♦ Here's some unexpected news for expectant and new fathers. If you want to bring up children without behavioural problems, you don't have to change their nappies or share the household chores; you just need to be emotionally confident about your role as parent. That is what a new study from the University of Oxford found.
The researchers explored the influence of a father on the behaviour of his offspring by analysing data from the large-scale Avon study in the UK, which followed the health and development of thousands of children born in the early 1990s. They found that the attitude of a man towards fatherhood soon after his child is born and his security - or lack thereof - as a partner and a parent have more influence on the behaviour of a child later in life (between 9 and 11) than his involvement in childcare and household chores.
"It is the emotional connection and the emotional response to actually being a parent that matters enormously in relation to later outcomes for children," said Maggie Redshaw, a developmental and health psychologist at Oxford and co-author of the paper, which was recently published in the journal BMJ Open.
"This, potentially, has significant implications for policy, as well as parenting and health interventions that should encourage fathers' involvement from early on in infancy and help fathers to become confident, emotionally engaged parents," said Iryna Culpin of the University of Bristol, who was not involved in the study.
The real paleo diet
♦ Our stone age ancestors may have spiced up their menu with lots of herbs and veggies, not just meat and fish, say Israeli archaeologists in a paper published in PNAS journal. The Gesher Benot Ya'aqov site in northern Israel shows the first evidence what plants our ancient ancestors- Homo erectus or a very closely related species - had on their menu. Archaeologists tend to focus on the role of meat in palaeolithic diet largely because the bones of butchered wild animals are more likely to be preserved. This is the first time that plant remains have been found. Scientists from Bar-Ilan University in Ramat gan, Israel, found the remains of thistles, acorn, water chestnuts, among an extraordinary range of plants, during excavations at the waterlogged site. This site is also where the earliest evidence of human-controlled fire in western Asia was discovered in recent years. The early humans looked for variety in food - the remains of about 55 kinds of plants were recovered at the site. Cave men seem to have had a fair idea of balanced nutrition, contrary to what most experts believe.