Anthropology

In 2014, drugs and alcohol are used primarily for pleasure and not to commune with nature or contact the spirit world.

In ancient times, opium poppies and hallucinogenic mushrooms were for gifted elites and their use went hand-in-hand with shamanistic belief systems and the sacred burial rituals of pre-industrial societies, according to a recent paper. 


The anti-wheat movement is a popular health fad in America and critics of that staple now have a new weapon in their culture war - ditching it makes people more cooperative. And they explain Genghis Khan and Mao.

Defenders of wheat have their own ammunition - rice leads to despotism and communism. Cultural psychologists writing in Science claim that they can explain psychological differences between the people of northern and southern China mirror and also the differences between community-oriented East Asia and the more individualistic Western world - southern China has grown rice for thousands of years, whereas the north has grown wheat.



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.