Anthropology

New data presented at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meetings in Dallas, Texas, implicates early humans in the extinction of large mammals, birds and lizards in Australia.

The "Anthropocene" has been with us for thousands of years, it seems - and the ancestors of Australian Aborigines have been implicated in the demise of a plethora of large-bodied animals, including a huge monitor lizard, large terrestrial birds, a giant wombat, the marsupial lion, and giant kangaroos.


Scientists have deciphered maternal genetic material from two babies buried together at an Alaskan campsite 11,500 years ago and found the infants had different mothers and were the northernmost known kin to two lineages of Native Americans found farther south throughout North and South America.

By showing that both genetic lineages lived so far north so long ago, the study supports the "Beringian standstill model." It says that Native Americans descended from people who migrated from Asia to Beringia - the vast Bering land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska - and then spent up to 10,000 years in Beringia before moving rapidly into the Americas beginning at least 15,000 years ago.


The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences lost a great deal of respect when it published a study claiming female hurricane names were taken less seriously by the public. A new paper on racism in crosswalks won't add more credibility to the humanities and the social sciences about what is really happening in the world outside a p=.05 value. Luckily, PNAS did not publish this one, Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behavior did.


They stayed up late into the evening, averaged less than 6.5 hours of sleep a night and rarely napped.

College students during final exams? Working moms? No, says a UCLA-led team of researchers who studied sleeping patterns among traditional peoples whose lifestyles closely resemble those of our evolutionary ancestors. Instead it was pre-industrial humans, according to a team that studied the Hadza of Tanzania, the San of Namibia and the Tsimane of Bolivia challenges conventional wisdom about their sleeping habits. The findings, published today in Current Biology, suggest that the industrialized world's sleep habits do not differ much from those that humans evolved to have.


Genetic ancestry, as well as facial characteristics, may play an important part in who we select as mates, according to an analysis that used population genomics and social science data to gauge the relatedness of parents in a study of asthma in Mexican and Puerto Rican children. 


A new paper gives psycholgists a unique glimpse at how humans develop an ability to use tools in childhood while nonhuman primates--such as capuchin monkeys and chimpanzees--remain only occasional tool users.

Dorothy Fragaszy, a psychology professor at the University of Georgia, created two studies to look at how non-human primates and human children differ in completing simple spatial reasoning tasks. 

Much like a game of Operation, human children ages 2, 3 and 4 and adult nonhuman primates were asked to fit a stick, a cross and a tomahawk into a matching cutout space on a tray. Children were also given an opportunity to complete this task by placing the sticks on a mat with a drawing of the matching shape, as well as into a space on a tray.


If your partner has sex with someone else, it is considered infidelity - even if no emotions are involved. But it is also considered infidelity when your significant other develops a close personal relationship with someone else, even if there is no sex or physical intimacy involved.

A recent Norwegian study shows that men and women react differently to various types of infidelity. Whereas men are most jealous of sexual infidelity, so-called emotional infidelity is what makes women the most jealous. Evolutionary psychology may help explain why this may be.

Significant gender differences


People tend to associate the ability to think creatively with stereotypical masculine qualities, according to a paper in Psychological Science, which suggests that the work and achievements of men tend to be evaluated as more creative than similar work and achievements produced by women.

Research suggests that when people think about "creative thinkers" they tend to think of characteristics typically ascribed to men but not women, including qualities like risk-taking, adventurousness, and self-reliance. Lead author Devon Proudfoot of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and colleagues Aaron Kay and Christy Zoval hypothesized that this could ultimately lead people to view creative thinking as an ability more common among men than women.


A proof-of-concept study finds that it is possible to identify an individual's ancestral background based on his or her fingerprint characteristics - a discovery with significant applications for law enforcement and anthropological research.

"This is the first study to look at this issue at this level of detail, and the findings are extremely promising," says Ann Ross, a professor of anthropology at North Carolina State University and senior author of a paper describing the work. "But more work needs to be done. We need to look at a much larger sample size and evaluate individuals from more diverse ancestral backgrounds."


A Catholic, a Jesuit and a scientist walk into a bar. What do they have to talk about? And just how do those conversations go?

This scenario is no joking matter. Conflict as well as collaboration have characterized the historical relations between these three parties since the founding of the Society of Jesus, nearly 500 years ago. How do these three interact today in an era of “War on Science” that tends to politicize so many scientific issues?