Anthropology

Conformity is a bad thing, in media portrayals like Apple advertisements - yet then they have a lot of people who look a lot alike all standing in line to buy the latest iPhone.

In reality, despite the claims of creative people who insist that only one brand is for creative people, they are conforming. It is human nature to conform. Former Vice-President Dan Quayle was once criticized for not knowing how to spell 'potato' while guest judging a spelling event. It was spelled wrong on the answer card and he knew it was wrong but he conformed and politicians and the public do the same thing every day.

It makes us follow the lead of computers, even if the machines give us the wrong advice.

Odds are they won't be so happy after Yuletide. Shutterstock

By Frederik Pedersen, University of Aberdeen

January is a strain for most people. It’s dark and the festive lights don’t disguise this anymore. You’re back at work and the next holiday may be some way off. You’ve just had to spend a large amount of time with your family. This has consequences.

Dogs successfully migrated to the Americas about 10,000 years ago, according to a new study. That's a long time ago but still thousands of years after the first human migrants crossed the land bridge from Siberia to North America. Dogs have been associated with humans in findings from 11,000 to 16,000 years ago. 


Whether you are a a hipster in Montreal or a Pygmy in the Congolese rainforest, certain aspects of music will touch you the same way.

That applies to scores we associates with very different films, and therefore tones, like Psycho, Star Wars, and Schindler's List, according to a team of scholars who arrived at this conclusion after traveling deep into the rainforest to play music to a very isolated group of people, the Mbenzélé Pygmies, who live without access to radio, television or electricity.


It would be madness today to think of farmers as wimpy - watching a 160 lb. kid throw a giant hay bale around does not make people think of weakness - but skeletally the invention of agriculture made us weak compared to foraging ancestors.

As we shifted from foraging to farming, we had more food and that led to more culture and education and progress - but it also brought more sedentary lifestyles and so our skeletons have become much lighter and more fragile since the invention of agriculture.

About 10 percent of Asia can claim to be descended from Genghis Khan and they are absolutely correct, genetic studies show; the reason is that part of the benefit to rampaging across Asia, the mid-East and into Europe was a lot of sex.

But it isn't just conquering Mongols, even on a small scale violent conflict offers biological rewards to those those who take part in it, say anthropologists who correlated violent raids and combat to reproductive fitness. 



The shirt Matt Taylor wore while being interviewed about the Rosetta space mission set off a media and online shirtstorm. Youtube/ ESA

By Jamilla Rosdahl, University of the Sunshine Coast


Games appear in galleries, does that make them art? blakespot, CC BY

By Ashok Ranchhod, University of Southampton and Vanissa Wanick Vieira, University of Southampton.


Want something a little different for Christmas this year? Caroline Yeldham, courtesy of the Leeds International Medieval Congress

By Iona McCleery, University of Leeds.

With Christmas almost upon us, there will be plenty of frenzied present shopping and meal planning. Haven’t made that Christmas cake yet? Fear not. If you were preparing the festive meal 600 years ago you’d have far more on your plate.

The Paleolithic diet, eating like our ancient ancestors, is a diet fad that seeks to emulate the diet of early humans during the Stone Age. But what does that mean? Almost anything people want because ancestral diets differed substantially over time and geography, notes a paper in The Quarterly Review of Biology.

The review examines anatomical, paleoenvironmental and chemical evidence, as well as the feeding behavior of living animals. While early hominids were not great hunters, and their dentition was not great for exploiting many specific categories of plant food, they were most likely dietary "jacks-of-all-trades."


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