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Current Biological Anthropology News and Events, Biological Anthropology News Articles.
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Geneticists are bringing personal medicine closer to recently admixed individuals
A new study in Nature Communications proposes a method to extend polygenic scores, the estimate of genetic risk factors and a cornerstone of the personalized medicine revolution, to individuals with multiple ancestral origins. The study was led by Dr. Davide Marnetto from the Institute of Genomics of the University of Tartu, Estonia and coordinated by Dr. Luca Pagani from the same institution and from the University of Padova, Italy. (2020-04-02)

Teeth serve as 'archive of life,' new research finds
Teeth constitute a permanent and faithful biological archive of the entirety of the individual's life, from tooth formation to death, a team of researchers has found. Its work provides new evidence of the impact that events, such as reproduction and imprisonment, have on an organism. (2020-03-25)

Monty Python's silly walk: A gait analysis and wake-up call to peer review inefficiencies
Fifty years ago, Monty Python's famous sketch, 'The Ministry of Silly Walks,' first aired. The sketch pokes fun at the inefficiency of government bureaucracy. It opens with the Minister (John Cleese) walks in a rather unusual manner to his work, the Ministry of Silly Walks, where Mr. Pudey (Michael Palin) is waiting for him. Based on a gait analysis, a Dartmouth research team finds that the Minister's silly walk is 6.7 times more variable than a normal walk. (2020-03-12)

Feeding wildlife can disrupt animal social structures
A team of researchers from the University of Georgia and San Diego State University has found that the practice of feeding wildlife could be more detrimental to animals than previously thought. (2020-03-10)

Soil life thrives between oil palm fronds
The threat to insects and soil-life from rainforest clearance is recognised. What has not been studied is whether oil palm plantations are able to sustain the populations of tiny below-ground animals that work to keep the soil healthy. In a new study led by the University of Göttingen, scientists discovered high levels of biological activity in regions above ground level that may serve as oases for soil organisms. This was published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. (2020-03-02)

Hunter-gatherers facilitated a cultural revolution through small social networks
Hunter-gatherer ancestors, from around 300,000 years ago, facilitated a cultural revolution by developing ideas in small social networks, and regularly drawing on knowledge from neighbouring camps, suggests a new study by UCL and University of Zurich. (2020-02-28)

Hunter-gatherer networks accelerated human evolution
Humans began developing a complex culture as early as the Stone Age. This development was brought about by social interactions between various groups of hunters and gatherers, a UZH study has now confirmed. The researchers mapped the social networks of present-day hunter-gatherers in the Philippines and simulated the discovery of a medicinal plant product. (2020-02-28)

Each Mediterranean island has its own genetic pattern
A Team around Anthropologist Ron Pinhasi from the University of Vienna -- together with researchers from the University of Florence and Harvard University -- found out that prehistoric migration from Africa, Asia and Europe to the Mediterranean islands took place long before the era of the Mediterranean seafaring civilizations. For their analysis they used the DNA of prehistoric individuals from Sicily, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands. The results have been published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. (2020-02-26)

Deaf moths evolved noise-cancelling scales to evade prey
Some species of deaf moths can absorb as much as 85 per cent of the incoming sound energy from predatory bats -- who use echolocation to detect them. The findings, published in Royal Society Interface today, reveal the moths, who are unable to hear the ultrasonic calls of bats, have evolved this clever defensive strategy to help it survive. (2020-02-25)

Earliest interbreeding event between ancient human populations discovered
The study documented the earliest known interbreeding event between ancient human populations-- a group known as the 'super-archaics' in Eurasia interbred with a Neanderthal-Denisovan ancestor about 700,000 years ago. The event was between two populations more distantly related than any other recorded. The authors proposed a revised timeline for human migration out of Africa and into Eurasia. The method for analyzing ancient DNA provides a new way to look farther back into the human lineage. (2020-02-20)

Study of African society inspires broad thinking about human paternity, fidelity
A new study from UCLA professor of anthropology Brooke Scelza invites geneticists and sociologists to think more broadly about human fidelity and paternity. Published in the journal Science Advances, the study found that Himba pastoralists in Namibia have the highest recorded rate of ''extra-pair paternity'' -- when a married couple's child has a different biological father. Himba men and women have a system of social norms that support the practice and it does not happen at the husband's expense. (2020-02-19)

Researchers create new tools to monitor water quality, measure water insecurity
A wife-husband team will present both high-tech and low-tech solutions for improving water security at this year's American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Seattle on Sunday, Feb. 16. Northwestern University's Sera Young and Julius Lucks come from different ends of the science spectrum but meet in the middle to provide critical new information to approach this global issue. (2020-02-16)

UTSA examines reporters' portrayal of US border under Trump
The southern US border has been portrayed as a bogeyman not only by the Trump administration but also surprisingly by major US news media. This is the latest finding according to an analysis of news reporting conducted at The University of Texas at San Antonio. (2020-02-12)

New measure of biological age can predict health risks
People age in different ways. Biological age is a metric that scientists use to predict health risks, the relevance of which can be enhanced by combining different markers. Particularly important markers are frailty and the epigenetic clock, write researchers from Karolinska Institutet in a study published in eLife. (2020-02-11)

Disease found in fossilized dinosaur tail afflicts humans to this day
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have identified a benign tumor found in a fossilized dinosaur tail as part of the pathology of LCH (Langerhans cell histiocytosis), a rare and sometimes painful disease that still afflicts humans, particularly children under the age of 10. (2020-02-11)

No clear path for golden rice to reach consumers
Heralded as a genetically modified crop with the potential to save millions of lives, Golden Rice has just been approved as safe for human and animal consumption by regulators in the Philippines. The rice is a beta carotene-enriched crop that is intended to reduce Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), a health problem in very poor areas. But a new study finds that most families at risk for VAD can't grow Golden Rice themselves, and most commercial farmers won't grow it either. (2020-02-07)

Researchers revise timing of Easter island's societal collapse
The prehistoric collapse of Easter Island's monument-building society did not occur as long thought, according to a fresh look at evidence by researchers at four institutions. The decline did not begin until the arrival of Europeans. (2020-02-05)

Researchers develop method to assess geographic origins of ancient humans
Working with lead isotopes taken from tooth enamel of prehistoric animals, researchers at the University of Arkansas have developed a new method for assessing the geographic origins of ancient humans. (2020-01-28)

Anthropologists confirm existence of specialized sheep-hunting camp in prehistoric Lebanon
Anthropologists at the University of Toronto have confirmed the existence more than 10,000 years ago of a hunting camp in the mountains along the modern-day border between Lebanon and Syria -- one that straddles the period marking the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherer societies to agricultural settlements at the onset of the last stone age. Analysis of decades-old data collected from Nachcharini Cave shows it was a short-term hunting camp and that sheep were the primary game. (2020-01-22)

How human social structures emerge
What rules shaped humanity's original social networks? The earliest social networks were tightly knit cultural groups made of multiple biologically related families. That single group would then develop relationships with other cultural groups in their local area. Researchers used statistical physics and computer models common in evolutionary biology to explain the origin of common community structures documented by cultural anthropologists around the world. (2020-01-20)

Green in tooth and claw
Hard plant foods may have made up a larger part of early human ancestors' diet than currently presumed, according to a new experimental study of modern tooth enamel from Washington University in St. Louis. The results have implications for reconstructing diet, and for our interpretation of the fossil record of human evolution, researchers said. (2020-01-17)

Glimpses of fatherhood found in non-pair-bonding chimps
Although they have no way of identifying their biological fathers, male chimpanzees form intimate bonds with them, a finding that questions the idea of fatherhood in some of humanity's closest relatives, according to a study of wild chimpanzees in Uganda. (2020-01-15)

Having less sex linked to earlier menopause
Women who engage in sexual activity weekly or monthly have a lower risk of entering menopause early relative to those who report having some form of sex less than monthly, according to a new UCL study. (2020-01-14)

The growing pains of orphan chimpanzees
Using long-term behavioral and hormonal data from wild chimpanzees in the Taï Forest, Côte d'Ivoire, researchers from the Taï Chimpanzee Project at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, have revealed that mothers may be shaping pre-adult growth and offspring muscle mass even without direct provisioning. We compared growth of young chimpanzees with a mother until adulthood compared to those who had experienced maternal loss after weaning. (2020-01-07)

Less offspring due to territorial conflicts
Territorial conflicts can turn violent in humans and chimpanzees, two extremely territorial species. An international team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has studied the effects of territoriality on female reproductive success in wild Western chimpanzees and found that high neighbor pressure at times when females typically reproduce can lead to reproductive delays with longer intervals between births. Having many males in a group, however, is of advantage and speeds up reproduction. (2020-01-03)

Better anchor roots help crops grow in poor soils
A newly discovered plant metabolite that promotes anchor root growth may prove valuable in helping crops grow in nutrient-deficient soils. (2019-12-30)

Chimpanzees more likely to share tools, teach skills when task is complex
A new study finds that chimpanzees that use a multi-step process and complex tools to gather termites are more likely to share tools with novices. The study helps illuminate chimpanzees' capacity for prosocial -- or helping -- behavior, a quality that has been recognized for its potential role in the evolution of human cultural abilities. (2019-12-23)

Caribbean settlement began in Greater Antilles, say University of Oregon researchers
A fresh, comprehensive look at archaeological data suggests that seafaring South Americans settled first on the large northernmost islands of the Greater Antilles rather than gradually moving northward from the much closer, smaller islands of the Lesser Antilles. (2019-12-18)

Researchers analyze artifacts to better understand ancient dietary practices
New research from anthropologists at McMaster University and California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), is shedding light on ancient dietary practices, the evolution of agricultural societies and ultimately, how plants have become an important element of the modern diet. (2019-12-11)

New insights into the effect of aging on cardiovascular disease
Aging adults are more likely to have - and die from - cardiovascular disease than their younger counterparts. New basic science research finds reason to link biological aging to the development of narrowed, hardened arteries, independent of other risk factors like high cholesterol. (2019-12-10)

Was Earth's oxygenation a gradual, not step-wise, process -- driven by internal feedbacks?
The oxygenation of Earth's surface -- which transformed the planet into a habitable haven for all life as we know it -- may have been the consequence of global biogeochemical feedbacks, rather than the product of discrete planetary-scale biological and tectonic revolutions as proposed, according to a new study. (2019-12-10)

Study: lack of tolerance, institutional confidence threaten democracies
The stability of democracies worldwide could be vulnerable if certain cultural values continue to decline, according to a new study published in Nature Human Behavior. The findings by researchers from the United States and New Zealand are based on an analysis of survey data from 476,583 individuals in 109 countries. (2019-12-02)

Unique sled dogs helped the inuit thrive in the North American Arctic
The legacy of these Inuit dogs survives today in Arctic sled dogs, making them one of the last remaining descendant populations of indigenous, pre-European dog lineages in the Americas. (2019-11-27)

Human songs share universal patterns across world's cultures
From love songs to lullabies, songs from cultures spanning the globe -- despite their diversity -- exhibit universal patterns, according to a new study. (2019-11-21)

Perimenopause often signals beginning of sexual dysfunction
For some women, sex becomes less satisfying with age, with a pronounced decline during perimenopause. A new study indicates that sexual dysfunction increases by nearly 30% during perimenopause, and vaginal dryness most often has the greatest effect on desire, arousal, lubrication, and overall satisfaction. Study results were published this week in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). (2019-11-15)

Skull features among Asian and Asian-derived groups differ significantly
Forensic anthropologists have now discovered that several skull features in Asian and Asian-derived groups differ significantly with regard to shape, such that they can be distinguished using statistical analyses. These findings highlight the future potential for developing more nuanced statistical methods that can potentially differentiate between groups that comprise the broad 'Asian' ancestral category in forensic casework. (2019-11-07)

Stanford researchers lay out first genetic history of Rome
Despite extensive records of the history of Rome, little is known about the city's population over time. A new genetic history of the Eternal City reveals a dynamic population shaped in part by political and historical events. (2019-11-07)

The genetic imprint of Palaeolithic has been detected in North African populations
Researchers led by David Comas for the first time performed an analysis of the complete genome of the population of North Africa. They have identified a small genetic imprint of the inhabitants of the region in Palaeolithic times, thus ruling out the theory that recent migrations from other regions completely erased the genetic traces of ancient North Africans. (2019-11-06)

Skull dimensions of Dominicans and Haitians differ despite close physical proximity
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have conducted a craniometric study (measuring the main part of the skull) on understudied and marginalized groups and found that skull dimensions of Dominicans and Haitians, who occupy a relatively small island of Hispaniola, are different from each other. (2019-10-31)

New study on early human fire acquisition squelches debate
'Fire was presumed to be the domain of Homo sapiens but now we know that other ancient humans like Neanderthals could create it,' says Daniel Adler of UConn. (2019-10-25)

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