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Despite our many differences, we humans and platypuses share an important distinction: not only are we both well adapted to our ecological niches, but we’re both evolutionary singletons, species that have no parallel, no evolutionary doppelgänger, either today or in the past. Why that is so is a mystery. If big brains, bipedality, and opposable thumbs are so useful, why didn’t natural selection lead to the evolution of human-like creatures multiple times? As for the platypus, streams like the ones they live in occur throughout the world, yet the duckbill is singular.
A new book on urban exploration takes readers on a trans-Atlantic trespassing binge, from the sewers of Paris to the top of London’s tallest skyscraper, by way of Chicago and Detroit.
Marianne LaFrance, a Professor of Psychology at Yale University, has found that many professional photographers (e.g., those who take photographs of authors for their book jackets) actually forbid their subjects to smile as they regard smiling as a non-distinguishing facial expression. But in a less esoteric world, people expect and want others to smile for the…