Evolution's Voyage
glossary Pages A-M

"Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
Theodosius Dobzhansky

Please note that this glossary is continuously updated and is being assembled piece by piece, and week by week, jumping from subject to subject, in no particular order.  This is my personal list that I am assembling in order to assist me in my studies.  It will primary deal with the brain, human emotions, behaviors -- and of course, with evolutionary terms. Feel feel to use this free listing, but if you can, please help us out with a purchase from this site of a Book, music CD, Video, or DVD available from Amazon.com to help defray the costs of this site -- use the search vehicle at the bottom of the page to take you to Amazon.com.     William A. Spriggs, March 1, 1999

Acquired trait         A non-genetic characteristic acquired during growth and development. (for example muscle development of a weightlifter). After PBS Evolution website. 

Adaptation               The evolutionary process by which an organism adjusts, survives and duplicates. Or, evolved solutions to specific problems that contribute either directly or indirectly to successful reproduction(After D. Buss)

Adaptive Strategies    A mode of coping with competition or environmental conditions on an evolutionary time scale. After PBS Evolution website.

Adaptive Value       Value  given to a characteristic found in organisms in relation to their successfully reproducing in a local environment.

Agnostic                  Person who neither denies or acknowledges the existence of God or a Creator.

Afferent Neuron    The neuron that transports bio-electrical impulses to the central nervous system.  Also see Efferent Neuron

Aguantadora           South American Latino for enduring, proud of ability to withstand abuse of life's misfortunes.

AI                              Artificial Intelligence

Allele                       One of the alternative forms of a gene. (for example, if one gene determines brown eyes then an allele of the gene could produce blue eyes). With a population there may be many different alleles of a gene; each has a unique nucieotide sequence.  After the PBS Evolution website. 

Amino acid          The unit molecular building block of proteins, which are chains of amino acids in a certain sequence.  After the PBS Evolution website.

Altruism                   Concern for the welfare of others.  Considered to be strongest in times of abundance and retracted during periods of famine and pestilence.

Artificial selection   The process by which humans breed animals and cultivate crops to ensure that future generations have specific desirable characteristics. (as opposed to human genetic self-selection).  After the PBS Evolution website.

Analogous structures    Structures in different species that look alike or perform similar functions and have not evolved from similar structures shared by common ancestors.  (example: the wings of butterflies and the wings of birds).  After the PBS Evolution website.

Authoritarian personality theory (APT)   As a psychodynamic theory, APT theorized that authoritarianism resulted from childrearing practices that humiliated and deprecated the child and predicated parental affection on the child's immediate and unquestioning obedience to the parents.this kind of subjugating environment was thought to predispose children toward thinking of human relations in terms of dominance and submission and to teach a particular orientation toward hierarchy: the vilification of those thought of as weak, humane, or deviate (e.g. ethnic minorities) and the glorification of those perceived to be strong and powerful.  As such, authoritarians were hypothesized to hold conservative economic and polical views, and also be generally xenophobic, racist, and ethnocentric. After Sidanius & Prato, Social Dominance, p.6,

Anthropoid                 A member of the group of primate made up of monkey, apes, and humans. After the PBS Evolution website.           

Anthropology            The study of humankind emphasizing cultural diversity, racial differences, and evolutionary steps.

Aquatic                       Term referring to living underwater.

Arboreal                     Term referring to living in trees.

Nervous System
        The innate, automatic, involuntary system that controls our breathing, digestion, and gland secretions.

Archeology                The study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of physical remains, such as graves, tools, pottery, and other artifacts. After the PBS Evolution website.

Archetype                  The original form or body plan from which a group of organisms develops. After the PBS Evolution website.

Artificial Intelligence    Construction of computer systems that are able to perform tasks usually thought of as human: decision making, speech recognition, or visual perception.

Asexual reproduction     Reproduction involving only one parent.  This parent produces children that are genetically identical as their is no mixture of DNA from another partner.

Assimilation             The tendency for group members to become more alike over time.  After Judith Rich Harris

Atheism                    The strong belief that there is no God.    

Attention Deficit
      The disorder characterized by loss of focused attention by individuals on a momentary subject required to perform a duty or requirement. What I want to know is where does the "mind" go when it is not focused on the "required" subject matter.

Bandidos                  1800s term originated by Anglos to categorize Latino-Americans -- especially in the derogative to emphasize ethnic differences. (A universal characteristic of all human culture's is to identify differing culture groups as "us" vs. "them.")

bara asami               Hindu meaning "great man;  person of high position or rank." After J. Platts

Basal Ganglia         The area of the brain we use to inhibit either conceptual or     motor activity in the brain.  Considered the buffer between our animal, limbic brain and our human, higher brain in the cortex.

Behavioral genetics     The study of human behavior via genetic influence. (considered to be the nature side of the debate on human behavior).  Also see socialization research. (which take the opposing view of the debate called nurture.

Bla, Bla, Bla             Late 1990s slang for making a long matter short in speech.  Leave out the meaningless part and insert bla...

          The belief that the superior ranking of the male over certain races, classes, economic differences, intelligence, and genders are primarily an accurate representation of biology.  Primarily used by supremacists in touting their racist vermin.  Their beliefs are that all economic differences are the result of these  biological differences.  Phrase coined by  Stephen Jay Gould.

Bisexual                     A person who has the ability to be attracted to members of the same or opposite gender.

Bobbing                     Primate term meaning a series of deep bows which are repeated quickly one after the other when a submissive male ape meets a dominant male.  After Frans DeWaal

Bonding                      The theory that skin-to-skin contact of a baby and its mother within the first hour or two of birth will bond the mother to the baby with deep ties for life.

Butch                          Slang usage to describe both male and females who act and dress in stereotypically masculine ways. This term has traditionally been used as a negative term to refer to lesbians who do not conform to traditional notions of femaleness.  After Human Rights Watch, June, 2001.

Broca's Area             Left frontal area of the brain used in coordinating speech.

Categorization         The term applied to the sorting and sub-sorting of images, sounds, tastes, smells, and personal physical stimuli into the brain.   Think in terms of a !Yahoo directory: Major category first, then sub-categories -- i.e. Sex/female/body features/personality/Cindy Crawford -- or -- Sex/male/body features/personality/Brad Pitt, etc. 

Cell                     The functional unit of most living things.  Also considered to be the vessel that carries and protects the DNA instructions.

Cerebral Cortex       The outermost and newest part of our brains located over the "older" areas of the human brain.  This is the area that separates us from our animal cousins.  Your thinking cap.

Cerebellum               The area of the brain which is found lying beneath and behind the forebrain.  This area of the brain commonly called the forehead.  It consists of the forebrain, midbrain and branches.

Cerebrum                 The large area of the brain commonly called the forehead.  It consists of the forebrain, midbrain and branches.

Chillin                         Late 1990s slang for relaxing or recommendation to someone to relax -- "chill out,"   "cool down."

Cholo                           Latino-American term for street kid.  Also see Homeboy

Chromosome        Long thread of nucleic acids and proteins containing DNA twisted into a double helix which breaks down into sequence of genes.

Classical conditioning   Learning in which two previously unconnected events come to be associated. After D. Buss explaining Pavlov.

Classical Fitness       The measure of an individual's direct reproductive success in passing on genes through the production of offspring. After David Buss  Also see Inclusive fitness

Clique                           A group of three or more individuals that are bonded by interests and friendships. (some studies show the average size varies from three to nine).  We usually associate the word clique to mean a "Grouping" that forms within the walls of public or private schools attended by young adults.

Concealed Ovulation    Ovulation that is not visible externally.  Perfect example is the the human female who can conceal her ovulation  period. The female chimpanzee, on the other hand, has two fluid-filled sacs that surround her sexual opening that becomes bright red at the time of her peak ovulated period.

Consciousness         Considered to be the total abilities, thoughts, emotions swirling around in one's brain called, The Mind.

Closeted                    Slang usage meaning the experience of living without disclosing one's sexual or gender identity to others. (also referred to as being "in the closet).  After the Human Rights Watch, June, 2001

Cuckolded                Term given to male who's female mate has been inseminated by another male.

Code-switching       Psycholinguistic term meaning the ability to switch from one language to another.  Common among children of immigrants who speak one language in the home and then switch to the language of the dominate culture in which they now find themselves.

Colonias                   Makeshift Mexican-American neighborhoods started in southern Texas by refugees of the 1910 Mexican revolution.

Cognition                 The mental process of perception, memorization, and processing information.  This combined information is then used to plan and react  upon when needed.  Also see Categorization and Consciousness

The study of cognition.  How the human mind gathers outside stimuli, processes that information, and stores it in memory.

Combinatorial explosion    Term in cognitive psychology where the rapid proliferation of response options in the brain caused by combining two or more sequential possibilities. After David Buss

Coming Out               Slang usage to mean disclosing one's sexual orientation or gender identity to others. Process could be selective, meaning disclosing to just a "select" few, or openly.  After, The Human Rights Watch, June, 2001.

To come up                East L.A. street slang related to acquiring resources.  As in "I just wanted to come up." May, 2000.

Consciousness           The thoughts we generate by entering stored memory areas of our brain and combining those memories with any situation which we need, want or wish to deal with. -- be it, finding food to eat when hungry, filling out a tax form, acting in a movie, or how best to approach an potential attractive mate.  These thoughts that we generate can then be stored for additional memory on the subject, or acted upon upon immediately in an outward physical movement.  Consciousness is recategorized thoughts as opposed to reactions automatically generated by innate mechanisms reacting to the immediate environment.  The common phrase, "Think before you act" applies here.

Creationism            Theory that a supreme deity created all life and non-life forms in the universe.

Culture                     The accumulated knowledge of all that has come before us and which we thought to be important enough to pass to future generations.  Culture can take the form of art, myth, buildings, landscaping, religions, music, language, philosophy, politics, sports, and technology.  Culture is meant to inform, educate, illuminate, impress, or control, and is thought to be used as an advantage in passing one's genes into the next generation.  Unfortunately, this could also mean bigotry and prejudice.

Date rape                    Sexual relations that are forced by one person onto another.  The partners know each other, and the act is usually done by a male to a female who is usually physically stronger.

Darwinism                 Considered to be evolution by natural selection.  Named after scientist who is credited with the introduction of the field, Charles Darwin (1809 -- 1881).

Dendrite                     The tiny tree-like extension of a brain cell neuron whose purpose is receiving neurotransmitters for the neuron.

Deontic reasoning     Term in cognitive psychology that means reasoning about what a person is permitted, obligated, or forbidden to do in social circles.  Also see indicative reasoning.

Developmental stability      Usually a term given to individuals with body and facial symmetrical.  The theory is that symmetry cues good health and and hence the individual can usually withstand environmental events and genetic stresses better than others.  "They show development stability..."

Differential Reproductive Success     Success or failure by reproductive success relative to others brought about by the possession of heritable variants that increase or decrease an individual's chances of survival. (after David Buss)

Display rules               The learned social rules that govern who may display which emotion and in what situation each emotion may be displayed. Not to be confused with primate display.   After Linda Brannon

The hereditary vessel of all organisms. Mostly found in the chromosomes of higher organisms.

Dominance, formal    Primate term meaning greeting and submissive behavior without aggression.   After Frans DeWaal

Dominance, real         Primate term meaning the sum total of aggressive encounters.  After Frans DeWaal

Dominance hierarchy     A term that refers to the fact that some individuals within a group reliable gain greater access than other to key resources -- resources that contribute to survival or reproduction.  Those who are ranked high in the hierarchy gain greater access to these resources; those who are low ranking or subordinate have less access to these resources.  After D. Buss, & D.D. Cummins.

Darwinism        Belief in evolution driven by natural selection. 

Ecological constraints model    Evolution of families theory based on belief that a scarcity of reproductive vacancies delays the departure of a sexual mature individual due to lack of reproductive vacancies. Also see familial benefits model.

Efferent Neuron        The neuron that transports bio-electrical impulses away from the central nervous system.  Also see Afferent Neuron.

EEA  or Environment of evolutionary adaptedness   The statistical composite of selection pressures that occurred during an adaption's  period of evolution responsible for producing the adaption. After Tooby & Cosmides

Epidemiology             The study of the different factors in the environment that make people sick or healthy.

Epigenetic Rules      The full range of algorithmic and regularly inherited growth in anatomy, behavior, cognition, and physiology.  after E. O. Wilson

Emotional Intelligence    The abilities and competencies concerned with appraising, understanding, and regulating emotions, and with using them to facilitate cognitive activities. After Salovey, Bedell, Detweiler, & Mayer

Estrus                        Primate term meaning females are receptive to sexual copulations.  Nonhuman females primates  display a bright red ageogential sac filled with fluid, and in combination with a strong scent, this estrus state usually drives the males into sexual frenzy with accompanied competition amongst the males for access.

Ethics                        The study/philosophy of principles concerning norms of human conduct.  Generally the argumentative philosophy of proposing the highest standards of conduct or goodness that we humans can conceive.

Ethnology               The study of cultures in their natural settings and their evolutionary adaptations to the modern world around them.  In doing so, ethnologists hope to gain insight into our own modern world.

Ethology                   The study of animal social behavior. After L. Tiger Or, The study of the proximate mechanisms and adaptive value of animal behavior. After J. Alcock.

Evolution           From the Latin word meaning "unrolling of the scroll." Adaptive changes in living organisms to local environments across generations.

Psychology             The study of human behavior based on adaptations over evolutionary time that produced modular mental mechanisms in the brain. The field is still growing and split between those who believe that culture has a large influence, (that's us at Evolution's Voyage), and others who believe that culture has little or no influence because there was little or no culture for most of Homo sapiens existence.

Evolutionary time lag   Since evolution change occurs slowly, existing humans designed for the previous environments of which they are a product.  Simply put: We carry around a stone-aged brain in a modern environment. After David Buss

Equipotentiality assumption   Assumption by behaviorist that the mechanisms of learning are the same regardless of the stimuli, responses, or reinforcers.  After D. Buss explaining T. Domjan 

Extinction             The disappearance of a species completely. A species out of the evolutionary loop.

Familial benefits model   Theory that states families form because of the benefits available for offspring from parents would be greater than leaving.  Also see ecological constraints model.

Fear                           The usually unpleasant feeling that arises as a normal response to realistic danger. After I. Marks

Fellatio                      Oral stimulation of the male genitals by either gender.

Femme                       Slang usage used to describe both males and females who act and dress in stereotypically feminine ways.  Normally used as a negative term to refer to gay males who do not conform to traditional notions of maleness. After The Human Rights Watch, June, 2001.

Fertility                     Actual reproductive performance.  Also see reproductive value.

Fixed Action Patterns      Term in ethology which defines the stereotypic behavioral sequences in which an animal engages, triggered by a well-defined stimulus. After N. Tinbergen

Formalization         Clear and distinct primate heirarchies.  When unclear differences between primates occur, struggle ensues to obtain higher ranks.  When a winner becomes clear, the winner refuses reconciliation as long as his new status is not formally recognized. After Frances DeWaal

The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis    Social psychological term meaning that the intention to deliberately harm others, ruslts from the individual's frustration at not achieving highly desired goals.  The resulting anger, because it would be dangerous to aim it toward high-ranking individuals or institutions, is turned against less powerful others. Hate crimes easily fall into this category.

Gamete                 Mature reproductive cell.  Also see zygote.

Gay                             Slang term to refer only to males who are attracted to other males, but it may also be used as a synonym for the more clinical term homosexual.  After The Human Rights Watch, June, 2001.

Gender expression   All of the external characteristics and behaviors that are socially defined as masculine or feminine, including dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social interactions. After The Human Rights Watch, June, 2001.

Gender identity      A person's internal, deeply felt sense of being male or female.  After The Human Rights Watch, June 2001.

Gene                          The section of DNA that transports information concerning a single polypeptide. A gene is made up of of the genetic code that defines a particular organism. 

Gene Pool          The complete set of genes found within an organism's population.

Genetic Software    Evolutionary psychology slang (please use it sparingly) for the computer analogy to DNA.  It compares the biological innate instructions found in DNA with the hard physical instructions found within computer software.

Genome                     The complete genetic makeup of an organism.

Gossip                       A primarily human interpersonal communication technique designed to pass a wide array of information from one individual  or a group  concerning person personal, environmental, and cultural details.  The information conveyed is meant to benefit the possessor as well as the recipient of the information.  Could also be use to derogate others for gain in a hierarchical situation.

Gangbanging          Robbing, stealing, and shooting at rival gang members.

Gangsta                    African-American term for street kid.  Also see Homeboy.

Gender role              A set of socially significant activities associated with men or women. After Linda Brannon

Gene                           The smallest discrete unit that is inherited by offspring intact, without being broken up or blended. (After David Buss)

Genotype                   The entire collection of genes within an individual. (After David Buss)

Greeting, submissive  Primate term meaning greeting of a submissive to a dominate primate.   When greeting a dominate, a male submissive utters a series of short, panting grunts know as pant-grunting or rapid-ohoh.  While he utters these sounds a submissive assumes a position where he looks up at the individual he is greeting.   The submissive may also make a series of deep bows which are repeated so quickly one after the other that this action is know as bobbing. The female submissive greets a dominate male by usually presenting her backside to the dominant ape to be inspected and sniffed.  After Frans DeWaal

Greaser                      Derogative term used by dominate Anglos to characterize subordinate Latino-Americans. c. mid 1940's to c. 2000.

Grooming                   Primate behavior of searching through another primate's body hair for small insects.  Process includes stroking, and consensus agrees that the activity has a calming affect on the primates and helps to encourage group interaction and intimacy.  Speculative theory suggests that "gossip" -- the passing of intimate details surrounding one's interpersonal connections -- may have sprung from this close, calming activity.

Group                        A loose term meaning a gathering more than one individual that has some purpose for being.  However, in an evolutionary perspective it means an alliance of individuals, with a dominate leader/s, compliant and/or cooperative associates, and a submissive follower/s that has a purpose for being together.   The group usually has a particular territory it covers and relates to themselves more than to others of the same species.

Groups, classification of:  1). Age, 2). Ethnic or Racial, 3). Gender, 4). Interests (the last is the largest, i.e.. sports, mathematics, sewing, investing, wood working, gardening, model airplanes, etc.)

Group Contrast Effect         The tendency to see two juxtaposed categories as more different than they really are. i.e. Cribs vs. Bloods gangtras viewing each other.   The "us" vs. "them." After Judith Rich Harris

Group selection        Theory that adaptations evolved for the benefit of the group through the differential survival and reproduction of the group (After V.C. Wynne-Edwards) as opposed to benefit for the gene arising through the differential reproduction of genes. After David Buss

Healthy baby hypothesis    The theory that states that the health status of the child would affect the degree of positive maternal behavior.  Also see positive maternal behavior. After D. Buss

Heterosexual          A person attracted exclusively to the opposite sex. (also referred to in slang as being "straight" -- opposite would be "bent.")  After The Human Rights Watch, June 2001. 

Hostile environment sexual harassment        Sexual harassment that occurs when employers allow offensive element in the work environment. After Linda Brannon

Hippocampus          The area of the brain used in turning Short Term Memory into Long Term Memory.

Homeboy                   Term given to another in one's own territory/turf sanctifying the place they call home. c. 2000.

Hominoids          Collective name for apes and humans. 

Homophobia             Fear and hatred of homosexuals.  Usually males hating males.

Homosexual             A person attracted to someone of the same sex.  Most lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in the United States prefer the more contemporary terms lesbian and gay.  After The Human Rights Watch, June, 2001.

Human Nature        "Genius animated with animal craftiness and emotion, combining the passion of politics and art with rationality, to create a new instruments of survival." Philosophical definition by E. O. Wilson, Consilience, p. 106.

Sociobiology             The same as Evolutionary Psychology, after E. O. Wilson

Inbreeding                 The passage of DNA from one kin to another.  Also see Incest.

Influence                    Primate term meaning ability to change processes within a hierarchy.  Influence differ dependent on personality, age, gender, experience, and connections with the hierarchy.   After Frans DeWaal

IMIS                            Idealized Model Inheritance System

Imprint                       Ethology term meaning attachment to fist moving object an animal (usually ducks) observes in life. After David Buss

Incest                          Sex relations between persons close to the epigenetic center of a genotype.  Extremely rare.

Inclusive Fitness      The theory that a species enlarges their genetic representations by favoring relatives over non-relatives, and in doing so, increases the resources and influences of the clan.  Theory attributed to William D. Hamilton, University of Oxford, 1964.  Or, can be viewed as the sum of an individual's own reproductive success (classical fitness) plus the effects the individual's actions have on the reproductive success of his or her genetic relatives. After David Buss

Indicative reasoning    mental reasoning about what is true or false.  Also see deontic reasoning

In the Closet               Slang usage meaning one's experience of living without disclosing one's known sexual orientation or gender identity. After The Human Rights Watch, June, 2001.

Intersex                 The term used for the approximately one in two thousand people who are born with sexual anatomy that mixes male and female characteristics or is otherwise atypical. After The Human Rights Watch, June, 2001.

Instinct                       The faculty of acting in such a way as to produce certain ends, without foresight of the ends, and without previous education in the performance.  After William James 1890-1962.

To Jack                       East L.A. street term by gangs/clans to steal a resource -- usually a  car, or a stereo.c. 2000.

Jumped                       Term given by East L.A. gangs to initiate an entering youth into one's group.  As in all initiating rituals throughout the planet, older boys test the strength and will of the new younger youth.  As in "jumped into." c. 2000.

Lesbian                       A female who is attracted to other females.  After The Human Rights Watch, June, 2001

Lexicon                        Entire vocabulary of a language

Lexical Agraphia      Impairments of the writing process without any difficulties in speaking, reading, or listening.

LGBT                           An abbreviation for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender."  The abbreviation may include a Q for "questioning," or occasionally two Qs, for "queer and questioning."  After The Human Rights Watch, June, 2001.

Limbic System          The early brain area considered to be our instinctual, animal brain.  The newer, cortical areas that evolved up and around this area created a higher being. 

Long Term
                      The brain process where memories are stored for long periods of time -- most for a life time.   Also see Short Term Memory.

Male sexual aggression.    Identified to be composed of two paths: impersonal sex path, where males use sexual conquest as a source of peer status and self-esteem.  The second: hostile masculinity path. Usually brought on by rejection by women, the males uses domination and controlling acts to derogate and subjugate their targets. After Malamuth, Sockloskie, Koss, & Tanaka.

Masturbation            The self-manipulation of one's genitals in order to produce sexual pleasure.

Mate deprivation hypothesis  Men who have not, or cannot secure mates through the means of attraction experience deprivation, which prompts them to use sexually aggressive tactics to avoid being excluded entirely. After Lalumiere, Chalmers, Quinsey, & Seto.  Also see Thornhill, Thornhill, & Dizinno.

Mate value                  One's overall desirability to members of the opposite sex. After D. Buss

Maternal Bonding    The emotional attachment that develops between mother and infant within a few days after birth. After Linda Brannon

Mating opportunity costs    Missed additional matings as a direct result of effort devoted to offspring. In summary, because the mating opportunity costs of parental care will generally be lower for males than for females, males will be less likely than females to take on parental care.  Instead of focusing on parental care, males are more likely to channel their efforts toward securing additional mates. After D. Buss.

Memes                        Described as basic building blocks of our conscious mind, similar in purpose as genes are considered the building blocks in biology.

Memetics                   The field of study containing memes.

Matriarchy                A family pattern in which women are dominant either through culture or absence of a males.

Modular Mind     Theory that the mind is set of "modules" or set of particular instructions that have been adapted through natural selection. 

Monogamy                 Close relationship in which their is only one partner, be it of the same or opposite gender.

Morpheme                 The smallest meaningful unit of a language.

Morphology                The study of forming words through a set of rules.

Mutation                    Genetic term meaning a spontaneous change in the structure of a piece of DNA.  Can be either helpful or harmful to the organism.

Mutualistas                Term given by Latin-Americans to mutual aid societies for inter-group assistance not given by dominate culture.


Copyright, Evolution's Voyage, 1995-2009