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No. 87: May-Jun 1993

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The Uniqueness Of Human Adolescence

What major biological characteristics separate humans from other animals? The usual list begins with our large brain and bipedality, but these features are shared with dolphins and birds, respectively. Even our peculiar reproductive biology (permanent breasts, continuous sexual receptivity of both sexes, etc.) no longer seem so unique, particularly after reading about the antics of the bonobos (pygmy chimps)! But wait! No other animal, even the other primates, go through adolescence. That time period between puberty and the attainment of adult stature turns out to be something uniquely human. The great puzzle of adolescence, according to B. Bogin, is its evolutionary origin. What possible advantage does adolescence confer on humans in the battle for survival? To the contrary, skipping the teens would appear to be an advantage in the survivability of parents! One guess is that adolescence -- all 8 or so years of it -- is required for the development of the complex social skills needed by adults.

(Bogin, Barry; "Why Must I Be a Teenager at All?" New Scientist, p. 34, March 6, 1993.)

From Science Frontiers #87, MAY-JUN 1993. 1993-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987