CARTA Glossary

Displaying 301 - 332 of 332 defined words
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A population whose individuals can mate with one another to produce viable and fertile offspring. (debated definition)


A gene on chromosome 1 that encodes for a protein that plays a role in cortical neuron development. Duplications of this gene are unique only to humans.

Stable Isotope

 Isotopes that do not decay into other elements.  These isotopes, found in biological material, including fossils, and can be used to study paleo-diet and ecology.


A plant storage molecule in the form of a polysaccharide. Starch is obtained chiefly from cereals, tubers, and potatoes. It is an important constituent of the human diet due to its digestibility, unlike many other polysaccharides, such as plant cellulose, pectins, and xylans (polyxylose).

Stone Age

 The prehistoric period during which stone was used to make tools and weapons and is synonymous with the paleolithic. ~3.4 mya - 10 kya. 

In African archaeology, stone age chronology is divided into Early Stone Age (ESA): ~2.6 mya to ~300 kya; Middle Stone Age (MSA): ~300 kya to ~50 kya; and Later Stone Age (LSA): ~ 50 kya to ~39 kya.  

ESA is characterized by the development of the first African stone tools, such as Oldowan technology used by Australopithecines, and the more advanced Acheulean technology, utilized by Homo erectus

MSA is characterized by a transition from Acheulean to Levallois technology and the earliest known modern human behavior.  

LSA is characterized by microlithic industries and punch-struck blades and fully modern human behavior.  

Structural Variation (Genomics)

The variation in structure of an organism’s chromosomes. It consists of many kinds of variation in the genome of one species, and usually includes microscopic and submicroscopic types, such as deletions, duplications, copy-number variants, insertions, inversions and translocations.

Subventricular Zone Describes both embryonic and adult neural tissues in the vertebrate nervous system.

A condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another.

Synonymous/Non-synonymous Mutations

No change to the protein; changes to protein, respectively.


The arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language.

Terror Management Theory

A concept in social psychology that proposes the existence of a basic psychological conflict that results from having a desire to live but realizing death is inevitable.

Theory of Mind (ToM)

The ability to attribute mental beliefs, desires, intentions, and perspectives, etc., to oneself and to others, and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, intentions, and perspectives that are similar or different from one's own.  Related/Overlapping Terms: “Intentionality”, Attribution of Mental States”, “Inter-subjectivity”, “Mind-Reading”, “Perspective taking”, “Other-regarding Impulses”, etc.

Tinbergen's Four Questions

Nikolaas Tinbergen’s 1962 paper “On aims and methods of Ethology,” defined complementary categories for analyzing and explaining animal behavior as proximate (developmental: both ontogenic and mechanistic) and ultimate (evolutionary: both phylogenetic and adaptive).

  • Proximate/Ontogeny: How does the trait develop in individuals?
  • Proximate/Mechanism: How does the trait work?
  • Ultimate/Phylogeny: What is the trait’s evolutionary history?
  • Ultimate/Adaptation: Why does the trait perform better than evolvable alternatives?

DNA sequence converted into RNA.

Transcription Factor

A factor (most often a protein) that influences the transcription of other coding sequences.

Transcription Factor Proteins

A protein that alters gene expression by binding directly or indirectly to DNA


mRNA converted into a protein sequence.

Transposable elements (TE)

Sequences that replicate in a genome by inserting copies of themselves at other loci (a type of “molecular parasite”).

Type 2 Diabetes (Adult On-Set)

A chronic metabolic disorder that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose). It is characterized by high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and relative lack of insulin and primarily occurs as a result of obesity and lack of exercise.

Typhoid fever

A bacterial infection of Salmonella typhi spread through contaminated food, water, or close contact.


Any typically herbivorous and hoofed mammal belonging to a diverse group that includes both perissodactyls (odd-toed ungulates including horses and rhinos) and artiodactyls (even-toed ungulates including cattle, pigs, giraffes, camels, deer, hippos). Recent discoveries indicate cetaceans evolved from early artiodactyls.

Upper Paleolithic

The third subdivision of the Paleolithic, or Stone Age, and coincides with behavorial modernity and predates the advent of agriculture. Artefacts include finely crafted stone blades and bone and antler tools, such as harpoons and needles. ~50 kya - 10 kya


DNA that differs among groups studied.

Variation (Biology)

The differences among the individual of the same species.


DNA molecule used to direct the replication of a cloned DNA fragment (“insert”) in a host cell.

Ventricular Zone A transient embryonic layer of tissue containing neural stem cells, principally radial glial cells, of the central nervous system of vertebrates.
Williams Syndrome

A genetic condition characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning challenges.  These often occur side by side with striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities and an affinity for music.  1 in 10,000 people worldwide are affected and occurs equally in males and females and in every culture. Children with Williams syndrome tend to be social, friendly and endearing.

Working Memory

The part of short-term memory that is concerned with immediate conscious perceptual and linguistic processing.  It is also important for reasoning and the guidance of decision-making and behavior.

Y-chromosome DNA

In mammals, paternally inherited DNA. The Y-chromosome is one of two sex chromosomes (allosomes), and is the sex-determining chromosome. Absence or presence of the Y-chromosome in the sperm fertilizing the egg determines the sex of the resulting offspring (female or male, respectively).  In humans, the Y-chromosome consists of ~59 million base pairs.  Y-Chromosome DNA is used to make paternal haplogroup (discrete sections of non-recombining dna) lineage inferences.  The Y-chromosome is passed paternally to sons only and it is one of the fastest-evolving (read: mutation rate) parts of the human genome.

Yersinia pestis

The gram-negative bacterium that causes the plague, which takes three main forms: pneumonic, septicemic and bubonic.


A species-spanning approach to medicine that recognizes that animals and humans get many of the same diseases, yet physicians and veterinarians rarely consult one another.

“Mating Success” Hypothesis

In relation to hunting, a hypothesis that has been documented or proposed for humans, some earlier hominins, and chimpanzees that the tactical sharing of meat develops and maintains social bonds and/or increases mating success. In humans, this success is possibly amplified by an individual’s prowess or reputation.