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  • December 17, 2010
  • 08:28 PM
  • 693 views

Water Collection at Wupatki

by teofilo in Gambler's House

Wupatki is a very dry place even by the standards of the Southwest, with annual precipitation averaging about 8 inches.  Human habitation in such an arid landscape is therefore highly dependent on capturing as much available moisture as possible.  It appears that the prehistoric inhabitants took advantage of the volcanic ash laid down over the [...]... Read more »

Schroeder, A. (1944) A Prehistoric Method of Collecting Water. American Antiquity, 9(3), 329. DOI: 10.2307/275790  

  • December 17, 2010
  • 04:57 PM
  • 1,013 views

Of Political Orgasms and the Scientific Method

by David Berreby in Mind Matters


This week's theme is epistemological unease in the sciences: Complaints in a number of disciplines that studies didn't really find the effects they're reporting. One reason for these worries is that many studies nowadays are never repeated. So today I'm going to consciously and rationally resist ...Read More
... Read more »

  • December 16, 2010
  • 12:50 AM
  • 623 views

Speaking of Wupatki

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The paper by Glenn Davis Stone and Christian Downum that I mentioned in the last post, which evaluated the archaeological record of the Wupatki area of northern Arizona in the light of Ester Boserup‘s theory of agricultural intensification, was based largely on the data from an extensive archaeological survey of Wupatki National Monument done by [...]... Read more »

  • December 14, 2010
  • 06:19 PM
  • 1,223 views

Looking to the Past in Search of New Drugs

by Dan Bailey in Smells Like Science

Scientists have often looked to nature in the quest for new drugs to treat everything from cancer to infectious diseases, and they’ve found effective drugs in unexpected places – sea sponges, the bark of the Pacific yew tree, a throat swab from a chicken. But archaeologist Patrick McGovern and an interdisciplinary group of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are using a different approach: they’re looking to the past in search of new drugs.... Read more »

  • December 13, 2010
  • 04:48 PM
  • 1,504 views

At a Loss for Words: Modern Lessons From a Lost Language

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice

It's hard to imagine that knowledge could be lost today. Technology seems to have put the ability to know almost everything within our grasp. So when researchers announced that they had "found" a previously unknown Peruvian language earlier this year, it was strangely tantalizing. Here was knowledge that we couldn't Google. We could plumb the archives and look for clues that might offer answers, but true understanding would not be easily attainable. And in all likelihood, we would have to resign........ Read more »

  • December 13, 2010
  • 04:54 AM
  • 606 views

Live not by visualization alone

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression


Synthetic map
In the age of 500,000 SNP studies of genetic variation across dozens of populations obviously we’re a bit beyond lists of ABO blood frequencies. There’s no real way that a conventional human is going to be able to discern patterns of correlated allele frequency variations which point to between population genetic differences on this [...]... Read more »

Olivier François, Mathias Currat, Nicolas Ray, Eunjung Han, Laurent Excoffier, & John Novembre. (2010) Principal Component Analysis under Population Genetic Models of Range Expansion and Admixture. Mol Biol Evol . info:/

  • December 12, 2010
  • 05:34 PM
  • 855 views

Speaking of Ester Boserup

by teofilo in Gambler's House

The paper I discussed earlier on the connection between plow-based agriculture and highly inegalitarian gender roles was based on a theory proposed by Ester Boserup.  Boserup was a Danish economist who had a lot of interesting ideas about the relationship between population growth and agricultural intensification.  She’s best known for arguing that intensification of agricultural [...]... Read more »

  • December 10, 2010
  • 09:52 AM
  • 1,422 views

No Substitute for IRL Relationships for Adolescents

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice



Credit: Scott Hampson
It's no secret that the Internet is a black hole when it comes to time. Fifteen minutes on Twitter spirals into an hour or two of witty banter. A quick stop on Facebook to read statuses or water crops becomes three hours looking at photos from someone's vacation or wedding. (And email? Fuggedaboutit!) But it's easy to be online—simple and almost instantaneous access to all your friends and connections, and none of them need to know you're in your pajamas. And you c........ Read more »

  • December 10, 2010
  • 03:50 AM
  • 2,036 views

The Antikythera Mechanism

by GrrlScientist in GrrlScientist

Two years ago, a paper was published in Nature describing the function of the oldest known scientific computer, a device built in Greece around 100 BCE. ... Read more »

  • December 8, 2010
  • 04:19 PM
  • 1,268 views

The men of the north: the Sami

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression


Ole Magga, Norwegian politician
On this blog I regularly get questions about the Sami (Lapp*). That’s because I often talk about Finnish genetics, have readers such as Clark who are of part-Sami origin, and, the provenance and character of the Sami speak to broader questions about the emergence of the modern European gene pool. More precisely [...]... Read more »

Maki-Torkko, Elina, Aikio, Pekka, Sorri, Martti, Huentelman, Matthew J, & Camp, Guy Van. (2010) A genome-wide analysis of population structure in the Finnish Saami with implications for genetic association studies. European Journal of Human Genetics. info:/10.1038/ejhg.2010.179

  • December 7, 2010
  • 08:58 PM
  • 1,195 views

A tale of two foreigners in Japan

by Lachlan Jackson in Language on the Move

This is the first in a series of blog posts about my experiences undertaking an ongoing research project. In this series I will be detailing some of the methodological challenges I encounter as well as the strategies I adopt to … Continue reading →... Read more »

Maher, J. C. (2005) Metroethnicity, language and the principle of cool. International Journal of the Sociology of Languages, 83. info:/

  • December 6, 2010
  • 10:15 AM
  • 1,923 views

The Evolutionary Roots of Talking With Our Hands

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice



Human and bonobo ape hands. © SPL

New Yorkers are hand talkers—we often use gestures to add emphasis to our conversations. Whether we're pointing to direct tourists, or waving to demonstrate our exasperation with traffic, drivers, or pedestrians, or trying to interject (New Yorkers don't interrupt!) we're gesticulating. We're not the only ones to do this, of course, but in my experience we do tend to employ this element of communication fairly frequently.
The role of gestures in communicat........ Read more »

  • December 4, 2010
  • 07:15 AM
  • 633 views

Autism and Old Fathers

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A new study has provided the strongest evidence yet that the rate of autism in children rises with the father's age: Advancing paternal age and risk of autism. But questions remain.The association between old fathers and autism has been known for many years, and the most popular explanation has been genetic: sperm from older men are more likely to have accumulated DNA damage, which might lead to autism.As I've said before, this might explain some other puzzling things such as the fact that it's ........ Read more »

  • December 1, 2010
  • 12:30 PM
  • 1,378 views

Gratitude: Uniquely Human or Shared with Animals?

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal



"Two chimps had been shut out of their shelter by mistake during a cold rain storm. They were standing dejeted, water streaming down their shivering bodies, when Professor Köhler chanced to pass." Upon opening the door for the two chimps, Dr. James Leuba recounts, "instead of scampering in without more ado, as many a child would have done, each of them delayed entering the warm shelter long enough to throw its arms around his benefactor in a frenzy of satisfaction."

"Chimpanzees," primatolog........ Read more »

Krisin E. Bonnie, & Frans B. M. de Waal. (2004) Primate Social Reciprocity and the Origin of Gratitude. in Robert A. Emmons , 213-229. info:/

Fehr, E., & Gächter, S. (2002) Altruistic punishment in humans. Nature, 415(6868), 137-140. DOI: 10.1038/415137a  

  • November 27, 2010
  • 08:27 PM
  • 768 views

Extinct Giant Manabou Stork Discovered in Flores, Indonesia

by bonvito in time travelling

Bones of a giant manabou stork have been unearthed recently from the Pleistocene of Liang Bua cave in Flores, Indonesia. This new species, Leptoptilos robustus, is estimated to be 1.8 meters in length with an estimated weight of 16 kg. This stork has a reduced capacity for flight and would have been oriented more towards [...]... Read more »

HANNEKE J.M. MEIJER and ROKUS AWE DUE. (2010) A new species of giant marabou stork (Aves: Ciconiiformes) from the Pleistocene of Liang Bua, Flores (Indonesia). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. info:/

  • November 27, 2010
  • 09:35 AM
  • 700 views

The Town That Went Mad

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Pont St. Esprit is a small town in southern France. In 1951 it became famous as the site of one of the most mysterious medical outbreaks of modern times.As Dr's Gabbai, Lisbonne and Pourquier wrote to the British Medical Journal, 15 days after the "incident":The first symptoms appeared after a latent period of 6 to 48 hours. In this first phase, the symptoms were generalized, and consisted in a depressive state with anguish and slight agitation.After some hours the symptoms became more clearly d........ Read more »

GABBAI, LISBONNE, & POURQUIER. (1951) Ergot poisoning at Pont St. Esprit. British medical journal, 2(4732), 650-1. PMID: 14869677  

  • November 24, 2010
  • 07:35 PM
  • 734 views

We were all Africans…before the intermission

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

Quick review. In the 19th century once the idea that humans were derived from non-human ancestral species was injected into the bloodstream of the intellectual classes there was an immediate debate as to the location of the proto-human homeland; the Urheimat of us all. Charles Darwin favored Africa, but in many ways this ran against the [...]... Read more »

Jinchuan Xing, W Scott Watkins, Ya Hu, Chad D Huff, Aniko Sabo, Donna M Muzny, Michael J Bamshad, Richard A Gibbs, Lynn B Jorde, & Fuli Yu. (2010) Genetic diversity in India and the inference of Eurasian population expansion. Genome Biology. info:/10.1186/gb-2010-11-11-r113

  • November 24, 2010
  • 11:49 AM
  • 705 views

Indian population genetics study published in Genome Biology

by Tara Cronin in BioMed Central Blog

Population genetics have revolutionized human anthropology, with differences in the DNA sequences between existing populations allowing for the retracing of human migration over time. In a new population genetics study published in Genome Biology, the labs of Lynn B Jorde and Fuli Yu present evidence for an ancient northern migration route out of Africa taken by the common ancestors of Eurasians, from whom today’s East Asians, Europeans and Indians are descended. Their data also support a “........ Read more »

Jinchuan Xing, W Scott Watkins, Ya Hu, Chad D Huff, Aniko Sabo, Donna M Muzny, Michael J Bamshad, Richard A Gibbs, Lynn B Jorde and Fuli Yu. (2010) Genetic diversity in India and the inference of Eurasian population expansion . Genome Biology, 11(11). info:/

  • November 24, 2010
  • 10:11 AM
  • 1,213 views

From Natyural to Nacheruhl: Utterance Selection and Language Change

by Wintz in A Replicated Typo 2.0

Most of us should know by now that language changes. It’s why the 14th Century prose of Geoffrey Chaucer is nearly impenetrable to modern day speakers of English. It is also why Benjamin Franklin’s phonetically transcribed pronunciation of the English word natural sounded like natyural (phonetically [nætjuɹəl]) . . . → Read More: From Natyural to Nacheruhl: Utterance Selection and Language Change... Read more »

  • November 23, 2010
  • 01:36 AM
  • 853 views

Some new yellow-tailed woolly monkeys on the block.

by seriousmonkeybusiness in This is Serious Monkey Business

Here's something to get some holiday cheer in your lives a little early: a new population of critically endangered yellow-tailed woolly monkey was discovered recently!--but who are these guys and what exactly does this mean?... Read more »

Anneke M. DeLuycker. (2007) Notes on the Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey (Oreonax flavicauda) and Its Status in the Protected Forest of Alto Mayo, Northern Peru. Primate Conservation, 41-47. info:/

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