Anthropology

Necessity may be the mother of invention, at least if war is a necessity. And perhaps it is.

In the early days of humanity, survival was a combination of hardiness, keen engineering and intelligence - and nothing spurred on technological progress and vast social changes like the need to work together to kill other people, according to a new paper in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.


There has been concern about a lessening of social engagement, mostly created by older people who see young people behaving differently than they did (and do). Last decade it was noted that young people were
less likely to join clubs, had fewer close friends, and were less likely to perceive others as trustworthy.

So young people don't join the Masonic Lodge in their college years. Does that mean they are less social? 

No, there has been an increase in extraversion and self-esteem, according to a paper in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. In a review, the authors examined past studies that utilized the Revised UCLA loneliness scale (R-UCLA) to analyze changes in loneliness over time, and gender differences in loneliness.



King's College Chapel: beauty, art, profundity – but truth? Tom Thai, CC BY-SA

By Simon Blackburn, University of Cambridge

We may talk about a battle of the sexes when it comes to our species, but in the rest of the primate world, it really is a battle. We have the luxury of cultural hand-wringing about the shirt a Rosetta mission engineer wore in a YouTube video, but when it comes to chimpanzees, a shirt is the least of female problems.

Male on female violence among chimpanzees is frequent - and it has to do with sex. 


An analysis of two African tribes has led anthropologists to suggest that men evolved better navigation ability than women because men with better spatial skills - the ability to mentally manipulate objects - can roam farther and have children with more mates.


Policy makers and amateur psychology pundits think "necessity is the mother of invention" - and sometimes it is, that is why that became a saying, but plain old opportunity matters a lot. Natural gas had been around for 70 years, for example, and the United States has plenty of coal, but hydraulic fracturing, a modern form of extraction, has made natural gas cheaper and led to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, a competitive advantage and a 'win' for the environment - it was developed due to opportunity, not necessity.


If you're a native of rural Mozambique who contracts a disease and becomes symptomatic, you'll likely consult a traditional healer before getting medical advice.


The need for a moral higher power may have been as necessary for adapting to a dangerous world as physical adaptations, according to a new paper.

The authors suggest that societies with less access to food and water are more likely to believe in such deities. They believe there is a strong correlation between belief in high gods who enforce a moral code and other societal characteristics. Political complexity - namely a social hierarchy beyond the local community - and the practice of animal husbandry were both strongly associated with a belief in moralizing gods, though how raising livestock factored in is a mystery, since everyone did it.



Neigh problem with injections. Shutterstock

By Adele Williams, University of Surrey

Picture this. Your prize horse needs a vaccination. Who should turn up to deliver this but a veterinary graduate of ten years, specialist in equine internal medicine and teacher to veterinary undergraduates.

Today is your lucky day! Or not.

“I specifically requested one of the male vets, but it is just a vaccination so I do hope you’ll be able to do that …”

If you lived in Hilazon Tachtit, near  the Hilazon river of Israel 12,000 years ago, you might have borne witness to a world first; the earliest known religious ceremony.