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:/
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 »
Allen ML, & Chambers A. (2011) Implicit and explicit understanding of ambiguous figures by adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Autism : the international journal of research and practice. PMID: 21486897
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:/http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1095-9270.2011.00317.x/abstract
G. Bonfante, & L. Bonfante. (2002) The Etruscan language: an introduction. New York University Press. info:other/7190 5539 3
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
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 »
State MW. (2011) The Erosion of Phenotypic Specificity in Psychiatric Genetics: Emerging Lessons from CNTNAP2. Biological psychiatry, 69(9), 816-7. PMID: 21497679
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
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
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
McCollum, M. (1999) The Robust Australopithecine Face: A Morphogenetic Perspective. Science, 284(5412), 301-305. DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5412.301
Ungar PS, Grine FE, & Teaford MF. (2008) Dental microwear and diet of the Plio-Pleistocene hominin Paranthropus boisei. PloS one, 3(4). PMID: 18446200
A comparison between modern UFO abductions and supernatural abductions in folklore... Read more »
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:/
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 »
Karg K, Burmeister M, Shedden K, & Sen S. (2011) The Serotonin Transporter Promoter Variant (5-HTTLPR), Stress, and Depression Meta-analysis Revisited: Evidence of Genetic Moderation. Archives of general psychiatry, 68(5), 444-54. PMID: 21199959
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 »
Henry, A., Brooks, A., & Piperno, D. (2010) Microfossils in calculus demonstrate consumption of plants and cooked foods in Neanderthal diets (Shanidar III, Iraq; Spy I and II, Belgium). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(2), 486-491. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1016868108
Henry, A., Brooks, A., & Piperno, D. (2011) Reply to Collins and Copeland: Spontaneous gelatinization not supported by evidence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1104199108
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 »
Banks, W., Zilhão, J., d'Errico, F., Kageyama, M., Sima, A., & Ronchitelli, A. (2009) Investigating links between ecology and bifacial tool types in Western Europe during the Last Glacial Maximum. Journal of Archaeological Science, 36(12), 2853-2867. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2009.09.014
Lozier, J., Aniello, P., & Hickerson, M. (2009) Predicting the distribution of Sasquatch in western North America: anything goes with ecological niche modelling. Journal of Biogeography, 36(9), 1623-1627. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2009.02152.x
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 »
Bird-David, N. (1992) Beyond "The Original Affluent Society": A Culturalist Reformulation. Current Anthropology, 33(1), 25. DOI: 10.1086/204029
Mellars, P. (2005) The impossible coincidence. A single-species model for the origins of modern human behavior in Europe. Evolutionary Anthropology, 14(1), 12-27. DOI: 10.1002/evan.20037
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 »
Goldberg, P., & Sherwood, S. (2006) Deciphering human prehistory through the geoarcheological study of cave sediments. Evolutionary Anthropology, 15(1), 20-36. DOI: 10.1002/evan.20094
Roebroeks W, & Villa P. (2011) On the earliest evidence for habitual use of fire in Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(13), 5209-14. PMID: 21402905
Théry, I., J. Gril, J.L. Vernet, L. Meignen, and J. Maury. (1996) Coal used for Fuel at Two Prehistoric Sites in Southern France: Les Canalettes (Mousterian) and Les Usclades (Mesolithic). Journal of Archaeological Science, 23(4), 509-512. DOI: 10.1006/jasc.1996.0048
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:/
Was a young British woman murdered by Romans?... Read more »
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 »
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:/
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 »
Potter, J., & Chuipka, J. (2010) Perimortem mutilation of human remains in an early village in the American Southwest: A case for ethnic violence. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 29(4), 507-523. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2010.08.001
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