Anthropology


It's common to perceive Neanderthals as more big-headed primitives and Cro-Magnon as more like us, but we were all primitive cavemen. It takes a biologist to really know the difference.

So if you think Neanderthals were stupid and primitive, it's time to think again.  


Would you sacrifice one person to save five?

Psychologists say those moral choices could depend on whether you are using a foreign language or your native tongue.

The new paper from the University of Chicago and Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona finds that people using a foreign language take a relatively utilitarian approach to moral dilemmas, making decisions based on assessments of what's best for the common good. That pattern holds even when the utilitarian choice would produce an emotionally difficult outcome, such as sacrificing one life so others could live. 


Scholars say they have created a breakthrough on understanding the demographic history of Stone-Age humans.

A genomic analysis of eleven Stone-Age human remains from Scandinavia revealed that expanding Stone-age farmers assimilated local hunter-gatherers and that the hunter-gatherers were historically in lower numbers than the farmers. 


Dr. Bruna Bezerra from the University of Bristol and colleagues have captured video of a wild male marmoset embracing and caring for his dying partner after she accidentally fell from a tree in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil, the first time that compassionate care-taking behavior towards a dying adult group member has been observed in monkeys.

Previously, such behavior was believed to be unique to humans and chimpanzees.

We know that around 12,000 years ago, a fundamental thing began to happen all around the world - plants were cultivated and animals were domesticated for transport, food and fiber. 


Rhythmic drum patterns with a balance of rhythmic predictability and complexity may influence our desire to dance and enjoy the music, according to a new paper by music scholar Maria Witek from the University of Oxford and colleagues. 


We can identify an athletic body by analysis of their skeletons because bones show remarkably rapid adaptation to both the intensity and direction of strains. Put under stress through physical exertion – such as long-distance walking or running – they gain in strength as the fibers are added or redistributed according to where strains are highest.  


Conventional wisdom and sociological arguments have claimed that societies with more men than women, such as China, will become more violent, but a new study has found that a male-biased sex ratio does not lead to more crime.

Rates of rape, sexual assault and homicide are actually lower in societies with more men than women, the study found, and evolutionary theories predicting that when males outnumber females, males will compete more vigorously for the limited number of mates don’t hold up either. 

“Here, we untangle the logic behind the widely held notion that in human societies where men outnumber women, there will be more violence,” said anthropology professor Monique Borgerhoff Mulder of U.C. Davis, co-author of the study.

Charred grains of barley, millet and wheat deposited nearly 5,000 years ago at campsites in the high plains of Kazakhstan show that nomadic sheepherders played a surprisingly important role in the early spread of domesticated crops throughout a mountainous east-west corridor along the historic Silk Road, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

"Our findings indicate that ancient nomadic pastoralists were key players in an east-west network that linked innovations and commodities between present-day China and southwest Asia," said study co-author Michael Frachetti, PhD, an associate professor of archaeology in Arts&Sciences at Washington University and principal investigator on the research project.


Do you live where your job is or do you move to be near people who match your personality as far as being agreeable or conscientious? 

California has three Democratic state senators under indictment, all being paid while due process makes its way. That seems very conscientious, though there is no chance that would be the case if the politicians facing jail time were Republicans. According to a new paper in Political Research Quarterly, state policies mirror the personalities of the public. If so, the personalities of Californians may veer toward being gun runners while they endorse bans on guns, and having $500 billion in debt while declaring their budget balanced.