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  • May 11, 2011
  • 07:00 AM

Field Notes From a Maya Ruin

by Dan Bailey in Smells Like Science

The ruins of La Milpa lie at the top of a steep, slippery path that winds upward from a rutted dirt road in Belize’s Rio Bravo Conservation Area. After scrambling up this path for the first time, I found myself beneath a dense jungle canopy, in the midst of a shadowy ruin. Unlike many other large Maya sites, La Milpa has not been uncovered, reconstructed, and opened to tourists. Instead, it remains shrouded in a thick layer of dirt and a thousand years’ worth of jungle growth. As you........ Read more »

Dunning, N., Scarborough, V., Valdez, F., Luzzadder-Beach, S., Beach, T., Jones, J. (1999) Temple mountains, sacred lakes, and fertile fields: ancient Maya landscapes in northwestern Belize. Antiquity, 73(281), 650-660. info:/

  • May 11, 2011
  • 03:51 AM

Duck or Rabbit?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Ambigous figures are drawings that seem to flip from being one thing to another.Psychologists Melissa Allen and Alison Chambers recently showed these images to teenagers with autism in an attempt to find out whether they were able to perceive the effect normally: Implicit and explicit understanding of ambiguous figures by adolescents with autism spectrum disorderA leading theory of autism is weak central coherence - the idea that autistic people tend to be focussed on details, rather than the "........ Read more »

  • May 10, 2011
  • 03:15 PM

Odds on Etruscan Evens

by Kristina Killgrove in Powered By Osteons

A new method conclusively solves an ancient linguistic riddle.... Read more »

G. Artioli, V. Nociti, & I. Angelini. (2011) Gambling with Etruscan dice: a tale of numbers and letters. Archaeometry. info:/

G. Bonfante, & L. Bonfante. (2002) The Etruscan language: an introduction. New York University Press. info:other/7190 5539 3

  • May 10, 2011
  • 01:05 PM

Sacrificial Female Slaves

by Kristina Killgrove in Powered By Osteons

New research on ancient Chinese burials identifies male and female slave sacrifices.... Read more »

H. Zhang, F. Liu, W. Liu, J. Du, X. Wu, X. Chen, & G. Liao. (2011) Sex identification of slave sacrifice victims from Qin State tombs in the Spring and Autumn Period of China using ancient DNA. Archaeometry. info:/10.1111/j.1475-4754.2010.00553.x

  • May 10, 2011
  • 09:35 AM

There's no DNA in "Disease"

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Back when I was a mere first year biology student, the first thing we were taught was this:DNA makes RNA makes Protein.This is the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology, and it describes the intricate and beautiful process by which genes influence living things. The whole thing really is remarkable.Unfortunately, some people in psychiatry seem to have forgotten this. Reading some of the literature, you would think that:DNA makes DSM DiagnosesOr if you're feeling especially adventurous and concious ........ Read more »

  • May 9, 2011
  • 08:08 PM

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

Life as we know it has taken some strange courses. Of all the things an animal could do with its time, pretending to be an ant is apparently pretty popular. According to a review article in the latest Current Biology, there are probably over 2000 abhorrent species of myrmecomorphs (ant impersonators), including spiders, caterpillars, mites, beetles, and other types of arthropod biodiversity I'm not familiar with, that have come to resemble ants in some form or another.
It's interesting how and ........ Read more »

Florian Maderspacher, & Marcus Stensmyr. (2011) Myrmecomorphomania. Current Biology, 21(9). info:/doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.04.006

  • May 9, 2011
  • 05:52 PM

US Trained Crows to Hunt Bin Laden

by Neurobonkers in Neurobonkers

True story.... Read more »

Marzluff, J., Walls, J., Cornell, H., Withey, J., & Craig, D. (2010) Lasting recognition of threatening people by wild American crows. Animal Behaviour, 79(3), 699-707. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.12.022  

  • May 7, 2011
  • 11:15 AM

What the hell was Australopithecus boisei doing?

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

A little over 2 million years ago there a major divergence of hominids, leading on the one hand to our earliest ancestors in the genus Homo, and on the other hand to a group of 'robust' australopithecines, the latter group a failed evolutionary experiment in being human. In our ancestors, parts of the skull associated with chewing began to get smaller and more delicate, while the robust australopithecines increased the sizes of their crushin'-teeth and chewin'-muscle attachme........ Read more »

Cerling TE, Mbua E, Kirera FM, Manthi FK, Grine FE, Leakey MG, Sponheimer M, & Uno KT. (2011) Diet of Paranthropus boisei in the early Pleistocene of East Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 21536914  

  • May 6, 2011
  • 12:00 PM

Supernatural Abductions: UFO & Folklore Narratives

by Franco Bejarano in CulturePotion

A comparison between modern UFO abductions and supernatural abductions in folklore... Read more »

Blacker, C. (1967) Supernatural Abductions in Japanese Folklore. Asian Folklore Studies, 26(2), 111. DOI: 10.2307/1177730  

  • May 5, 2011
  • 08:50 AM

The Curious Case of the Present Hymen.

by Serious Monkey Business in This is Serious Monkey Business

The hymen: you know it as the tissue that gets removed when you lose your virginity, but is there more you might be missing?... Read more »

Hobday, A.J., Haury, L., . (1997) Function of the human hymen. Medical Hypotheses, 171-173. info:/

  • May 5, 2011
  • 04:09 AM

Revenge Of The Depression Gene

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Last year, the world of psychiatric genetics was rocked by the news that a highly-studied gene, believed to be associated with depression, wasn't in fact linked to depression at all.The genetic variant was 5-HTTLPR. It's a length variant in the gene coding for the serotonin transporter protein (5HTT) which the target of antidepressants like Prozac. There are two flavors of this variant, short and long.Many studies have shown that the short ("s") variant is associated with a high risk of getting ........ Read more »

  • May 5, 2011
  • 12:59 AM

The raw and the cooked, caveman redux

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

A few months ago, Henry et al. (2011a) published a truly remarkable study that analyzed the phytoliths and starch grains that had gotten encrusted in the dental calculus (i.e., plaque) of three Neanderthal individuals, two from the site of Spy (Belgium), and another from the site of Shanidar (Iraq). Their study provided the first direct evidence that plant foods were an integral part of the ... Read more »

  • May 4, 2011
  • 01:35 AM

Osama bin Laden, sasquatch and human biogeography

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

Science has a post on their website about a little study (Gillespie et al. 2009) that came out a couple of years ago that applied some key biogeographical principles to provide a prediction of where Osama bin Laden might have been hiding. The paper was discussed in Scientific American when if first came out, but now has received a ton of attention because the authors' predicted hiding place for ... Read more »

  • May 2, 2011
  • 07:32 PM

Things to kill when you're original, affluent and social...

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

I have to admit this made me laugh.


So, it's kind of a silly comic, definitely good for a few chuckles. Yet, when you take a second to think about it, there's a lot packed into it. In two little panels, the cartoonist manages to bring up two of the biggest misconceptions about prheistoric hunter-gatherers: 1) that hunter-gatherers spend only a small amount of ... Read more »

  • May 1, 2011
  • 02:30 AM

Neanderthal use of coal

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

A little while ago, someone contacted me asking if there was any evidence that Neanderthals had ever used coal. This is an interesting question, and one about which there is only little available information. In fact, there is almost no evidence of Neanderthals using coal, but the proof that does exist is very intriguing. The single instance comes from the Mousterian site of Les Canalettes, ... Read more »

  • April 30, 2011
  • 05:53 AM

Avatar activism and the « survival of the mediated » hypothesis

by ---a in

By now, you're all way too familiar with the Egyptian Facebook activism. And everybody and his sister has spent the last year-and-a-half discussing how wrong was Malcolm Gladwell in dismissing Moldovan Twitter activism. And millions of you have smiled at Gaddafi's crazy rant against Tunisian Wikileaks activism. But I'm sure the notion of Avatar activism appeals to a more restricted audience.... Read more »

Mark Deuze. (2010) Survival of the mediated. Journal of Cultural Science, 3(2). info:/

  • April 28, 2011
  • 01:03 PM

Stab-happy Romans

by Kristina Killgrove in Powered By Osteons

Was a young British woman murdered by Romans?... Read more »

Amundsen DW, & Diers CJ. (1969) The age of menarche in Classical Greece and Rome. Human biology, 41(1), 125-32. PMID: 4891546  

K. Hopkins. (1965) The age of Roman girls at marriage. Population Studies, 18(3), 309-327. DOI: 10.2307/2173291  

  • April 28, 2011
  • 11:30 AM

Are Infants Born Prepared For Learning? The Case for Natural Pedagogy

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

What is learning?

Most psychologists (indeed, most people in general) would agree that learning is the acquisition of new knowledge, or new behaviors, or new skills. Hungarian psychologists Gergely and Csibra offer a deceptively simple description: "Learning involves acquiring new information and using it later when necessary." What this means is that learning requires the generalization of information to new situations - new people, objects, locations, or events. The problem is that any par........ Read more »

Csibra, G., & Gergely, G. (2009) Natural pedagogy. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(4), 148-153. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.01.005  

  • April 28, 2011
  • 07:27 AM

Artifacts... in Space!

by Kristina Killgrove in Powered By Osteons

A parrel bead from the Mary Rose warship goes up with the Endeavour shuttle launch.... Read more »

L. Bell, J. Lee-Thorp, & A. Elkerton. (2009) The sinking of the Mary Rose warship: a medieval mystery solved?. Journal of Archaeological Science, 166-173. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2008.08.006  

A. Millard, & H. Schroeder. (2010) 'True British sailors': a comment on the origin of the men of the Mary Rose. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(4), 680-682. info:/

  • April 28, 2011
  • 02:25 AM

Stone Age ≠ Caveman!!! Archaeology, science, the media, and some tangential thoughts on the 'gay caveman' story

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

By now, you've surely heard all the media hoopla about the alleged 'gay caveman' found in the Czech Republic that's been all over the news and internet for the past few weeks. Ugh! Y'know, I just got done reading Ben Goldacre's fantastic book Bad Science in which he bemoans (and entertainingly skewers!) the way medical findings are consistently distorted in the media, where flashy headlines seem ... Read more »

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