Anthropology

At the dinner held 10 days ago for those who had retired as our department finally closed the day before, my previous PI (until 2002) recommended me to read

The Origins of the British: The New Prehistory of Britain


by Stephen Oppenheimer (ISBN 9781845294823), the product description of which goes
British prehistory will never look the same again.' Professor Colin Renfrew, University of Cambridge.
I had no idea there were entire languages left to discover.   Then again, I had no idea there was a group called the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages either, but exist they both do.  
The linguists, doing a project for National Geographic, thought these people in the northeast corner of India were speaking a dialect of the Aka culture of the Himalayas - but it turns out they have a different vocabulary and linguistic structure.
Some of the most pressing questions in science aren't how to better treat cancer or solve global warming, they're instead practical things like why a stranger on the Internet takes you off of a pretend friend list.

In the old days, email lists had filters, so when your brother-in-law sent you the 50th forwarded list of lawyer jokes, you just sent them right into the trash.  On Facebook, it is not so simple - okay, actually it is, there is a hide feature built right in so you never see some things.   But people still unfriend someone, which can lead to drama.
New research by archaeologists from the University of York says that Neanderthals were a lot more compassionate than their reputation as brutish cavemen.

How do you chart the 'compassion' of early humans?
Did Neanderthals develop `modern' tools and ornaments solely through contact with Homo sapiens, or could they adapt, innovate and evolve technology on their own?  

A new anthropology study challenges a half-century of conventional wisdom that Neanderthals were primitive `cavemen' overrun and out-competed by modern humans arriving in Europe from Africa.
Multidisciplinary collaborative research teams are essential in modern day science - climate scientists need to make more accurate numerical models and genome data in biology can be overwhelming and that means working with experts in other fields  – but working as part of a team with experts outside a researcher's discipline can create its own problems so a group of researchers has published a commentary outlining a new field of study that could help resolve problems facing interdisciplinary research teams.

The new area of study, which they called the "science of team science," or SciTS (rhymes with sights), would focus on what works and what doesn't when teams of scientists are working together to accomplish an overarching research goal.
The soon-to-be-published and complete Danish translation of all the Icelandic sagas, a literary cornerstone of the Western canon, will fundamentally change our perception of the Viking heroes that populate the stories.

Saucy poems, supernatural creatures, explicit violence and emotional outbursts are an integral part of the Icelandic sagas, says assistant professor Annette Lassen from the Department of Scandinavian Research at the University of Copenhagen, but Danish translator N.M. Petersen, whose translations have been the  standard for the past 170 years, left passages out and even ignored entire stories because they did not conform to contemporary Romantic norms. 
Children are natural psychologists and by the time they reach preschool they understand that other people have desires, preferences, beliefs, and emotions too.

Exactly how they learn this isn't clear but a new study says that one way children figure out another's preferences is by using a topic you'd think they won't formally encounter until college: statistics. 

In one experiment, children aged 3 and 4 saw a puppet named "Squirrel" remove five toys of the same type from a container full of toys and happily play with them. Across the children, the toys that Squirrel removed were the same (for example, all five were blue flowers).

What varied, however, were the contents of the container.
Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association had a surprising finding for women and careers - women who are economically dependent on a man are less likely to cheat but in men it is just the opposite.  So strippers beware.  Your boyfriend who is 'getting his band going' may not be faithful for long.
If you want to really get back to nature, it still involves meat.  A team of researchers has discovered evidence that human ancestors were using stone tools and consuming the meat and marrow of large mammals 1 million years earlier than previously documented.

While working in the Afar region of Ethiopia, the Dikika Research Project (DRP) found bones bearing unambiguous evidence of stone tool use - cut marks made while carving meat off the bone and percussion marks created while breaking the bones open to extract marrow. The bones date to roughly 3.4 million years ago and provide the first evidence that Lucy's species, Australopithecus afarensis, used stone tools and consumed meat.