Showing posts with label anthropology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anthropology. Show all posts

December 26, 2012

Must-Watch Neanderthal Television


Watch Decoding Neanderthals Preview on PBS. See more from NOVA.
Nova's January 9 episode will be devoted to the latest research on Neanderthal people, says anthropologist John Hawks.

That's his voice on the trailer, talking about the "mother of all image problems."

Rocky Mountain PBS actually has it scheduled on that date at 8 p.m., unless they suddenly decide to replace it with Antiques Roadshow or another John Denver special.

September 25, 2012

"Hunting Heritage" Does Not Really Express It

A University of Wisconsin paleoanthropologist argues that organized hunting activities — as opposed to opportunistic scavenging — is even older than previously thought.
Two million years ago, our human ancestors were small-brained apemen and in the past many scientists have assumed the meat they ate had been gathered from animals that had died from natural causes or had been left behind by lions, leopards and other carnivores.

But [Henry T.] Bunn argues that our apemen ancestors, although primitive and fairly puny, were capable of ambushing herds of large animals after carefully selecting individuals for slaughter. The appearance of this skill so early in our evolutionary past has key implications for the development of human intellect.
Your job is to figure out a way to monetize this assertion for the outdoor-products industry. 

July 06, 2012

The Bigfoot Diet

Or "paleo" before Paleo was cool.

Australopithecus sediba, " an early relative of humans," ate leaves and bark, new research suggests.

"They were eating bark and woody substances, which is quite a unique dietary mechanism; it hasn't been reported for any other human relative before."

I reckon that the Bigfoot researchers will have an "Aha!" moment over this, because if they don't hibernate in climates like ours, what would a hypothetical giant primate be eating?

(h/t Reid Farmer at Querencia)

October 14, 2011

Various Thoughts on Bigfoot

I am not a Bigfoot hunter. Invisible partridge are challenge enough. So I am about two years late to the party when it comes to the Lumpkin County, Georgia (northeast of Atlanta) alleged Bigfoot sighting, captured by a deputy sheriff's dashboard video camera (YouTube) and witnessed by the deputy and his civilian passenger.

This video has been supplemented by analysis of the creature's apparent speed, reference to the terrain — the embedded GPS reading helps — and so, making for eight interesting minutes. (The Discovery Channel could get a hour-length program out of that, repeating everything six or eight times.)

I read about it in a recent issue of the venerable Fate magazine, "Bigfoot in Georgia," by Daniel Perez. (Georgia has some active hunters of "the Big Guy.")

Hmm, what about Colorado?

Back in the late 1980s, as a newspaper reporter, I interviewed a man who said two "creatures" had walked past his house and left footprints in the snow, which he photographed and showed me. The large tracks just ended abruptly in the fresh powder. Odd.

Having blogged once on the mystery of "Monkey Creek," with some trepidation I now typed "Colorado Bigfoot" into YouTube's search box. Here are the results.

The "Yellow Top Bigfoot" seems to move like a hunched-over human, if you ask me. So does this one. Several others all look like the same gorilla suit. One video's makers frankly call it a "mockumentary."

Meanwhile, in Central Asia

Central Asia and Siberia have a long history of big, shaggy bipeds. In fact, the same May-June 2011 issue of Fate that carried Daniel Perez's article mentioned above also reprinted one from its May 1961 issue, "Russia Seeks the Snowman," about a Dr. Alexander G. Pronin of the "Geographic Scientific Institute of Leningrad University" (no Google hits on that name, but there could be translation issues) seeing a "snowman" while on an International Geophysical Year expedition in the Pamir Mountains.


The hypothesis of a surviving population of Neanderthals, which has been explored in fiction, is brought out again:
Igor Burtsev, head of the International Center of Hominology in Moscow -- which investigates so-called snowmen -- told The Voice of Russia radio that "when Homo sapiens started populating the world, it viciously exterminated its closest relative in the hominid family, Homo neanderthalensis."

"Some of the Neanderthals, however, may have survived to this day in some mountainous wooded habitats that are more or less off limits to their arch foes. No clothing on them, no tools in hands and no fire in the household. Only round-the-clock watchfulness for a Homo sapiens around."
Hitting the Wall
One thing I notice with Bigfoot investigations (as with UFO investigations—and some say they are related) is that people get evidence and think that they are on the verge of the big discovery — and then it all stops. Nothing seems to be repeatable in a scientific way.

I have to say that sometimes I think that Bigfoot exists—but not in our world. Rather he/she/they are in a world that sometimes intersects with ours. Yep, like fairies, etc.

The late Grover Krantz, a physical anthropologist at Washington State University, published a book arguing for a physical Bigfoot that inhabited an ecological niche sort of like a nocturnal black bear—at least in the Pacific Northwest. Rather than Neanderthal, he suggested a surviving Gigantopithecus as a possibility.

But unless it had learned to hibernate, I do not see how such a creature could live in the Pamirs—or the Rockies. Black bears do not forage for food in the winter, and neither could an ape-man.


March 03, 2010

Cooking (and Meat) Made Us Human?

From the BBC, scientific speculation on how a change in diet from raw to cooked foods may have speeded evolution:

Without cooking, an average person would have to eat around five kilos of raw food to get enough calories to survive.
The daily mountain of fruit and vegetables would mean a six-hour chewing marathon.
It is already accepted that the introduction of meat into our ancestors' diet caused their brains to grow and their intelligence to increase.
Meat - a more concentrated form of energy - not only meant bigger brains for our ancestors, but also an end to the need to devote nearly all their time to foraging to maintain energy levels. 

(Hat tip: Bayou Renaissance Man)

September 21, 2008

Don't Know Much about Neanderthals

But if you think you do know much, take the quiz before reading the National Geographic article about a group of skeletons found in a Spanish cave in 1994.

More on DNA research and, yes, cannibalism.

April 24, 2007

Those "Eskimo words for snow" debunked

You have probably always heard that the Inuit have 45 or a 100 words for snow. Not true. This particular urban legend is dealt with at the Savage Minds anthropology blog.

The Savages also recommend an online anthropology tutorial.