Volume 2 Issue 8, August 2018

Volume 2 Issue 8

The generalist specialist

Why did Homo sapiens become the last surviving hominin? Roberts and Stewart review evidence for human dispersal 300–12 thousand years ago and propose that humans thrived via a unique 'generalist specialist' ecological niche.

See Roberts and Stewart

Image: Image by John Klausmeyer, concept by Brian Stewart, University of Michigan. Aerial view of reindeer herd from zanskar / iStock. Cover Design: Bethany Vukomanovic.


  • Editorial |

    The scientific community needs to engage actively in the debate regarding the status of video game loot boxes and the potential risks they present for vulnerable populations.

Comment & Opinion

  • World View |

    Revelations of sexual harassment, sexism and unequal pay in film and broadcasting have called ‘time’s up’ on the myths of egalitarianism that circulate about the creative sector, argues Rosalind Gill.

    • Rosalind Gill
  • World View |

    New research shows that historical notions of scientific inferiority still underlie contemporary beliefs about scientific talent, or lack of it, in women and minority groups. If we do not address these biases, we are upholding an unhealthy system, argues Heather Metcalf.

    • Heather Metcalf
  • Comment |

    Video games are increasingly exposing young players to randomized in-game reward mechanisms, purchasable for real money — so-called loot boxes. Do loot boxes constitute a form of gambling?

    • Aaron Drummond
    •  & James D. Sauer
  • Comment |

    Although important steps have been taken to prevent publication of a disproportionate number of non-reproducible chance findings, null findings are usually still considered disappointing. There is every reason to change this perception, because lack of associations can teach us just as much as significant ones.

    • Albertine J. Oldehinkel

Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    By analysing whether characteristics of Austronesian populations could predict the rate of adoption of Christianity, researchers find that political leadership and small population sizes facilitated Christianity’s spread in the Pacific.

    • Nicole Creanza
  • News & Views |

    A study finds association between the occurrence of intimate partner violence and marital fertility among Tsimané forager-horticulturalists, independent of proximate explanations, suggesting that intimate partner violence may persist as an evolutionary strategy to enhance male fitness.

    • Elizabeth G. Pillsworth


  • Perspective |

    The success of humans as the last surviving species of the hominin clade may be explained by our ecological plasticity. Roberts and Stewart review evidence for human dispersal 300,000–12,000 years before present and propose that humans thrived via a unique ‘generalist specialist’ ecological niche.

    • Patrick Roberts
    •  & Brian A. Stewart
  • Review Article |

    Cullati and colleagues propose a framework to understand vulnerability in later life as a product of biological, psychological, cognitive, emotional, economical and relational ‘reserves’ built up over a lifetime, which can be called on to buffer against or recover from adversity.

    • Stéphane Cullati
    • , Matthias Kliegel
    •  & Eric Widmer


  • Letter |

    Theories about the spread of Christianity are tested using comparative cross-cultural methods and historical data on 70 Austronesian cultures. Conversion was fastest in small and politically organized societies, but not impacted by social inequality.

    • Joseph Watts
    • , Oliver Sheehan
    • , Joseph Bulbulia
    • , Russell D. Gray
    •  & Quentin D. Atkinson
  • Letter |

    A study of intimate partner violence among the Tsimané forager-horticulturalists of Bolivia finds evidence that male aggression is leveraged to increase marital fertility and a man’s individual fitness when spouses differ in preferred family size.

    • Jonathan Stieglitz
    • , Benjamin C. Trumble
    • , Hillard Kaplan
    •  & Michael Gurven
  • Letter |

    Experiments using economic games and hypothetical infectious disease scenarios show that uncertainty about a decision’s outcome reduces prosocial actions, but when the impact on others is made uncertain, prosociality increases.

    • Andreas Kappes
    • , Anne-Marie Nussberger
    • , Nadira S. Faber
    • , Guy Kahane
    • , Julian Savulescu
    •  & Molly J. Crockett
  • Article |

    Rutherford et al. analyse temporal, network and hierarchical effects to uncover, understand and quantify competing mechanisms of constitutional change worldwide.

    • Alex Rutherford
    • , Yonatan Lupu
    • , Manuel Cebrian
    • , Iyad Rahwan
    • , Brad L. LeVeck
    •  & Manuel Garcia-Herranz

Amendments & Corrections


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