Evolution's Voyage
glossary Pages N-Z
"Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
Theodosius Dobzhansky

Natural selection    Evolution by differential reproduction due to inherited design differences. Who leaves the most progeny behind wins. 

Neoteny -- the anthropological term for the extension of childlike characteristics into adulthood. (as in lack of body hair).

Neophobia                 Very strong aversion of new foods.  Usually applied to laboratory mice or rats.

Nepotism                   Term usually meaning job favoritism given to one relative by another.  Also see Inclusive Fitness.

Neural Darwinism The theory that brain cells adapt to individual environments exactly like "Natural Selection."   Therefore, the theory argues that each person's brain is unique in terms of experiences, memories, and reactions.  After Gerald M. Edelman, Nobel laureate, Scripps Research Institute.

Neurons                      The brain cells used to transmit sensory, conceptual, and motor input and output impulses via electrochemical mechanisms.

NOMAD                     Neural Organized Multiple Adaptive Device. (AI term)

Optimal Outbreeding Theory        The theory that not mating with individuals too close nor far from the genetic center was optimal in terms of the natural selection/rejection process.  Mating with someone too close could pair up defective alleles and cause harmful mutations, while mating with someone too far from the genetic center would break up the genetic construction from what the organism knows innately to be "safe."  Several theories suggest that the immune system played a major role in this process for out ancestors.  Innate chemical analysis was done primarily by sight, sound, and smell. Should be considered speculative.

Orthograpy                The creation of written maps of recognizable word strings.

The Other                  Term usually used by a group to form a conscious, acting identity in the brain and to attach it to another group.  Usually in opposing and derogative terms, as in "us" vs. "them." (i.e. one city's football team vs. another's).Paculos                       1920 & 1930s Anglo term given to Latin-American street gangs.

Out                       Slang usage to mean the experience of living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered individual.  After The Human Rights Watch, June, 2001.

Parental care              The preferential allocation of investment to one or more offspring at the expense of other forms of allocating investment -- that have the effect of increasing the fitness of the parent. After D. Buss

Parental favoritism    The parental care that will favor some offspring over others. After D. Buss

Patriarchy                 men's dominance over women in the family specifically and in society more generally.  After B. Smuts

Phenomenology    The study of consciousness through the description of experience. 

Phonemes                  Distinguished speech sounds of a language

Pleistocene, The   Period marked by ice ages, and various fossil forms leading up to humans. Considered to be from 1,640,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Pleitona                      Latino-American for willingness to defend family at all costs.

Polygyny                    The mating or marriage of a single man with several women. After D. Buss

Po-po                           Late 1990s street slang for police.

Positive maternal behavior    Generally considered to be positive: kissing, holding, soothing, talking to, playing with, and gazing at an infant. Usually measured in time and intensity. also see, healthy baby hypothesis
After D. Buss

Promiscuous             Term given to diverse and frequent sexual activity.

Proto-Indo-European (PIE)        Term given to language generally considered to be the wellspring of our modern industrial languages which includes English.  Scientists seem to believe the language originated in what is now known as the Crimean bread basket about 5,500 years ago.  The language was never written.

Prostitution                The relatively indiscriminate exchange of sexual services for economic profit.  Overwhelmingly, it is the male who seeks and pays the female for this service. After, David Buss

The Provisioning Hypothesis   Term in hunter-gatherer studies of the unique fact that human males invest heavily in their children vs. superficially by  primate males. 

Psychoanalysis       Term used to describe as an attempt to "cure" a person's anxiety  through understanding the person's conflict between reality, repressed fears, and conflicts within their unconscious. 

Queer                          Negative slang term often used to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons.  Sometimes used by these people to refer to themselves, as a form of pride.  After The Human Rights Watch, June., 2001.

Recessive                    Term applied to an allele's suppressed representation when found in combination with a dominant allele.

Reciprocal altruism    The theory of reciprocal altruism states that psychological mechanisms for providing benefits to nonrelatives can evolve as long as the delivery of such benefits is reciprocated at some point in the future. Synonyms for reciprocal altruism include cooperation, reciprocation, and social exchange. After Axelrod, Hamilton, Cosmides & Tooby, Trivers, and Williams, 1966) Explained by D. Buss.  Synonyms for reciprocal altruism include cooperation, reciprocation, and social exchange.

Resources                   A broad term that come to mean anything that will help pass your genes into the next generation.  A resource could be a high-paying job; a skill that one one possesses, information, connections to people who can do positive thing for you or your family, or just plain money or physical possessions.  It could also mean intangible things such as effort of a community in combating illiteracy or crime.  It could also mean your physical appearance in a society that rewards good looks, etc...

Roget, Peter Mark    English physician (1779-1869).  Inventor of the Thesaurus.

Reification                Process in the brain of telescoping complex phenomena and  situations into simpler concepts.  after E.O. Wilson

Reproductive Value            Refers to the number of children a person of a given age and sex is likely to have in the future..  A young woman, say fourteen, has a higher reproductive valve than a woman of forty-four After D. Buss

Resource holding potential    [RHP]  Evaluation that animals make about themselves relative to other animals regarding their relative strengths and weaknesses. (orgin of self-esteem?) Behaviors that follow form these relative assessments give rise to dominance hierarchies. After D. Buss after Paul Gilbert  Also see SAHP.

RNA(Ribonucleic Acid)    A polymer acid containing sugar ribose used in the copying and passing of genetic codes by DNA.

Savanna habitat preference hypothesis  Term in hunter-gatherer studies that states that selction has favored our preferences, motivations, and cognitions to explore and settle in environments abudndant with the resources needed to sustain life while simultaneously avoiding environments lacking resources.  After D. Buss quoting G. Orians

Scavenging Hypothesis   Term in hunter-gatherer studies that suggest our human ancestors retrieved meat from  dead carcasses killed by other animalsAfter G. Isaac

Seeding theory                 A theory concerning the origins of adaptations by organisms giving rise that life did not originate on earth; seeds of life arrived on earth via celestial bodies.  Take me to your leader.

Semiotics                   The study of signs and symbols including what they mean in the brain.

Semantics                         The study of intensional and extensional word meanings.

Senescence                       The deterioration of all bodily mechanisms as organisms grow older. After D. Buss

Serial Monogamy            A lineal series of monogamous sexual relationships.

Serotonin                          Brain chemical usually associated with aggressive or peaceful behavior in humans. Low levels generally indicate agitated behavior, while high levels indicate peaceful or calm behavior.

Sexual harassment         Unwanted and unsolicited sexual attention from other individuals in the workplace. After Terpstra & Cook.

Sexual Orientation         The ability to be attracted to members of the same or opposite gender.  Some believe that it is genetic.  Other believe it is choice.  I believe that it is both.

Sexual Selection         Darwin "other" theory that contributed to natural selection. Also named "female choice" as it explained Darwin's "confusion" over understanding the peacock's heavy, and obviously non-adaptive tail in the evolutionary scheme of things  -- along with all other male's in different species that display obvious "ornamentation." But in 2000, Geoffey Miller has proposed that it may be the only theory that is suitable for natural selection.  

Short Term Memory      The brain process of memory retention for short periods of time -- as little as a few seconds.

Social Darwinism      The very mistaken belief that differences between socioeconomic classes and races can be accounted for some people being "more biologically 'fit' than others."

Sociobiology         The study of behavior in animals and humans thought to be directly linked to biological and evolutionary influences.  Generally, attempts to discount cultural influence in regards to humans.

Socialization research    The scientific study of the effects of the environment on children's psychological development. (considered to be the nurture side of the nature vs. nurture debate).

Spatiotemporal ability    a subtype of spatial ability that involves judgments about moving objects in space.  Like where a baseball will fall when hit. After Linda Brannon

Species                         The lowest order of organism classification which can interbreed with another member of its own organism classification.

Sperm competition          Term in primate studies where the sperm from two different males have inhabited a woman's reproductive tract at the same time.  Empirical evidence suggest the importance of mate switching and resource acquisition by the female. After D. Buss

Synchronic Linguistics    Theory by Ferdinand de Saussure (1857 - 1913) that the organizing of language into actual and conceptual elements is designed to organize thoughts of consciousness in the human brain.  These elements include grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary.

Sociobiology                 Term given by E.O Wilson in 1975 that attached  a synthesis of cellular biology, integrative neurophysiology, ethology, comparative psychology, population biology, and behavioral ecology.  It examined species from ants to humans and proclaimed that fundamental principles could be applied to both. After David Buss  Considered to be the forerunner of evolutionary psychology.

Social attention-holding potential   [SAHP] Refers to the quality and quantity of attention others pay to a particular person.  This is strictly a human behavior.  When group members bestow a lot of attention on an individual, that individual rises in status. Ignored individuals are banished to low status. After D. Buss & Gilbert. Also see RHP

Sociology                     The study of human societies in a broad sense.

Strategic interference    The blocking or preventing of the successful enactment of a person's strategy or fulfillment of desire.  Example: a women's desire to wait to have sexual relations in a relationship as a means of confirming a male's  commitment is overturned or prevented by the male's persistence to have sex.  After D. Buss.

Syntax                            Grammatical phrases and sentences of language.

To Tag                          Term given by street gangs to identify property by putting graffiti upon an object.  Could be interpreted as identifying territorial boundaries or attempting to expand one's territorial boundaries into an adjacent gang's/tribe's territory.

Taphonomy                A discipline within anthropology that studies the natural processes of death, decay, and deposition of extinct creatures and the way in which they may influence the fossil record.   After Craig B. Stanford

Termiting                     Primate term given to chimpanzees fishing for termites by using a long branch or blade of grass inserted and then removed from a nesting mound. Yum.

Territory/Turf            An area dominated by an organism in defensive or aggressive behavior in order to control resources and protect a genetic line.  In lack a genetic line, human groups can and will form alliances of similar racial and cultural similarities as a substitute.  A close bonding assemblage of similar racial or cultural group/groupings gives a sense of "family," purpose, and security.

Testosterone                 Male hormone responsible for the development of muscle tissue and stamina for endurance.   The mistaken theory is that males high in testosterone are more easily turned to crimes against society and women, especially if these males are from the "lower classes."

Transgender                 Person who's identity or behavior falls outside of stereotypical gender norms. After The Human Rights Watch, June, 2001.

Throw one's sign         East L.A. street slang relating to hand signals shaped in a unique configuration only known to a particular group as a means of identity and bonding.

U.S. School Grades      Elementary school is composed of grades one through six with students of ages five through twelve.  Middle school is composed of eighth and ninth grades with students aged twelve through fourteen.  High school is composed of freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years with students aged fourteen through eighteen.  After The Human Rights Watch.

Vagal Tone                    Heart rate variability between the amplitude and period of the oscillations associated with inhalation and exhalation. After Porges.

Vocabulary                    Linguistic sorting of words including their sounds, meanings, conceptual roles and their histories.

WHR                                Waist-to-hip ratio. Healthy, reproductively capable women have WHRs between 0.67 and 0.80.  Young females and young boys have WHR 0.85 to 0.95.  After D. Buss

Yo                                     Late 1990s street slang for "what's new with you?"  also short for "Wusup?" or What's up?"

Zoology                           The study of all animals.

Zoot Suit                         Name given to clothing style popular with Latino-American  males in the late 1930s and 1940s.

Zoot Suit Riots            1942 group reaction by Latino-Americans to the indiscriminate "hunting" attacks by Anglo servicemen into Latino-American territory.   The Anglo groups would beat and then strip the Latinos of their zoot suits.   The zoot suit style became popular because they were perfect for Chicano  swing dancing which required acrobatics.

Zygote                              A fused and fertilized gamete

Copyright, Evolution's Voyage, 1995-2009