CARTA Glossary

Displaying 101 - 200 of 378 defined words
Word Definition Related Vocabulary
Disease Phenotype

Outwardly apparent effects of a disease.

Divergence

Change in genetic content or phenotype between isolated populations or species.

Djurab Desert

Northern Chad.  A fossil rich desert that is most famous for the discovery of Sahelenthropous tchadensis (Toumai) in 2001. 

DNA

Deoxyribonucleic acid. The molecule of inheritance, consisting of sequences of the four nucleotide building blocks (ATGC).

DNA Methylation

A process by which methyl groups are added to the DNA molecule. Methylation can change the activity of a DNA segment without changing the sequence. When located in a gene promoter, DNA methylation typically acts to repress gene transcription.

DNA Sequence

The order of nucleotide bases (cytosine, guanine, adenine, thymine).

Dose or Risk Gradient

A graph showing a pattern of rising problems or undesirable outcomes as the level of trauma, exposure to disaster, or number of cumulative risk factors or ACEs increases.

Dual Inheritance

A theory that human behavior is a product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes: genetic evolution and cultural evolution. Genes and culture continually interact in a feedback loop.

Dyslexia

A general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpreting words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.

Ecology

The interaction of organisms with their physical environment, along with other organisms.

Effective Population Size (Ne)

The size of an idealized population (random mating, no selection, mutation or migration) with the same rate of genetic drift as the study population.

Elephants (Elephantidae)

Large herbivorous mammals recognized by their long trunks, tusks, large ear flaps, and pillar-like legs. Elephants are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia and consist of three species, the Africa bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), the African forest elephant (L. cyclotis), and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus).

Enhancer

Short region of DNA that can be bound by proteins to alter transcription of a gene.

Epigenetic

Biological information not encoded directly in DNA.

Epigenetics

A term first coined by the developmental biologist, Conrad Waddington, in 1942 to explain how a singular genotype might produce variations in phenotype across development. He argued that some level of regulation must exists “above” or “over” genes to determine when and where they are expressed. Today the term refers to stable alterations in gene expression without changes to the underlying 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.

Fos

A protein that is rapidly synthesized in neurons when they become active and therefore is used as a marker of neuron activity and is involved in regulating gene expression.

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

A measure of abnormal mothering in rodents. Fragmentation score reflects disruptions in the temporal pattern of care typically displayed by rodents. High fragmentation scores indicate shorter nursing bouts and generally erratic behavior.

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 Expression

The process by which the information contained within a gene (nucleotide sequence) is used to direct protein synthesis and dictate cell function. Nearly all of the cells in the body contain identical genes, but only a subset of this information is used or expressed at any time. The genes expressed in a cell determine what that cell can do.

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 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).
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

A part of the limbic system that plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory, and in spatial memory that enables navigation. A major component of the brain of humans and other vertebrates. Humans and other mammals have two hippocampi, one in each side of the brain. It is named after its resemblance to the shape of a sea horse.

Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor (HDACi)

A drug that inhibits histone deacetylases or molecules involved in modifying histone proteins. Histone deacetylases typically function to reduce chromatin accessibility and gene expression. Therefore, administration of this drug allows for higher levels of gene expression.

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.

Intracellular Signaling Cascade

The series of sequential events that transmit signals received at the surface of a neuron to internal regulatory molecules, which are then modified by the signal. These pathways allow external signals from the environment to regulate gene expression.

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.

John Ssebunya of Uganda

In 1989, at age 4-5, he witnessed his father murder his mother and subsequently fled into the Ugandan jungle. He was accepted as a peripheral member of a group of vervet monkeys who cared for and nourished him for a period of two years. He was found and captured in 1991.

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.

Late Bloomers

Individuals from high-risk backgrounds who begin to manifest resilience later in adolescence or adulthood following a period of maladjustment or problems.

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