The roots of modern man lie in eastern Africa, so the scientific consensus maintains, supported by ample evidence. And, before we left our cradle to spread throughout the world, a lot of interesting things happened there. Two recent studies present … Continue reading →... Read more »
Mathias, R.A., Fu, W., Akey, J.M., Ainsworth, H.C., Togerson, T.G., Ruczinski, I., Sergeant, S., Barnes, K.C., & Chilton, F.H. (2012) Adaptive Evolution of the FADS Gene Cluster within Africa. PLOS ONE, 7(9). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044926
Schlebusch, C.M., Skoglund, P., Sjödin, P., Gattepaille, L.M., Hernandez, D., Jay, F., Li, S., De Jongh, M., Singleton, A., Blum, M.G.B.... (2012) Genomic Variation in Seven Khoe-San Groups Reveals Adaptation and Complex African History. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1227721
The Tophet of Carthage, an infant cremation burial ground, has been a highly debated site for over a thousand years, and only in the past decade has it come under archaeological scrutiny. Historical sources from Jewish and Christian scriptures refer to it as a place of child sacrifice. Kleitarchos, in the 3rd c. BCE, described Carthaginians … Continue reading »... Read more »
Schwartz JH, Houghton F, Macchiarelli R, & Bondioli L. (2010) Skeletal remains from Punic Carthage do not support systematic sacrifice of infants. PloS one, 5(2). PMID: 20174667
J.H. Schwartz, F.D. Houghton, L. Bondioli, & R. Macchiarelli. (2012) Bones, teeth, and estimating age of perinates: Carthaginian infant sacriﬁce revisited. Antiquity, 738-745. info:/
I’m still working through the outstanding series of articles published by members of the ENCODE Consortium. After my previous post highlighting their marker paper on genome content and function, I came across two companion papers that demonstrate the power of ENCODE data to characterize functional regulatory variants in the human genome. The first article, from [...]... Read more »
Vernot B, Stergachis AB, Maurano MT, Vierstra J, Neph S, Thurman RE, Stamatoyannopoulos JA, & Akey JM. (2012) Personal and population genomics of human regulatory variation. Genome research, 22(9), 1689-97. PMID: 22955981
Schaub MA, Boyle AP, Kundaje A, Batzoglou S, & Snyder M. (2012) Linking disease associations with regulatory information in the human genome. Genome research, 22(9), 1748-59. PMID: 22955986
As we have seen from other recent articles, it is important to look at changes in environment when addressing changes in population and culture in the past. A re-examination of environmental trends from the medieval period revealed that volcanic eruptions caused changes in weather patterns in England. The increased cloud cover caused by the eruption … Continue reading »... Read more »
Soichiro Kusaka, Takanori Nakano, Wataru Morita, & Masato Nakatsukasa. (2012) Strontium isotope analysis to reveal migration in relation to climate change and ritual tooth ablation of Jomon skeletal remains from western Japan. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2012.05.004
Prolactin is a hormone whose two most well-known effects in humans are its regulation of milk production for suckling mothers, and its …Continue reading »... Read more »
Gettler LT, McDade TW, Feranil AB, & Kuzawa CW. (2012) Prolactin, fatherhood, and reproductive behavior in human males. American journal of physical anthropology, 148(3), 362-70. PMID: 22576125
Risk taking is somewhat enigmatic. On the one hand, risky choices in every day life – like drug abuse or drink driving – peak in adolescence. Never again in life is the threat to die from easily preventable causes as great. On the other hand, in laboratory experiments this risky choice peak in adolescence is absent. Instead, the readiness to take a gamble simply goes down the older you are. How can we explain this paradox? Perhaps, we should look at a tribe in the Amazon rain forest for answ........ Read more »
Everett, D. (2008) Don't sleep, there are snakes. London: Profile Books. info:/
Paulsen, D.J., Platt, M.L., Huettel, SA, & Brannon, E.M. (2012) From risk-seeking to risk-averse: the development of economic risk preference from childhood to adulthood. Frontiers in psychology, 313. PMID: 22973247
An early Arabic poem -- Buthaynah and Jamīl's conversation on aging -- works to redeem Roman love elegy in exquisite, humane poetic truth.... Read more »
Most of the news lately has been about the plague phylogenetic tree produced by looking at single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The plague tree is remarkably simple and can lead to the mistaken impression that the rest of plague genomics are/will be simple. Michel Drancourt has recently compiled an array of genomic information that shows that [...]... Read more »
Drancourt, M. (2012) Plague in the genomic era. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 224-230. info:/
A new species of monkey has been discovered in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by a team of researchers that included NYU anthropologists Andrew Burrell and Anthony Tosi as well as former NYU doctoral student Kate Detwiler.
Their findings were reported in the online journal PLoS One.... Read more »
James Devitt. (2012) Anthropologists Discover New Monkey Species. New York University News / PLoS ONE. info:/
Mathieu, apparently lacking a sense of beat.Isabelle Peretz, co-director of the International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), told me about Mathieu during a workshop at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in November 2009. She was very excited, and was pretty sure she found a 'beat-deaf' person. I couldn’t but share her enthusiasm. In Phillips-Silver et al. (2011) Peretz and her team wrote:'Mathieu was discovered through a recruitment of subjects who felt they could not........ Read more »
Phillips-Silver, J., Toiviainen, P., Gosselin, N., Piché, O., Nozaradan, S., Palmer, C., & Peretz, I. (2011) Born to dance but beat deaf: A new form of congenital amusia. Neuropsychologia. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.02.002
Most of the interesting recent events in human evolution probably happened longer ago than we had thought, according to Aylwyn Scally …Continue reading »... Read more »
Scally A, & Durbin R. (2012) Revising the human mutation rate: implications for understanding human evolution. Nature reviews. Genetics. PMID: 22965354
Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, and Alabama saw most of the action from the Salmonella outbreak but from an unusual serotype of the microbe, Salmonella muenchen, and CDC investigators were unable to pinpoint its edible source. Michiganders, however, provided local investigators with an interesting lead in the case - 76% of those infected reported personal usage of or "household exposure" to marijuana.... Read more »
Taylor DN, Wachsmuth IK, Shangkuan YH, Schmidt EV, Barrett TJ, Schrader JS, Scherach CS, McGee HB, Feldman RA, & Brenner DJ. (1982) Salmonellosis associated with marijuana: a multistate outbreak traced by plasmid fingerprinting. The New England journal of medicine, 306(21), 1249-53. PMID: 7070444
You’re running around, going about your day, and suddenly you see a dead guy lying in the sidewalk. What do you feel? Sad? Scared? Do you look around to see if you might be in danger too? Would you feel any differently if the dead body on the sidewalk were that of a squirrel, and not a human? Do animals share these same emotional and thought processes when they come across their own dead?Teresa Iglesias, Richard McElreath and Gail Patricelli at the University of California at Davis pondered th........ Read more »
Iglesias, T.L., McElreath, R., & Patricelli, G.L. (2012) Western scrub-jay funerals: cacophonous aggregations in response to dead conspecifics. Animal Behaviour. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.08.007
Wandering through Victorian cemeteries in Scotland and England, it is highly likely that you will run into a few graves that have large iron grates over the top of them. One of the theories behind the purpose for these large rodded contraptions is that they were meant to prevent the dead from coming back to … Continue reading »... Read more »
Clint Eastwood’s rambling monologue with an empty chair has prompted Jesse Bering to think about imaginary friends — the kind who, if you believe they are real, watch you at all times. It’s a creepy sort of surveillance that has the salubrious effect of deterring those who are tempted to cheat.
For years, Bering has been [...]... Read more »
Piazza J, Bering JM, & Ingram G. (2011) "Princess Alice is watching you": children's belief in an invisible person inhibits cheating. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 109(3), 311-20. PMID: 21377689
Around 60,000 years ago, modern humans left Africa, the cradle of our species. As we spread across the face of …Continue reading »... Read more »
Eriksson A, & Manica A. (2012) Effect of ancient population structure on the degree of polymorphism shared between modern human populations and ancient hominins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(35), 13956-60. PMID: 22893688
Sriram Sankararaman, Nick Patterson, Heng Li, Svante Pääbo, & David Reich. (2012) The date of interbreeding between Neandertals and modern humans. arXiv. arXiv: 1208.2238v1
Archaeothanatology, or anthropologie de terrain, is a method in mortuary archaeology which is based on using taphonomy to infer unknowns about burial context. As espoused by Duday (2009), the method requires detailed recording during excavation including the identification of skeletal elements in situ, anatomical orientation, and spatial relationship to other elements. Archaeothanatology aims to identify and … Continue reading »... Read more »
Wright, Joshua. (2007) Organizational principles of Khirigsuur monuments in the lower Egiin Gol valley, Mongolia. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2007.04.001
Littleton, J, Floyd, B, Frohlich, B, Dickson, M, Amgalantogs, T, Karstens, S, & Pearlstein, K. (2012) Taphonomic analysis of Bronze Age burials in Mongolian khirigsuurs. Journal of Archaeological Science. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.06.004
Sooner or later, anyone studying Cheyenne ethnohistory will get round to reading George Bird Grinnell’s two volume work on this famous Plains tribe. Grinnell, a fascinating character, graduated from Yale in 1880 with a PhD in zoology. He did his fieldwork in the west and his interest in the American bison enabled him to accompany [...]... Read more »
The Out of Africa (OoA) hypothesis postulates that our species arose in Africa from earlier archaic forms from 400,000 – 195,000 years ago. Then, ~60,000 years ago, some of our ancestors migrated out of Africa and colonised the rest of the world, out-competing their hominin relatives who were already living in these other regions. However, … Continue reading »... Read more »
Demeter F, Shackelford LL, Bacon AM, Duringer P, Westaway K, Sayavongkhamdy T, Braga J, Sichanthongtip P, Khamdalavong P, Ponche JL.... (2012) Anatomically modern human in Southeast Asia (Laos) by 46 ka. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 22908291
Trauma is one method of examining how changes in political, economic or social systems are felt in the people who lived during these eras. Cultural and environmental shifts can change the way that people interact with one another, causing an increase or decrease in violence, either within groups or between them. This can be easily … Continue reading »... Read more »
Slaus M, Novak M, Bedić Z, & Strinović D. (2012) Bone fractures as indicators of intentional violence in the eastern adriatic from the antique to the late medieval period (2nd-16th century AD). American journal of physical anthropology, 149(1), 26-38. PMID: 22552996
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