Category Archives: Anthropology

What animal intelligence reveals about human stupidity

By Rachel Nuwer, August 26, 2022 The German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was, by all accounts, a miserable human being. He famously sought meaning through suffering, which he experienced in ample amounts throughout his life. Nietzsche struggled with depression, suicidal ideation, and hallucinations, and when he was 44 — around the height of his philosophical… Read More »

Revelations from 17-million-year-old ape teeth could lead to new insights on early human evolution

Fossilised jaws from the 17 million-year-old Kenyan ape Afropithecus turkanensis. Tanya M. Smith/National Museums of Kenya, Author provided By Tanya M. Smith, Griffith University and Daniel Green, Columbia University The timing and intensity of the seasons shapes life all around us, including tool use by birds, the evolutionary diversification of giraffes, and the behaviour of… Read More »

The Five-Million-Year Odyssey reveals how migration shaped humankind

Bruce Bower writes: Archaeologist Peter Bellwood’s academic odyssey wended from England to teaching posts halfway around the world, first in New Zealand and then in Australia. For more than 50 years, he has studied how humans settled islands from Southeast Asia to Polynesia. So it’s fitting that his new book, a plain-English summary of what’s… Read More »

The problems of seeing evolution as a ‘March of Progress’

Alexander Werth writes: Herschel Walker, the former football star–turned–U.S. Senate candidate from Georgia, made headlines when he recently asked at a church-based campaign stop, if evolution is true, “Why are there still apes?” This chestnut continues to be echoed by creationists, despite being definitively debunked. Anthropologists have repeatedly explained that modern humans did not evolve… Read More »

What the anthropology of smell reveals about humanity

By Sarah Ives, SAPIENS Vivian,* a Washington, D.C.–based art curator, realized she had COVID-19 in December 2020. “I bought a tree, and I brought it home,” she recalls. “And I thought, This tree has no smell. What did they sell me? Is this a bad tree?” For Vivian, the moment involved more than frustration about… Read More »

Earliest Pacific seafarers were matrilocal society, study suggests

The Guardian reports: The world’s earliest seafarers who set out to colonise remote Pacific islands nearly 3,000 years ago were a matrilocal society with communities organised around the female lineage, analysis of ancient DNA suggests. The research, based on genetic sequencing of 164 ancient individuals from 2,800 to 300 years ago, suggested that some of… Read More »

We are creatures of tropical jungles as much as the savannah

Patrick Roberts writes: In a sweltering tropical rainforest on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, I started to appreciate why archaeologists and anthropologists had long ignored ‘jungles’ in their search for humanity’s origins. The mosquitoes, leeches, harsh terrain and difficult footing were bad enough, but now a summer monsoon downpour was rapidly… Read More »

Why human brains were bigger 3,000 years ago

BBC Future reports: Your ancestors had bigger brains than you. Several thousand years ago, humans reached a milestone in their history – the first known complex civilisations began to emerge. The people walking around and meeting in the world’s earliest cities would have been familiar in many ways to modern urbanites today. But since then,… Read More »