Nasty, Brutish, and Short

By Brown, Peter | Natural History, February 2004 | Go to article overview

Nasty, Brutish, and Short


Brown, Peter, Natural History


Those who dig into the human past are finding hard knocks and dirty little secrets that give new substance to Thomas Hobbes's famous description of life (quoted in my title, from Leviathan). Fossils of Java man and Peking man (a.k.a. Homo erectus) suggest these close evolutionary relatives were frequent victims of physical violence (see "Headstrong Hominids," by Noel T. Boaz and Russell L. Ciochon, page 28). Some of the thick skulls and beetle brows of H. erectus show signs of head trauma that would have crushed the skull of any modern person. To Boaz and Ciochon, those skulls portray a group of protohumans whose survival depended on withstanding terrible blows to the head-lovingly delivered, in all probability, by their fellows. To these hulks, a punch landed in a barroom brawl would have seemed like a pat on the head.

The human genome, too, points to hard times in our past. Our own DNA is interspersed with bits of DNA from ancient viruses, suggesting that long ago our forebears were attacked by viruses that inserted their own genetic material into our genome. Such attackers, known as retroviruses, are still very much with us; the most infamous example is HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. TV. Rajan, who recounts this human-virus history in "Fighting HIV with HIV" (page 38), takes heart from the finding. Our ancient viral DNA may once have been lethal, but its benign presence today in healthy human beings might well be a tactical clue to the eventual defeat of AIDS. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Nasty, Brutish, and Short
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.