Category Archives: Anthropology

Neanderthals carb loaded, helping grow their big brains

Science reports: Here’s another blow to the popular image of Neanderthals as brutish meat eaters: A new study of bacteria collected from Neanderthal teeth shows that our close cousins ate so many roots, nuts, or other starchy foods that they dramatically altered the type of bacteria in their mouths. The finding suggests our ancestors had… Read More »

Tools and voyages suggest Homo erectus invented language

Daniel Everett writes: What is the greatest human technological innovation? Fire? The wheel? Penicillin? Clothes? Google? None of these come close. As you read this, you are using the winning technology. The greatest tool in the world is language. Without it there would be no culture, no literature, no science, no history, no commercial enterprise… Read More »

Is music what makes us human?

Kevin Berger writes: In the past two years, the debate over whether music is universal, or even whether that debate has merit, has raged like a battle of the bands among scientists. The stage has expanded from musicology to evolutionary biology to cultural anthropology. This summer, in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, more than… Read More »

How bipedalism led humans down a strange evolutionary path

Riley Black writes: No other animal moves the way we do. That’s awfully strange. Even among other two-legged species, none amble about with a straight back and a gait that, technically, is just a form of controlled falling. Our bipedalism doesn’t just set us apart, paleoanthropologist Jeremy DeSilva posits; it’s what makes us human. There’s… Read More »

Modern humanlike brains may have emerged about 1.7 million years ago

Science News reports: Even after ancient humans took their first steps out of Africa, they still unexpectedly may have possessed brains more like those of great apes than modern humans, a new study suggests. For decades, scientists had thought modern humanlike organization of brain structures evolved soon after the human lineage Homo arose roughly 2.8… Read More »

Ancient human migration into Europe revealed via genome analysis

AFP reports: Genetic sequencing of human remains dating back 45,000 years has revealed a previously unknown migration into Europe and showed intermixing with Neanderthals in that period was more common than previously thought. The research is based on analysis of several ancient human remains – including a whole tooth and bone fragments – found in… Read More »

How scientific taxonomy constructed the myth of race

By Brittany Kenyon-Flatt, SAPIENS As a graduate assistant in biological anthropology at the University at Buffalo, I was tasked with curating the primate skeletal collection. The collection of skeletons—taken from cadavers studied during a primate anatomy class—had been neglected for a few years. Most of the specimens had lost their labels. So, when I began… Read More »

Not all early human societies were small scale egalitarian bands

Manvir Singh writes: The Harvard Kalahari Project propelled the !Kung into anthropological stardom. By 1976, researchers on the team had published more than 100 academic articles, on topics as varied as infant care, trance healing, and blood pressure. The research sparked more interest, which drew in more anthropologists, which produced more research. In a video… Read More »

What do we know about the lives of Neanderthal women?

Rebecca Wragg Sykes writes: The first Neanderthal face to emerge from time’s sarcophagus was a woman’s. As the social and liberal revolutions of 1848 began convulsing Europe, quarry workers’ rough hands pulled her from the great Rock of Gibraltar. Calcite mantling her skull meant that, at first, she seemed more a hunk of stone than… Read More »