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Social sciences/Anthropology/Homo sapiens

All humans have a few odd behaviors that most people never think about. Why do we laugh? Why do our eyes tear when we cry? Why do we get the hiccups, or sneeze, or yawn? And why do we talk out of our mouths and not another noise-making orifice? 

These are the questions AAAS Fellow Robert R. Provine answers in his new book, Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond. In the book, Provine examines the odd things people do and share, looking at their evolutionary origins and what they can teach us about being human.

But the book looks at more than these funny quirks left over from Homo sapiens' evolutionary past. Provine, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, makes a case for "sidewalk neuroscience." This is neuroscience that can be preformed by anyone. All it takes is observing human behavior and noticing habits or shared traits. This small science is also a great way for kids to learn to examine the world and be curious about what they see.

Robert R. Provine also recorded a podcast from his last book, Laughter: A Scientific Investigation.