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Anthropology Carnival with Afarensis

July 1, 2009

Four Stone Hearth #70, the migrating anthropology blog carnival, has been posted today at the new site of Afarensis. I hosted the carnival earlier at the original home of The Primate Diaries, and I hope to again soon.
There’s a lot of great posts in this edition and I encourage everyone to check them out. My picks include: has a terrific review of the new paper on Eem Neanderthals:

The suggestion that Neanderthals made their own fitted clothes and kept food in storage rather than eating as much as they could on the spot, before heading off in search of the next meal, certainly seems to indicate complexity of thought that allowed for long-term planning and innovatory behaviours – and as we have seen from previous reports, they made a type of adhesive from heat-treated birch resin around 80,000 years ago, with which they may have hafted their hunting spears.

Zenobia: Empress of the East critiques the new paper suggesting that prehistoric European cave artists were female:

We have very little surviving skeletal material from the Upper Palaeolithic: fragments from a total of 31 adults, mostly their teeth. Still, palaeo-anthropologists can do remarkable things when they get their hands on a bit of skull or a jawbone — but what they can’t easily do is sex the bits. Out of 31 adults, 3 are probably males and 1 is female; that’s it: the sex of the others cannot be determined. So we have no real sample of either sex. And finger bones are rarely found: there are only 4 phalanges (from hands) on Palaeolithic Aurignacian sites. That’s a big methodological problem.

Razib at Gene Expressions looks at the return of the Red Ape Hypothesis:

The main reason that molecular phylogenetics is viewed as authoritative in evolutionary paleontology is that in the 1970s the fossils and the molecules disagreed, and in the 1980s the fossils came into line with the molecules. There simply aren’t that many fossils, and in previous eras the interpretation left much to be desired. With computational methods this is changing, but the reality is that molecular methods in the study of human evolution has withstood the test of time.

Of course, John Hawks has a much more succinct (and extremely amusing) answer to the question: Are orangutans our closest living relatives?

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