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Evolutionary Anthropology

David M Carballo, Gary M Feinman
Archeologists investigating the emergence of large-scale societies in the past have renewed interest in examining the dynamics of cooperation as a means of understanding societal change and organizational variability within human groups over time. Unlike earlier approaches to these issues, which used models designated voluntaristic or managerial, contemporary research articulates more explicitly with frameworks for cooperation and collective action used in other fields, thereby facilitating empirical testing through better definition of the costs, benefits, and social mechanisms associated with success or failure in coordinated group action...
November 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Richard J Smith
Explanations of the historical origin of specific individual traits are a key part of the research program in paleontology and evolutionary biology. Why did bipedalism evolve in the human lineage? Why did some dinosaurs and related species have head crests? Why did viviparity evolve in some reptiles? Why did the common ancestor of primates evolve stereoscopic vision, grasping hands and feet, nails instead of claws, and large brains? These are difficult questions. To varying degrees, an explanation must grapple with (1) judgments about changes in fitness that might follow from a change in morphology - without actually observing behavior or measuring reproductive success, (2) the relationship between genes and traits, (3) limitations on doing relevant experiments, (4) the interpretation of causes that are almost certainly contingent, multifactorial, interactive, hierarchical, nonlinear, emergent, and probabilistic rather than deterministic, (5) limited information about variation and ontogeny, (6) a dataset based on the random fortunes of the historical record, including only partial hard-tissue morphology and no soft-tissue morphology, (7) an equally partial and problematic (for example, time-averaged) record of the environment, (8) the compression of all data into a geological time scale that is likely to miss biologically important events or fluctuations, (9) dependence on a process that can only be inferred ("form and even behavior may leave fossil traces, but forces like natural selection do not", (1:130) ) and finally, (10) the assumption of the "adaptationist programme"(2) that the trait in question is in fact an adaptation rather than a consequence of genetic drift, correlated evolution, pleiotropy, exaptation, or other mechanisms...
November 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Alicia P Melis, Felix Warneken
Across all cultures, humans engage in cooperative activities that can be as simple as preparing a meal or sharing food with others and as complex as playing in an orchestra or donating to charity. Although intraspecific cooperation exists among many other animal species, only humans engage in such a wide array of cooperative interaction and participate in large-scale cooperation that extends beyond kin and even includes strangers.
November 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Patrick Roberts, Nicole Boivin, Julia Lee-Thorp, Michael Petraglia, Jay Stock
Tropical forests constitute some of the most diverse and complex terrestrial ecosystems on the planet. From the Miocene onward, they have acted as a backdrop to the ongoing evolution of our closest living relatives, the great apes, and provided the cradle for the emergence of early hominins, who retained arboreal physiological adaptations at least into the Late Pliocene. There also now exists growing evidence, from the Late Pleistocene onward, for tool-assisted intensification of tropical forest occupation and resource extraction by our own species, Homo sapiens...
November 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Kenneth M Weiss
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
November 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Alexandra G Rosati
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
November 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Thibaud Gruber, Zanna Clay
Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (P. paniscus) are our closest living relatives, with the human lineage diverging from the Pan lineage only around five to seven Mya, but possibly as early as eight Mya.(1-2) Chimpanzees and bonobos even share genetic similarities with humans that they do not share with each other.(2) Given their close genetic relationship to humans, both Pan species represent crucial living models for reconstructing our last common ancestor (LCA) and identifying uniquely human features...
September 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Mareike Cora Janiak
All living organisms need to consume nutrients to grow, survive, and reproduce, making the successful acquisition of food resources a powerful selective pressure. However, acquiring food is only part of the challenge. While all animals spend much of their daily activity budget hunting, searching for, or otherwise procuring food, a large part of what is involved in overall nutrition occurs once the meal has been swallowed. Most nutritional components are too complex for immediate use and must be broken down into simpler compounds, which can then be absorbed by the body...
September 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Carola Borries, Aaron A Sandel, Andreas Koenig, Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, Jason M Kamilar, Caroline R Amoroso, Robert A Barton, Joel Bray, Anthony Di Fiore, Ian C Gilby, Adam D Gordon, Roger Mundry, Markus Port, Lauren E Powell, Anne E Pusey, Amanda Spriggs, Charles L Nunn
Recent decades have seen rapid development of new analytical methods to investigate patterns of interspecific variation. Yet these cutting-edge statistical analyses often rely on data of questionable origin, varying accuracy, and weak comparability, which seem to have reduced the reproducibility of studies. It is time to improve the transparency of comparative data while also making these improved data more widely available. We, the authors, met to discuss how transparency, usability, and reproducibility of comparative data can best be achieved...
September 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Ian Tattersall
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Kenneth M Weiss
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Melanie L Chang, April Nowell
For the past few years, people everywhere have been "going Paleo." Websites and social media touting the benefits of eating a "Paleo diet" and following a "Paleolithic life style" serve as calls to arms for health-conscious individuals seeking information about the latest health and fitness trends. Many of these people participate in programs such as Crossfit, which involve major social and life-style modification components and therefore facilitate the dissemination of dietary fads.(1) The PALEOf(x)(TM) conference, which bills itself as "the world's premier holistic wellness event," has attracted sellout crowds of thousands of attendees for the last four years...
September 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Thomas Wynn, Frederick L Coolidge
How did the human mind evolve? How and when did we come to think in the ways we do? The last thirty years have seen an explosion in research related to the brain and cognition. This research has encompassed a range of biological and social sciences, from epigenetics and cognitive neuroscience to social and developmental psychology. Following naturally on this efflorescence has been a heightened interest in the evolution of the brain and cognition. Evolutionary scholars, including paleoanthropologists, have deployed the standard array of evolutionary methods...
July 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Siobhán M Mattison, Eric A Smith, Mary K Shenk, Ethan E Cochrane
Understanding how systems of political and economic inequality evolved from relatively egalitarian origins has long been a focus of anthropological inquiry. Many hypotheses have been suggested to link socio-ecological features with the rise and spread of inequality, and empirical tests of these hypotheses in prehistoric and extant societies are increasing. In this review, we synthesize several streams of theory relevant to understanding the evolutionary origins, spread, and adaptive significance of inequality...
July 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Juan Pablo Perea-Rodriguez, Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, Margaret Corley, Andrea Spence-Aizenberg
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
July 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Antonin Tomasso, Guillaume Porraz
Since the early 1980s, the sourcing of lithic raw materials has become central to studies of the territorial range and mobility strategies of Pleistocene foraging societies. Results have been fruitful but somehow repetitive. We will discuss the embedded procurement strategy, which presumes that raw material acquisition was part of other subsistence activities rather than an autonomous technological task. We argue that this theoretical assumption, when taken as dogma, restricts the role of technology in human history and also underestimates the way some lithic resources may have affected the organization of past hunter-gatherers...
May 6, 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Amy E Clark
The spatial structure of archeological sites can help reconstruct the settlement dynamics of hunter-gatherers by providing information on the number and length of occupations. This study seeks to access this information through a comparison of seven sites. These sites are open-air and were all excavated over large spatial areas, up to 2,000 m(2) , and are therefore ideal for spatial analysis, which was done using two complementary methods, lithic refitting and density zones. Both methods were assessed statistically using confidence intervals...
May 6, 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Todd A Surovell, Matthew O'Brien
When archeologists discuss mobility, we are most often referring to a phenomenon that operates on the scale of kilometers, but much of human mobility, at least if measured in terms of frequency of movement, occurs at much smaller scales, ranging from centimeters to tens of meters. Here we refer to the movements we make within the confines of our homes or places of employment. With respect to nomadic peoples, movements at this scale would include movements within campsites. Understanding mobility at small scales is important to archeology because small-scale mobility decisions are a critical factor affecting spatial patterning observed in archeological sites...
May 6, 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Dario Guiducci, Ariane Burke
Wayfinding, or the ability to plan and navigate a course over the landscape, is a subject of investigation in geography, neurophysiology, psychology, urban planning, and landscape design. With the prevalence of GPS-assisted navigation systems, or "wayfinders," computer scientists are also increasingly interested in understanding how people plan their movements and guide others. However, the importance of wayfinding as a process that regulates human mobility has only recently been incorporated into archeological research design...
May 6, 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
Marcus J Hamilton, José Lobo, Eric Rupley, Hyejin Youn, Geoffrey B West
Residential mobility is a key aspect of hunter-gatherer foraging economies and therefore is an issue of central importance in hunter-gatherer studies. Hunter-gatherers vary widely in annual rates of residential mobility. Understanding the sources of this variation has long been of interest to anthropologists and archeologists. The vast majority of hunter-gatherers who are dependent on terrestrial plants and animals move camp multiple times a year because local foraging patches become depleted and food, material, and social resources are heterogeneously distributed through time and space...
May 6, 2016: Evolutionary Anthropology
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