. But recent research has shown that environmental factors can cause changes in gene expression (they throw the 'on/off' switches)and that these changes can be passed on to the next generation, or even subsequent generations. [5] Epigenetics explains how a single 'binge' or giving a child (whose forming metabolism may, at any particular stage, be relatively sensitive) a certain critical food or exposure to an environmental hazard just once can flip the genetic switch—or switches—for some time.


Evolutionary Fitness - the term was first used to describe the way we talk about diet and exercise on this website in the Evolutionary Fitness discussion list from 1998. It is pretty much Art DeVany's intellectual property in this sense.


Evolutionary Health Principle - Stephen Boyden has defined the Evolutionary Health Principle as: The principle that, if an animal or plant is removed from its natural environment, or if the environment changes in some way, then it is likely that the animal will be less well-adapted to the new conditions, and will consequently show some signs of physiological or behavioural maladjustment. [23]

Exercise - A specific activity that stimulates a positive physiological adaptation that serves to enhance fitness and health and does not undermine the latter in the process of enhancing the former. [10]

Expensive tissue hypothesis - (Proposed by Leslie Aiello in 1995. Not to be conflated with the 'Thrifty gene hypothesis') - the major point of the hypothesis is that the human brain increased in size (and intelligence increased) via brain evolution fueled by a switch to a diet that included very significantly increased amounts of meat, and which allowed our gut to shrink thereby freeing metabolic energy (to support the increase in brain size). This hypothesis suggests that the consumption of meat and the evolution of intelligence are closely interrelated. More on the Beyondveg site.

Fitness - The bodily state of being physiologically capable of handling challenges that exist above a resting threshold of activity [9]

Garhi - Australopithecus garhi fossils have been found in the Afar area of Ethiopia from 2.5 mya.

Genotype - The exact arrangement of DNA base pairs. The genotype was thought to determine essentially everything about a person from body shape to the way the person thinks. Now epigenetic research has shown that environment (especially diet) determines how the genotype will be expressed. Factors that are within our direct control, such as environment and diet, have been shown to have the power to alter the DNA without actually changing the genotype. [14]

GHD situps - Gluteus Hamstring Developer situps are sometimes used in Cross-Fit type training programs where trainees are set. say, 100 reps in the minimum time. The GHD situp is an unnatural movement which could not have occurred regularly and naturally in the hunter-gatherer environment. It uses a purpose-built stand and repetitions are uniform, another non-HG feature; as such they fall under the neolithic/drudgery/industrial model of exercise. If you want to do 100 reps of any exercise, a 100-pace sprint, a 100-pace bear run or - even better - 100 burpees would be preferable: all these draw on prioperception, balance, full-body coordination.

HG = hunter-gatherer

Holocene - the present geological epoch is an 'interglacial' beginning with the end of the most recent ice age about 10,000 ya. The Holocene was preceded by the Pleistocene epoch which was dominated by cycles of glaciation - the ice ages. In the context of Western European archaeology, the beginning of the Holocene epoch coincides with the end of the Palaeolithic cultural era.

Hominids and Hominines - the collective term for all human-related species since the split from the common chimpanzee/human ancestor 5-7 mya.  For further detail on the use of these terms, see this National Geographic article by Lee Berger.

Hominoids - the primate superfamily Hominoidea including (a) the family Hylobatidae - the gibbons and (b) the family Hominidae - the great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, humans, orang-utans) and several extinct species.

Homo – the genus to which humans belong. The genus includes H. habilis (possibly two species, large and small, beginning 2.5 mya), H. ergaster (from 1.8 mya), H. erectus (from 1.3 mya), H. neanderthalensis and H. sapiens (generally divided into two species, archaic Homo sapiens (from 400,000 ya) and modern H. sapiens, the last-named sometimes referred to as H. sapiens sapiens (from 125,000 ya).

Homo antecessor - The first humans who reached Europe have been called Homo antecessor, after the Latin word for pioneer or explorer. Homo antecessor, who lived 1.2m - 0.8 mya - before Neanderthals and Homo sapiens - probably spread to the far west of Eurasia after migrating from Africa and through the Middle East, northern Italy and France. Tools found in Happisburgh, Norfolk may have been left by H antecessor. [26] Wikipedia reports they were 1.6-1.8m (5 1/2-6 feet) tall and more robust than H heidelbergensis (some scientists believe antecessor and heidelbergensis were the same species, others that heidelbergensis evolved from antecessor). They may also have been right-handed. See our page on cannibalism.

Homo erectus - One of the two likely lines of desendants from Homo ergaster came "out of Africa" (what a wonderfully evocative phrase!) and those that did so are referred to as Homo erectus as the species fans out from the Red Sea area a number of times from about 1.8m years ago. The last recognizably distinctive Homo erectus remains are from 250,000 ya in China (Hexian - these are not "Peking Man") and Java 100,000 ya. [2] By far the most relevant account for this website of the contrast between H. erectus and H. sapiens is by Kirkpatrick Sale [20].

Homo ergaster - H. ergaster evolved in Africa (they were the first species that lived as a hunter-gatherer), giving rise to Homo heidelbergensis and these evolved into the neanderthals. As this line died out (or were exterminated, like the megafauna, by H. sapiens - it's what our species does), their lifeway is of no direct interest to us from a palaeo living perspective. H. ergaster also had a second major line of descendants. They came "out of Africa" into Eurasia and are referred to as Homo erectus as the species fans out from the Red Sea area from about 1.8m years ago. It is they whose genes we all carry today.

Homo habilis (handy man) - the earliest species of the Homo genus, flourishing 2.4 to 1.6 mya [2], a period including roughly the first third of the Palaeolithic and the last fifth of the Pleistocene. For Evfit purposes H. habilis is especially significant as it marks several evolutionary transitions to H. sapiens: (1) the transition from being primarily vegetarian to being omnivorous (2) a significant growth in brain size over previous species (3) the application of increased brain size to begin the use of stone tools (4) the use of these stone tools to butcher meat (5) a re-proportioning of the body approaching the contemporary norm. (These defining characteristics are still speculative, but they represent the general consensus among palaeontologists today, in 2002).

Homo floresiensis - Recent (published mid-2009) research indicates that H. floresiensis (which lived on the Indonesian island of Flores between 100,000 and 12,000 years ago) is a separate species that diverged over 2m years ago from the line that led to H. sapiens. [18]

Homo heidelbergensis - (Heidelberg Man) was a close relative (and, with H. antecessor, most probably a migratory descendant) of the African H. ergaster and may be the direct ancestor of Homo neanderthalensis in Europe. Some scientists believe H. heidelbergensis may have evolved through H. rhodesiensis and H. idaltu to H. sapiens sapiens. The best evidence found for these hominin date between 600,000 and 400,000 years ago, including "Boxgrove Man". H. heidelbergensis stone tool technology was close to that of the Acheulean tools used by Homo erectus. Because H. heidelbergensis had a larger brain-case and had more advanced tools and behavior than H. ergaster, it has been given a separate species classification. The species was tall, 1.8 m (6 ft) on average, and more muscular than modern humans. H. heidelbergensis may have acquired a primitive form of language. The morphology of the outer and middle ear suggests they had an auditory sensitivity very different from chimpanzees and similar to modern humans. They were probably able to differentiate between many different sounds. H. ergaster is thought to be the first hominin to speak, and therefore H. heidelbergensis probably could speak an early form of language as well. No forms of art or sophisticated artifacts other than stone tools have been uncovered. [16]

Homo sapiens - Carl Linnaeus named our species Homo sapiens in his Systema Naturae published in 1758. J R and P H Napier write: "In 1758 it must have seemed rather controversial to place man squarely in the animal kingdom, but anatomical characteristics compelled Linnaeus to do so." Linnaeus cited the inscription at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi: 'Nosce te ipsum' (know thyself).  "Linnaeus implied, first, that man is the only being capable of studying his own anatomy and physiology and his moral and political propensities and, second, that this self-knowledge is the first step on the road to wisdom. This concept underlies the use of what would otherwise seem the rather smug adjective with which Linnaeus named the human race Homo sapiens, or wise man."

Homo sapiens idaltu - An extinct subspecies of Homo sapiens that lived almost 160,000 years ago in Pleistocene Africa. Idaltu is an Afar word for "elder, first born". The fossilized remains of H. s. idaltu were discovered at Herto Bouri in Ethiopia in 1997. Despite their archaic features, they are postulated to represent the direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens which, according to the "Recent African Origin (RAO)" or "Out-Of-Africa" theory, developed shortly after this period (in Eastern Africa), and as such, to be the oldest H. sapiens species found so far. [17]

Homo sapiens sapiens - ("man who knows he is wise") the name sometimes used to distinguish anatomically modern Homo sapiens from archaic H. sapiens (the latter is said to include H. heidelbergensis). This former group is said to date from 195,000 ya and includes Cro Magnons and H. sapiens idaltu. Most scientists do not find the distinction between H. sapiens and H. sapiens sapiens useful and we find it to be of no relevance to the purpose of this website, which is to draw on what we know about the behaviour of our recent hunter-gatherer ancestors before the introduction of civilization and agriculture to guide us in our behaviour and expectations as descendents of these people.

Ketosis - When fats are burned incompletely, ketones are produced. Fats are burned incompletely in the absence of sufficient glucose. When enough ketones are produced that they start being excreted via sweat, urine, and breath, the condition is called ketosis. (Definition by Todd Moody)

Inuit - name given to the traditional occupants of Arctic north America.

Mammoths - an extinct group of the megafauna genus Mammuthus, whose ancestors migrated out of Africa about 3.5 mya and spread across Eurasia, adapting to a range of woodland, savanna, and steppe environments. The best know of these is the Woolly Mammoth, Mammathus primigenius, a close cousing of living elephants and about the same size. It first appeared in the Pleistocene more than 400,000 years ago. Between 14,000 and 10,000 years ago mammoths disappeared from most of their range [7]. See also Wrangel Island.

Martu - Australian Aboriginal group said to be "the last Aborigines untouched by the modern world" - until 1964. The Martu country is in the Percival Lakes area of the Western Desert in Western Australia. "Contact" is a 2009 film based on the experiences of Yuwali, one of the Martu, in 1964.

Matuyama boundary - the name given to the reversal of Earth's magnetic polarity 1.77 mya.

Mesolithic - the era of human history that succeeds the Palaeolithic and so begins 12,000 to 10,000 years ago. The term Mesolithic is widely used in reference to archaeological sites in western and northern Europe that were transformed by the retreat of the glaciers and are marked by technologies associated with the transition from hunter-gathering to settled agriculture. Hunting bows, fish baskets and canoes are characteristic. The Mesolithic ends when the Neolithic technologies of settled agriculture begin to predominate: farming, herding, polished stone axes, timber longhouses and pottery; this could range from 10,000 to 5,000 years ago. The term Epipalaeolithic covers a similar time period but generally refers to those cultures in the 10,000 - 5,000 period that were still predominantly hunter-gatherers and were not transformed by the retreat of glacial ice - e.g., in Africa.

Metabolome - the full complement of genes circulating in the body. In the human metabolome, the human genes are complemented by the genes in the bacteria within our bodies - many of them symbiotic, some pathogenic. Craig Venter tells us "it's worked out, from looking at the human genome, that each of us can make on the order of 2,400 different chemical compounds. But when we look in the bloodstream of individuals after a meal, we find around 500 chemicals circulating in the blood. About 60% of those are of those 2,400 human metabolites, 30% are just all the bizarre species you just consumed in your meal, but 10% or 50 different chemicals in your bloodstream right now are metabolites from your bacteria."

Miocene - the geological epoch from 23.3 - 5.2 mya. The Miocene was followed by the Pliocene (to 1.64 mya) and the Miocene-Pliocene boundary coincided with the appearance of the first hominids (the Australopithecines) and marks the refilling of the Mediterranean and the joining of North and South America at the Isthmus of Panama.

Mornington Island - in the Gulf of Carpentaria, off the north Queensland coast.  The transition there from hunter-gatherers of the native peoples has been well documented.

Neanderthals - See a collection of relevant information here.

Neolithic - The New Stone Age era of human history, usually associated with the beginnings of agriculture, pottery and permanent settlements in Eurasia and, later, Africa. Agriculture began about 10,000 ya in the 'fertile crescent' and the highlands of Papua New Guinea and spread to northern Europe about 5,000 years ago, succeeding the Mesolithic cultures. The term 'Neolithic' is sometimes used pejoratively to contrast modern diets, based on grains, cooking and the products of agriculture, with Palaeolithic foods of hunter-gatherers - the latter being assumed to be more compatible with Homo sapiens' genome.

Null hypothesis - The hypothesis that there is no significant difference between specified populations - any observed difference being due to sampling or experimental error. (NODE)

Palaeolithic - the era of human history which begins in the Pliocene with the development of the first recognizable stone tools, 2.6 mya in Olduvai Gorge in the African Rift Valley by Homo habilis and which ends, by some accounts, 12,000 ya with the Mesolithic era or, by other accounts, 10,000 ya with the beginning of settled agriculture, the Neolithic era [2]. The Palaeolithic era of human culture spanned the late Pliocene and entire Pleistocene geological epochs. There are different views as to when the Palaeolithic ended: some set a date (e.g., 12,000 ya) and while this is not problematic in European archaeology, it makes no sense in other cultures - for example the nomadic tribes of Australia, some of whom lived as Palaeolithic peoples through to the mid-twentieth century - and are still living today (see entry on the Martu above). Some writers use the term Epipalaeolithic to describe cultures that are predominantly Palaeolithic in characteristics, but extant in the Neolithic.

Paranthropines – the genus name sometimes given to the more robust Australopithecines: A. robustus and A. boisei.

Peking Man - 'Peking Man’ fossils from China unearthed in the caves of Zhoukoudian are some 750,000 years old - 200,000 years older than had previously been thought (article in Nature). Recent revised dates for other hominid occupation sites in North-East Asia show that human habitation of the region began about 1.3 million years ago. Palaeontologists later assigned these members of the human lineage to the species Homo erectus. [1]

Pleistocene - the geological epoch from 1,640,000 - 10,000 ya [2], characterized by a series of ice ages and the associated inter-glacials. The Pleistocene was preceded by the Pliocene and succeeded by the Holocene. The Pleistocene began about 100,000 years after the first Homo erectus began spreading from Africa. The Pleistocene as a geological epoch is contained within the Palaeolithic cultural era.

Pliocene - the geological epoch from 5.2 - 1.64 mya [2]. The Pliocene was followed by the Pleistocene. The Pliocene was a period of gradual cooling leading up to the Pleistocene ice ages. Geologically, the Red Sea opened with the breaking of the Ethiopean-Yemen isthmus and the later Pliocene saw the rapid uplift of the Tibetan plateau. Bipedalism dates from the early Pliocene and the Hominines (H. habilis) from the late Pliocene. The Palaeolithic era began in the Pliocene epoch with the development of the first stone tools, 2.6 mya. [2]

Pottery - The oldest pottery found to date (June 2009) has been dated in Yuchanyan in China's Hunan Province from 18,300-17,500 years ago. Previously pottery dating from 17,000-16,000 years ago had been found in Japan. [15]

Prehistoric - pre-writing, that is, before recorded history.

Rabbit starvation - was described by Stefansson and other explorers. It's because we are limited in how much ammonia we can convert to urea.

Ammonia is a by-product of the deamination of protein, which has to happen before the protein can be utilized.  The interesting thing is that it seems we have an upper limit to how much protein we can handle, no matter how much fat or carbohydrate we are eating, because the protein *must* be deaminated to be utilized.  So it's not that eating fat or carb makes us able to eat more protein; it's that eating fat or carb makes us not need or want to eat more protein.  If, for a given person, the protein ceiling is 300g/day, then if that person eats more protein that that, he will have problems, even if eating plenty of fat.  But a person eating plenty of fat (or carbs) will not eat more protein than that. (From Todd Moody on the Paleofood list, 2003)

Sahul - an ancient continent that embraced Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania. Sahul existed when the first humans arrived in Australia by sea some 50,000 years ago.

Stone Age - like the Paleolithic era, a categorization of human pre-history, based on the types of stone tools used. Whereas the Paleolithic generally refers to Europe and the Middle East, the Stone Age generally refers to Sub-Saharan Africa and South and South-East Asia.

Thrifty gene hypothesis (not to be confused with the 'expensive gene hypothesis'). It has long been held that genetics dictate an individual's "set point" for body fat. [13] According to this hypothesis, some individuals evolved to store bodyfat more readily than others. Epigenetic research has shown that this is not necessarily the case.

Toba - a volcano that erupted in Indonesia 73,000 years ago. This is the largest known eruption in the last 25 million years. The Toba eruption plunged the planet into a volcanic winter with average global temperatures dropping by about 5ºC. The resulting famine may have cut the human population down to a thousand breeding pairs. [21]

Wrangel Island - It is here that the last Woolly Mammoths died out 3,900 years ago [7].

Younger Dryas - a geologically brief cold climate period lasting 1,300 ± 70 years at the end of the Pleistocene between approximately 12,800 to 11,500 years ago and preceding the early Holocene.

Note - These glossary entries focus on aspects of each topic that are most relevant to; we don't present the entries as complete or encyclopaedic - more as focused references that are useful to regular visitors to this site.

References - these are the main references I have consulted in drafting the glossary entries. Some of the glossary entries are direct quotations, some are paraphrases and others are merely places to look for more information. I have also added minor details without attribution as I discover new and useful information and better ways of expressing that information.

1. BBC website for Peking Man
2. The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Human Evolution
3. J R and P H Napier - The Natural History of the Primates (MIT Press) 1985
4. NODE - The New Oxford Dictionary of English
5. M Potts and T Hayden - Sex and War (Benbella) 2008; Doug McGuff and John Little, Body by Science (p198) back to text
6. Wikipedia (of course)

7. National Geographic magazine May 2009 back to text
8. Doug McGuff and John Little, Body by Science (p72) back to text
9. Doug McGuff and John Little, Body by Science (p3)
back to text
10. Doug McGuff and John Little, Body by Science (p3). These authors go on to say "Thousands of activities are popularly thought of as exercise, ranging from walking and running to calisthenics, weight training and yoga. However, many of these activities do not qualify as exercise by our definition, either because they are inefficient at stimulating the mechanical and metabolic adaptations necessary to benefit the fitness (and, to a large extent, the health) of our bodies or because their continued performance results in an undermining of bodily health. It is for this latter reason that we must exclude activities such as jogging and [distance] running from being considered as exercise ..." back to text
11. Doug McGuff and John Little, Body by Science (p111)  back to text
12. Doug McGuff and John Little, Body by Science (p176)  back to text
13. The notion of a "set point" is rejected by Art DeVany  back to text
14. Doug McGuff and John Little, Body by Science (p198)  back to text
15. Reported by the BBC on 2 June 2009 back to text
16. The entry on H. Heidelbergensis was originally sourced from Wikipedia in July 2009 and has been added to from elsewhere since then   
back to text
17. The entry on H. s. idaltu was originally sourced from Wikipedia in July 2009 and has been added to from elsewhere since then   
back to text
18. Published in the Journal of Human Evolution and reported on ABC radio Back to text
19. Check the Wikipedia entry for archaic Homo sapiens for the current state of this dispute and the basis for it Back to text
20. Kirkpatrick Sale, After Eden: The evolution human domination, 2006 Back to text
21. New Scientist 17 April 2010
22. Art DeVany's private blog 27 April 2010 Back to text
23. For a discussion see our page on the Evolutionary Health Principle Back to text
24. The entry on cholesterol is based on the glossary entry in Barry Groves' Natural health and weight loss (2007)   Back to text
25. In his 2009 book Trick and treat, Barry Groves explains that there is no such thing as 'good' or 'bad' cholesterol. That is perhaps one of the most pervasive medical myths out there. Cholesterol is one chemical compound and all cholesterol is exactly the same. Talking of HDL and LDL as if they were two different types of cholesterol is misleading. Back to text
26. This was in a BBC report dated 7 July 2010
Back to text
27. Papers from Nate Hagens on dopamine on The Oil Drum include:
The Psychological and Evolutionary Roots of Resource Overconsumption Revisited - June 2009
There and Back Again - The Opening of Cornucopia LLC

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Page last up-dated 1 August 2010.