After providing all the funding for The Brain from Top to Bottom for over 10 years, the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction informed us that because of budget cuts, they were going to be forced to stop sponsoring us as of March 31st, 2013.

We have approached a number of organizations, all of which have recognized the value of our work. But we have not managed to find the funding we need. We must therefore ask our readers for donations so that we can continue updating and adding new content to The Brain from Top to Bottom web site and blog.

Please, rest assured that we are doing our utmost to continue our mission of providing the general public with the best possible information about the brain and neuroscience in the original spirit of the Internet: the desire to share information free of charge and with no adverstising.

Whether your support is moral, financial, or both, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Bruno Dubuc, Patrick Robert, Denis Paquet, and Al Daigen




Monday, 24 December 2012
What does it mean to be human?

The web site What does it mean to be human? was developed by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.. Dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge on the evolution of the human species, this site, with its graphics evoking the African savanna, the cradle of humanity, addresses myriad questions that will arouse the curiosity of a wide audience—questions such as:

How do evolution and Darwinian natural selection work?
What is the relationship between humans and the species of apes alive today?
Did humans evolve in a straight line, one species after another?
How can scientists estimate the age of a fossil, or the climate conditions a million years ago?
Is the concept of evolution compatible with religion?

This site offers an excellent introductory video in which paleoanthropologist Rick Potts uses artifacts and fossil skulls to sketch a portrait of 4 million years of hominization in about 4 minutes. This site also contains many other sections addressing numerous facets of human evolutionary history, starting with the evolution of the traits that are specific to humans beings, including physical traits such as standing upright and symbolic traits, such as using language.

This site explores the evidence of evolution through traces of human behaviour that include stone tools and other artifacts, footprints, hearths and shelters, clothing, jewellery, burial sites, and rock paintings, all illustrated with very high quality photographs accompanied by the relevant archeological data, such as date and place of discovery and estimated age.

The site also features two intriguing interactive interfaces. One lets you accompany a team of archeologists as they explore an excavation site in Kenya. The other is a timeline, an indispensable tool to orient yourself on a time scale that is so remote from our personal experience that it often keeps us from understanding how we are both a species of animal like any other and a strange social creature endowed with language and capable of creating tools for tasks as diverse as butchering a carcass or creating a web site.

i_lien What does it mean to be human?
i_lien Introduction to Human Evolution
i_lien Adventures in the Rift Valley: Interactive
i_lien Human Evolution Timeline Interactive

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