Anthropology

Though drinking alcohol while pregnant is considered a cultural no-no in the United States, that is not the case for other current and former British subjects. 

Data of almost 18,000 women in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand finds that 20% all the way up to almost 80% of those questioned drank during pregnancy, and across all social strata.
The prevalence of drinking alcohol ranged from 20% to 80% in Ireland, and from 40% to 80% in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

Women who smoked were more likely to drink alcohol as well.


A milk-and ochre-based paint dates that may have been used by inhabitants to South Africa to adorn themselves or decorate stone or wood slabs has been dated to 49,000 years ago. 

While the use of ochre by early humans dates to at least 250,000 years ago in Europe and Africa, this is the first time a paint containing ochre and milk has ever been found in association with early humans in South Africa, said Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and lead study author.

The milk likely was obtained by killing lactating members of the bovid family such as buffalo, eland, kudu and impala, she said.


There is a paradox when it comes to guns in America. In states like California, gun ownership has doubled in the last 15 years while murder rates dropped substantially in that time. Today,
almost one in three US adults owns at least one gun, and owners are more likely to be white married men over the age of 55, hardly a high crime demographic.

Instead of being for crime, most guns are used for suicide - and even then fewer people commit suicide with guns in the US than do by hanging in Japan. Though Switzerland had always scoffed at the notion that guns cause crime - gun ownership is even higher there - similar results in more than one country dispel the myth that more legal guns lead to more crime or more murders.


The words 'yes' and 'no' may seem like two of the easiest expressions to understand in any language, but their actual behavior and interpretation are surprisingly difficult to pin down. In a paper published earlier today in the journal Language, two linguists examine the workings of 'yes' and 'no' and show that understanding them leads to new insights concerning the understanding of questions and statements more generally.


Wide-scale population migrations and changes took place in Europe and Asia during the Bronze Age that shaped the demographic structure of present-day Europeans and Asians, as revealed by an analysis of 101 genomes from ancient Eurasian humans.

A new study published in this week’s Nature presents one of the largest studies of ancient DNA samples to date.  The research provides insights into the prevalence of certain traits such as skin color or lactose tolerance, as well as data relevant to the understanding the spread of Indo-European languages.

Though women are the majority in the life sciences and men might need outreach programs to counteract potential bias against them in the social sciences, in math-intensive fields like physics women still lag.

Sociologists believe that it may be due to misperception; that you either have math ability or you don't. Counter that misperception and you the problem is solved.


Amateur cook-offs like the hugely popular MasterChef series now in its seventh season in Australia have been part of our TV diet for almost two decades.

These shows celebrate the remarkable lengths we humans will go to to whet the appetite, stimulate the senses, fire our neural reward systems and sustain the body.

Yet, few of us pause to reflect on the hugely important role diet plays in the ecology and evolutionary history of all species, including our own.

Lethal wounds identified on a human skull may indicate one of the first cases of murder in human history, according to a new paper.

The archaeological site, Sima de los Huesos in northern Spain, is located deep within an underground cave system and contains the skeletal remains of at least 28 individuals that date to around 430,000 years ago, during the Middle Pleistocene. The only access to the site is through a 13-meter deep vertical shaft, and how the human bodies arrived there remains a mystery.
The Red Lady burial site in El Mirón cave, outside Ramales de la Victoria in Cantabria, Spain, dates back to the Upper Palaeolithic 16,000 years ago. The archaeological site was discovered in 1903 but it wasn't until 2010 that bones were discovered at the back of the cave, in a small space between the wall and a fallen block. Both the bones and the sediment under them were reddish.

The remains turned out to be of a woman, between 35 and 40 years of age, and because of the color the Red Lady mystery was born. The reddish color means the use of ochre and ochre has been linked to religious symbolism in various cultures.
Acoustics would seem to be primarily science - make sure sound waves are not piling up on each other in strange places and that everyone can hear what they are supposed to hear -  but a new study says it is not so objective and the response of audiences and performers to acoustic characteristics is a function of their worldview, according to archaeo-acoustician Steven J. Waller at the 169th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Pittsburgh.

"It's a parallel to 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder': perfect performance spaces are really in the ear of the listener. Today we value qualities like clarity--how it makes a modern orchestra sound," Waller continued, "whereas prior to sound wave theory, echoes were considered mysterious and divine."