Anthropology

If climate change sends us all back to the Stone Age, we wouldn't be the first culture. Or at least to the Bronze Age.

It used to be that changes in climate were simply history, now they are an indictment of everything we might hold dear, like electricity.

4,100 years ago, write scholars in Geology, an abrupt weakening of the summer monsoon affected northwest India and the resulting drought coincided with the beginning of the decline of the metropolis-building Indus civilization that spanned present-day Pakistan and India.


Anthropologists have developed mathematical models that they say describe development patterns in both modern urban areas and ancient cities settled thousands of years ago.


Everyone claims to care about diversity, individualism and tolerance. Very few people (R.I.P. Pete Seeger) really do. Instead, they want their beliefs affirmed and they want to demonize the opposition at every turn

The remoteness and anonymity of social media makes aggressive and cultural political posturing easy - that is why people  who think the majority of their friends have differing opinions than their own engage less on Facebook. Politically active tend to stick in their own circles, ignore those on the other side and become more polarized.   


Western humans are rare in that we drink milk after weaning.  Milk is the staple food for infants and contains the sugar lactose but most mammals lose the ability to digest lactose, and thus milk, as they get older. 

The ability to digest the sugar is governed by the production of the enzyme lactase in the small intestine. As children get older, the lactase gene is gradually disabled, which means that no lactase is formed and the lactose enters the colon undigested, where it is typically converted into acids and hydrogen gas and, in many people, causes the painful symptoms of lactose intolerance.


It was once commonly known than ancient Carthaginians sacrificed their children. The evidence was right there, in historical documents and graves.

Children who grow up in dangerous neighborhoods exhibit more aggressive behavior, according to a new paper in Societies.

Lots of U.S. studies have suggested a link between dangerous neighborhoods and aggressive behavior in kids but the authors of the new paper wanted to determine whether the pattern held true worldwide. So they interviewed parents and children from 1,293 families in nine countries: China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Sweden, Thailand and the United States.

The questions involved dangers in their neighborhoods. Based on the answers, the researchers scored the neighborhoods according to their degree of danger.


When tragedies happen, politicians aim to yell on the floors of Congress about how tragedies must be stopped. 

And gun tragedies should be entirely preventable, claim gun ban proponents. Just ban guns. It may make sense to assume that states in which there are tight laws make that state safer and lead to less gun crime, but that data show that the very opposite is true. You can't get a concealed weapon permit in Illinois but Chicago leads the US in gun murders. In 2013, a concealed carry bill was passed, making Illinois the final state to issue concealed gun carry permits.

You may think you eat too much but humans (and other primates) actually burn 50% fewer calories each day than other mammals, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Our remarkably slow metabolisms explain why humans and other primates grow up slowly and live long lives.


Paranthropus boisei, nicknamed "Nutcracker Man" because of his big flat molar teeth and powerful jaws,lived in East Africa between 2.4 million-1.4 million years ago.

A new paper postulates that he survived mainly on a diet of tiger nuts - edible grass bulbs still eaten in parts of the world today- along with fruits and invertebrates, like worms and grasshoppers.  


An analysis of thyroid hormones from urine samples of zoo-living chimpanzees and bonobos has led anthropologists to conclude that hormone levels may be why chimpanzees and bonobos share similar starting conditions at birth but develop different behavioral patterns later in life.

The researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp discovered that bonobos retain elevated thyroid hormone concentrations well into adulthood, whereas in humans and chimpanzees thyroid hormone concentrations decline after puberty.

The late decline of thyroid hormones in bonobos might have consequences on their behavior and might also indicate a delayed development of their mental capacities.