Anthropology


Violent rhetoric appeals to disaffected young men because it gives them a challenge to express aggression as 'proof' of manhood. Credit: Sillouetted children playing as soldiers/Shutterstock

By David Plummer, Griffith University

Recent coverage of counter-terrorism raids in Australia featured hard-core gyms, anabolic steroids, nightclub bouncers, gangs and weapons. Footage from the Middle East regularly depicts truckloads of young bearded warriors bristling with ordnance.

"Keeping up with the Joneses" is a colloquialism for developing world desire to have the same or better status in society than peers. If someone gets a new car, you get a new car.

In some people, status is so important they suffer psychological distress if they lack status.

But it isn't just for the middle class in Western nations, say anthropologists at U.C. Santa Barbara, who found that the same need exists among the Tsimane, an egalitarian society of forager-farmers in the Bolivian Amazon. 



was the title of a history book I had as a boy.  Good things, in their way — without them, I wouldn’t be able to sit here talking to you all and meeting some very interesting people online.  But some decidedly unpleasant customers do all too often hitch a ride.


Evidence shows children are getting less unsupervised time outdoors. Credit: Brian Yap (葉)/Flickr, CC BY-NC

By Shelby Gull Laird and Laura McFarland-Piazza

In 1908 the famously plump Venus of Willendorf, thought to be a symbol of fecundity, was discovered during an excavation near the Austrian town of Melk. It has been dated to 30,000 years ago and is one of the world’s earliest examples of figurative art.

Now, a team of archaeologists have dated a number of stone tools excavated recently from the same site to 43,500 years ago. Results show they were part of the Aurignacian culture, which is generally accepted as indicative of modern human presence. It is agreed that modern humans dispersed into Europe, and began to replace Neanderthals, at least 40,000 years ago. The new research pushes this date back to a potentially much earlier time when temperatures north of the Alps were cool.

A new discovery of thousands of Stone Age tools has provided a major rethink about human innovation 325,000 years ago - and how early technological developments spread across the world. 

The researchers found evidence which challenges the belief that a type of technology known as Levallois – where the flakes and blades of stones were used to make useful products such as hunting weapons – was invented in Africa and then spread to other continents as the human population expanded.

They discovered at an archaeological site in Armenia that these types of tools already existed there between 325,000 and 335,000 years ago, suggesting that local populations developed them out of a more basic type of technology, known as biface, which was also found at the site.



But which words will lead to action? Credit: EPA

By James Painter, University of Oxford

Each of the 125 leaders attending the New York climate summit this week has been given four minutes to speak to the world. They (or their aides) may well have dipped into the climate literature to add scientific ballast to their speeches. But they may not be as familiar with the vast array of academic studies on effective communication about climate change.

Referrals for genetic testing more than doubled across the UK after actress Angelina Jolie announced in May that she proactively underwent a double mastectomy due to testing positive for a BRCA1 gene mutation.

The rise in referrals continued through to October, long after the announcement was made, according to findings in Breast Cancer Research.


Is chimpanzee intergroup aggression like primitive warfare, an adaptive strategy that gives the perpetrators an edge, or is it the consequence of human activities, such as provisioning - artificial feeding - by researchers or habitat destruction?

A new study of the pattern of intergroup aggression in chimpanzees and pygmy chimpanzees (bonobos), their close relatives, finds that human impact isn't the culprit.   

The research project compiled data collected over five decades from 18 chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and four bonobo (Pan paniscus) communities.



Ian Gilby. Credit: Ian Gilby



A protest against the killing of journalists by the Islamic State. Credit: Mast Irham/EPA

By Kevin McDonald, Middlesex University