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A blog discussing current news in anthropology. We cover new research that spans the four field approach to anthropology.
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  • February 11, 2011
  • 12:11 PM

The Arched Metatarsal of Australopithecus afarensis

by Kambiz Kamrani in

Carol Ward1, William Kimbel, and Donald Johanson have published a paper in Science on the arch seen in a newly discovered fourth metatarsal of Australopithecus afarensis (AL 333-160). A lot of the popular press are publishing misleading headlines that this … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 27, 2011
  • 11:56 PM

125 Year Old Hand Axes From Jebel Faya, UAE

by Kambiz Kamrani in

Hans-Peter Uerpmann of the University of Tubingen has lead a team excavating the Jebel Faya site in the United Arab Emirates, right near the Straits of Hormuz. They’ve found 125,000 year old stone tools that look like early modern human tools … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 27, 2011
  • 12:38 AM

Review of the Orangutan Genome on

by Kambiz Kamrani in

If you don’t follow or subscribe to our sister blog, I want to make you aware of an anthropological post I just put up on the newly published orangutan genome. Click here to read about some of the findings, but … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 21, 2011
  • 07:25 PM

When & Were Grapes Domesticated

by Kambiz Kamrani in

I got some archaeobotany for you to start your weekend off right with — a new open access study in PNAS announces a genome wide association of 8,000 years of grape domestication, spanning the Eastern Caucasus to Western Europe. Lead … Continue reading →... Read more »

Myles, S., Boyko, A., Owens, C., Brown, P., Grassi, F., Aradhya, M., Prins, B., Reynolds, A., Chia, J., Ware, D.... (2011) Genetic structure and domestication history of the grape. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1009363108  

  • November 20, 2010
  • 12:51 AM

Trampling Over The Dikika Cut Marks

by in

Well, I feel somewhat vindicated. Remember the post where I criticized hominin cut marks from over 3 million years ago? Others have also had an eye of suspicion and have published their concerns in PNAS this week. I was wrong in considering the croc marking differential to the cut marks. But I was not wrong [...]... Read more »

Domínguez-Rodrigo M, Pickering TR, & Bunn HT. (2010) Configurational approach to identifying the earliest hominin butchers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 21078985  

  • September 18, 2010
  • 11:52 AM

The Genetics & Linguistics Of Central Asia

by in

Both Razib and Dienekes have reviewed a paper on the population genetics of Central Asian peoples. To make sense of Central Asian ancestry has been challenging, to say the least. In particular, the problem is compounded by nomadic peoples without much written history nor uncovered archaeological record. What we do have are the linguistic, physical features, [...]... Read more »

Martínez-Cruz B, Vitalis R, Ségurel L, Austerlitz F, Georges M, Théry S, Quintana-Murci L, Hegay T, Aldashev A, Nasyrova F.... (2010) In the heartland of Eurasia: the multilocus genetic landscape of Central Asian populations. European journal of human genetics : EJHG. PMID: 20823912  

  • August 13, 2010
  • 07:38 PM

A Curious Look At The 3.39 Million Year Old “Stone Tool Markings” From Dikika, Ethiopia

by in

I don’t know who this is worse for, the editors & reviewers over at Nature or the authors of the article who can’t tell the difference between crocodile teeth markings and stone tool modification, nor raise the possibility. The paper, “Evidence for stone-tool-assisted consumption of animal tissues before 3.39 million years ago at Dikika, Ethiopia,” very [...]... Read more »

  • June 16, 2010
  • 09:49 AM

Were The Americas Settled Twice?

by in

A team of paleoanthropologists report in PLoS One analyzed the skulls of several dozen 11,000 year old Paleoamericans and compared them to the skulls of more than 300 1,000 year old Amerindians. They concluded that based on the morphology, there were two distinct waves of colonizers from Asia. While we know from a couple genetic [...]... Read more »

  • May 16, 2010
  • 07:08 PM

Genetics of High Altitude Life

by in

Almost every biological anthropology text-book I’ve ever looked at has described the adaptations of human populations to the environments they occupy. Examples they give are the short stalky Inuit adapted to conserving heat in cold environments, the long lanky East African nomads adapted to far distant travels, and the barrel chested Peruvian and Tibetans living [...]... Read more »

Simonson TS, Yang Y, Huff CD, Yun H, Qin G, Witherspoon DJ, Bai Z, Lorenzo FR, Xing J, Jorde LB.... (2010) Genetic Evidence for High-Altitude Adaptation in Tibet. Science (New York, N.Y.). PMID: 20466884  

  • May 2, 2010
  • 10:07 PM

The Genetics of DCC, Netrin & Mirror Movements Discovered

by in

From Nobel Intent comes news of a discovery in the Mendelian genetics of Mirror Movements, a condition that causes people to involuntarily move both sides of their body when they intended to only move one. Aside from being medically relevant, interesting on a population genetics level, and involved an Iranian family, it also caught my [...]... Read more »

Srour M, Rivière JB, Pham JM, Dubé MP, Girard S, Morin S, Dion PA, Asselin G, Rochefort D, Hince P.... (2010) Mutations in DCC cause congenital mirror movements. Science (New York, N.Y.), 328(5978), 592. PMID: 20431009  

  • April 9, 2010
  • 12:09 AM

Australopithecus sediba (UW88-50) of Malapa, South Africa

by in

Lee Berger’s son, Matthew, found the ~1.9 million year old hominin remains of female adult and a juvenile male in cave deposits at Malapa, South Africa. The remains have been analyzed and been published in Science today, and so far this finding is the big fossil hominid of 2010. The skull of the juvenile is the [...]... Read more »

Berger, L., de Ruiter, D., Churchill, S., Schmid, P., Carlson, K., Dirks, P., & Kibii, J. (2010) Australopithecus sediba: A New Species of Homo-Like Australopith from South Africa. Science, 328(5975), 195-204. DOI: 10.1126/science.1184944  

Dirks, P., Kibii, J., Kuhn, B., Steininger, C., Churchill, S., Kramers, J., Pickering, R., Farber, D., Meriaux, A., Herries, A.... (2010) Geological Setting and Age of Australopithecus sediba from Southern Africa. Science, 328(5975), 205-208. DOI: 10.1126/science.1184950  

  • November 4, 2009
  • 08:23 AM

Long Toes & Short Ankles Help Sprinters Accelerate Faster

by in

The Journal of Experimental Biology has published an interesting paper about some unique features in sprinters: longer toes and shorter ankle joints. The only one flaw is that their sample size is limited, they only compared 12 collegiate sprinters with 12 non-athletes of the same height. Regardless, from a physical anthropological point of view, this [...]... Read more »

Knight, K. (2009) SHORT HEELS GIVE ELITE SPRINTERS THE EDGE. Journal of Experimental Biology, 212(22). DOI: 10.1242/jeb.039735  

  • October 1, 2009
  • 09:00 PM

Science Publishes 11 Papers On Ardipithecus ramidus

by in

There’s more than 11 citations here, but the others are associated news and media covered by Science. They’ve even dedicated a special issue to it. Very impressive thorough volume of information. Now you have a some understanding why it took so long to publish… Anyways get to reading.
News Focus
Gibbons, A. (2009). A New Kind of [...]... Read more »

Gibbons, A. (2009) Habitat for Humanity. Science, 326(5949), 40-40. DOI: 10.1126/science.326_40  

Gibbons, A. (2009) The View From Afar. Science, 326(5949), 41-43. DOI: 10.1126/science.326_41  

Hanson, B. (2009) Light on the Origin of Man. Science, 326(5949), 60-61. DOI: 10.1126/science.326_60a  

White, T., Asfaw, B., Beyene, Y., Haile-Selassie, Y., Lovejoy, C., Suwa, G., & WoldeGabriel, G. (2009) Ardipithecus ramidus and the Paleobiology of Early Hominids. Science, 326(5949), 64-64. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175802  

WoldeGabriel, G., Ambrose, S., Barboni, D., Bonnefille, R., Bremond, L., Currie, B., DeGusta, D., Hart, W., Murray, A., Renne, P.... (2009) The Geological, Isotopic, Botanical, Invertebrate, and Lower Vertebrate Surroundings of Ardipithecus ramidus. Science, 326(5949), 65-65. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175817  

Louchart, A., Wesselman, H., Blumenschine, R., Hlusko, L., Njau, J., Black, M., Asnake, M., & White, T. (2009) Taphonomic, Avian, and Small-Vertebrate Indicators of Ardipithecus ramidus Habitat. Science, 326(5949), 66-66. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175823  

White, T., Ambrose, S., Suwa, G., Su, D., DeGusta, D., Bernor, R., Boisserie, J., Brunet, M., Delson, E., Frost, S.... (2009) Macrovertebrate Paleontology and the Pliocene Habitat of Ardipithecus ramidus. Science, 326(5949), 67-67. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175822  

Suwa, G., Asfaw, B., Kono, R., Kubo, D., Lovejoy, C., & White, T. (2009) The Ardipithecus ramidus Skull and Its Implications for Hominid Origins. Science, 326(5949), 68-68. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175825  

Suwa, G., Kono, R., Simpson, S., Asfaw, B., Lovejoy, C., & White, T. (2009) Paleobiological Implications of the Ardipithecus ramidus Dentition. Science, 326(5949), 69-69. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175824  

  • September 10, 2009
  • 03:27 PM

Ancient Leishmaniasis From Coyo Oriente Cemetery In Chile

by in

I recently completed a medical parasitology course as part of my medical education. One of the diseases we discussed was leishmaniasis. Leishmaniasis is a zoonotic disease that is transferred to humans from reservoir hosts via the sand fly vector. The sand fly injects the promastigote form of the parasite, and the parasite invades white blood [...]... Read more »

Costa, M., Matheson, C., Iachetta, L., Llagostera, A., & Appenzeller, O. (2009) Ancient Leishmaniasis in a Highland Desert of Northern Chile. PLoS ONE, 4(9). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006983  

  • June 4, 2009
  • 03:35 PM

An Improved Method On Calibrating The Human Mitochondrial Molecular Clock

by in

The American Journal of Human Genetics has published an article titled, “Correcting for Purifying Selection: An Improved Human Mitochondrial Molecular Clock,” in which a more accurate method of dating ancient human migration, even when no corroborating archaeological evidence exists, is announced.

How does was this done?

The authors started with a sample of 2,000 fully sequenced mtDNA [...]... Read more »

Pedro Soares, Luca Ermini1, Noel Thomson, Maru Mormina, Teresa Rito, Arne Röhl, Antonio Salas, Stephen Oppenheimer, Vincent Macaulay, & Martin B. Richards. (2009) Correcting for Purifying Selection: An Improved Human Mitochondrial Molecular Clock. American Journal of Human Genetics. DOI:  

  • March 14, 2008
  • 05:14 PM

Mutatons in VLDLR gene in the Quadrupeds from Turkey

by in

Remember in 2005-06 when there was a whole lot of buzz about the quadrupedal siblings in Turkey? There first was this paper, “Cerebellar hypoplasia and quadrupedal locomotion in humans as a recessive trait mapping to chromosome 17p,” and then there was this paper, “A new syndrome with quadrupedal gait, primitive speech, and severe mental retardation ... Read more »

  • March 13, 2008
  • 06:12 PM

Nearly all of today’s Native Americans can trace their ancestry to six women

by in

According to this open access PLoS One paper, 95% of Native Americans share their heritage to six women. I don’t have much time to review this paper because I have to take a final exam in 30 minutes, but here’s the title and link to the paper, “The Phylogeny of the Four Pan-American MtDNA Haplogroups: ... Read more »

Alessandro Achilli, Ugo Perego, Claudio Bravi, Michael Coble, Qing-Peng Kong, Scott Woodward, Antonio Salas, Antonio Torroni, Hans-Jürgen Bandelt, & Vincent Macaulay. (2008) The Phylogeny of the Four Pan-American MtDNA Haplogroups: Implications for Evolutionary and Disease Studies. PLoS ONE, 3(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001764  

  • March 10, 2008
  • 08:11 PM

3,000 year old small body humans in Palau, Micronesia

by in

PLoS One completely surprised me today by releasing this paper, “Small-Bodied Humans from Palau, Micronesia.” The research comes from South African and American researchers, and the paper was edited by John Hawks, who apparently can really keep a secret it seems. I had no idea about this study and find it a really remarkable find ... Read more »

Lee Berger, Steven E Churchill, Bonita De Klerk, Rhonda L Quinn, & John Hawks. (2008) Small-Bodied Humans from Palau, Micronesia. PLoS ONE, 3(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001780  

  • March 5, 2008
  • 04:23 PM

Were Homo floresiensis just a population of myxoedematous endemic cretin Homo sapiens?

by in

New research from the Proceedings of the Royal Society B raises the possibility that Homo floresiensis was nothing more than population of Homo sapiens that were endemic cretins. The paper, “Are the small human-like fossils found on Flores human endemic cretins?” comes from academics in Australia who
“show that the fossils display many signs of congenital ... Read more »

Peter Obendorf, Charles E Oxnard, & Ben J Kefford. (2008) Are the small human-like fossils found on Flores human endemic cretins?. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, -1(-1), -1--1. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1488  

  • March 5, 2008
  • 04:11 AM

Axel Visel’s talk on “The regulatory genome in human-specific evolution”

by in

Today I attended Axel Visel’s talk about his work in identifying enhancers specific to humans at the Primate Biology Group. It was a really awesome talk, and that’s because because I’m really interested in differential gene regulation and expression…. especially when it focuses on human evolution. The differences in gene expression and regulation has been ... Read more »

Axel Visel, Shyam Prabhakar, Jennifer Akiyama, Malak Shoukry, Keith Lewis, Amy Holt, Ingrid Plajzer-Frick, Veena Afzal, Edward Rubin, & Len Pennacchio. (2008) Ultraconservation identifies a small subset of extremely constrained developmental enhancers. Nature Genetics, 40(2), 158-160. DOI: 10.1038/ng.2007.55  

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