CARTA Glossary

Displaying 201 - 300 of 885 defined words
Word Definition Related Vocabulary
Deleterious mutation

A genetic change that decreases an individual’s fitness and increases susceptibility to or causes disease or disorder. Most deleterious mutations are recessive, i.e. selection can only act on them when an individual carries two copies of the same mutation.


Study of population size over time.

Dengue Fever

A tropical disease caused by the Dengue virus and spread several species of female Aedes mosquitos, especially A. aegypti. Symptoms may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. Severe infections may develop into Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever or Dengue Shock Syndrome.

Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever

A severe form of Dengue Fever, which includes bleeding and blood platelet and blood plasma leakage.

Dengue Shock Syndrome

A severe form of Dengue Fever in which dangerously low blood pressure occurs.

Dengue Virus

The cause of Dengue Fever. It is a mosquito- borne, single positive-stranded RNA virus of the genus, Flavivirus. Origin: Africa and Asia.

Dental ablation

The deliberate removal of healthy teeth for ornamentation, rites of passage, and to signal group affiliation.

Dental Calculus

Calcified dental plaque, provides information on diet, disease, health, microbiome and protects the genetic information within the tooth from degradation.

Dental modification

The deliberate, permanent alteration of one or more teeth.


Latin for “things desired.”

Developmental Amnesia

A selective disorder characterized by marked impairment in episodic memory despite relatively preserved semantic memory.

Developmental Cascade

Spreading effects over time across systems or domains of function that result from interactions in dynamic systems and cumulatively alter development.

Developmental psychology

The study of physical, cognitive, social, intellectual, perceptual, personality, and emotional growth and development over the lifespan.

Developmental Tasks

Psychosocial milestones or accomplishments expected of people of different ages in a given cultural and historical context; Common developmental tasks include bonding with caregivers, walking, talking, learning to read, getting along with other people, and caring for one’s children.

Diffusor Tensor Imaging (DTI)

Neuroimaging of the location, orientation, and anisotropy of the brain’s white matter tracts through MRI.

Digestive system

The organs of the body that are involved in the breakdown and absorption of food, and elimination of wastes. This includes the mouth, pharynx (throat), esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and accessory digestive organs such as the salivary glands, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.

Displaced reference

The ability to refer to entities, properties, and events at some spatial and/or temporal remove from the immediate communicative situation (Kluender, 2020).


Change in genetic content or phenotype between isolated populations or species.

Djurab Desert

Northern Chad.  A fossil rich desert that is most famous for the discovery of Sahelenthropous tchadensis (Toumai) in 2001. 

DNA methylation

A process by which methyl groups are added to the DNA molecule. Methylation can change the activity of a DNA segment without changing the sequence. When located in a gene promoter, DNA methylation typically acts to repress gene transcription.

DNA sequence

The specific order of the nucleotide bases along a strand of DNA.


The process of artificial selection by humans for desired traits of plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms. This implies the complete control of the reproduction of those species.


A neurotransmitter that is involved in reward circuits, motor control, and in the release of various hormones.

Dorsal slit

An incision to the male foreskin above the glans. Synonymous with superincision.

Dose or Risk Gradient

A graph showing a pattern of rising problems or undesirable outcomes as the level of trauma, exposure to disaster, or number of cumulative risk factors or ACEs increases.


A gene that encodes the dopamine receptor D2 protein, a receptor targeted by many antipsychotic drugs.

Drug addiction

A chronically relapsing disorder characterized by loss of control and compulsive drug seeking.

Dual Inheritance

A theory that human behavior is a product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes: genetic evolution and cultural evolution. Genes and culture continually interact in a feedback loop.

Duality of Patterning

The ability to combine and recombine meaningless linguistic elements (sounds in spoken language, or manual features like handshape, palm orientation, movement, etc. in signed language) into meaningful units (words or signs) (Kluender, 2020).


A class of endogenous opioid peptides that have been shown to play a role in the complex molecular changes in the brain that result from cocaine addiction.


A general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpreting words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.


A state of unease or general dissatisfaction.

Ear-piercing gun

A mechanical device, instrument, or system designed for piercing the earlobe.

Ear-piercing gun operator

A person who pierces using an ear-piercing gun. Sometimes referred to as a technician by the device manufacturers.

Early-night wake therapy (EWT)

A sleep schedule therapy hypothesized to relieve peripartum depression by altering melatonin and sleep timing (sleep from 3:00 - 7:00 am).

Earth Microbiome Program (EMP)

A crowd-sourced effort to characterize microbial life on Earth founded by Jack Gilbert (UC San Diego), Janet Jansson (PNNL), and Rob Knight (UC San Diego).

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

A rare but serious and often fatal infection of Togavirus that causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The virus is maintained via a bird- to-mosquito cycle, primarily by mosquitos that feed on the blood of birds. Transmission of EEE to mammals (including horses and humans) occurs via “bridge vectors,” mosquito (including those from the Aedes genus) that feed on the blood of both birds and mammals and transfer the virus. Origin: Americas.

Eccrine sweat gland

A type of secretory gland found in the skin. These glands are found throughout the body of humans and other primates. In response to neural stimulation, these glands secret water (sweat) onto the skin. In humans, eccrine sweat glands are the most abundant glands in the skin and are essential for the main mechanism of cooling in our species, which occurs when water (sweat) secreted by these glands causes evaporative cooling.


The interaction of organisms with their physical environment, along with other organisms.


The outermost of the three primary germ layers formed in embryonic development and develops into the nervous system and skin.

Ectodermal appendage

A class of organs that all develop from the outer layer of the embryo, the ectoderm, through a series of coordinated and reciprocal interactions between the embryonic ectoderm and underlying dermal layer. This class of organs includes, sweat glands, hairs, mammary glands, teeth and nails. A largely shared set of genetic pathways initiate and control the development of this organ class.


Swelling caused by excess fluid in the circulatory system or the tissues between the body’s cells. Edema can be from a chemical reaction, an infection, trauma to the area, or other causes.

Effective Population Size (Ne)

The size of an idealized population (random mating, no selection, mutation or migration) with the same rate of genetic drift as the study population.


The relationship between the work performed to move a certain distance to the energy cost of transport.

Elephants (Elephantidae)

Large herbivorous mammals recognized by their long trunks, tusks, large ear flaps, and pillar-like legs. Elephants are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia and consist of three species, the Africa bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), the African forest elephant (L. cyclotis), and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus).


The use of individualized machine learning applied to functional MRI data to measure diverse mental states during meditation.


The development of an embryo after fertilization of an egg cell.

Embryonic stem cell (ESC)

The inner cell mass of the human blastocyst, the rapidly dividing fertilized egg at four to seven days post fertilization. ESCs are pluripotent, meaning they can differentiate into all cell types of the three embryonic tissue layers.


The gradual acquisition of cultural traits (the characteristics and norms of a culture or group) by an individual or another culture.

Endangered species

A species that is very likely to become extinct in the near future, either locally or worldwide.


In epidemiology, an infection that is constantly maintained at a baseline level in a population in a geographic area without external inputs.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)

Substances that interfere with the normal function of the endocrine system. These can be present in the environment (air, soil, or water supply), food sources, personal care products, and manufactured products.

Endocrine system

A hormonal system comprising internal glands, such as the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal, that produce, store, and release hormones into the circulatory system to regulate the body’s healthy development and function.


The innermost of the three primary germ layers formed in embryonic development and develops into some of the body’s internal organs, including the gastrointestinal tract, the urinary tract, the respiratory tract, endocrine glands, and the auditory system.

Endothelia PAS Domain Protein 1 (EPAS1) gene

A protein encoding gene for EPAS1. This gene is implicated in high altitude adaptation in humans, specifically in Tibetan populations that admixed with Denisovan archaic hominins and inherited this advantageous gene variant.

Endothelia PAS Domain Protein 1 (EPAS1) protein

A transcription factor involved in the response to changes in oxygen concentration, such as hypoxia, through the induction of oxygen regulated genes.

Endothelial cells

The cell type that forms the interior lining of blood and lymphatic vessels, and controls the transfer of materials, including white blood cells, into and out of the bloodstream.

Enveloped viruses

Viruses that possess an outer lipid membrane formed by cell membrane of the host cells from which the virus buds. The envelope protects the virus as it travels between hosts and cells.


Proteins that catalyze chemical reactions inside and outside cells.


The rapid spread of a disease to a significant percent of a given population.


The branch of medicine that studies and analyzes the incidence, distribution, patterns, determinants, and possible control of diseases and other health factors.


A term first coined by the developmental biologist, Conrad Waddington, in 1942 to explain how a singular genotype might produce variations in phenotype across development. He argued that some level of regulation must exists “above” or “over” genes to determine when and where they are expressed. Today the term refers to stable alterations in gene expression without changes to the underlying DNA sequence.

Epithelial cells

The cell type that lines the surfaces of the body, including skin, mucus membranes (airways, gastrointestinal tract, reproductive tract), urinary tract, and organs to provide protection.

Epithelial tissue

1. A tissue consisting of one or more layers of compactly joined cells of various types and sizes that cover a surface or line a cavity. 2. Pertaining to or involving the outer layer of the skin. Also called ‘epithelium.’

Erythrocytes (red blood cells - RBCs)

The most common type of blood cell and the vertebrate’s principal means of oxygen delivery from lungs or gills to all tissues of the body. Erythrocytes of most mammals do not contain a nucleus with chromosomes.


An estrogen steroid hormone and the major female sex hormone that is involved in the regulation of reproductive cycles, the development of female secondary sexual characteristics, the development and maintenance of female reproductive tissues, and has important effects on bone, fat, skin, liver, and the brain. Estradiol also has important roles in males, but is produced in much lower levels.


The category of sex hormones that includes estrone, estradiol, and estriol that are involved in the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics.

Estrus (or Oestrus)

Cyclical periods of sexual receptivity and fertility. From the Greek word, oistros, for “gadfly/horsefly,” with the additional meaning of “frenzy.”

Ethnographic analogy

A methodological and analytical process by archaeologists for reconstructing features of a prehistoric society and culture that leaves no direct archaeological imprint.


The practice of comparing and contrasting the features of multiple ethnohistorically-documented human societies.


An intravenous agent used for general anesthesia and sedation for short procedures that suppresses corticosteroid synthesis.


Open chromatin, allowing information to be read.


Organisms whose cells have a nucleus enclosed within membranes.


The most common type of melanin found in human skin and hair. There are two types, brown eumelanin and black eumelanin, which are involved in pigmentation. Deficiency causes albinism.


A form of social structure featuring cooperative brood care, overlapping generations of adults, and a reproductive and non-reproductive division of labor. Eusociality is observed in ants, bees, wasps, termites, the naked mole-rats, and some shrimp. Humans may engage in a weak form of eusociality but this is still debated.


Excess nutrient accumulation in bodies of water that cause phytoplankton.

Evolutionary neuroscience

The study of the evolution and natural history of nervous system structure, functions, and emergent properties.

Evolutionary psychology

A theoretical approach to psychology that seeks evolutionary connections to human psychological traits such as cognition and language.

Evron Quarry, Israel

An archaeological site in Western Galilee, Israel, with evidence for hominin occupation up to 1 million years ago and tools and fire use dating to around 800,000 years ago.


The cutting and removal of some of the tissues of the female genitalia (clitoral glans and labia minora). Excision is more extensive than clitoridectomy.  Also called Type 2 female genital modification and is another term for ‘female circumcision.’

Excitatory neurotransmitter

A chemical messenger that increases the likelihood that the neuron will fire an electrical signal (depolarization of the membrane) called an action potential.


A type of extracellular vesicle that contain constituents (protein, DNA, and RNA) of the cells that secrete them. They are taken up by distant cells, where they can affect cell function and behavior.

Extended amygdala

A paired macrostructure in the brain that is involved in reward cognition.

Extracellular matrix

The structural network of enzymes, glycoproteins, and collagen that support surrounding cells.

Falémé Valley

Eastern Senegal. Excavations have led to the the discovery of paleolithic occupations from different periods, cultures, and lithic technologies.  

False Beliefs

The ability to recognize that others can have beliefs about the world that are diverging. An important component of Theory of Mind.


A fibrous connective tissue forming a membrane that covers, supports, and separates muscles. Fascia also unites the skin with underlying tissue.

Fatty Acid

A molecule composed of a long chain of lipid-carboxylic acid, which is either saturated (single bonds between the components of the fatty acid chain) or unsaturated (at least one double bond within the fatty acid chain).


The probability of achieving a pregnancy within a mentrsual cycle.

Female Genital Cosmetic Surgeries (FGCS)

Medical plastic surgery of the female genitalia, such as labiaplasty.

Female Genital Modification (FGM)

A collective term for all non-medically indicated procedures involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs.

Female- vs. male -biased fertile sex ratios

The relative numbers of individuals capable of having children. In female-biased situations, males face less competition for mating opportunities. In male-biased situations, these opportunities are lower, thus greater male-male competition for each one.


Any story where the teller and the listener both know it is untrue and is also not meant to be taken as true. Fiction can be distinguished from true narratives, as well as from myth, lies, mistakes, and unwitting falsehoods. Fiction includes most drama, feature films, comics, and poetry that tells invented stories as well as novels and short stories. But not all fictions need be narratives.

Fistula (in body piercing)

The tunnel of epithelial tissue that surrounds a healed piercing channel.

Fitness (Darwinian)

The relative likelihood that an allele will be represented in future generations (relative to other alleles in the same population). Compare with Reproductive Success.


Microorganisms including bacteria, protozoa, and fungi that are found on or in specific areas of the body.


Stories, sayings, dances, material culture, and other customs shared by a group of people.

Follicular phase

The first part of the menstrual cycle, including menstruation and the period prior to ovulation.


An inanimate object or substance that is capable of transmitting infectious organisms from one individual to another.


The point in time when a foot (or hand in the forelimb) first touches the ground.