Anthropology

Watch writer David Pogue transform into a Neanderthal through the magic of modern prosthetic makeup. Pogue’s transformation comes courtesy of PBS television program Nova ScienceNow, hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. On this Wednesday’s episode, “What Makes Us Human”, Pogue will walk the streets of New York City in his Neanderthal get-up and see how people react. Would you notice anything unusual about Pogue?






Our long-ago ancestors saw two basic colors: light and dark. Today we see eleven (black, grey, white, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, brown, pink). Tomorrow we will see more. Empirical Zeal…


Reports Jennifer Viegas in Discovery News:

The ancestors of humans, apes and monkeys evolved first in Asia before moving on to Africa, suggests a new fossil find from Myanmar.

Remains of a newly found primate, Afrasia djijidae, show this monkey-like animal lived 37 million years ago and was a likely ancestor of anthropoids — the group including humans, apes and monkeys.

“Many people have heard about the ‘Out of Africa’ story of human origins and human evolution,” said Christopher Beard, a Carnegie Museum of Natural History vertebrate paleontologist who co-authored a study about the fossil find in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Our paper is the logical precursor to that, because we are showing how the anthropoid ancestors of humans made their way ‘Into Africa’ in the first place.”…


Writes Jacqueline Howard on the Huffington Post:

Did the 20th century make us big-headed? Maybe so, since forensic anthropologists at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville found that white Americans’ heads are getting bigger and bigger … in size, that is.

The researchers studied about 1,500 skulls that dated from the mid-1800s through the 1980s. They noticed that the skulls gradually became larger, taller, and narrower. As a result, faces have become longer.

“The surprising thing is the skull size increase has not been documented in modern Americans,” researcher Dr. Richard Jantz told the Huffington Post. “We might have suspected that that was happening but this documents it … The shape of the skull has also changed rather dramatically. In fact, shape change has been more dramatic than size change.”…





Via ScienceDaily: Changes in social structure and cultural practices can also contribute to human evolution, according to a study that has recently been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy…





Via Naked Capitalism, a fascinating interview with economic anthropologist David Graeber about the history of debt over the last 5,000 years (and the oft-intertwined history of slavery): Since antiquity the worst-case scenario…







Joanna Eede writes for National Geographic:

Deep in one of the remotest parts of the Brazilian Amazon, in a clearing at the headwaters of the Envira River, an Indian man looks up at an aeroplane.

He is surrounded by kapok trees and banana plants, and by the necessities of his life: a thatched hut, its roof made from palm fronds; a plant-fiber basket brimming with ripe pawpaw; a pile of peeled manioc, lying bright-white against the rain forest earth.

The man’s body is painted red from crushed seeds of the annatto shrub, and in his hand…


This is interesting. I wonder how they relate to the therianthropes found in cave paintings popularized by Graham Hancock and others. Andrew Howley writes on NatGeo News: Prehistoric artists were creating mind-bending…


Unraveling ancient human DNA must be like crack for anthropologists — they just can’t stop! Joe Palca reports for NPR: DNA taken from a pinkie bone at least 30,000 years old is…