CARTA Glossary

Displaying 101 - 200 of 332 defined words
Word Definition Related Vocabulary
Epigenetics

The study of heritable phenotype changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence.

Epigenome

Molecular modifications of the DNA and its associated histone proteins, affecting its function.

Euchromatin

Open chromatin, allowing information to be read.

Evolutionary Medicine

The application of modern evolutionary theory to understanding health and disease.

Exons

Sequences at a locus that encode proteins

Falciparum Malaria

Human-specific (malignant) malaria caused by the protozoan parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.

Falémé Valley

Eastern Senegal. Excavations have led to the the discovery of paleolithic occupations from different periods, cultures, and lithic technologies.  

False Beliefs

The ability to recognize that others can have beliefs about the world that are diverging. An important component of Theory of Mind.

Fatty Acid

A molecule composed of a long chain of lipid-carboxylic acid, which is either saturated (single bonds between the components of the fatty acid chain) or unsaturated (at least one double bond within the fatty acid chain).

Fixed Alleles

Replaced all other alleles in a population.

Foraging

Searching for wild food or provisions as opposed to cultivating food crops or keeping livestock.

FOXP2 A gene in humans that encodes for a transcription factor protein and is involved in the production of speech.
Frontoparietal Networks

Human frontal and parietal lobes form a network that is crucially involved in the selection of sensory contents by attention.

Functional DNA

Encodes biological information.
~2% of all DNA: Codes for proteins.
~80% of all DNA: Regulates gene activity.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

A neuroimaging technique for measuring and mapping brain activity that is noninvasive and safe. The phenomenon of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is used to generate a signal that can be mapped and turned into an image of brain activity.

Funeral

Intentional, ritualistic disposal of the deceased. May include behaviors such as placement of grave goods (artefacts and/or natural materials such as flowers) and positioning of interred body(ies).

Galago

A number of species of prosimians that are small, nocturnal, and native to continental Africa. Also known as bushbabies. Galagos often nest in tree hollows during the day. Chimpanzees have been observed hunting with “spears” for nested galagos, and they are also hunted by Hadza hunter-gatherers.

Gene

DNA whose information encodes a function.

Gene Flow

Movement of alleles between populations.

Gene Regulation

Alterations of gene expression/activity.

Gene-Culture Co-Evolution Theory

A branch of theoretical population genetics that models the transmission of genes and cultural traits from one generation to the next, exploring how they interact.

Genetic adaptation

A biological characteristic with a heritable basis that improves reproduction and/or survival and results from evolution by natural selection.

Genetic adaptation

A biological characteristic with a heritable basis that improves reproduction and/or survival and results from evolution by natural selection.

Genetic Drift

Loss of alleles by chance.

Genetics

The study of genes and their inheritance.

Genius

A person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative, either generally or in some particular respect.

Genome

All DNA in a cell. Also refers to the DNA sequence that typifies an individual or species.

Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS)

An approach for “gene mapping” in which hundreds of thousands of SNPs are tested statistically for genetic associations with a phenotype.

Genomic Imprinting

Modification of the genome at the level of DNA (e.g. methylation) or its packaging into chromatin (histone tail modification via phosphorylation, acetylation, ubiquitination or glycosylation).

Genomics

The study of genome structure/function.

Genotype

The two alleles at one or more diploid loci.

Genotyping

Characterizing genetic variants at one or more loci.

Genus

A taxonomic rank used in biological classification of living and fossil organisms to group closely related species. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name plus species name forms the binomial species name (e.g. Homo sapiens).

Germinal Zone A region where cell division and proliferation occurs during vertebrate central nervous system development consisting of 2 layers lining the ventricles (ventricular zone and subventricular zone).
Germinal Zone A region where cell division and proliferation occurs during vertebrate central nervous system development consisting of 2 layers lining the ventricles (ventricular zone and subventricular zone).
Great Apes

A taxonomic family that was once incorrectly used to denote chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans, but not humans.

Gyrification

The process of forming the characteristic folds of the cerebral cortex.  The peak of such a fold is called a gyrus (plural: gyri), and its trough is called a sulcus (plural: sulci).

Handaxe

A prehistoric stone tool with two faces and is usually made from flint, basalt, sandstone, quartzite, or chert.

Haploid

One set of unpaired chromosomes.

Haplotype

A set of alleles at distinct positions in the genome which are inherited together.

Health Disparity

Differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, and health care as experienced by socially disadvantaged populations.

Hemideletion

One of two paired chromosomes is affected by a deletion. The other chromosome is intact. 

Heritability

A statistic used in the fields of breeding and genetics that estimates the degree of variation in a phenotypic trait in a population that is due to genetic variation between individuals in that population.

Heterochromatin

Tightly wrapped and inactive chromatin.

Heterozygotes

Have two different alleles at a locus.

Hippocampus

The elongated ridges on the floor of each lateral ventricle of the brain, thought to be a center of emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system.

Hippocampus

The elongated ridges on the floor of each lateral ventricle of the brain, thought to be a center of emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system.

Histone Modification

A covalent post-translational modification (PTM) to histone proteins which includes methylation, phosphorylation, acetylation, ubiquitylation, and sumoylation. The PTMs made to histones can impact gene expression by altering chromatin structure or recruiting histone modifiers. 

Histones

Chief protein components of chromatin and can be chemically modified as part of epigenetics.

Holocene

The current geological epoch, from about 11.7 kya to the present.

Homeostasis

A relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.

Hominid

A classification comprising all modern and extinct “Great Apes”and humans.

Hominin

A classification of species comprising human and extinct relatives (ex. Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and Ardipithecus, etc.- not all are ancestral to humans) following the split with the common ancestor with chimpanzees.

Homo

The genus that comprises the species Homo sapiens, as well as several extinct species classified as ancestral to, or closely related to, humans.

Homo erectus

An extinct hominin species with fossil evidence from 1.9 million (possibly earlier) to 70 thousand years ago and found from Africa to Indonesia. May have been the first hominin to leave Africa. H. erectus DNA may be retrievable from other species due to archaic admixture. 

Homo habilis

An extinct archaic species of the genus Homo dating to ~2.1 to 1.5 mya. H. habilis means “handy man” and was named so because of its association with stone tools.  H. habilis has intermediate morphology between Australopithecus and Homo erectus. There is ongoing debate if H. habilis should be moved to the Australopithecus genus.  Initial discovery was made by Mary and Louis Leakey at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania between 1962 and 1964.

Homology

Similarity in DNA or phenotype because of shared evolutionary history from a common ancestor.

Homoplasy

Similarity in DNA sequence or phenotype that has evolved independently.

Homozygotes

Have two identical alleles at a locus

Howiesons Poort

A lithic technology cultural period in the Middle Stone Age in Africa named after the Howieson’s Poort Shelter archeological site near Grahamstown, South Africa. Dates range from ~65.8 kya to 59.5 kya.  Examples include composite weapons hafted with ochre and gum compound glue and microlith blades, bone arrows, and needles.

Human Accelerated Regions

Segments of the human genome that are conserved throughout vertebrate evolution but are strikingly different in humans. They are named according to their degree of difference between humans and chimpanzees (HAR1 showing the largest degree of human-chimpanzee differences).

Hunter-Gatherer

A human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging (collecting wild plants and pursuing wild animals), in contrast to agricultural societies, which rely mainly on domesticated species.

Given the higher contribution from gathering, perhaps they should be called Gatherer-Hunters.

Hybridization

Breeding among recognized species.

Hygiene Hypothesis

A lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms and parasites believed to increase susceptibility to allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Hypoxia

Less than the normal amount of oxygen reaching the tissues; also, low partial pressure of oxygen at high elevations (hypobaric hypoxia).

Idiosyncrasy

A mode of behavior or way of thought peculiar to an individual.

Immediate Return Hunter-Gatherers

Those who do not store food, but consume it within a day or two of obtaining it. This means there is no opportunity to accumulate surplus.

IncRNA

Long non-coding microRNA

Indels

Insertions or deletions of DNA sequence.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC)

Somatic (body) cells that are artificially reprogrammed to an embryonic-like stem cell state and differentiated into other types of cells.

Intentionality

The power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs. Refers to the ability of the mind to form representations and should not be confused with intention. Beliefs about others’ beliefs display what is sometimes known as “higher-order intentionality.”

Interbirth Interval

The period of time between successive births by an individual female.

Intrauterine Life

The interval of life between conception and birth.

Introgression

Transfer of alleles between species.

Introns

Sequences between eons, don't encode proteins

Intuition

A thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.

Isotope

Each of two or more forms of the same element that contain equal numbers of protons but different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei, and hence differ in relative atomic mass but not in chemical properties; in particular, a radioactive form of an element.

Isotopic Signature

The ratio of non-radiogenic “stable isotopes,” stable radiogenic isotopes, or unstable radioactive isotopes of particular elements in an investigated material.

Karyotype

Chromosome number in the cell nucleus.

Klasies-River

A river and cave system in the Tsitsikamma coast, Humansdorp district, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Evidence for middle stone age-associated human habitation has been found in the nearby cave system dating to ~125 kya.

Konso-Gardula

A palaeoanthropological area in the southern Main Ethiopian Rift that was discovered 1991 The Konso-Gardula sediments span ~ 1.9 mya to 1.3 mya. Early Homo fossils and Acheulean stone tools have been found here. 

KYA

Thousand years ago.

Linkage Disequilibrium

Non-random inheritance of alleles at different loci (due to low recombination).

Locus (pl. Loci)

A unique physical position on a chromosome.

Lomekwian Technology

Currently the oldest known stone tools consisting of 150 artefact found in Lomekwian, Kenya, close to Lake Turkana. ~3.3 mya

Lower Paleolithic

The first subdivision of the Paleolithic, or Stone Age. ~3.4 mya- 300 ky.

Macronutrient

A substance required in relatively large amounts by living organisms: Fats, proteins, carbohydrates in an animal diet or chemical elements such as potassium, magnesium, calcium as required by plants.

Maintenance and Defense

An organism’s way of maintaining its body and physiological homeostasis while also defending against parasites, pathogens, and internal crises (e.g. cancer).

Maladaptation

A genotypic or phenotypic trait that is (or has become) more harmful than helpful in determining survival and reproductive success (in contrast to an adaptation, which is more helpful than harmful).

Marrow

The soft fatty substance in the cavities of bones that produces red and white blood cells and platelets.

Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin (mTOR)

A protein kinase, which in humans is encoded by the MTOR gene.

Medium Spiny Neurons

A special type of GABAergic inhibitory cell representing 95% of neurons within the human striatum, a basal ganglia structure.

Memory

The faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information.

Meningococcus (Neisseria meningitidis)

A bacterium that can cause meningitis and meningococcemia, a life-threatening infection in the bloodstream (sepsis).

Microlithic (Mode 5)

A stone tool type consisting of small blades or points, called microliths, that were typically used in composite tools, such as an arrow point fastened to a haft. ~35 kya - 3 kya

Micronutrients

A chemical element or substance required in trace amounts for the normal growth and development of living organisms that the organism cannot synthesize itself. 

Middle Paleolithic

The second subdivision of the Paleolithic, or Stone Age and consist of use of prepared cores (Levallois Technique) and hafted tools and weapons. ~300 kya -30 kya.

Middle Pleistocene

A period of geological time (781-126,000 years ago). An important time for the diversification of hominins, including the emergence of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens.

Mind

The element of an individual that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought. 

Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT)

A proposed singular phase in hominid evolution in which maladaptive mortality salience and death anxiety were triggered by acquiring the capacity for Extended Theory of Mind, but were (in this one instance) tolerated by the simultaneous acquisition of Reality Denial in the same minds - allowing gene culture-evolution to fix both capacities in the resulting hominin lineage, at the neurobiological and genetic level.

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