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  • May 20, 2011
  • 04:02 AM

If you need to fight, stand upright.

by Eric in APE

Did our ancestors began to stand on two legs, because it gave them an advantage in beating up their rivals? Well at least this is what David Carrier tried to find out in his most recent study, as he looked at how hard people were able to punch when they stood upright and when they didn’t.First of all, how does someone come to this kind of idea? Carrier explains that an upright stance is a common behaviour seen ion other mammals when they want to threat/fight their opponents and that ........ Read more »

  • May 19, 2011
  • 05:30 PM

Standing up to fight, and human uniqueness

by zinjanthropus in A Primate of Modern Aspect

A new paper published in PLoS ONE by David Carrier tests the hypothesis that bipedalism in humans evolved because it helps them to fight better. The first fatal flaw lies in the first sentence: Many quadrupedal animals stand on their hindlimbs to fight. How then, does this explain human uniqueness? Clifford Jolly wrote in The [...]... Read more »

  • May 19, 2011
  • 05:22 PM

Magical Clothing in Folklore

by Franco Bejarano in CulturePotion

An analysis of Magical Clothing in folklore.... Read more »

Juliette Wood. (1992) The Fairy Bride Legend in Wales . Folklore, 103(1), 56-72. info:/

  • May 19, 2011
  • 10:30 AM

Belligerent Bipedal Beaus

by Kristina Killgrove in Powered By Osteons

What's tall, angry, and walks on two legs? Only hominin males, apparently.... Read more »

  • May 18, 2011
  • 06:11 PM

Rural Dionysia for the Aristophanic household religion

by Nikolaos Markoulakis in Tropaion

A satyr balances a Kantharos,
signed drinking cup (kylix)
of the potter Kachrylion, 520/10 BC,
Antiquities Berlin / Altes Museum.
Marcus Cyron © 2007.
I was always a great fan of Aristophanes works. But Aristophanes should be something more than a highly appreciated ancient comedian; he is a remarkable source for the ancient Greek day-to-day life and Athenian 'communal' culture, as well as

... Read more »

Bowie, E. (1988) Who Is Dicaeopolis?. The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 183. DOI: 10.2307/632639  

Mikalson, J. (1977) Religion in the Attic Demes. The American Journal of Philology, 98(4), 424. DOI: 10.2307/293807  

  • May 17, 2011
  • 06:04 PM

Do girls steal some of their mother’s beauty? Sex bias in parental investment

by Kate Clancy in Context & Variation

An examination of a recent paper on maternal breast size after pregnancy, and the Trivers-Willard hypothesis.... Read more »

Jasienska G, Nenko I, & Jasienski M. (2006) Daughters increase longevity of fathers, but daughters and sons equally reduce longevity of mothers. American journal of human biology : the official journal of the Human Biology Council, 18(3), 422-5. PMID: 16634019  

Poretsky L, Seto-Young D, Shrestha A, Dhillon S, Mirjany M, Liu HC, Yih MC, & Rosenwaks Z. (2001) Phosphatidyl-inositol-3 kinase-independent insulin action pathway(s) in the human ovary. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 86(7), 3115-9. PMID: 11443175  

  • May 17, 2011
  • 01:06 PM

The American Public's Fascination With the Undead

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice

"Braaiiiinnns ..." Zombies on the hunt for a meal, Night of the Living Dead.
May is Zombie Awareness Month—just in case you were wondering. Don’t roll your eyes: yes, we need a whole month of preparedness. I too was skeptical, but as the inimitable Christie Wilcox tweeted in response to my disbelief that May would be so used:
I think I must be. Prepared, that is. Surely the plethora of zombie movies, books, survival guides, and even exercise regimens have given me a sense of how to surviv........ Read more »

Ackermann, H., & Gauthier, J. (1991) The Ways and Nature of the Zombi. The Journal of American Folklore, 104(414), 466. DOI: 10.2307/541551  

Bishop, K. (2006) Raising the Dead. Journal of Popular Film and Television, 33(4), 196-205. DOI: 10.3200/JPFT.33.4.196-205  

Shaviro, S. (2002) Capitalist Monsters. Historical Materialism, 10(4), 281-290. DOI: 10.1163/15692060260474486  

  • May 16, 2011
  • 08:41 PM

Good olde dentistrie

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

I'm reading up on mandibular rotation, which is the change in orientation of the mandibular corpus relative to the rest of the skull during growth (the corpus is the horizontal part of your jaw that holds up your teeth; check out the shape changes in the mandibles in the blog header). So far as I can tell, the original classic paper on the topic is by Bjork (1955). Growth was studied by implanting metal pins into the jaws, then seeing how they move across ontogeny via X-rays (which were once cal........ Read more »

  • May 16, 2011
  • 02:15 PM

The number of my online friends and Dunbar’s not-so-hidden scientific agenda

by ---a in

Neocortex matters more than social enhancements à la Facebook, says Robin "Dunbar's number" Dunbar in a recent article. Will these results get him a Nobel Prize?... Read more »

  • May 14, 2011
  • 04:21 AM

How many friends do you have?

by Paola Tubaro in Paola Tubaro's blog

Pollet, T., Roberts, S., & Dunbar, R. (2011). Use of Social Network Sites and Instant Messaging Does Not Lead to Increased Offline Social Network Size, or to Emotionally Closer Relationships with Offline Network Members Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14 (4), 253-258 DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0161 I recently happened to read this new article (access here). Its [...]... Read more »

  • May 12, 2011
  • 11:30 AM

Is Pedagogy Specific to Humans? Teaching in the Animal World

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

Human infants have one important job during the first years of life, and that is to learn about the world and their culture from their parents and other caregivers. But what is learning? I've previously written that Hungarian developmental psychologists Gergely and Csibra have defined learning as the acquisition of new, generalizable knowledge that can later be used within a new context. Further, they have posited that evolution has prepared humans to learn generalizable knowledge from their car........ Read more »

Csibra G, & Gergely G. (2011) Natural pedagogy as evolutionary adaptation. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 366(1567), 1149-57. PMID: 21357237  

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

  • May 11, 2011
  • 09:15 AM

Unraveling The Fear o' the Jolly Roger

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice

Calico Jack Rackham's Jolly Roger.

Blackbeard's Jolly Roger.

Walter Kennedy's Jolly Roger.

Emanuel Wynn's Jolly Roger.

Above: A sampling of pirate flags.
The NYTimes recently explored the "pirate brand" by tracing the emergence of the skull and crossbones—the Jolly Roger—as a symbol of terror on the high seas. The Times hails the ominous design as a magnificent exercise in collective hybrid branding, noting that economics drove pirates to adopt a version of this particular symb........ Read more »

Anderson, JL. (1995) Piracy and World History: An Economic Perspective on Maritime History. Journal of World History, 6(2), 175-199. info:/

  • 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  

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