CARTA Glossary

Displaying 801 - 896 of 896 defined words
Word Definition Related Vocabulary

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).

Steller's sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas)

An extinct aquatic and herbivorous mammal, related to living manatees, described by Georg Wilhelm Steller in 1714 while shipwrecked on Bering Island. The species was hunted into extinction shortly after European discovery.


A biological compound manufactured by plants, animals, and fungi that functions as either important components of cell membranes or as signalling molecules.

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.

The telling of “what happened” in spoken words, written words, words and pictures, acting or mime, or film, etc. Stories include things that really happened and things that are imagined to have happened. Story is generally equivalent to narrative but can also be used specifically and technically in opposition to discourse. Stories tends to possess an emotional contour of “a beginning, a middle, and an end,” rather than the explanatory contour of narrative.


The social and cultural activity of sharing stories for entertainment, education, or instilling morals and values.

Streptococcal Infection

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


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.


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


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

Stride length

The distance between two subsequent footfalls.

Striding bipedalism

The uniquely-human form of bipedal locomotion, which involves the full extension of the hip and knee joints in the support leg during the stance phase, movement of the hip joint over and in front of the knee and ankle joints in the support leg, and a longer stride length compared to ape bipedalism.


The structural framework of an organ or tissue.

Stromal fibroblasts

The common type of cells of stroma, they synthesize the extracellular matrix and collagen, and are also involved in wound healing.

Structural homologs of brain neurotransmitters

Substrates that, by virtue of their chemical similarity to neurotransmitters, interact with receptors.

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 that are greater than or equal to 50 base pairs in length.

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.


The quick, reliable, and accurate discrimination of small quantities (usually within numerosities 1–4).

Subventricular Zone Describes both embryonic and adult neural tissues in the vertebrate nervous system.
Sulcus (Brain)

A depression or groove in the cerebral cortex that, along with a gyrus (ridge), creates the folded appearance of the brain in humans and other mammals. The larger sulci are usually called fissures.


An organism that lives in a symbiosis providing benefits to its host.


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


A sign that has an arbitrary and non-physical relationship with the thing that it refers to (its “referent”) (Kluender, 2020).

Symbolic Play

A type of play involving fantasy, imagination, and pretend to us available objects as stand ins for other objects.


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


A structure that forms the connection between a neuron and another cell (neuron or other effector cell), that allows for transmission of electrical or chemical signals. 

Synaptic plasticity

The ability of synapses to change in relation to activity and inactivity, with these changes as central to communication between neurons and memory.

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.

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.


A region of repetitive nucleotide sequences located at the ends of chromosomes that functions to protect chromosomes from degradation and fusion with other chromosomes.

Temporal Lobe (Brain)

One of the four major lobes of the cerebral cortex in the brain of mammals. The temporal lobe is located beneath the lateral fissure on both cerebral hemispheres of the mammalian brain.

Terra gram (Tg)

A unit of measure equivalent to 1,012 grams. 1.0 Tg is the same as 1.0 metric ton (Mt). When applied to nitrogen, it refers to the mass of the element N.

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.

The Microbiota Vault

A global non-profit aimed at conserving the biodiversity of microbiota through interactions with local collections and research efforts around the world by providing backup storage and a framework for data services and collaboration.

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.


From Ancient Greek for “wild beast” and “human” to represent a fantastical hybrid. Examples from myth, folklore, and popular culture are the minotaur, the werewolf and Donald Duck, respectively.

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.


The arrangement of and relationship between constituent parts.

Trans (molecular interactions)

Receptors expressed on a cell surface that bind ligands on a different cell surface or between a cell surface and an extra-cellular molecule.


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 initiate and regulate the transcription of genes. Transcription factors 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.


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

Transmembrane protein

A type of cell membrane protein that spans the width of the membrane and functions as a gateway for specific substances to enter or leave the cell or as a signaling molecule.

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)

DNA sequence that can change its position within a genome, sometimes creating or reversing mutations and altering the cell’s genetic identity and genome size. They can also be referred to as “jumping genes”. They were discovered by Barbara McClintock and she earned the Nobel Prize in 1983 for that discovery. These sequences can be considered a type of “molecular parasite” within the genome.


A character in myth and folklore who plays tricks on others or disobeys conventional cultural norms.

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 1 Membrane protein

A type of transmembrane protein oriented with the amino-terminal facing outside the cell.

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.


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.


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

Unwitting falsehood

An untrue story erroneously taken to report truth.

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

V-set domain (Siglec)

The outermost protein domain of Siglec proteins and contains the sialic acid binding site.


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.


DNA that differs among groups studied.

Variation (Biology)

The differences among the individuals of the same species.

Vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone)

A hormone synthesized in the hypothalamus and then transported to the blood to regulate extracellular fluid volume in the blood vessels and kidneys. It also plays a role in vasoconstriction. Vasopressin and oxytocin evolved from a single primordial neurohypophyseal hormone called vasotocin, which is present in lower vertebrates. Vasopressin, oxytocin, and their receptors are involved in regulating mating systems in several mammals.


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

Vector (Epidemiology)

Any agent which carries and transmits an infectious pathogen to another living organism. Most agents that act as vectors are living organisms.

Ventricular Zone A transient embryonic layer of tissue containing neural stem cells, principally radial glial cells, of the central nervous system of vertebrates.
Viral (Biology)

Of or relating to viruses. (see Virus)


The degree of damage caused by a pathogen or microbe to its host.


A submicroscopic infectious agent 10 million times smaller than a human that relies on a living host cell for metabolic processes and replication. Like living organisms, viruses possess genes and evolve by natural selection. Unlike living organisms, viruses lack cellular structure, do not have their own metabolism, instead relying on a living host cell for production of materials, and replication through self-assembly inside a host cell.

Vitus Bering

The Danish cartographer and explorer who led expeditions to the north-eastern reaches of the Asian continent and north-western reaches of the North American continent. Numerous geological and oceananic features are named after him (examples include the Bering Strait, Bering Sea, Bering Island, Bering Land Bridge, etc.).

VO2 max

The maximum rate of oxygen consumption measured during exercise of increasing intensity.


Individual or system susceptibility or sensitivity specific to harmful consequences from threats or disturbances; moderator of adversity or risk that results in higher than typical negative effects.


People belonging to societies that are Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic, as originally proposed by CARTA member, Joseph Henrich.

Wernicke’s area

An important brain region involved in comprehension of written and spoken language.

West Nile Fever

An infection by the West Nile virus, which is typically spread by mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, or a rash. In rare cases, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) or meningitis occurs, with associated neck stiffness, confusion, or seizures.

West Nile Virus (WNV)

A RNA virus that causes West Nile Fever and is a from the genus Flavivirus, which also contains the Zika Virus, Dengue Virus, and Yellow Fever Virus. WNV is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes with birds as the primary hosts.

White blood cells (WBCs)

A type of immune cell involved in protecting the body against infectious disease and foreign invaders. WBCs are also called leukocytes.

White Matter (Brain)

Areas of the central nervous system that affects learning and brain functions, modulating the distribution of action potentials, and acting as a relay and coordinating communication between different brain regions. White matter development peaks in middle age in humans.

Wild Boy of Aveyron

A French feral child who was captured in 1800 at the estimated age of twelve. A young physician, Jean Marc Gaspard Itard, worked with the boy for five years and gave him his name, Victor. Itard was interested in determining what Victor could learn and devised procedures to teach words and recorded his progress. Based on his work with Victor, Itard broke new ground in the education of the developmentally delayed. Victor is estimated to have been born around 1788 and Itard reported he was a normal child at birth but later he was neglected by his alcoholic parents at an early age, and he left to the wild. Recent commentary by Uta Frith, a German developmental psychologist at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, postulates that Victor displayed signs of autism.

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.

Wolf-Girls of India

Amala (1918-21) and Kamala (1912-1929) were two feral girls from Bengal, India, who were alleged to have been raised by a wolf family. There is much controversy to the veracity of the girls’ wolf story.

Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa

A National Heritage Site in Northern Cape Province, South Africa. Archaeological research has revealed over 2 million years of hominin activity in the cave.


The product of force and displacement (distance).

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.


One of the two allosomes of the mammalian genome that determine sex. The X-chromosome can be inherited maternally and paternally.


One of the two allosomes of the mammalian genome that determine sex. The Y-chromosome can only be inherited paternally.

Yellow Fever

A viral disease caused by Yellow Fever Virus and spread by female Aedes mosquitos. Typically, short in duration, symptoms include fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle pains particularly in the back, and headaches. In some cases, a relapse of Yellow Fever will occur, causing abdominal pain and liver damage that results in yellow skin (see Jaundice).

Yellow Fever Virus

An RNA virus of the genus Flavivirus that causes Yellow fever and is spread by the bite of an infected female mosquito, primarily by female Aedes mosquitos. Origin: Africa.

Yersinia pestis

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

Zika Fever (Zika Virus Disease; Zika)

An infectious disease caused by the Zika virus. Symptoms resemble Dengue Fever and may include fever, red eyes, joint pain, headache, and a maculopapular rash but are typically mild. While Zika Fever is mainly spread via mosquitos, it can also be sexually transmitted and potentially spread by blood transfusions. Infections in pregnant women can spread to the baby which may cause microcephaly and other brain malformations. Infections in adults have been linked to Guillain–Barré Syndrome (GBS).

Zika Virus

An RNA virus of the genus Flavivirus that causes Zika Fever and is spread by Aedes mosquitos. It was first identified in 1947 in the Zika Forest of Uganda, from which it was named. Zika virus is related to the Dengue, Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, and West Nile Viruses. Traditionally, Zika virus occurred within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia but spread to the Americas causing the 2015–2016 Zika virus epidemic. Origin: Africa.


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.


A disease which can be transmitted to humans from animals.

“Non-typhoidal” Salmonella

A serovar of Salmonella and the causative pathogen of salmonellosis. “Non-typhoidal” Salmonella can be transferred from animals to humans and humans to humans.

“Typhoidal” Salmonella

A serovar of Salmonella and the causative pathogen of Typhoid Fever.