Did animals teach us one of the oldest forms of human technology, basketry? Did that help us learn to count? These are just two of the themes due to be explored at a University of East Anglia event which takes place June 5-6) is part of Beyond the Basket, a new research project led by the university exploring the development and use of basketry in human culture over 10,000 years.

Basketry has been practiced for millennia and ranges from mats for sitting on, containers and traps for hunting, to partitions and walls - all of which have been central to advancing our culture.
Neanderthals/neandertals, popularly regarded as the 'stupid' cousins of modern humans, were actually capable of capturing the most impressive animals - and that takes some sense.   Dutch researcher Gerrit Dusseldorp analyzed their daily forays for food to gain insights into the complex behavior of the Neanderthal. His analysis revealed that the hunting was very knowledge intensive. 
Did Language Invent Humans ?

Writing is a human invention.  We have plenty of evidence of its invention and of its improvement down the ages.  It would make no sense to assume that writing somehow 'just appeared'.  A magical origin of writing would presuppose that our brains are hard wired to read, but we all know that reading and writing are skills that must be taught in a formal manner.  Again, if we were 'hard wired' for written language then we would all use a single writing method, regardless of language.  Writing is most definitely invented.
Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart famously stated, regarding hard-core pornography, during the Jacobellis vs Ohio obscenity case (1964):
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I
understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and
perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so.  But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

The success of religion may be the fault of non-believers (or, if you look at it the other way around, thank god for the atheists!) 

At least that is one interpretation of a recent individual-based simulation study of social evolution conducted by James Dow at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and published in a recent issue of the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (vol. 11, no.

Aggressive, vengeful behavior of individuals in some South American groups has been considered the means for men to obtain more wives and more children, but an international team of anthropologists working in Ecuador among the Waorani show that sometimes the macho guy does not do better. 

The Waorani are rainforest manioc horticulturalists and foragers. When the first peaceful contact occurred in 1958, they numbered about 500 people living in an area the size of New Jersey between the Napo and Curaray rivers in the Amazon basin east of the Andes. Their abundant resources often attracted outsiders, who were promptly killed if found.

The 66th Four Stone Hearth, a fortnightly collection of anthropology blogging is being hosted over at Aardvarcheology.  including a monster of a study on African population genetics.


The scientists’ first step was to collect DNA from a diverse set of
Africans. Africa is the most culturally and linguistically diverse
place on Earth, so it was important to take a wide sample of
individuals from all corners of the continent. In total, they collected

Continuing along on my previous theme (having cleared my soul of the rant on etic viewpoints of cyberculture), many studies I've seen fail to convince the "internet native" because of a number of flaws that could easily be addressed.  For brevity, I'm listing them as bullet points with short discussion.

* Determine size, number of posters, average number of posts or interactions per day.  It's easier to think of these spaces as functioning somewhat like a large mall -- if you want to study one, you need to get a grasp on how many people usually show up and which areas or shops they frequent.  So too with message boards and other spaces (such as Second Life.)   To begin to understand the perspective, you first have to see it as the entity it is.
A detailed analysis of the feet of Homo floresiensis, the miniature hominins who lived on a remote island in eastern Indonesia until 18,000 years ago, may help settle a question hotly debated among paleontologists: how similar was this population to modern humans? A new research paper in Nature  may help answer this question.

While the so-called "hobbits" walked on two legs, they say, several features of their feet were so primitive that their gait was not efficient.
Did ancestors of Native Americans migrate to the New World in one wave or successive waves, from one ancestral Asian population or a number of different populations?   The topic has been debated for decades but after comparing DNA samples from people in dozens of modern-day Native American and Eurasian groups, an international team of scientists thinks it can put the matter to rest: Virtually without exception the new evidence supports the single ancestral population theory, according to the study  published in the May issue of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.