CARTA Glossary

Displaying 401 - 500 of 523 defined words
Word Definition Related Vocabulary
Punctuated Equilibrium

An evolutionary model in which pronounced change takes place in short bursts followed by periods of evolutionary continuity. Compare with Continuity.

Pup

The term used to refer to an infant rodent (rat or mouse).

Pup Retrieval

An infant transport behavior in which the mother uses her mouth to gently carry a pup by the back of the neck. Mothers do this if pups crawl out of the nest or if she has to move her pups to a new nest location. In the laboratory, this behavior can be used as an index of maternal motivation because it is a proactive, voluntary response to an infant.

Pyramidal Neurons

A type of multipolar neuron found in areas of the brain including the cerebral cortex, the hippocampus, and the amygdala. Pyramidal neurons are the primary excitation units of the mammalian prefrontal cortex and the corticospinal tract.

Radial Glia

A primary progenitor cell capable of generating neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. Radial glia are defined by their position, morphology, and genetic phenotype. These cells are involved in establishing a temporary scaffold for cortical layer development.

Reading-Frame A way of dividing the sequence of nucleotides in a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) molecule into a set of consecutive, non-overlapping triplets called codons.
Reading-Frame Shift A genetic mutation caused by indels (insertions or deletions) of a number of nucleotides in a DNA sequence that is not divisible by three.
Reality Denial

A subconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge (or rationalization of) unwanted or unpleasant facts, realities, thoughts, or feelings. Related Term: “Denialism.”

Receptor

A molecule on the surface of host cells used by pathogens for attachment and/or invasion. Examples: angiotensin-converting-enzyme 2 (ACE2) used by SARS- CoV- 2; Sialic acid used by influenza A.

Recombination

Exchanges between chromosomes that causes independent inheritance of alleles.

Red Blood Cells (RBCs)

The most common type of blood cell and the vertebrate’s principal means of oxygen delivery from lungs or gills to all tissues of the body. RBCs of most mammals do not contain a nucleus with chromosomes. RBCs are also called “erythrocytes.”

REM sleep

Rapid eye movement sleep, a phase of mammalian sleep characterized by random movement of eyes, low muscle tone, and vivid dreams.

Reproductive Debut

Age at which an individual initiates their reproductive career, influences lifetime reproductive success.

Reproductive Success

An individual’s production of offspring per breeding event or lifetime (also includes the reproductive success of the offspring). Compare with Fitness (Darwninian).

Reproductive Tract (Human Female)

The external (labia, clitoris, and vaginal opening) and internal (clitoris, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries) sex organs that function in reproduction.

Reservoir (Medicine)

A population that is chronically infested with the causative agent of a disease and can act as a source of further infection.

Resilience

Capacity (potential or manifested) of a system to adapt successfully to challenges that threaten system function, survival, or development; positive adaptation in the context of significant adversity exposure.

Respiratory

Associated with the act of respiration or breathing.

Rising Star Cave System

A system of caves in the Malmani dolomites of South Africa (and a part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site) where fossils of a previously unknown, extinct species of hominin, Homo naledi, were first discovered in 2013.

Risk

Higher probability of a negative (undesired) outcome.

Risk Factor

Indicator of risk for specified negative outcome in a population.

RNA

Ribonucleic Acid. A molecule essential in gene coding, decoding, regulation, and expression. Consists of sequences of the four nucleotide bases: Adenine, Uracil, Guanine, and Cytosine. Types of RNA include messenger RNA (mRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA), small nuclear RNA (snRNA), and other non-coding RNAs. Some viruses including Influenza A and Sars-Cov-2 have RNA genomes.

RNA Binding Proteins (RBP)

Proteins that bind RNA

RNA virus

A virus that has RNA (ribonucleic acid) as its genetic material. This nucleic acid is usually single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) but may be double-stranded RNA (dsRNA).

Sahelanthropus tchadensis (Toumaï)

An extinct archaic species of hominin dating close to the split between the chimpanzee-human split, ~7 mya.  A probable ancestor to Orrorin tugenensis and may have walked bipedally.  

Salmonella

A genus of rod-shaped Gram-negative bacteria of the family Enterobacteriaceae and is divided by serovar type as either “non-typhoidal” Salmonella or “typhoidal” Salmonella. Salmonella enter the body through ingestion, often through consumption of contaminated meat, eggs, milk, or other foods that have come into contact with animal fecal matter. Its niche is in the intestines.

Salmonella enterica

A bacterium species of the genus Salmonella. Most cases of salmonellosis in humans is caused by S. enterica, often via infected cattle or poultry, including eggs. S. enterica can be divided in six subspecies and comprise over 2,000 serovars.

Salmonella enterica typhi

A serovar of Salmonella enterica whose reservoir is the human body. It is usually contracted by ingestion of food or water that is contaminated by the feces of those carrying the organism.

Salmonellosis

An intestinal infection caused by Salmonella bacteria. Common symptoms include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting.

Saltation (Leap)

Discontinuous evolution marked by a sudden mutational change from one generation to the next, and may result in a single-step speciation event.

San People

Members of various Khoisan-speaking indigenous hunter-gatherer groups that are the first nations of Southern Africa, and whose territories span Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa. mtDNA and Y chromosome studies show that the San carry some of the most divergent (oldest) human haplogroups.

Savanna-Woodland Mosaic

A transitory ecotone between the tropical moist broadleaf forests of Equatorial Africa and the drier savannas and open woodlands to the north and south of the forest belt. The forest-savanna mosaic consists of drier forests, often gallery forest, interspersed with savannas and open grasslands.

Savant

A person affected with a mental disability who exhibits exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field.

Savant Syndrome

is a loose term that refers to people who have a combination of significant cognitive difficulties, often stemming from autism, and profound skills.

Scavengers

Organisms that search for and feed on carrion, dead plant material, or refuse.

Selection

Allele frequency change over time caused by the different replication rate of specific alleles.

Selective Attachment

A specific bond formed between a mother and her offspring, which results in the mother exclusively caring for her own young and actively rejecting non-familiar young.

Self-Awareness

Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

Semantics (Linguistics)

The study of the logic and meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, or text.

Sequence

The linear order of the building blocks, which encodes individual form and function.

Sequencing

Reading the order of nucleotides in DNA.

Serovar

 A subdivision within a species bacteria or viruses, or among immune cells of different individuals grouped together based on cell surface antigens.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

A contagious and sometimes fatal respiratory illness caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV-1). SARS was first reported in China in November 2002 and was rapidly spread worldwide by international travelers. Symptoms first appear flu-like with a fever, chills, muscle aches, headache and sometimes diarrhea. This can progress to a dry cough and shortness of breath. A massive global response helped to contain the spread of the disease and no new cases of the original SARS have been reported since 2004.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 1 (SARS- CoV or SARS-CoV-1)

A strain of coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). It is a single-stranded RNA virus that infects the epithelial cells within the lungs and can infect humans, bats, and palm civets.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS- CoV-2)

A novel strain of coronavirus closely related to SARS-CoV that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which resulted in a pandemic. It is a naturally evolving virus that crossed to humans from another animal, mostly likely a bat. SARS CoV-2 is completely different from the family that includes influenza viruses though both can cause respiratory symptoms.

Shotgun

Sequencing cuts the genome into short chunks that are read and reassembled by a computer.

Sialic Acids

Acidic sugar molecules prominently found at the outermost fringes of the forest of sugar chains (glycans) that cover all vertebrate cells. The two most common sialic acids in mammals are N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) into N glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc). The human lineage ceased the ability to produce Neu5Gc over 2 million years ago causing human cells to be coated with an excess of Neu5Ac.

Sialidase

An enzyme that cleaves sialic acid, an abundant sugar that coats most vertebrate cells.

Sickle Cell Anemia

An inherited red blood cell (RBC) disorder and one of the group of disorders of Sickle Cell Disease. In Sickle Cell Anemia, RBCs assume a sickle, or crescent shape, and degrade prematurely, causing a lack of red blood cells (anemia) to perform gas exchange. Shortness of breath, fatigue, and delayed growth and development in children are common conditions.

Sickle Cell Disease

A group of inherited red blood cell disorders caused by the production of hemoglobin S, a protein in red blood cells (RBCs) that causes RBCs to assume a sickle, or crescent, shape. Sickled red blood cells break down prematurely, which causes the group of disorders, including Sickle Cell Anemia (a lack of red blood cells causing shortness of breath, fatigue, and delayed growth and development in children), jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin due to rapid breakdown of red blood cells), clotting (sickled red blood cells, which are stiff and inflexible, get stuck in small blood vessels depriving tissues and organs of oxygen-rich blood and can lead to organ damage, especially in the lungs, kidneys, spleen, and brain), and pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs). Repeated infections, and periodic episodes of pain are also common. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person.

Sickle Cell Trait

In humans, a condition in which a person is heterozygous for codominant alleles of the hemoglobin subunit beta (HBB) gene and produces both normal hemoglobin proteins (hgb) and abnormal hemoglobin proteins (hemoglobin S, which causes red blood cells (RBCs) to assume a sickle, or crescent, shape). In environments where malaria is endemic, humans with Sickle Cell Trait have a selective advantage as it confers some resistance to malaria. Sickle cells prevent the malaria parasite from stealing actin (a protein that maintains the pliable internal skeleton of RBCs). Actin is used by the parasite to transport another protein, adhesin (produced by the parasite), to the cell surface. Adhesin causes the infected red blood cells to adhere to each other and to vessel walls, resulting in microvascular inflammation. A person with Sickle Cell Trait does not display the severe symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease.

Silent Mutations

No change to the phenotype.

Silver-Russell Syndrome

A complex genetic disorder affecting growth.

Single Clonal Lineage Analysis A system for labeling and following a single progenitor cell and its daughter cells as they proliferate and mature.
Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs)

Single nucleotide differences (e.g. Adenine, Thymine).

Social

Relating to society or its organization.

Social Bond

The degree to which an individual is integrated into the society, or ‘the social’. Social bond is the binding ties or social bonding to the family. Social bond also includes social bonding to the school, to the workplace and to the community.

Social Referencing

A process where an individual takes cues from other people in the environment, about which emotions and actions are appropriate in a certain context or situation. 

Social-Emotional Development

The experience, expression, and management of emotions and the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others. It encompasses both intra- and interpersonal processes. The core features of emotional development include the ability to identify and understand one’s own feelings, to accurately read and comprehend emotional states in others, to manage strong emotions and their expression in a constructive manner, to regulate one’s own behavior, to develop empathy for others, and to establish and maintain relationships.

Species

A biological population whose individuals can mate with one another to produce viable and fertile offspring. This is a debated definition and the concept is problematic for bacteria, which can exchange genetic material with distantly related groups.

Spillover Infection

Also known as “pathogen spillover” and “spillover event,” occurs when a reservoir population with a high pathogen prevalence comes into contact with a novel host population. The pathogen is transmitted from the reservoir population and may or may not be transmitted within the host population.

SRGAP2

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.

Starch

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.

  • Early Stone Age is characterized by the development of the first African stone tools, such as the Oldowan technology used by Australopithecines, and the later Acheulean technology, used by Homo erectus.
  • Middle Stone Age is characterized by a transition from Acheulean to Levallois technology and the earliest known modern human behavior.
  • Later Stone Age is characterized by microlithic industries and punch-struck blades, revealing fully modern human behavior.
Streptococcal Infection

Any type of infection caused by the group of Streptococcus bacteria.

Streptococcus

A genus of Gram-positive bacteria with over 50 recognized species. Streptococcus species are responsible for “strep” throat, pink eye, meningitis, bacterial pneumonia, endocarditis, erysipelas, and necrotizing fasciitis (the “flesh- eating” bacterial infections). However, many streptococcal species are not pathogenic and form part of the commensal human microbiota of the mouth, skin, intestine, and upper respiratory tract. Streptococci are also a necessary ingredient in producing Emmentaler (“Swiss”) cheese.

Stress

Effects of disturbances in an individual or system that disrupt adaptive functions; response of a dynamic system to challenges or demands.

Stressors

Events or experiences that typically result in stress on a system.

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.

Subcortical Structure

A group of diverse neural formations deep within the brain which include the diencephalon, pituitary gland, limbic structures and the basal ganglia. They are involved in complex activities such as memory, emotion, pleasure and hormone production. They act as information hubs of the nervous system, as they relay and modulate information passing to different areas of the brain.

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

An organism that lives in a symbiosis.

Symbiosis

A close and long-term biological interaction between two different biological organisms, be it mutualistic, commensalistic, or parasitic.

Synaesthesia

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.

Syntax

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

T-maze Test

A parental challenge test. The apparatus is a T-shaped Plexiglas structure that is used to measure whether female rats or mice are willing to protect their infants from potential harm. The maze is novel (new) and therefore fear-inducing to neophobic rodents. Rodents that fail to group pups in the nest within 15 minutes are considered neglectful.

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?
Togavirus (Togaviridae)

The viral family comprising two genera, Alphavirus and Rubivirus. All togaviruses that are either animal pathogens or zoonoses belong to the Alphavirus genus. Humans can contract togaviruses via vectored transmission from domestic livestock.
 

Transcription

The first step in gene expression during which the nucleotide sequence of DNA is transcribed into an RNA molecule that can ultimately be translated into protein.

Transcription Factor Proteins

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

Transcription Factors

Proteins that bind to specific sequences of DNA called regulatory elements, or other proteins that do so, and directly or indirectly affect the initiation of transcription. The activities of transcription factors determine where and when genes are expressed.

Transcriptional Memory

The idea that following repeated stimulus-induced activation, genes become poised or primed to respond to that stimulus.

Translation

The process by which RNA sequences are translated to amino acid sequences during protein synthesis.

Transmissible (Disease)

Illnesses that are transmitted from one host to another though direct or indirect contact, via a vector or contaminated food and water. Synonymous with communicable and infectious.

Transposable elements (TE)

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

Turnaround Cases

Individuals who show a striking change in direction of the life course; In resilience science, a pathway indicating dramatic improvement in adjustment.

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 affecting only humans caused by Salmonella typhi. Symptoms include a gradual onset of a high fever, which is commonly accompanied by weakness, abdominal pain, constipation, headaches, and mild vomiting. Typhoid is spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

Ungulates

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.

Uniparental

Species in which a single parent rears offspring. Over 95% of mammalian species are uniparental with the mother providing sole care.

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

Vaccine

A biological preparation containing an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism, often a weakened or killed form of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface glycoproteins combined with an adjuvant (such as alum, an aluminum salt) which contributes to the immune response. Vaccines act by stimulating the body’s immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, to destroy it, and to recognize it in the future, providing an acquired immunity to that infectious disease. (Synonym: immunization).

Vaginal Microbiome

The totality of all organisms (microbes) that colonize the vagina.

Variant

DNA that differs among groups studied.

Variation (Biology)

The differences among the individual of the same species.

Vector

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

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