Anthropology

For decades, the consensus among psychologists has held that a group of five personality traits - openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism - are a universal feature of human psychology.

Not so, say anthropologists writing in the  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.


Prehistoric farming communities in Europe constructed water wells out of oak timbers - it seems early farmers were skilled carpenters long before metal was discovered or used for tools. 

 These first Central European farmers migrated from the Great Hungarian Plain approximately 7,500 years ago, and left an archaeological trail of settlements, ceramics and stone tools across the fertile regions of the continent, a record named Linear Pottery Culture (Linearbandkeramik - LBK). However, much of the lifestyle of these early settlers is still a mystery, including the climate they lived in and technology or strategies they used to cope with their surroundings. 


Modern-day gypsies,  Europe's widespread Romani population, are now as diverse in language, lifestyle, and religion as any demographic but they all share a common past.

And that past started about 1,500 years ago  in northwestern India, according to the first genome-wide perspective on Romani origins and demographic history. With


Whether or not different species of early humans interbred and produced offspring of mixed ancestry - hybridization - has been the subject of recent studies but the findings are not universally accepted.


Prehistoric artists wanted to tell a story as accurately as possible, and so they were better at portraying the walk of four-legged animals than modern man, according to a new paper. 

Most quadrupeds have a similar sequence in which they move each limb as they walk, trot or run, and this sequence was studied and outlined in the early 1880s by Eadweard Muybridge.

 The authors examined 1000 works of prehistoric and modern artwork ranging from cave paintings of cows and elephants to statues and paintings of horses, elephants and other quadrupeds in motion to see how well these artistic depictions matched the scientific observations of animal motion. 


A new approach used to analyze genetic data to learn more about the history of populations says it can describe in detail events in recent history, over the past 2,000 years, more accurately than in the subjective texts used by people in the humanities. The computer scientists behind it demonstrate their method in two populations, the Ashkenazi Jews and the Masai people of Kenya, who represent two kinds of histories and relationships with neighboring populations - one remained isolated from surrounding groups and one had frequent cross-migration with nearby villages.  


The percentage of Americans who say they are strong in their religious faith has been steady for the last four decades but a new sociology analysis claims that religious groups who have become more staunchly devout have surged while others, notably Roman Catholics, who have sought to become more liberal under Vatican II in that time, have faded in popularity.

Catholics now report the lowest proportion of strongly affiliated followers among major American religious traditions. The drop in intensity could present challenges for the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S., the study suggests, both in terms of church participation and in Catholics' support for the Church's social and theological positions.


The race is on to blame everything related to ecological change on human footprints - even the past can be re-framed as anthropocenic climate change and University of Massachusetts Amherst geoscientists have shown how to do just that, by using a biomarker from human feces in a completely new way to establish the first human presence, the arrival of grazing animals and human population dynamics in a landscape.


A universal approach to helping people who witnessed or experience genocide may be misguided, says an anthropologist.

The experience of genocide as transmitted trauma may not be universal but in the fields of human rights and memory studies, giving testimony about one's personal experience of genocide is believed to be both a moral duty and a psychological imperative for the wellbeing of the individual and the persecuted group to which they belong. The coping strategies for victims of genocide tend to be uniform: tell your story and do not let the violence you suffered be forgotten. What about descendants?


Women scientists in primatology are poorly represented at symposia organized by men, but receive equal representation when symposia organizers are women or mixed groups, according to an analysis published in PLOS ONE. 

The authors examined female participation at major scientific conferences for primate scientists and anthropologists, where symposia are largely by invitation but posters and other talks are initiated by participants. They found that within the field of primatology, women give more posters than talks, whereas men give more talks than posters. Their analysis also shows that symposia organized by men on average included half the number of women authors (29%) than symposia organized by women or both men and women (58 to 64%).