Current Anthropology News and Events

Current Anthropology News and Events, Anthropology News Articles.
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Genomic insights into the origin of pre-historic populations in East Asia
East Asia today harbours more than a fifth of the world's population and some of the most deeply branching modern human lineages outside of Africa. However, its genetic diversity and deep population history remain poorly understood relative to many other parts of the world. In a new study, a team of international researchers analyzes genome-wide data for 166 ancient individuals spanning 8,000 years and 46 present-day groups, and provides insights into the formation of East Asian populations. (2021-02-22)

Neandertal gene variants both increase and decrease the risk for severe COVID-19
Last year, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany showed that a major genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neandertals. Now the same researchers show, in a study published in PNAS, that Neandertals also contributed a protective variant. Half of all people outside Africa carry a Neandertal gene variant that reduces the risk of needing intensive care for COVID-19 by 20 percent. (2021-02-16)

Marmoset monkeys eavesdrop and understand conversations between other marmosets
Marmoset monkeys perceive the vocal interactions between their conspecifics not just as a string of calls, but as coherent conversations. They also evaluate their content. These are the findings of a study by researchers at the University of Zurich which combined thermography methods with behavioral preference measures. (2021-02-03)

Women influenced coevolution of dogs and humans
A cross-cultural analysis found several factors may have played a role in building the relationship between humans and dogs, including temperature, hunting and surprisingly - gender. The analysis used ethnographic information from 144 traditional, subsistence-level societies from all over the globe. People were more likely to regard dogs as a type of person if the dogs had a special relationship with women--such as having names and being treated as family. (2021-01-25)

Chimpanzee friends fight together to battle rivals
Humans cooperate with each other in large groups to defend territories or wage war. But what underlies the evolution of this kind of cooperation? Researchers at the Max PIanck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Harvard University show that there may be a link between social bonds and participation in large-scale cooperation: Chimpanzees join their close bond partners when fighting rivals. In humans, too, social bonds may have been essential to the evolution of cooperative abilities. (2021-01-22)

Changing diets -- not less physical activity -- may best explain childhood obesity crisis
Variation in consumption of market-acquired foods outside of the traditional diet -- but not in total calories burned daily -- is reliably related to indigenous Amazonian children's body fat, according to a Baylor University study that offers insight into the global obesity epidemic. (2021-01-17)

WSU scientists identify contents of ancient Maya drug containers
Scientists have identified the presence of a non-tobacco plant in ancient Maya drug containers for the first time. The researchers detected Mexican marigold (Tagetes lucida) in residues taken from 14 miniature Maya ceramic vessels. The vessels also contain chemical traces present in two types of dried and cured tobacco. (2021-01-15)

Ancient DNA sheds light on the peopling of the Mariana Islands
Compared to the first peopling of Polynesia, the settlement of the Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific, which happened around 3,500 years ago, has received little attention. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the Australian National University and the University of Guam have now obtained answers to long debated questions regarding the origin of the first colonizers of the Marianas and their relationship to the people who initially settled in Polynesia. (2020-12-22)

Pregnant women whose exercise routines disrupted by COVID-19 show higher depression scores
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily life, including many people's ability to exercise, which can boost mood, reduce stress and benefit one's physical and mental health. A Dartmouth study finds that pregnant women whose exercise routines were impacted by the pandemic have higher depression scores than those who have continued to exercise as usual. The study, whose findings are published in PLOS ONE, is among the first to examine the links between COVID-19, exercise changes and prenatal depression. (2020-12-21)

Whole genomes map pathways of chimpanzee and bonobo divergence
Chimpanzees and bonobos are sister species that diverged around 1.8 million years ago as the Congo River formed a geographic boundary and they evolved in separate environments. Now, a whole-genome comparison of bonobos and chimpanzees reveals the gene pathways associated with the striking differences between the two species' diets, sociality and sexual behaviors. (2020-12-16)

Kernels of history
Earlier this year Douglas J. Kennett, a UC Santa Barbara professor of anthropology, demonstrated that maize, or corn, became a staple crop in the Americas 4,700 years ago. It turns out he was just beginning to tell the story of the world's biggest grain crop. (2020-12-15)

A new evolutionary clue
Colleen B. Young, a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Missouri, tested several popular assumptions about the characteristics of Homo floresiensis by comparing an island fox from California's Channel Islands with its mainland US relative, the gray fox. (2020-12-09)

Videoscope analysis of a Neanderthal skeleton reveals detailed dental information
Videoscope analysis of a well-preserved Neanderthal skeleton from Altamura, Italy reveals detailed dental information, including tooth wear and tooth loss. (2020-12-02)

Weak police, strong democracy: civic ritual and performative peace in contemporary Taiwan
Looking at a case study of Taiwanese police interacting with a powerful local union, the author explores ''weak policing.'' (2020-12-01)

CU Anschutz researcher offers new theory on `Venus' figurines
One of world's earliest examples of art, the enigmatic `Venus' figurines carved some 30,000 years ago, have intrigued and puzzled scientists for nearly two centuries. Now a researcher from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus believes he's gathered enough evidence to solve the mystery behind these curious totems. (2020-12-01)

Researchers explore population size, density in rise of centralized power in antiquity
A University of Maine-led group of researchers developed Power Theory, a model emphasizing the role of demography in political centralization, and applied it to the shift in power dynamics in prehistoric northern coastal societies in Peru. To test the theory, the team created a summed probability distribution (SPD) from 755 radiocarbon dates from 10,000-1,000 B.P. Researchers found a correlation between the tenets of Power Theory and power structure changes in early Peruvian societies. (2020-11-30)

Are we the same person throughout our lives? In essence, yes
Although our body changes and our beliefs and values may vary throughout our lives, our essence remains stable. Research at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) has recorded brain activity in a group of individuals showing that our ability to recognise ourselves as distinctive --the ''continuity of the self''-- remains undiminished by change and that it takes us only 250 milliseconds to recognise ourselves. (2020-11-25)

Ancient blanket made with 11,500 turkey feathers
New WSU research sheds light on the production of an 800-year-old turkey feather blanket and explores the economic and cultural aspects of raising turkeys to supply feathers in the ancient Southwest. (2020-11-25)

Early big-game hunters of the americas were female, researchers suggest
For centuries, historians and scientists mostly agreed that when early human groups sought food, men hunted and women gathered. Not so, say researchers. (2020-11-04)

Denisovan DNA in the genome of early East Asians
Researchers analyzed the genome of the oldest human fossil found in Mongolia to date and show that the 34,000-year-old woman inherited around 25 percent of her DNA from western Eurasians, demonstrating that people moved across the Eurasian continent shortly after it had first been settled by the ancestors of present-day populations. This individual and a 40,000-year-old individual from China also carried DNA from Denisovans, an extinct form of hominins that inhabited Asia before modern humans arrived. (2020-10-29)

Study finds field of forensic anthropology lacks diversity
The field of forensic anthropology is a relatively homogenous discipline in terms of diversity (people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with mental and physical disabilities, etc.) and this is highly problematic for the field of study and for most forensic anthropologists. (2020-10-23)

How'd we get so picky about friendship late in life? Ask the chimps
When humans age, they tend to favor small circles of meaningful, already established friendships rather than seek new ones. People are also more likely to lean toward positive relationships rather than ones that bring tension or conflict. These behaviors were thought to be unique to humans but it turns out chimpanzees, one of our closest living relatives, have these traits, too. The study shows what's believed to be the first evidence of nonhuman animals actively selecting who they socialize with during aging. (2020-10-22)

Ancient Maya built sophisticated water filters
Ancient Maya in the once-bustling city of Tikal built sophisticated water filters using natural materials they imported from miles away, according to the University of Cincinnati. A multidisciplinary team of UC anthropologists, geographers and biologists identified quartz and zeolite, a crystalline compound consisting of silicon and aluminum, that created a natural molecular sieve. Both minerals are used in modern water filtration. (2020-10-22)

Projecting favorable perceptions of space
For anthropologists and other social scientists, the space race in the 1950s served as a period of cultural and technological transformation as well as an opportunity to advance the public good. (2020-10-19)

Oldest monkey fossils outside of Africa found
Three fossils found in a lignite mine in southeastern Yunan Province, China, are about 6.4 million years old, indicate monkeys existed in Asia at the same time as apes, and are probably the ancestors of some of the modern monkeys in the area, according to an international team of researchers. (2020-10-09)

Coastal flooding will disproportionately impact 31 million people globally
Indiana University researchers analyzed these geographic regions, which include cities like New Orleans, Bangkok, and Shanghai, using a new global dataset to determine how many people live on river deltas, how many are vulnerable to a 100-year storm surge event, and the ability of the deltas to naturally mitigate impacts of climate change. (2020-10-02)

Neandertal gene variant increases risk of severe COVID-19
A study published in Nature shows that a segment of DNA that causes their carriers to have an up to three times higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neandertals. The study was conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. (2020-09-30)

How do Americans view the virus? Anthropology professor examines attitudes of COVID
In her latest study, Northern Arizona University professor Lisa Hardy looks at how Americans' attitudes and responses have changed during the time of the pandemic and how to many people, the virus is not a biological agent but instead a malicious actor. (2020-09-24)

Ethical challenges in cross-cultural research
A group of social scientists who conduct cross-cultural research are casting a critical lens on their own practices in the Sept. 23 issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The international group of authors draw upon years of cross-cultural work in anthropology and psychology to provide actionable suggestions to address the logistical and ethical quandaries of study site selection, engagement with communities in research, and the significance of culturally-appropriate research methods and reporting practices. (2020-09-22)

Raids and bloody rituals among ancient steppe nomads
Traces of violence on 1700 year old skeletons allow researchers to reconstruct warfare and sacrifices of nomads in Siberia. An international and interdisciplinary team of anthropologists, archaeologists and specialists in forensic sciences led by Marco Milella from the University of Bern performed a detailed and revealing analysis of the traumas found on the skeletal remains. (2020-09-18)

Like humans, chimpanzees can suffer for life if orphaned before adulthood
A new study from the Tai Chimpanzee Project in Ivory Coast and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, shows that orphaned male chimpanzees are less competitive and have fewer offspring of their own than those who continue to live with their mothers. The remaining puzzle is, what is it that their mothers provide that keeps chimpanzees healthy and competitive? (2020-09-18)

Chimpanzees show greater behavioural and cultural diversity in more variable environments
An international team led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) has investigated the influence of environmental variability on the behavioural repertoires of 144 social groups. The scientists found that chimpanzees living further away from historical forest refugia, under more seasonal conditions, and found in savannah woodland rather than closed forested habitats, were more likely to exhibit a larger set of behaviours. (2020-09-15)

The oldest Neanderthal DNA of Central-Eastern Europe
A new study reports the oldest mitochondrial genome of a Neanderthal from Central-Eastern Europe. The mitochondrial genome of the tooth, discovered at the site of Stajnia Cave in Poland, is closer to a Neanderthal specimen from the Caucasus than to the contemporaneous Neanderthals of Western Europe. Stone tools found at the site are also analogous to the southern regions suggesting that Neanderthals living in the steppe/taiga environment had a broader foraging radius than previously envisaged. (2020-09-08)

Following African elephant trails to approach conservation differently
Elephant trails may lead the way to better conservation approaches. 'Think of elephants as engineers of the forests. Elephants shape the landscape in many ways that benefit humans. We're talking thousands of miles of trails. If we think about the loss of elephants over time, then we will see the forest structure change and human activities also would shift.' (2020-08-31)

COVID-19 human milk studies should continue without stopping breastfeeding
It is not easy to conduct human milk research during a pandemic. Yet despite the consistent lack of quality evidence for transmission of viral RNA from breast milk, some leaders are pushing ahead by altering public health and clinical practice guidance, according to E.A. Quinn, associate professor of biological anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. (2020-08-25)

Research links Southeast Asia megadrought to drying in Africa
Physical evidence found in caves in Laos connects the end of the Green Sahara, when once heavily vegetated Northern Africa became a hyper-arid landscape, and a previously unknown megadrought that crippled Southeast Asia 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. Scientists at the University of California, Irvine, University of Pennsylvania, William Paterson University of New Jersey and other international institutions explain how this major climate transformation led to a shift in human settlement patterns in Southeast Asia. (2020-08-21)

UA research finds relationship between COVID-19 deaths and morbid obesity
The prevalence of morbid obesity in a population is associated with negative outcomes from COVID-19, according to an analysis by researchers at The University of Alabama of morbid obesity data and reported COVID-19 deaths in the United States. (2020-08-20)

Monkeying around: Study finds older primates father far fewer babies
Older male rhesus monkeys sire fewer offspring, even though they appear to be mating as much as younger monkeys with similarly high social status. Sperm quality or quantity, or the survival of infants, may decline with the age of the would-be father, the new study suggests. A new study from Washington University in St. Louis has implications for understanding some age-related aspects of male reproductive health in primates, including humans. (2020-08-03)

Neandertals may have had a lower threshold for pain
Pain is mediated through specialized nerve cells that are activated when potentially harmful things affect various parts of our bodies. These nerve cells have a special ion channel that has a key role in starting the electrical impulse that signals pain and is sent to the brain. According to a new study by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden people who inherited the Neandertal variant of this ion channel experience more pain. (2020-07-23)

For chimpanzees, salt and pepper hair not a marker of old age
Silver strands and graying hair is a sign of aging in humans, but things aren't so simple for our closest ape relatives--the chimpanzee. A new study published today in the journal PLOS ONE by researchers at the George Washington University found graying hair is not indicative of a chimpanzee's age. (2020-07-14)

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