Anthropology

For the past the 1,000,000 years the global climate has cycled every 100,000 years, between long glacial periods (with great masses of ice covering the continents in the northern hemisphere) and shorter interglacial periods, lasting around 10,000 years. It has been 12,000 years since the last one so enjoy that while it lasts.

However, within the long periods there have been abrupt climate changes, sometimes happening in the space of just a few decades, with variations of up to 10º C in the average temperature in the polar regions caused by changes in the Atlantic ocean circulation. These changes affected rainfall in southern Africa. 


In the last two generations, the designation 'spiritual but not religious' has become popular. It's hard to know what it means - atheists and religious people are at least taking some sort of stand - but one thing sociologists say they do know: Young adults who deem themselves "spiritual but not religious" are more likely to commit both violent and property crimes than young people who self-report religious belief ("religious and spiritual" or "religious but not spiritual").


Some Paleo Diet believers think neither food nor humanity has evolved but anthropologists disagree. They have found that diets were a 'game changer' in ancient African hominid evolution, even 3.5 million years ago.

Tests on tooth enamel indicate that prior to about 4 million years ago, Africa's hominids were eating essentially chimpanzee style, likely dining on fruits and some leaves, said University of Colorado Boulder anthropology Professor Matt Sponheimer, lead author of the study. Though grasses and sedges were readily available back then, the hominids seem to have ignored them for an extended period. 


Modern human mothers wean their babies earlier than our closest primate relatives - well, not all human mothers. As a TIME magazine cover made famous, some mothers never stop. 

But what about our extinct relatives, the Neanderthals? Teeth tell the tale. 


What was the diet and movements of the first New Zealanders like?

Isotopes from their bones and teeth can tell us. Researchers say they have been
able to identify what is likely to be the first group of people to colonize Marlborough's Wairau Bar, possibly from Polynesia around 700 years ago. They also present evidence suggesting that individuals from two other groups buried at the site had likely lived in different regions of New Zealand before being buried at Wairau Bar. 

The researchers undertook isotopic analyses of samples recovered from the koiwi tangata (human remains) of the Rangitane iwi tupuna (ancestors) prior to their reburial at Wairau Bar in 2009. 


Hunter-gatherers living in ice age conditions cooked fish, according to the findings of a team from the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden and Japan, who carried out chemical analysis of food residues in pottery up to 15,000 years old from the late glacial period, the oldest pottery so far investigated. 

The research team was able to determine the use of a range of hunter-gatherer "Jōmon" ceramic vessels through chemical analysis of organic compounds extracted from charred surface deposits. The samples analyzed are some of the earliest found in Japan, one of the first centers for ceramic innovation, and date to the end of the Late Pleistocene - a time when humans were adjusting to changing climates and new environments.


Do people form into tribe-like communities on social network sites such as Twitter?


Why is the world so full of "morons" and "degenerates" and what, if anything, can be done to fix them?

These are questions that Robert W. Sussman, PhD, a professor of anthropology in Arts&Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, explored Feb. 15th at the AAAS meeting in Boston.


Sociologists have settled an important debate - namely, do women really want a man that does housework. The answer is 'no', according to an important new paper which found that married men and women who divide household chores in traditional ways report having more sex than couples who share the women's work.  


Comet explosions did not end the prehistoric human culture, known as Clovis, in North America 13,000 years ago, according to a new paper.

Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories, Royal Holloway and 13 other universities across the United States and Europe have found evidence which rebuts the belief that a large impact or airburst caused a significant and abrupt change to the Earth's climate and terminated the Clovis culture. They argue that other explanations must be found for the apparent disappearance.

Clovis is the name archaeologists have given to the earliest well-established human culture in the North American continent. It is named after the town in New Mexico, where distinct stone tools were found in the 1920s and 1930s.