Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

An eye is not an eye is not an eye

Posted 16 Jan 2016 / 0

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons National Geographic “Inside the Eye: Nature’s Most Exquisite Creation” This is another fantastic article by Ed Yong that very nicely captures the relativistic nature of the evolutionary process. We basically call any light-sensing organ an “eye”, but animals have eyes that perform radically different functions. How eyes work is a function Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Convergence, Divergence, Fossil Data, Interactions, Photography, Uncategorized

It was an honor to talk to St. Francis College!

Posted 14 Dec 2015 / 1

Last Friday (December 11th, 2015) I had the pleasure of speaking to students and faculty at Saint Francis College. I delivered a talk entitled “Highly-creative baby-breeding idea propagators: what human (re)productive choices mean for the future of our species” to an engaged and insightful audience; as this was the final week of classes, I really Read More

A Major Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cultural Evolution, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Natural Selection, Population Growth, Public Outreach, Sex and Reproduction, Social Diversity

Is family-linked terrorism a cultural and genetic phenomenon?

Posted 03 Dec 2015 / 0

National Public Radio “In Worst Attacks, Terrorists Often Have Fraternal Bonds” This is an interesting — albeit brief — piece on a recent “pattern” that has emerged in terror attacks: teams of attackers are often composed of blood relatives. As a good scientist I have to point out that there’s a danger here of over-generalizing Read More

A Major Post, Activism, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Belief, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Evolution, Data Limitation, Gene by Environment Interactions, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Genetics, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Human Evolution, Memetic Fitness, Mismatch theory, Phenotypic Plasticity, Public Policy, Radio & Podcasts, Resistance Evolution in Parasites, Social Diversity

That beard and deep voice may be to put him in his place, not attract her

Posted 09 Nov 2015 / 0

There have been a lot of evolutionary psychology experiments that have tried to define both female and male attractiveness to the opposite sex, an indirect way to get at the nature of sexual selection in humans. A new study published in Behavioral Ecology reminds us that sexual selection is not the only process that has Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Communication, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Uniqueness, MSCI-362, The Evolution of Sex, Psychological Adaptation, Quantifying Costs and Benefits, Reputation, Sex and Reproduction, Sexual Competition, Sexual Selection

Major masts made by multiplicative modification

Posted 22 Oct 2015 / 0

Ecology Letters “Extended flowering intervals of bamboos evolved by discrete multiplication” This is a great example of how theory can be used to explain patterns in nature by matching patterns in nature. Masting is a group-level evolved phenomenon: producing seeds in abundance during a single year where every other plant of your species is doing Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Cooperation, Evolutionary Modeling, Multilevel Selection, Predation

Group phenotypic composition: implications for individuals and their groups

Posted 22 Oct 2015 / 0

Trends in Ecology & Evolution “From Individuals to Groups and Back: The Evolutionary Implications of Group Phenotypic Composition” Man, I wish that this article was written in a more accessible manner, because what it presents is important. There is a critical feedback between how the composition of groups affects individuals and how individuals affect the Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Evolutionary Modeling, Group Selection, Multilevel Selection, Natural Selection, Phenotypic Plasticity, Population Genetics, Social Diversity

New report on drug resistance highlights the tragedy of our antibiotics commons

Posted 02 Oct 2015 / 0

National Geographic Germination blog “Antibiotic Resistance Getting Worse Globally, But Fixes Could Be Simple” Antibiotic resistance is an interesting problem because it highlights how individual decisions drive international-scale dynamics and then come right back to impact individuals. Unlike other big international tragedies of the commons such as climate change or fisheries collapse, the effects of Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Coevolution, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Resistance Evolution in Parasites, Social Norms, Web

Does the ability to accumulate wealth make us value the future more?

Posted 29 Sep 2015 / 0

PLoS ONE “Future Discounting in Congo Basin Hunter-Gatherers Declines with Socio-Economic Transitions” These findings are really fascinating, because they suggest that some degree of “building towards the future” is inspired by the ability to accumulate wealth. There’s a lot in these findings to explain why small-scale societies stay small and how larger-scale societies evolve from smaller-scale Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Evolution, Economics, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Nature, Memetic Fitness, Phenotypic Plasticity, Psychological Adaptation, Social Norms

Our culture is special, but not especially uncommon

Posted 08 Sep 2015 / 0

National Geographic News “Sperm Whales’ Language Reveals Hints of Culture” It is interesting how the number of animal species displaying culture keeps getting larger. There’s a lot of evolutionary convergence involved here, as the phylogenetic tree of vertebrates is still only sprinkled with pockets of culture. But those pockets of culture are deep, and therefore Read More

A Minor Post, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cetaceans, Communication, Convergence, Cultural Evolution, Exaptation, Human Uniqueness, Web

WmD Episode #00003 has been released

Posted 20 Aug 2015 / 0

The WmD Project is picking up steam!  This week I have released the third episode of WmD’s video blog: You can see this episode in its ‘native habitat’ here. The first season of WmD is dedicated to the “big questions in ecology and evolution“. This episode, “Difference is as difference does”, is meant to cover these questions: Why do Read More

A Major Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Marine Ecosystems, Niche Partitioning, Temperate Forest, The WmD Project, Urban Ecology