Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Human anatomy


Episodes of Palaeolithic cannibalism have frequently been defined as ‘nutritional’ in nature, but with little empirical evidence to assess their dietary significance. This paper presents a nutritional template that offers a proxy calorie value for the human body. When applied to the Palaeolithic record, the template provides a framework for assessing the dietary value of prehistoric cannibalistic episodes compared to the faunal record. Results show that humans have a comparable nutritional value to those faunal species that match our typical body weight, but significantly lower than a range of fauna often found in association with anthropogenically modified hominin remains. This could suggest that the motivations behind hominin anthropophagy may not have been purely nutritionally motivated. It is proposed here that the comparatively low nutritional value of hominin cannibalism episodes support more socially or culturally driven narratives in the interpretation of Palaeolithic cannibalism.

Concepts: Human, Sociology, Science, Anthropology, Human anatomy, Neanderthal, Prehistory, Cannibalism


Every element or cell in the human body produces substances that communicate and respond in an autocrine or paracrine mode, consequently affecting organs and structures that are seemingly far from each other. The same also applies to the skin. In fact, when the integrity of the skin has been altered, or when its healing process is disturbed, it becomes a source of symptoms that are not merely cutaneous. The skin is an organ, and similar to any other structure, it has different functions in addition to connections with the central and peripheral nervous system. This article examines pathological responses produced by scars, analyzing definitions and differences. At the same time, it considers the subcutaneous fascias, as this connective structure is altered when there is a discontinuous cutaneous surface. The consequence is an ample symptomatology, which is not limited to the body area where the scar is located, such as a postural or trigeminal disorder.

Concepts: Nervous system, Scar, Wound healing, Collagen, Healing, Organ, Skin, Human anatomy


Dance is a universal human behaviour that is observed particularly in courtship contexts, and that provides information that could be useful to potential partners. Here, we use a data-driven approach to pinpoint the movements that discriminate female dance quality. Using 3D motion-capture we recorded women whilst they danced to a basic rhythm. Video clips of 39 resultant avatars were rated for dance quality, and those ratings were compared to quantitative measurements of the movement patterns using multi-level models. Three types of movement contributed independently to high-quality female dance: greater hip swing, more asymmetric movements of the thighs, and intermediate levels of asymmetric movements of the arms. Hip swing is a trait that identifies female movement, and the ability to move limbs asymmetrically (i.e. independently of the other) may attest to well-developed motor control, so long as this limb independence does not verge into uncontrolled pathological movement. We also found that the same level of dance quality could be predicted by different combinations of dance features. Our work opens avenues to exploring the functional significance, informational content, and temporal sequencing of the different types of movement in dance.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Behavior, Human anatomy, Human behavior, Philip Larkin, Ayatollah


Nonhuman primates use social touch for maintenance and reinforcement of social structures, yet the role of social touch in human bonding in different reproductive, affiliative, and kinship-based relationships remains unresolved. Here we reveal quantified, relationship-specific maps of bodily regions where social touch is allowed in a large cross-cultural dataset (N = 1,368 from Finland, France, Italy, Russia, and the United Kingdom). Participants were shown front and back silhouettes of human bodies with a word denoting one member of their social network. They were asked to color, on separate trials, the bodily regions where each individual in their social network would be allowed to touch them. Across all tested cultures, the total bodily area where touching was allowed was linearly dependent (mean r(2) = 0.54) on the emotional bond with the toucher, but independent of when that person was last encountered. Close acquaintances and family members were touched for more reasons than less familiar individuals. The bodily area others are allowed to touch thus represented, in a parametric fashion, the strength of the relationship-specific emotional bond. We propose that the spatial patterns of human social touch reflect an important mechanism supporting the maintenance of social bonds.

Concepts: Human, Sociology, Primate, Interpersonal relationship, Bond, Human anatomy, IPod Touch, Human bonding


Bacterial pathogens have evolved a wide range of strategies to colonize and invade human organs, despite the presence of multiple host defense mechanisms. In this review, we will describe how pathogenic bacteria can adhere and multiply at the surface of host cells, how some bacteria can enter and proliferate inside these cells, and finally how pathogens may cross epithelial or endothelial host barriers and get access to internal tissues, leading to severe diseases in humans.

Concepts: Immune system, Archaea, Bacteria, Microbiology, Chromosome, Pathogen, Human anatomy, Pathogenic bacteria


Humans bargaining over money tend to reject unfair offers, whilst chimpanzees bargaining over primary rewards of food do not show this same motivation to reject. Whether such reciprocal fairness represents a predominantly human motivation has generated considerable recent interest. We induced either moderate or severe thirst in humans using intravenous saline, and examined responses to unfairness in an Ultimatum Game with water. We ask if humans also reject unfair offers for primary rewards. Despite the induction of even severe thirst, our subjects rejected unfair offers. Further, our data provide tentative evidence that this fairness motivation was traded-off against the value of the primary reward to the individual, a trade-off determined by the subjective value of water rather than by an objective physiological metric of value. Our data demonstrate humans care about fairness during bargaining with primary rewards, but that subjective self-interest may limit this fairness motivation.

Concepts: Human, Chimpanzee, Human anatomy, Motivation, Reward system, Value theory, Labor theory of value, Theory of value


Mercury is a toxic and non-essential metal in the human body. Mercury is ubiquitously distributed in the environment, present in natural products, and exists extensively in items encountered in daily life. There are three forms of mercury, i.e., elemental (or metallic) mercury, inorganic mercury compounds, and organic mercury compounds. This review examines the toxicity of elemental mercury and inorganic mercury compounds. Inorganic mercury compounds are water soluble with a bioavailability of 7% to 15% after ingestion; they are also irritants and cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Upon entering the body, inorganic mercury compounds are accumulated mainly in the kidneys and produce kidney damage. In contrast, human exposure to elemental mercury is mainly by inhalation, followed by rapid absorption and distribution in all major organs. Elemental mercury from ingestion is poorly absorbed with a bioavailability of less than 0.01%. The primary target organs of elemental mercury are the brain and kidney. Elemental mercury is lipid soluble and can cross the blood-brain barrier, while inorganic mercury compounds are not lipid soluble, rendering them unable to cross the blood-brain barrier. Elemental mercury may also enter the brain from the nasal cavity through the olfactory pathway. The blood mercury is a useful biomarker after short-term and high-level exposure, whereas the urine mercury is the ideal biomarker for long-term exposure to both elemental and inorganic mercury, and also as a good indicator of body burden. This review discusses the common sources of mercury exposure, skin lightening products containing mercury and mercury release from dental amalgam filling, two issues that happen in daily life, bear significant public health importance, and yet undergo extensive debate on their safety.

Concepts: Brain, Chemical element, Metal, Mercury, Human anatomy, Mercury poisoning, Amalgam


BACKGROUND: Educational computer games are examples of computer-assisted learning objects, representing an educational strategy of growing interest. Given the changes in the digital world over the last decades, students of the current generation expect technology to be used in advancing their learning requiring a need to change traditional passive learning methodologies to an active multisensory experimental learning methodology. The objective of this study was to compare a computer game-based learning method with a traditional learning method, regarding learning gains and knowledge retention, as means of teaching head and neck Anatomy and Physiology to Speech-Language and Hearing pathology undergraduate students. METHODS: Students were randomized to participate to one of the learning methods and the data analyst was blinded to which method of learning the students had received. Students' prior knowledge (i.e. before undergoing the learning method), short-term knowledge retention and long-term knowledge retention (i.e. six months after undergoing the learning method) were assessed with a multiple choice questionnaire. Students' performance was compared considering the three moments of assessment for both for the mean total score and for separated mean scores for Anatomy questions and for Physiology questions. RESULTS: Students that received the game-based method performed better in the pos-test assessment only when considering the Anatomy questions section. Students that received the traditional lecture performed better in both post-test and long-term post-test when considering the Anatomy and Physiology questions. CONCLUSIONS: The game-based learning method is comparable to the traditional learning method in general and in short-term gains, while the traditional lecture still seems to be more effective to improve students' short and long-term knowledge retention.

Concepts: Scientific method, Head and neck anatomy, Biology, Education, Anatomy, Learning, Human anatomy, Methodology


This paper emphasizes the anatomical substrate of several foot conditions that are seldom discussed in this context. These include the insertional and non-insertional Achilles tendinopathies, plantar fasciopathy, inferior and posterior heel spurs, foot compartment syndromes, intermetatarsal bursitis and Morton’s neuroma. It is a rather superficial anatomical review of an organ that remains largely neglected by rheumatologists. It is our hope that the cases discussed and the cross examination by instructors and participants will stimulate study of the foot and the attention it deserves.

Concepts: Medicine, Biology, Foot, Anatomy, Human anatomy, Anatomical terms of location, Morton's neuroma, Neuroma


Fishes have adapted a number of different behaviors to move out of the water, but none have been described as being able to walk on land with a tetrapod-like gait. Here we show that the blind cavefish Cryptotora thamicola walks and climbs waterfalls with a salamander-like diagonal-couplets lateral sequence gait and has evolved a robust pelvic girdle that shares morphological features associated with terrestrial vertebrates. In all other fishes, the pelvic bones are suspended in a muscular sling or loosely attached to the pectoral girdle anteriorly. In contrast, the pelvic girdle of Cryptotora is a large, broad puboischiadic plate that is joined to the iliac process of a hypertrophied sacral rib; fusion of these bones in tetrapods creates an acetabulum. The vertebral column in the sacral area has large anterior and posterior zygapophyses, transverse processes, and broad neural spines, all of which are associated with terrestrial organisms. The diagonal-couplet lateral sequence gait was accomplished by rotation of the pectoral and pelvic girdles creating a standing wave of the axial body. These findings are significant because they represent the first example of behavioural and morphological adaptation in an extant fish that converges on the tetrapodal walking behaviour and morphology.

Concepts: Vertebral column, Pelvis, Human anatomy, Acetabulum, Walking, Pubis, Sacrum, Ilium