Not sure why, but this photo of two young scientists working off Greenland has been in my mind for the last 3 days. It shows a 25-year graduate student of Anthropology from Columbia University, Frederica de Laguna, with one of … Continue reading →... Read more »
VanStone, J., & de Laguna, F. (1980) Voyage to Greenland: A Personal Initiation into Anthropology. Ethnohistory, 27(2), 191. DOI: 10.2307/481234
The Great Basin and northern Colorado Plateau were occupied at the time of European Contact (generally between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century for this region) by a variety of relatively small groups of hunter-gatherers, all of whom spoke closely related languages belonging to the Uto-Aztecan language family. By the early twentieth century these [...]... Read more »
Bettinger, R., & Baumhoff, M. (1982) The Numic Spread: Great Basin Cultures in Competition. American Antiquity, 47(3), 485. DOI: 10.2307/280231
Kaestle, F., & Smith, D. (2001) Ancient mitochondrial DNA evidence for prehistoric population movement: The numic expansion. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 115(1), 1-12. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.1051
Steward, J. (1937) Linguistic Distributions and Political Groups of the Great Basin Shoshoneans. American Anthropologist, 39(4), 625-634. DOI: 10.1525/aa.1937.39.4.02a00070
What is a male? What is a female?
If you were to conduct a survey, most people would probably have little difficulty expressing some fundamental differences. After all, we learn to tell boys apart from girls in early childhood.
Answers in the survey might revolve largely around differences between the sexes in anatomy (including genitalia of course), or might even extend to sex-specific or sex-biased roles in reproduction (which sex gives birth, lactates, is typically the primary carer, and so forth).... Read more »
Paco Garcia-Gonzalez, Damian Dowling, & Magdalena Nystrand. (2013) Male, female – ah, what’s the difference?. The Conversation. info:/
by Romain Savary in genome ecology evolution etc
Genomic Variation in Seven Khoe-San Groups Reveals Adaptation and Complex African History. The origin of modern Human is clear with evidences coming from many different disciplines. Africa is the continent where the highest genetic diversity is found; this clue associated … Continuer la lecture →... Read more »
Schlebusch, C., Skoglund, P., Sjodin, P., Gattepaille, L., Hernandez, D., Jay, F., Li, S., De Jongh, M., Singleton, A., Blum, M.... (2012) Genomic Variation in Seven Khoe-San Groups Reveals Adaptation and Complex African History. Science, 338(6105), 374-379. DOI: 10.1126/science.1227721
Originally posted at Language on the Move. Different languages for different jobs in this Los Angeles restaurant Are there language requirements for working in restaurants in Los Angeles? These two employment signs that I saw in the window of a sushi restaurant near UCLA suggests that you need English to wait tables and Spanish to [...]... Read more »
Waldinger, Roger. (1998) The Language of Work in an Immigrant Metropolis. Journal des anthropologues. info:/
Not exactly my model species, but I talked about birds a short while ago, so why not prairie dogs? They're at least mammals with strong social organization. Anyway, I paper came to my attention, about dispersal in prairie dogs, and it was published in Science, so of course I had to read it.
Prairie dogs disperse when all close kin have disappeared
Prairie dogs pull up stakes and look for a new place to live when all
their close kin have disappeared from their home territory--a striking
pattern of dispersal that has not been observed for any other species.
Original article is here (behind Science's paywall). As previously discussed, baboons disperse
when they are on cusp of full adulthood. They find a new troop, and
usually stay with that troop until they die.
Prairie dogs differ from baboons in several striking ways. They live in large groups, called colonies, and the size of these groups can vary quite a bit, which is nothing unusual to a primatologist. But unlike baboons, prairie dop groups can range from five to thousands. Colonies can be further subdivided, into wards, and then coteries. Needless to say, prairie dogs almost certainly do not possess baboons' rich understand of who's who in the group. Nevertheless, these subdivisions are oddly reminiscent of the four-level hierarchy found in Hamadryas baboons.
Coteries are the closest thing there is a basic unit of prairie dogs. Coteries are sort of like harems: they consist of a male, several females, plus juveniles and infants. The juvenile males disperse soon after they are a year old. They leave their natal territory, settling about 1.5 miles away, on average. Females tend to stay put.
The author of this paper, Hoogland, references the esteemed Hamilton and May. Their theory was that dispersal occurs because reducing the amount of competition (for mates, food, etc) between related individuals is good for inclusive fitness. On the other hand, the potential for cooperation between related individuals might outweigh the costs of competition. Over the past few decades, Hamilton and May have been supported by findings in the field.
Hoogland has found contradictory evidence in his prairie dogs. When zero relatives are around, females are much more likely to disperse, 2.5 to 12.5 times more likely.
These prairie dogs have no opportunities for competition between relatives, but also no opportunities for familial cooperation. You might think that the dangers of dispersal would still be a major impediment, but apparently these populations live pretty close together, and the females usually just move one colony over, so the risks are low.
Hoogland's own words, to sum it all up:
of close kin in the natal territory is thus a
proximate cause of natal dispersal by prairie dogs, but the ultimate
presumably the opportunity to find either a new
territory that offers the benefits of cooperation with close kin that
there previously (rare), or a new territory in
which survivorship and reproductive success might be less dependent on
with close kin (common)."
This may not be a study about primates, but the laws of dispersal and inclusive fitness govern all animals. When we discover a behavior violates our conceptions about how life must act in order
to maximize fitness, there are two main possibilities:
environment that this species lives in has given rise to a different
approach to the challenge; unusual local factors are altering behaviors on
The foundations of the behavior are not what we
think they are. There are factors not being considered, which are crucial
to understanding why these behaviors happen. Just because our model is
correct most of the time, doesn't mean the model accurately represents why
animals behave the way they do, in this case.
anyone seriously studying this stuff ought to pause and consider new evidence in this light, if only briefly. In this case, the first option is probably at work. Prairie dogs are mammals, not so different from primates, but as Hoogland
states, this is the first evidence of its kind, irrespective of species. Who knows, maybe a re-examination of dispersal behavior in primates
will find similar evidence that's been overlooked. If you find it, chances are you'll get it published in Nature or Science.
Hoogland, J. (2013). Prairie Dogs Disperse When All Close Kin Have Disappeared Science, 339 (6124), 1205-1207 DOI: 10.1126/science.1231689... Read more »
Hoogland, J. (2013) Prairie Dogs Disperse When All Close Kin Have Disappeared. Science, 339(6124), 1205-1207. DOI: 10.1126/science.1231689
Sacrifice is a delicate subject. It can be voluntary or forced, but interpreting who these people were without text can be extremely difficult. When any hint of sacrifice is found at an archaeological site, it is often sensationalized. Sacrifice is actually defined as the making of a sacred act, coming from the latin sacer for … Continue reading »... Read more »
Turner, B., Klaus, H., Livengood, S., Brown, L., Saldaña, F., & Wester, C. (2013) The variable roads to sacrifice: Isotopic investigations of human remains from Chotuna-Huaca de los Sacrificios, Lambayeque, Peru. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22238
Did Neanderthals self-medicate? What can their dental calculus tell us about their diets?... Read more »
Hardy K, Buckley S, Collins MJ, Estalrrich A, Brothwell D, Copeland L, García-Tabernero A, García-Vargas S, de la Rasilla M, Lalueza-Fox C.... (2012) Neanderthal medics? Evidence for food, cooking, and medicinal plants entrapped in dental calculus. Die Naturwissenschaften, 99(8), 617-26. PMID: 22806252
White, D. (1997) Dental calculus: recent insights into occurrence, formation, prevention, removal and oral health effects of supragingival and subgingival deposits. European Journal of Oral Sciences, 105(5), 508-522. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0722.1997.tb00238.x
by Calvin N. Ho in Language on the Move
Are there language requirements for working in restaurants in Los Angeles? These two employment signs that I saw in the window of a sushi restaurant near UCLA suggests that you need English to wait tables and Spanish to work in … Continue reading →... Read more »
Waldinger, Roger. (1998) The Language of Work in an Immigrant Metropolis. Journal des anthropologues. info:/
Over the past few weeks I have been working on mapping a cemetery in a Geographic Information System (GIS) as both part of a class and part of my own research. I received a number of question and comments on Twitter from readers asking how this was done and what exactly I was doing. What … Continue reading »... Read more »
Sayer, D., & Wienhold, M. (2012) A GIS-Investigation of Four Early Anglo-Saxon Cemeteries: Ripley's K-function Analysis of Spatial Groupings Amongst Graves. Social Science Computer Review, 31(1), 71-89. DOI: 10.1177/0894439312453276
Herrmann, Nicholas. (2002) GIS Applied to Bioarchaeology. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, 64(1), 17-22. info:/
If you ever find yourself working in an infectious disease laboratory, whether it’s of the diagnostic or research variety, the overarching goal is not to put any microbes in your eye, an open wound or your mouth. Easy enough, right? Wear gloves, maybe goggles, work in fume hoods and don’t mouth pipette. When working with pathogenic bacteria and viruses, priority number one is Do Not Self-Inoculate.
Today our manual pipettes are rather sophisticated, plastic-y devices perfectly calibrated for moving precisely exact milliliters, microliters and picoliters of valuable solution from one vessel to another, whether it's of a urine sample, some spare radioactive material you have lying about or toxic solvents. But before the development of cheap mechanical pipettes in the '70s, using your mouth to pipette solutions was more than a common sight, it was a way of the lab.... Read more »
HILL, N. (1999) Laboratory-acquired Infections: History, Incidence, Causes and Preventions, 4th edition. Eds. C. H. Collins and D. A. Kennedy. Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford 1999. Pp. 324. ISBN 0 7506 4023 5. Epidemiology and Infection, 123(1), 181-181. DOI: 10.1017/S0950268899002514
The Crossrail project is aimed at creating a 73 mile railway in southeast London. Concerns raised about the new fast and efficient railway was that it could destroy archaeological resources but also that the dig may reveal some ancient diseases. During the debate over passing the bill to begin construction, it was raised that various … Continue reading »... Read more »
Schuenemann VJ, Bos K, DeWitte S, Schmedes S, Jamieson J, Mittnik A, Forrest S, Coombes BK, Wood JW, Earn DJ.... (2011) Targeted enrichment of ancient pathogens yielding the pPCP1 plasmid of Yersinia pestis from victims of the Black Death. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(38). PMID: 21876176
by Guillaume Cossard in genome ecology evolution etc
Human populations have colonized high altitude (HA) habitats (above 2500m of altitude) multiple times and independently. HA habitats are essentially characterized by lower biodiversity and low levels of oxygen availability, also called hypoxia. Classically, organisms respond to this decreased oxygen … Continuer la lecture →... Read more »
Alkorta-Aranburu, G., Beall, C., Witonsky, D., Gebremedhin, A., Pritchard, J., & Di Rienzo, A. (2012) The Genetic Architecture of Adaptations to High Altitude in Ethiopia. PLoS Genetics, 8(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003110
A persistent theme in research with international students in Australia is the tension between dreams of inclusion pre-departure and the experience of exclusion once in the country. In Kimie Takahashi’s ethnography with international students from Japan, for instance, participants often … Continue reading →... Read more »
Tara J Yosso; William A Smith; Miguel Ceja; Daniel G Solórzano. (2009) Critical Race Theory, Racial Microaggressions, and Campus Racial Climate for Latina/o Undergraduates . Harvard Educational Review, 79(4). info:/
Popular television and movies like The Walking Dead, I Am Legend and other post-apocalyptic dramas are usually framed in the modern day or near-future, with the characters battling the odds to stay alive in radically changed living conditions. Cormac McCarthy’s … Continue reading →... Read more »
Morell-Hart, S. (2012) Foodways and Resilience under Apocalyptic Conditions. Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment, 34(2), 161-171. DOI: 10.1111/j.2153-9561.2012.01075.x
by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group
This post is a continuation of Part 1 from last week that introduced and motivated the economic Turing test. When discussing culture, the first person that springs to mind is Joseph Henrich. He is the Canada Research Chair in Culture, Cognition and Coevolution, and Professor at the Departments of Psychology and Economics at the University [...]... Read more »
Henrich, J., Boyd, R., Bowles, S., Camerer, C., Fehr, E., Gintis, H., & McElreath, R. (2001) In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies. American Economic Review, 91(2), 73-78. DOI: 10.1257/aer.91.2.73
The environmentally conscientious citizen is well aware of the plight of the world’s tropical rainforests and our moral obligation to protect these biodiverse shelters of the next new cancer drug. But how many know of the troubles facing the tropical dry forests? (Or could even find them on a map?1) Just over 40% of tropical and subtropical forests are ‘dry’ forests where the trees lose their... Read more »
Bodart, C., Brink, A.B., Donnay, F., Lupi, A., Mayaux, P., & Achard, F. (2013) Continental estimates of forest cover and forest cover changes in the dry ecosystems of Africa between 1990 and 2000. Journal of Biogeography. info:/
Hey Julie, All those conferences sound completely AMAZING! I love that both dog urine and poo are totally appropriate topics for us to discuss in our conversations. All the other scientists are so jealous right now!I hope you've been well since getting home again. We've just been through the longest heatwave ever recorded in Melbourne over the past fortnight (9 days over 30oC / 90oF in a row) and today it's finally cooled off, hooray! I haven't posted you the TimTams I promised you on Twitter yet, for fear they'd melt before leaving Australia!Speaking of heat, I made a heat map of canine welfare for one of my presentation slides at the recent RSPCA Australia Scientific Seminar. It was very colourful and looked like this (click to embiggen):Cobb's colourful heat map, depicting perceived welfare levels of different dog types.This is based on data I gathered in an online survey that was conducted as part of my PhD. I asked participants to rate the welfare of different dog types on a scale of 1-5 from very poor to very good. Consequently, this image is a representation of the perception of welfare of different types of dogs rather than an indication of actual welfare. But perceptions are important! Proceedings from the day, including my full paper, should be available early next week on the RSPCA Australia website. I'll make sure to put a note up on Facebook when it does. We wish we had a quick and easy indicator of animal welfare, but we don't!My presentation covered:- the increasing expectation from the general public for transparency and best practice from industries using animals in work and sport;- how we have traditionally measured animal welfare in science;- I used working dogs as an example to talk through the life cycle stages (breeding/sourcing; raising/training; housing/healthcare and retirement/endpoints), exploring what we have learned through our recent research projects in regards to welfare, current practices and where there is room for improvement. - I also spoke briefly about research currently under way that is using cognitive bias (often referred to as testing to see if animals are optimistic/pesimistic) as an indicator of canine emotions.Yep, I actually used this image in my presentation (source) - I related the changing dynamic within animal welfare science from researching welfare outcomes (how do we understand and limit the bad stuff) toward studying affective states (how can we understand and promote the good stuff) to similar trends in other fields of research such as human positive psychology and education.So now I'm home again and focussing my attention on writing up the results of the data analyses (from that online survey) into a paper. I want to submit the paper for publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal. As you know, this can be a lengthy process. I first have to draft the paper to a standard that I am happy with; then forward it to my PhD supervisors who may (probably will!) suggest changes and redraft. I then need to decide which journal to submit it to, and format the paper accordingly. There are lots of factors involved in selecting which journal to submit to, including impact factors... Read more »
Gosling Samuel D., Augustine Adam A, Vazire Simine, Holtzman Nicholas, & Gaddis Sam. (2011) Manifestations of Personality in Online Social Networks: Self-Reported Facebook-Related Behaviors and Observable Profile Information. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(9), 483-488. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0087
Seligman Martin E. P., Ernst Randal M., Gillham Jane, Reivich Karen, & Linkins Mark. (2009) Positive education: positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35(3), 293-311. DOI: 10.1080/03054980902934563
If it were urgent, maybe we could be more forgiving. But the subject of that phone call one table away at Starbucks never seems to be vital. A bathroom renovation, maybe. Or a phrase-by-phrase recounting of a text message dialogue with an ex. If you suspect overheard phone conversations are inherently more awful than people talking face to face, you're right: research shows that these conversations reach across our espresso cups, grab our attention, and don't let go.
Psychologist Veronica Galván studied this problem recently at the University of San Diego. To bring the coffee shop into the lab, she started by lying to about 150 undergrads. The students believed themselves to be in an experiment about reading comprehension. When they sat down at a table to solve a worksheet full of anagrams, another student sat down next to them and launched into a seven-minute conversation. This person, of course, was a plant.
The neighbor had a scripted conversation, either over the phone or with a second actor in the room. (The discussion covered three typically scintillating topics: "a birthday party for dad, shopping for furniture, and meeting a date at the shopping mall.") Meanwhile, subjects tried to ignore the noise and dutifully completed their worksheets.
When subjects filled out questionnaires afterward about how distracting they'd found the conversation in the room, their answers depended on what they'd heard. People who heard the one-sided conversation (a person on a cell phone) found it significantly more noticeable, more distracting, and more annoying than those who heard two people talking.
Even so, all the subjects performed about the same on their anagram-solving test. Galván had expected to see a difference between people who heard a phone conversation and people who didn't, but she says the anagrams may have been too easy to show an effect. Conversely, they may have been too difficult to allow people's attention to wander. Galván hopes her future experiments will reveal what kinds of tasks are most vulnerable to distracting phone conversations.
After their anagram test, subjects took a pop quiz about the conversation they'd just overheard. They saw a series of words and had to decide whether each one had been spoken in the conversation. In this case, the test results were clear. People who'd heard a one-sided conversation remembered it better than people who'd heard a two-sided conversation, Galván reports in PLOS ONE. Additionally, they rated their confidence in their responses higher than people who heard the two-sided conversation.
It's possible people remembered two-sided conversations less clearly because they heard more words overall. But the idea that a one-sided conversation seizes more of our attention agrees with previous research on the subject.
Because we can follow along with a two-sided conversation, its content is more predictable and therefore (the theory goes) easier to ignore. One person yakking away into a phone, however, is unpredictable and confusing. We can't stop our minds from trying to puzzle it out.
The subjects in Galván's study were all undergraduates. "College students are fairly accustomed to overhearing cell phone conversations," she says. "Yet even they reported more annoyance and had better memory for the one-sided conversation." She suspects older adults might find cell phone conversations even more annoying and distracting than college students do.
Until science finds a way to make other people's phone calls less bothersome, you're doomed to catch every word of that half-a-business-meeting being conducted two chairs over. On the bright side, you may remember it well enough to blackmail the guy in the future.
Galván, V., Vessal, R., & Golley, M. (2013). The Effects of Cell Phone Conversations on the Attention and Memory of Bystanders PLoS ONE, 8 (3) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058579
Image: Ed Yourdon (Flickr)
... Read more »
Galván, V., Vessal, R., & Golley, M. (2013) The Effects of Cell Phone Conversations on the Attention and Memory of Bystanders. PLoS ONE, 8(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058579
Why some fathers get left holding the baby.
Scientists have cracked a 140 year old mystery as
to why, for some animals, it’s the father rather than the mother that
takes care of their young. Researchers from the Universities
of Bath, Sheffield and Veszprém (Hungary) found that role reversal was
caused by an imbalance in the numbers of males relative to females.
Another paper published in Nature. This is exciting stuff, as the press articles say, this has been a mystery "140 years old", which is to say, as old as Darwin's work, since it has always been an irrefutable fact that the males of some species do sometimes help rear children. Many researchers have grappled with this problem over the past century and a half. Earlier work tended to appeal to ecological or life history explanations.
Ecological theories suggest that the physical habitat which the animals inhabit drives males to be involved in the rearing of young. A theoretical example (solely for the sake of discussion): an environment turns dry due to drought, resources are scarce, and if a male and mate succeed in producing live young, the male would be drawn to invest in the infant because the chances of successfully producing more progeny is severely diminished. His energy is better spent helping out.
Similarly, a life history explanation would suggest that as males age, their ability to compete with other males for mating rights with multiple females decreases. The alternative is to monopolize a female's time, and invest energy is making sure a small number of progeny reach adulthood. While these explanations may seem entirely plausible, the evidence simply does not support these theories.
Until now, thanks to the Liker et al's new theory. In the article's original title, the authors only claim to have answered the question in birds. It may be that no primate species are affected, that is, that role reversals in primates are not caused by an imbalance in sex ratio. Then again, there aren't many primate species in which the male ever takes over rearing for the female.
In many species, the males stick around, but do not get involved. In baboons, the males (and usually fathers) are ever present, but they don't engage in child rearing. They will interact with babies on occasion, but that is a far cry from rearing. Species in which the males play an active role in raising infants: owl monkeys and, of course, humans.
Humans are an interesting case, and not just because all my readers are human. When modern human males take over the rearing of children, is it caused by an imbalance in sex ratio? Probably not.
But then again, humans are not a good study subject for this sort of question; the environments we inhabit are not "ecological". However, our close relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, do not engage in role reversals (nor do other apes), so the particular type of sexual role reversal we've evolved may be unique.
Liker A, Freckleton RP, & Székely T (2013). The evolution of sex roles in birds is related to adult sex ratio. Nature communications, 4 PMID: 23481395
... Read more »
Liker A, Freckleton RP, & Székely T. (2013) The evolution of sex roles in birds is related to adult sex ratio. Nature communications, 1587. PMID: 23481395
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