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Neandertal anti-defamation files, 22

This, from ScienceAlert: We caught modern genital warts because our ancestors were banging Neanderthals Nothing like this story as been such a race to the bottom for headlines for a long time. I will note that Annalee Newitz has a much...Show More Summary

Race and the medical student

Ike Swetlitz in Stat has an article about the ways that some medical educators are trying to build a more anthropological knowledge of race and health in their students: “Teaching medical students to challenge ‘unscientific’ racial categories”. Show More Summary

Will virtual reality compete with museums or help them?

Linking to a provocative piece that “VR Will Break Museums”. The article discusses many issues with museums both large and small. The best museums add context to the objects that they display, putting them into a story that builds knowledge in the museum-goer. Show More Summary

Incidental capuchin flake manufacture

This is a nice article by Ed Yong about Michael Haslam’s research documenting how capuchin monkeys incidentally make stone flakes as a side effect of their nut smashing: “Rock-Smashing Monkeys Unintentionally Make Sharp Stone Tools”. The interesting thing is that many of the flakes are indistinguishable on technical grounds from Oldowan flakes. Show More Summary

Notable: Modern human origins and Ethiopian volcanoes

Notable paper: William Hutchison et al. (2016) A pulse of mid-Pleistocene rift volcanism in Ethiopia at the dawn of modern humans. Nature Communications 7, 13192. doi:10.1038/ncomms13192 Synopsis: Many of today’s lakes and volcanic calderas...Show More Summary

Misuse of statistics

This essay should be required reading for graduate students: “The problem with p-values”. David Colquhoun writes extensively about science and statistics, and in this essay he brings out many of the biggest misconceptions that driveShow More Summary

Everything Neandertal is not bad

This is not a bad story about Neandertals by Melissa Hogenboom: “What Neanderthals’ healthy teeth tell us about their minds”. It’s an overview of what scientists learn from various kinds of dental studies. But I wanted to comment onShow More Summary

Link: A new prehistoric footprint site in Tanzania

National Geographic has a neat story by Michael Greshko about ancient footprints near Lake Natron, in Tanzania: “Treasure Trove of Ancient Human Footprints Found Near Volcano. Local villager Kongo Sakkae found some of the footprintsShow More Summary

Talking to the public is essential to the future of science

Susanna Martinez-Conde, Stephen Macknik and Devin Powell have a short article with advice for would-be science popularizers: “How Scientists Can Engage the Public without Risking Their Careers”. Daniel Kahneman, who published Thinking,...Show More Summary

Brief thoughts on Upper Paleolithic 'hybrids'

Science News has a long feature article by Bruce Bower that recounts the new wave of examining hybridization in human origins: “Animal hybrids may hold clues to Neandertal-human interbreeding”. He features the symposium at the AAPA meetings...Show More Summary

Link: A comment on replicability by a psychologist

Joe Simmons on psychology: “What I Want Our Field To Prioritize”. I am writing all of this because it’s hard to resolve a conflict when you don’t know what the other side wants. I honestly don’t know what those who are resistant to change want, but at least now they know what I want. Show More Summary

Lichens did not grow on Homo naledi

Earlier this summer, Francis Thackeray published a short paper in the South African Journal of Science suggesting that lichens had deposited manganese upon the surfaces of hominin bone from the Dinaledi Chamber. Knowing that lichensShow More Summary

Link: Neandertal burial ritual with antler hearths

A Neandertal “burial ritual” at Des-Cubierta Cave? “Cave fires and rhino skull used in Neanderthal burial rituals”. The blackened hearths surround a spot where the jaw and six teeth of a Neanderthal toddler were found in the stony sediment. Show More Summary

Link: Modern human teeth from Liang Bua, Flores

Ewen Callaway reports on a talk at the European Society for Human Evolution meeting, presenting new human teeth from the ongoing Liang Bua archaeological work: “Human remains found in hobbit cave”. The story is that these remains may document some of the earliest modern human presence in the cave, postdating the last occurrence of H. Show More Summary

Link: Replication crisis and status competition in psychology

The ongoing “replication crisis” in psychology has become an interesting study in the sociology of science. I don’t have anything especially deep to say about it, but I found this long update by the statistician Andrew Gelman very interesting: “What has happened down here is the winds have changed”. Show More Summary

Link: A short Sterkfontein history on its 80th anniversary

The discovery of hominin fossils at Sterkfontein, South Africa, was eighty years ago this year. Recognizing the occasion, Jason Heaton, Travis Pickering and Dominic Stratford have a post on the Scientific American website: “The Fossil...Show More Summary

Link: Sleeping sickness hides in human skin

A news story by Michael Price in Science: “Sleeping sickness hides in human skin”. [Annette MacLeod] examined the samples for the sleeping sickness parasites and found them in a handful of people, even though they showed no symptoms of the disease at the time. Show More Summary

Quote: Tobias describes an endocast

Classic Phillip Tobias: During embryonic, foetal and post-natal life, the form of the calvaria becomes accurately moulded over the surface of the expanding brain. Pulsating, as the brain does with the beating of the heart, the outer surface of the brain imprints itself upon the interior of the brain case. Show More Summary

Link: The problem with 'basal' in phylogenetic trees

Stacey Smith summarizes the problems with using the term “basal” when discussing phylogenetic positions of organisms: “The ancestors are not among us”. Basal is a term that refers to the position of a node near the root of a phylogenetic tree. Show More Summary

Around the Web Digest- October 17

As the days get longer, the temperature drops, the midterm workload grows larger; I offer distractions from the stress of the week! Feel free to share this handy flowchart to students, friends, and family to prevent them from being a racist for this year’s Halloween. Show More Summary

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