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  • November 3, 2010
  • 03:25 PM
  • 871 views

Why It Takes Long-Term Thinking to Influence a Fetus

by David Berreby in Mind Matters


Low weight at birth is associated with all sorts of health troubles later in life, so it seems a great idea to give nutritional supplements to pregnant women in developing nations, to add some heft to their babies. Yet the results aren't impressive. (The anthropologist Christopher W. Kuzawa notes, for instance, that this review of 13 such programs found the average weight improvement for the babies was a paltry one ounce.) Which illustrates the state of work on "fetal origins"—th........ Read more »

  • November 3, 2010
  • 05:00 AM
  • 1,100 views

Paleo and Low-Carb Diets: Much In Common?

by Steve Parker, M.D. in Diabetic Mediterranean Diet Blog

My superficial reading of the paleo diet literature led me to think Dr. Loren Cordain was the modern originator of this trend, so I was surprised to find an article on the Stone Age diet and modern degenerative diseases in a 1988 American Journal of Medicine.  Dr. Cordain started writing about the paleo diet around 2000, [...]... Read more »

Kuipers, R., Luxwolda, M., Janneke Dijck-Brouwer, D., Eaton, S., Crawford, M., Cordain, L., & Muskiet, F. (2010) Estimated macronutrient and fatty acid intakes from an East African Paleolithic diet. British Journal of Nutrition, 1-22. DOI: 10.1017/S0007114510002679  

  • November 1, 2010
  • 10:29 PM
  • 1,296 views

Witchcraft or Psychedelic Trip?

by Dan Bailey in Smells Like Science

Were the Salem Witch Trials sparked by grain infected with toxic hallucinogens?... Read more »

  • November 1, 2010
  • 08:35 PM
  • 895 views

The diversity of values held by conservation scientists and why this matters

by Phil Camill in Global Change: Intersection of Nature and Culture


Right up there with climate change, biodiversity conservation is one of the most challenging issues at the intersection of nature and culture.  Part of this challenge arises because of genuine differences in how people value other species.
In an interesting forthcoming article in Conservation Biology, Chris Sandbrook and colleagues at Cambridge University argue that these value [...]... Read more »

SANDBROOK, C., SCALES, I., VIRA, B., & ADAMS, W. (2010) Value Plurality among Conservation Professionals. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01592.x  

  • October 31, 2010
  • 05:43 PM
  • 905 views

The Vampire in the Plague Pit

by Michelle Ziegler in Contagions

Amid the chaos of a mass grave of plague victims, the 2006-2007 summer project team from the Archeoclub of Venice got a surprise. Among the dead they found evidence of belief in the undead, fear of the vampire. So how do you stop the undead from feasting on the corpses in the mass grave?  The [...]... Read more »

  • October 31, 2010
  • 11:53 AM
  • 875 views

"Rebel access to [natural] resources crucially shapes armed civil conflict"

by Benno Hansen in Ecowar

How does rebel access to natural resources affect conflict? "How". Not "if". That is the question investigated by Päivi Lujala of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, recently published in the Journal of Peace Research.

Or rather: Where previous research has either suggested a link or sought to explain it by an indirect effect through resource abundance tending to corrupt weak ... Read more »

  • October 29, 2010
  • 02:01 PM
  • 600 views

The Adoption of Altruism

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries in Exile

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by Barbara J. King:Since animals, including humans, are merely ambulatory vehicles for their selfish genes, according to the dominant framework, it would be to one's benefit to care for a niece or cousin that lost their mother but not for a stranger of which there was no genetic relation. This is because any genes that promoted such altruism towards unrelated individuals would end up losing out by using up resources that didn’t perpetuate thems........ Read more »

  • October 28, 2010
  • 05:43 AM
  • 839 views

Sons of the conquerers: the story of India?

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression


The past ten years has obviously been very active in the area of human genomics, but in the domain of South Asian genetic relationships in a world wide context it has seen veritable revolutions and counter-revolutions. The final outlines are still to be determined. In the mid-1990s the conventional wisdom was that South Asians were [...]... Read more »

Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Mait Metspalu, Ying Choi, Reedik Mägi, Irene Gallego Romero, Pedro Soares, Mannis van Oven, Doron M. Behar, Siiri Rootsi, Georgi Hudjashov.... (2010) Population Genetic Structure in Indian Austroasiatic speakers: The Role of Landscape Barriers and Sex-specific Admixture. Mol Biol Evol. info:/10.1093/molbev/msq288

  • October 27, 2010
  • 11:38 PM
  • 1,180 views

Food for thought: Cooking in human evolution

by gregdowney in Neuroanthropology

Did cooking make us human by providing the foundation for the rapid growth of the human brain during evolution?  If so, what does this tell us about the diet that we should be eating, and can we turn back the culinary clock to an evolutionarily ideal diet?  A number of provocations over the last couple of weeks have me thinking about evolution and diet, especially what our teeth and guts tell us about how our ancestors got their food.
I did a post on this a while back at Neuroanthropology.net,........ Read more »

Rosenberg, K., & Trevathan, W. (2005) Bipedalism and human birth: The obstetrical dilemma revisited. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, 4(5), 161-168. DOI: 10.1002/evan.1360040506  

Suwa, G., Kono, R., Simpson, S., Asfaw, B., Lovejoy, C., & White, T. (2009) Paleobiological Implications of the Ardipithecus ramidus Dentition. Science, 326(5949), 69-69. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175824  

Wrangham, R. (2003) 'Cooking as a biological trait'. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular , 136(1), 35-46. DOI: 10.1016/S1095-6433(03)00020-5  

  • October 27, 2010
  • 09:25 PM
  • 1,138 views

Archaeologists Unearth a "Vampire" Grave

by Dan Bailey in Smells Like Science

In the 1990's archaeologists uncovered a grave in Connecticut dating from the mid-1800's that provided the first physical evidence of a historical belief in vampires in New England.... Read more »

  • October 27, 2010
  • 02:57 PM
  • 1,286 views

Where did all these primates come from? – Fossil teeth may hint at an Asian origin for anthropoid primates

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Where did anthropoid primates come from? This question has not been an easy one to answer. Since the early days of paleontology various experts have proposed a slew of scenarios for the origins of the primate group which today contains monkeys and apes (including us), with different experts favoring various combination of places, times, and [...]... Read more »

Bajpai, S., Kay, R., Williams, B., Das, D., Kapur, V., & Tiwari, B. (2008) The oldest Asian record of Anthropoidea. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(32), 11093-11098. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0804159105  

K. Christopher Beard. (2006) Mammalian Biogeography and Anthropoid Origins . Primate Biogeography, 439-467. info:/10.1007/0-387-31710-4_15

Beard, K., Marivaux, L., Chaimanee, Y., Jaeger, J., Marandat, B., Tafforeau, P., Soe, A., Tun, S., & Kyaw, A. (2009) A new primate from the Eocene Pondaung Formation of Myanmar and the monophyly of Burmese amphipithecids. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1671), 3285-3294. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0836  

Jaeger, J., Beard, K., Chaimanee, Y., Salem, M., Benammi, M., Hlal, O., Coster, P., Bilal, A., Duringer, P., Schuster, M.... (2010) Late middle Eocene epoch of Libya yields earliest known radiation of African anthropoids. Nature, 467(7319), 1095-1098. DOI: 10.1038/nature09425  

  • October 25, 2010
  • 12:50 PM
  • 3,701 views

Anatomy of a Superstition: When Your Eye "Jumps"

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice


The eye sees all, and can possibly warn
of danger in Trinidadian folklore.
Credit: Wikipedia
Trinidadians have a rich collection of superstitions, many of which found their way to the island via colonialism. These beliefs reflect the ways ideas and explanations have been blended here—and elsewhere—in the face of globalization. There is one, however, that I have grown up with that seems unique to Trinidadians. It concerns an involuntary eye spasm known colloquially as when your eye "ju........ Read more »

Kowal L, Davies R, & Kiely PM. (1998) Facial muscle spasms: an Australian study. Australian and New Zealand journal of ophthalmology, 26(2), 123-8. PMID: 9630292  

Matthews, B. (1945) West Indian Beliefs and Superstitions. The American Catholic Sociological Review, 6(3), 139. DOI: 10.2307/3707527  

Roberts, H. (1927) Louisiana Superstitions. The Journal of American Folklore, 40(156), 144. DOI: 10.2307/534893  

  • October 25, 2010
  • 11:12 AM
  • 888 views

How does an anthropological perspective contribute to our understanding of birth control? Part I

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

This is a heavily revised version of a series I wrote for my LEE Blog on biological anthropology and hormonal contraception. This post deals with contraindications for hormonal contraceptives.... Read more »

Burkman RT, Fisher AC, Wan GJ, Barnowski CE, & LaGuardia KD. (2009) Association between efficacy and body weight or body mass index for two low-dose oral contraceptives. Contraception, 79(6), 424-427.

Morin-Papunen L, Martikainen H, McCarthy MI, Franks S, Sovio U, Hartikainen AL, Ruokonen A, Leinonen M, Laitinen J, Järvelin MR.... (2008) Comparison of metabolic and inflammatory outcomes in women who used oral contraceptives and the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device in a general population. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 199(5), 5290-2147483647. PMID: 18533124  

  • October 24, 2010
  • 10:16 PM
  • 661 views

Mesa Verde Water Control

by teofilo in Gambler's House

I’ve previously discussed water control technologies at Chaco, where they were particularly important given the extreme aridity of that area even by Southwestern standards.  There is abundant evidence, however, that water control was a widespread activity throughout the ancient Southwest, even in areas with more reliable water sources.  The best-studied water control systems have been [...]... Read more »

  • October 20, 2010
  • 08:51 PM
  • 1,277 views

Facing Death and Uncovering the Past

by Dan Bailey in Smells Like Science

A real life Indiana Jones style adventure story (with less whips) about a priceless archaeological discovery deep in the Guatemalan Jungle.... Read more »

Saturno WA, Stuart D, & Beltrán B. (2006) Early Maya writing at San Bartolo, Guatemala. Science (New York, N.Y.), 311(5765), 1281-3. PMID: 16400112  

  • October 19, 2010
  • 08:09 AM
  • 1,077 views

Mashing up banana wild relatives

by Jeremy in Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog

Over at the Vaviblog is a detailed discussion (though not nearly as detailed as the paper) of a new paper outlining a new theory for the origin of the cultivated banana. Edible bananas have very few seeds. Wild bananas are packed with seeds; there’s almost nothing there to eat. So how did edible bananas come [...]... Read more »

  • October 19, 2010
  • 08:00 AM
  • 912 views

Banana domestication revisited

by Jeremy in The Vaviblog

Edible bananas have very few seeds. Wild bananas are packed with seeds; there’s almost nothing there to eat. So how did edible bananas come to be cultivated? The standard story is that some smart proto-farmer saw a spontaneous mutation and then propagated it vegetatively. Once the plant was growing, additional mutants would also be seen [...]... Read more »

  • October 19, 2010
  • 05:39 AM
  • 779 views

Did cavemen eat bread?

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression


Food is a fraught topic. In How Pleasure Works Paul Bloom alludes to the thesis that while conservatives fixate on sexual purity, liberals fixate on culinary purity. For example, is it organic? What is the sourcing? Is it “authentic”? Obviously one can take issue with this characterization, especially its general class inflection (large swaths of [...]... Read more »

Anna Revedin, Biancamaria Aranguren, Roberto Becattini, Laura Longo, Emanuele Marconi, Marta Mariotti Lippi, Natalia Skakun, Andrey Sinitsyn, Elena Spiridonova, & Jiří Svoboda. (2010) Thirty thousand-year-old evidence of plant food processing. PNAS. info:/10.1073/pnas.1006993107

  • October 19, 2010
  • 03:07 AM
  • 415 views

Wired to be Social

by Glialdance in Glial Dance

Humans are a social species, we interact with other people – aided by language- and exchange information on daily basis. The effects of social isolation have been demonstrated and predicted to be very severe and “de-humanising” in many cases with a long list of adverse effects on cognitive abilities and emotional stability. The question often posed when [...]... Read more »

Umberto Castiello, Cristina Becchio, Stefania Zoia, Cristian Nelini, Luisa Sartori, Laura Blason, Giuseppina D’Ottavio, Maria Bulgheroni, & Vittorio Gallese. (2010) Wired to be Social: the ontogeny of human interaction. PLoS ONE. info:/

  • October 18, 2010
  • 02:34 PM
  • 1,144 views

There are more things in heaven and earth, cobber, than are dreamt of in your philosophy

by Alun in AlunSalt

Studying astronomy in culture should be simple. There’s only so much that is visible by the naked eye, and it follows predictable patterns. Modern astronomy means that we can reconstruct what was visible anywhere in the world in human history, within certain boundaries for errors. If we know what happens when, then studying a culture... Read more »

Clarke, P.A. (2007) An Overview of Australian Aboriginal Ethnoastronomy. Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture, 39-58. info:/

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