Glossary – Y


ya: years ago.

yarn (genetics): a related group of genes and the regulatory elements necessary for gene activity in a chromosome.

Yahoo! (1994–): an Internet portal, bought by Verizon in 2016.

Yamal Peninsula: a large peninsula in northwest Siberia, extending 700 km from the mainland. In the tongue of the indigenes (the Nenets), Yamal means “end of the land.”

Yamnaya (~3300–~2600 BCE): a people of hunter-gatherers and nomadic herders, native to the steppes north of the Caucasus Mountains and Caspian Sea.

yeast: a eukaryotic microorganism classified as a fungus, of which there are 1,500 known species. Yeast are famous for brewing beer and making bread rise. Contrast mold.

Yedoma: Pleistocene-age permafrost, covering over 1 million km2 of Alaska, Canada, and Siberia; thick, organic-rich (~2% carbon by mass), permafrost deposits from the last ice age, comprising 50–90% ice.

yellow baboon (Papio cynocephalus): a baboon inhabiting the savannas and light forests of south-central and eastern Africa. The species epithet means “dog-head” in Greek, owing to the shape of the baboon’s head and muzzle. Yellow baboons resemble the chacma baboon.

Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon (Huangdi Neijing) (circa 250 BCE): an ancient Chinese medical text which was the fundamental source for Chinese medicine for over 2 millennia.

yellow journalism: a type of journalism that presents little or no well-researched news, instead using eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Yellow journalism predominates media worldwide. The famous American journalism prize – the Pulitzer (1917–) – emanates from an endowment by yellow journalist Joseph Pulitzer.

Yemen: an Arab country on the southwestern rim of the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen’s strategic location as a sea border bequeathed a rich political history, exemplary of man’s avarice and pettiness. In the 2110s, Yemen was racked by a prolonged civil war, sponsored as a proxy war between a Saudi-led coalition and Iran (between Sunni and Shia Arabs). The toll on the Yemeni population has been horrendous.

yin-yang: the traditional Chinese concept of interdependent dynamic forces composing Nature, dating to the 14th century BCE or even earlier. Yin is the receptive principle, Yang active.

yoga: a Hindu school of philosophy advocating and prescribing mental and physical disciplines for attaining realization.

yogi: a person who practices yoga.

Yom Kippur War (aka 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Ramadan War, October War) (6–25 October 1973): a 3-week war in which an alliance of Arab states attacked Israel by surprise. The war end in a cease-fire.

Younger Dryas (12.8–11.4 tya): the most recent stadial.

YouTube (2005–): a video-sharing Web site.

Yucatan: a peninsula in southeastern Mexico.

Yucca: a genus of ~50 species of perennial shrubs and trees, native to hot and dry biomes of the Americas and Caribbean.

yucca moth: a small- to medium-sized moth that has a mutualism with Yucca plants. Yucca are among the oldest of all moths.

Yugoslavia (1918–late 1980s): a 20th-century country in southeastern Europe that began as a monarchy before becoming a communist state in 1946 under Josip Broz Tito, who was popular both internally and abroad. Tito was widely viewed as a benevolent dictator. The breakup of Yugoslavia along the lines of its 5 former states led to ruthless ethnic conflicts (the Yugoslav Wars (1991–2001)) featuring ubiquitous rapes and genocide.

yttrium (Y): the element with the atomic number 39; a slivery metal.