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Education

When it comes to love, prehistoric humans have a lot to teach us all.

Discover seven things about pre-modern love that everyone — single, married, and everything in-between — really needs to know.

love, sex history
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Maybe we've doe some DEvolving in the love department

We're taught that "traditional love" goes something like this: Be a virgin, find a soulmate, get married, NEVER CHEAT, share resources, have kids, and dance at your 50th wedding anniversary.

It's a lot of pressure. And, frankly, if it really worked that way, divorce rates would be at 0%.


Love, as we know it, doesn't work the same way for everyone.

Chris Ryan, co-author of "Sex at Dawn" puts it like this: "You can choose to wear shoes that are too small, but you can't choose to be comfortable in them."

In other words, our outdated beliefs about the nature of sex and relationships could be hurting many of us.

"Sex at Dawn" was published in 2010, but people are still talking about it.

The book looks into prehistoric human sexuality — it studies the behavior of bonobos and other primates in order to get at the true origins of human love. Though readers loved it for offering a more positive vision of evolutionary psychology than ones proposed by Darwin, Hobbes, and Freud, the book isn't without its critics.

Still, as a filter for anyone trying to make sense of modern love, "Sex at Dawn" has a lot to offer.

Some of the insights in "Sex at Dawn" might surprise you, some might comfort you, some may shock you. It's an interesting journey into the prehistoric past, and it might sound more familiar than you'd expect.

So let's enter the shame-free zone and discover seven things about love that everyone — single, married, and everything in-between — really needs to know.

1. Competition was never about who was the biggest, strongest, or richest.

Disney, king, soulmates, relationships

The King doesn't always get what he wants.

media.giphy.com GIF via Disney's "Robin Hood."

Competition for mates didn't happen in our everyday actions, according to "Sex at Dawn." It all took place inside ... not our heads, but our bodies! The competitive advantage for males, prehistorically, wasn't decided in the ring of life, with men competing for wealth, status, and resources to woo a lady.

It was decided ... INSIDE THE FEMALE BODY. From the book:

"Rather, paternity was determined in the inner world of the female reproductive tract where every woman is equipped with mechanism for choosing among potential fathers at a cellular level."

So ovaries are the original matchmaker? And what they're matching is the right biological match from prehistoric ladies casting a very wide sex net?

The book is right when it states that this theory "turns the standard narrative inside out and upside down."

2. The friend zone isn't real.

movies, teen angst, comedies, funny

Bill and Ted are surprised by the situation.

media.giphy.com GIF via "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure."

Though the book mostly offers observations, it does posit one solution to the problem many societies have with thinking of female sexuality as property. You know the kind — frustrated Internet commenters complaining about being put in the friend zone (as if they had some prior claim to sex with a woman but the zoning commission came and denied that access to them).

According to the authors, there's a way out.

"If you’re unhappy at the amount of sexual opportunity in your life, don’t blame the women. Instead, make sure they have equal access to power, wealth, and status. Then watch what happens."

3. It's totally natural to miss or still have strong feelings for your exes.

movie stars, love, destiny, romance

The social norms are exposed through the movie "The Notebook."

media.giphy.com GIF via "The Notebook."

Back in the prehistoric day, it's believed that there wasn't really any such thing as an ex, because there wasn't really any such thing as a relationship.

In the olden days, a man wouldn't have even known for sure if he was a child's dad. He (and every other dude — and lady for that matter) would have more likely just assumed that they were each child's parent and provided and cared for them accordingly.

"... we hypothesize that Socio-Erotic Exchanges [forms a] crucial, durable web of affection, affiliation, and mutual obligation. In evolutionary terms, it would be hard to overstate the importance of such networks."

So if you find yourself getting that old feeling, just chalk it up to some prehistoric memories of communal village life, in which overlapping relationships were more like a '70s rock band tour bus.

cinema, music, autobiographical, Oscars, Hollywood

What happens on the tour bus, stays on the tour bus.

media.giphy.com GIF via "Almost Famous."

"For professional athletes, musicians, and their most enthusiastic female fans, as well as both male and female members of many foraging societies, overlapping, intersecting sexual relationships strengthen group cohesion and can offer a measure of security in an uncertain world."

4. Ladies make the first move.

Just not in the way you probably think.

dominance, pursuit, social norms, empowerment

The recently deceased Olivia Newton John makes her moves on John Travolta in the movie "Grease."

media.giphy.com GIF via "Grease."

It's all biology, baby. Meredith Small, an anthropologist cited in the book, suggests that during fertilization of a woman's egg, the egg actually may be reaching out and enveloping the sperm.

How's that for making the first move?

She goes on to emphasize:

"Female biology ... even at the level of egg and sperm interaction, doesn't necessarily dictate a docile stance."

5. Sexuality can be selfless.

Sex, in prehistory, was a way to bond your community together and provide a stable place for all the community's kids to grow, according to "Sex at Dawn."

I know. I'm a little scandalized by this as well. I'm a Methodist girl from Missouri; all this monogamish stuff is blowing my mind. But bear with me.

A story of elite World War II pilots stands out as an example of prehistory bumping into modernity.

WW2, pilots, war, history, sex symbols

Pilots of WW2 are markets with sex appeal.

Photo via Pixabay.

In World War II, the book notes, elite pilots were facing the highest fatality rates in the military. They had wives and families; they had a community. But every time they went to fight, they risked abandoning and possibly hurting that community in their death.

How'd they respond? These elite fighter pilots started to ease up on the strictness of their marriages and began some of the first "key parties" on record. Rather than being scandalized, author Chris Ryan was moved.

"It was so moving to think about what motivated them to open their marriages with other couples. They were cultivating these webs of love, or at least real affection, because they knew that some of the men wouldn’t survive the war, and they wanted the widows to have as much support and love as possible. This confluence of selflessness and sexuality seemed to connect so directly to the hunter-gatherer groups, where men also have a high mortality rate from hunting accidents, falls, animal attacks, and so on. It was an unexpected yet very clear reflection of the distant past."

6. The whole "women want resources and men want novelty" yarn is kind of contrived.

It's more subtle than that. And also, rude! This myth implies that all women trade sex for stuff, and that's not cool.

“As attentive readers may have noted, the standard narrative of heterosexual interaction boils down to prostitution: a woman exchanges her sexual services for access to resources."

Monogamy and relationships are assumed a default in our world. But they're not — they're a convenience born out of humans switching from hunter-gatherer mode to agriculture mode. The authors explain:

"... upheavals in human societies resulting from the shift to settled living in agricultural communities brought radical changes to women’s ability to survive. Suddenly, women lived in a world where they had to barter their reproductive capacity for access to the resources and protection they needed to survive."
beauty, health, standards, grooming, gender roles

The ladies on the television show, "Friends," wax their legs.

media.giphy.com GIF via NBC's "Friends."

Interesting. And totally outdated.

The good news is because this possessiveness isn't an innate human thing, that means just as we were conditioned INTO objectifying and commodifying women, we can condition ourselves right on out of it.

7. Sex doesn't have to be so serious.

As Ryan said in an interview with Dan Savage, "We hope [the book] encourages and empowers people to give themselves a break, to cut themselves and their partners some slack."

"We need to chill out. Like music, sex can be sacred but it doesn't always have to be. Sometimes we hear God in a Bach toccata, but sometimes we're just dancing and having a good time listening to the Rolling Stones. Nothing sacred about it."

If you try sometimes, you get what you need. GIF via The Rolling Stones.

This book is an interesting read, and it definitely provides a different lens on the way human sexuality came to be.

This article originally appeared on 02.12.16



A young woman drinking bottled water outdoors before exercising.



The Story of Bottled Waterwww.youtube.com

Here are six facts from the video above by The Story of Stuff Project that I'll definitely remember next time I'm tempted to buy bottled water.

1. Bottled water is more expensive than tap water (and not just a little).

via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube


A Business Insider column noted that two-thirds of the bottled water sold in the United States is in individual 16.9-ounce bottles, which comes out to roughly $7.50 per gallon. That's about 2,000 times higher than the cost of a gallon of tap water.

And in an article in 20 Something Finance, G.E. Miller investigated the cost of bottled versus tap water for himself. He found that he could fill 4,787 20-ounce bottles with tap water for only $2.10! So if he paid $1 for a bottled water, he'd be paying 2,279 times the cost of tap.

2. Bottled water could potentially be of lower quality than tap water.

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The Vegetable Orchestra performs.

The idea of a concert where everyone plays vegetables sounds like a funny one-night-only joke. Still, the Vegetable Orchestra, out of Vienna, has played more than 300 concerts and released 4 albums over the past 25-plus years.

It all started when the group’s founder, Matthias Meinharter, had a silly idea in the kitchen. His friend had signed them up for an hour-long slot at a student festival and they wanted to perform non-traditional music.

“As we were making vegetable soup, we landed on the idea of cooking it on stage and performing a concert with the vegetables while we were doing that,” Meinharter told Atlas Obscura. “It all started as a joke,” he told the BBC. “We were brainstorming what we could do, and we thought: ‘What is the most difficult thing to play music on?’”

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Science

A 6-year-old asks ​Neil DeGrasse Tyson an adorable question. He gives her an awesome answer.

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." — Albert Einstein

Neil DeGrasse Tyson at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.

I recently spent some time with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. He's known not only for breaking down stereotypes about what kinds of people go into science, but he has actively stood up and spoken against those who would close its doors, especially to young women.

So when Neil was asked this question by a little girl during a public speech, he gave one of the best answers I've ever heard. It may drive some parents crazy, but it also might just help change the world.

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Parenting

Dad's motivational speech for his newborn daughter in the NICU has everyone gushing

"It's going to be like this for the rest of my life. Will always be one of her top cheerleaders."

NICU dad's motivational speech for newborn is beautiful

Having a baby is an adjustment for any new parent but not all new parents get to walk out of the hospital with their newborns a couple of days after birth. For a number of reasons, oftentimes due to prematurity or birth complications, some babies have to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) anywhere from days to months. During their stay they're closely monitored for signs they can start spending more time outside of the incubator.

Incubators regulate temperature, humidity, optimize oxygen levels and monitors a baby's vital signs. New dad, Ed Andretti, recently welcomed a baby girl, Cathara, who is having to spend some time in the NICU after being born three months early. But it was his sweet motivational speech he gave to his daughter through the plastic of the incubator that has everyone's heart melting.

Andretti can be seen looking into Cathara's incubator saying, "you hear that beeping? That's you. You're breathing so good the machine is like 'yo, take this baby down on oxygen.' That's you, you're doing great."

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Losing a child is a scary experience.

Nothing strikes fear in a parent’s heart, like realizing their child is missing. It happened to Krista Piper Grundey, 36, on a recent trip to a play place with her 2 kids. The good news is she was able to locate her daughter quickly because she kept calm and remembered a viral TikTok hack from 3 years ago.

She was with her children in a play place that "runs the entire length of a giant science museum,” she said in her viral TikTok video.

“So I end up going the opposite direction of where she actually ended up. So I thought she didn't go past me, so she must have gone to a water table or something because she loves water. She wasn't down there, so at that point, I'm starting to panic,” Grundey revealed.

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Karen Blaha/Wikimedia Commons

Crinkle crankle walls are more common the U.K., but they can be found in the U.S. as well.

If you were to draw a straight line and a wavy line from point A to point B, there would be no question which one used more ink. After all, "The shortest distance between two points (on a flat surface) is a straight line" has been baked into our brains since elementary school math class. Logically, a wavy line uses more ink because it covers more distance, right? Right.

So if that's true, how is it possible that a brick wall built in a wavy pattern could use fewer bricks than a straight one built between the exact same two points?

Not only is it possible, it's actually true, despite people's disbelief over the fact.

A post on X from @InternetHOF shows the claim that "corrugated brick fences" sometimes seen in England use fewer bricks than a straight wall, with the caption, "I don't believe this is true."

It does seem illogical from a pure geometry-on-paper standpoint, but what makes it true is how the structural integrity of brick walls works.

There are all kinds of nitty-gritty calculations a structural engineer could get into to explain, but thankfully, internet hero (and strangely popular X account) Greg came to everyone's rescue with an explanation that neatly fit into a single post on X.

"They're called crinkle crankles," wrote Greg. "A single leaf wall over that distance would need brick piers approx every 1.5-2m if it was a retaining wall it would need to be at least 9” wide (2 bricks). The crinkle crankle has more strength due to it’s curved nature so can be 4” wide or a single leaf of bricks.

"For the maths if we can assume they’re true semi-circles then each semi circle would be 1/2piD or 1.57D whereas a double leaf wall would be 2D for the same length D.

"Therefore using 21.5% less bricks than a double leaf wall hope that clears things up."

In even simpler terms, a long, straight brick wall only a single brick wide would not be able to stand without some kind of buttresses every couple of meters, which would actually take more bricks to build. Otherwise, it would need to be thicker, which would also increase the number of bricks needed. The curve of the crinkle crankle (best name ever) provides stability all on its own, so the wall doesn't need structured supports.

serpentine brick wall next to a bunch of daffodils

Crinkle crankle walls are usually referred to as serpentine walls in the U.S.

Karen Blaha/Wikimedia Commons

First of all, what a cool piece of human ingenuity that people actually figured this out hundreds of years ago. And second of all, why are there not more crinkle crankle walls everywhere? So much more fun and whimsical. And apparently, a better use of resources.

But before you go building your own crinkle crankle wall to make your house look super cool, make sure you've got the geometry correct. There are actual specifications for making a structurally sound serpentine wall, and if you don't do it correctly, you may find yourself with a pile of bricks and no wall, curvy or straight.

If you want to see some cool crinkle crankle walls in the U.S., head to the University of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson himself added them to the design of the Charlottesville, Virginia, campus.

wavy brick wall separating a grassy area and a driveway

Crinkle crankle wall at the University of Virginia

Carlin MacKenzie/Wikimedia Commons

More crinkle crankles everywhere, please.