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Category Archives: evolution

What do hip hop and Darwin have in common? According to rapper, Baba Brinkman, a lot. He’s the man behind The Rap Guide To Evolution, a musical project that finds natural selection in everything from the iPod shuffle, flashy jewelry to the act of rapping itself. Brinkman explains to Living on Earth why he, as a white Canadian, can proudly chant, “I’m A African.

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There have been many competing theories about why we eat spicy food.  Some have posited that hot peppers force sweat, a welcomed cooling reflex desirable in hot places.  Another theory, also in equatorial regions, argues that spice extends the shelf-life of food that sours quickly under the sun.  Still others suggest that eating packets of hot sauce in the cafeteria was a sure-fire way to get attention and win friends… what, just me?

Today the NY Times proposes a novel theory for why we seek the heat: because we can.  We eat peppers like we seek any other dangerous thrill, with our rational brain reassuring our visceral self that the flames are temporary.  And we are unique in that ability.  Dr. Bloom, a Yale psychologist, tells the Times "Philosophers have often looked for the defining feature of humans — language, rationality, culture and so on. I’d stick with this: Man is the only animal that likes Tabasco sauce.”

If this whet your appetite check out our story about American slaves that went on strike until their master delivered them pepper.

Flickr/ Marshall Astor