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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Man or Woman? The Shadow ... Doesn't Know
16 October 2012 7:20 pm
A waist that arcs in like an hourglass, hips that jut out underneath: It's the classic figure of a woman. But does the curviness of the real average woman (above, left) and average male (above, right) match up with the images in people's minds? Not according to a new study, which finds that people frequently misjudge female silhouettes as male, while they rarely make the reverse mistake. Scientists analyzed measurements of almost 5000 Army recruits and determined that the boundary between the two sexes' body shapes falls at a waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) of 0.8049: Most males have a higher WHR and most women a lower WHR. But when 53 undergraduate students were asked to characterize a range of silhouettes, their guesses changed from female to male at a WHR of 0.68, lower than both the average female's WHR (0.71), and the lowest WHR seen among any male Army recruits (0.74). The average WHR that the students guessed as female was so extreme that it was never seen among real women, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The effect may be a consequence of a "better safe than sorry" approach to protect humans throughout evolution from misjudging faraway males, who historically were more likely to take aggressive action than females.
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