[An apple scoop carved from a sheep’s tibia, European, 19th century. Science Museum]
These tools may look rough, but in the right hands they could be surprisingly precise. A British country magazine from 1958 contains this account of a man describing how his mother used hers: With a scoop in one hand, and an apple in the other, she would carve away the fruit’s flesh until nothing was left but a hollow skin, which would “crumple in the hand like paper.”
Yes, these were apple scoops, and their purpose was quite practical: In the days before widely accessible dentures, they allowed the elderly and toothless to enjoy fresh apples without straining their remaining teeth.
The scoops date as far back as the 1600s, and were used through the early 1900s…For this reason, dentures were not usually an option for the working class. Apple scoops, in contrast, were crafted from the most accessible of materials: sheep bones. And they could be easily made at home. John Clare, the quintessential poet of the English rural life, describes shepherds whittling away at sheep bones while waiting out a storm.
…For rural people, these bone scoops were part of an apple-centric way of life. Henry Bull’s The Herefordshire Pomona, an 1876 encyclopedia of English apples, presents a world in which apples mark each step of the yearly festive calendar, from the blessing of the new apples on St. James Day, to wassailing in the apple orchard on Twelfth Night, with no shortage of stops in between: On St. Simon and St. Jude’s Day, young women tossed apple shavings over their shoulders in hopes that the peels would land in the shape of their future husband’s first initial. Halloween meant snap-apple, a game played by constructing a kind of chandelier with an apple on one end and a lit candle on the other. Once you set it swinging, the objective was to grab a bite without being burned. Perhaps the most appetizing tradition was “lamb’s wool”, a dish made by steaming apples on a string above a pot of hot ale until they melt into a cloud of white froth—a good solution for any apple-lover lacking both teeth and sheep-bone scoops.
Yet in the few decades between Clare’s poem and Bull’s encyclopedia, apple scoops began to vanish. As Bull wistfully recalls, “Some 50 or 60 years ago, apple-scoops were in general use, and were even placed on the dessert table with a dish of apples, as crackers are with nuts… but the fashion has changed, and it is rare now to meet with one of the old bone scoops, and still more rare to see any person scooping an apple in the old-fashioned way.”
We often identify people using face images. This is true in occupational settings such as passport control as well as in everyday social environments. Mapping between images and identities assumes that facial appearance is stable within certain bounds. For example, a person’s apparent age, gender and ethnicity change slowly, if at all. It also assumes that deliberate changes beyond these bounds (i.e., disguises) would be easy to spot. Hyper-realistic face masks overturn these assumptions by allowing the wearer to look like an entirely different person. If unnoticed, these masks break the link between facial appearance and personal identity, with clear implications for applied face recognition. However, to date, no one has assessed the realism of these masks, or specified conditions under which they may be accepted as real faces. Herein, we examined incidental detection of unexpected but attended hyper-realistic masks in both photographic and live presentations. Experiment 1 (UK; n = 60) revealed no evidence for overt detection of hyper-realistic masks among real face photos, and little evidence of covert detection. Experiment 2 (Japan; n = 60) extended these findings to different masks, mask-wearers and participant pools. In Experiment 3 (UK and Japan; n = 407), passers-by failed to notice that a live confederate was wearing a hyper-realistic mask and showed limited evidence of covert detection, even at close viewing distance (5 vs. 20 m). Across all of these studies, viewers accepted hyper-realistic masks as real faces. Specific countermeasures will be required if detection rates are to be improved.
Physical attractiveness has been associated with mating behavior, but its role in reproductive success of contemporary humans has received surprisingly little attention.
In the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS; 1244 women, 997 men born between 1937 and 1940) we examined whether attractiveness assessed from photographs taken at age ~18 predicted the number of biological children at age 53–56.
In women, attractiveness predicted higher reproductive success in a nonlinear fashion, so that attractive (second highest quartile) women had 16% and very attractive (highest quartile) women 6% more children than their less attractive counterparts. In men, there was a threshold effect so that men in the lowest attractiveness quartile had 13% fewer children than others who did not differ from each other in the average number of children. These associations were partly but not completely accounted for by attractive participants’ increased marriage probability. A linear regression analysis indicated relatively weak directional selection gradient for attractiveness (β = 0.06 in women, β = 0.07 in men).
These findings indicate that physical attractiveness may be associated with reproductive success in humans living in industrialized settings.
[Keywords: fertility, interbirth interval, physical attractiveness, reproductive success, offspring sex ratio, sociobiology]
Common maxims about beauty suggest that attractiveness is not important in life. In contrast, both fitness-related evolutionary theory and socialization theory suggest that attractiveness influences development and interaction. In 11 meta-analyses, the authors evaluate these contradictory claims, demonstrating that (a) raters agree about who is and is not attractive, both within and across cultures; (b) attractive children and adults are judged more positively than unattractive children and adults, even by those who know them; (c) attractive children and adults are treated more positively than unattractive children and adults, even by those who know them; and (d) attractive children and adults exhibit more positive behaviors and traits than unattractive children and adults. Results are used to evaluate social and fitness-related evolutionary theories and the veracity of maxims about beauty.