Anthropology

Though we like to think we are more enlightened, advanced or progressive than in the past, it really isn't so.

We aren't all that different from 2,000 years ago - kids were kids, parents worried the new generation would doom society, and people fought over religion and politics. Or did religion bring nations together? It depends on who you ask. A new anthropology paper says that in Mexico of 700 B.C., religion drove people apart, a lot like Islam today does with everyone outside Islam.
Humans haven't learned much in more than 2,000 years when it comes to religion and politics.


We think of small talk as a way to pass the time or kill an awkward silence but a group of evolutionary psychologists are suggesting that these idle conversations could be a social-bonding tool passed down through evolution - well, in their press release they write "passed down from primates", which shows why you should be wary of psychologists discussing science.


The speed and character of human dispersals changed significantly around 100,000 years ago, and our dark side deserves a thanksgiving for that; a new paper suggests that betrayals of trust were the missing link in understanding the rapid spread of our species around the world. 


In civilized war, as oxymoronic as it sounds, hospitals have a cultural bubble around them, neutral territory and off limits. 

But in Syria, that bubble has burst dozens of times, according to a new report from the group Physicians for Human Rights. The hospitals in just the eastern half of Aleppo city have suffered 45 attacks in three years, and two-thirds have closed.

And that may put medical facilities and workers in other conflict zones in danger too, according to a new opinion piece in the New England Journal of Medicine


Human remains dating back to the Late Upper Palaeolithic period over 13,000 years ago has revealed a previously unknown "fourth strand" of ancient European ancestry. 

This new lineage stems from populations of hunter-gatherers that split from western hunter-gatherers shortly after the 'out of Africa' expansion some 45,000 years ago and went on to settle in the Caucasus region, where southern Russia meets Georgia today.

Here these hunter-gatherers remained for millennia, isolated as the Ice Age culminated in the last 'Glacial Maximum' some 25,000 years ago. They weathered the cold in the relative shelter of the Caucasus mountains until eventual thawing allowed movement and brought them into contact with other populations, likely from further east. 


It may seem like bees are suddenly all the rage in environmental fundraising campaigns today but they have been important to human culture - for almost as long as modern farming, humans have been interested in bees and the products they produce. 


Want to hyphenate your last name to include your wife's? Is "Three Men and a Baby" your favorite movie? If you are a man, these and other distinguishing characteristics probably mean you have lower testosterone.


Have you ever used Airbnb or other hotel replacement services when traveling? If yes, you are likely to travel more than you used to, you choose your destination from among a wider set of alternatives, and you are more active in your destination, according to a recent paper from the University of Eastern Finland and Washington State University. 

The authors found that tourists are interested in peer-to-peer accommodation services like Airbnb due to social and financial reasons. Users of peer-to-peer accommodation services are often in social interaction with their hosts, and peer-to-peer accommodation services are a cost-effective alternative to hotels.
 


A paper published earlier this year claiming chimpanzees can learn each others' language is not supported by others who looked at the work. The paper published in Current Biology in February centered on the examination of two sets of chimpanzees in the Edinburgh Zoo: one that had been captive for several years in the facility and one that had recently arrived from the Beekse Bergen Safari Park in the Netherlands.

Over a three-year period, the researchers claimed that the latter set had altered their sounds to those of the former set when communicating about a common object, apples, resulting in what they saw as a newly shared vocalization. 


An analysis of nearly 500 anti-vaccination websites found that over two-thirds used what they represented as scientific evidence to support the idea that vaccines are dangerous and nearly one-third contained anecdotes that reinforced the perception.