March 17th Reading and Viewing Only Culture Specific Diseases

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Biological Anthropology 205

March 17th ***Reading and Viewing Only

Culture Specific Diseases

Follow this link to read a lecture about Culture Specific Diseases:

Medical Anthropology in South America

This National Geographic video clip (3 min.) looks at shamanic healing in Paraguay:

These BBC video links (5 min. and 3 min.) discuss shamanism among a South American tribe.

Pt. 1:

Pt. 2:

This link takes you to a video clip (11 min.) on ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic tea in Peru, and shamans who “descend into their DNA”.

Power for Good or Evil in Mexico

This video clip (4 min.) is about two different uses of power in Mexico:

Healing Plants in Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government is passing a law to incorporate its traditional medicinal heritage into modern day society. It would preserve plants used for healing and allow more diseases to be cured and gradually open up more research into the healing properties of plants.

March 15th ***Reading Only


Follow this link to a video clip (6 minutes) about high altitude adaptation.

Note the word hypoxia.

Here is a longer video clip (40 min.) with Dr. Cynthia Beall (Case Western Reserve University) delivering a lecture about adaptation to high altitude:

Note that biological anthropologists figure the average time of each generation as being 25 years.

And also note her statement: “We need ________________ for natural selection to occur.”

The Sherpa

The Sherpa people are native to the Himalaya Mountains.

Sherpas are well-known for their physical strength at high altitudes. They adapt to high altitude so well that little acute or chronic mountain sickness has been documented in them.

In fact, at one point a Sherpa held the record for reaching the summit of Mt. Everest in the shortest time. And, in May 1999, a Sherpa camped on top of Mt. Everest for 21 hours. Another Sherpa in 2010 climbed Mt. Everest for the 20th time.

Sherpas have a genetic advantage over other climbers. Sherpas process oxygen effectively than do others in the Himalayas. Here are some preliminary findings of and some conjectures made by researchers regarding the Sherpa.

Adaptation of Sherpas to high altitude has been studied and compared with that of Caucasians acclimatized to high altitude. Sherpas living permanently at 4000 m above sea level do not have increased hematological parameters (i.e., red cell number, hematocrit, hemoglobin content, and 2,3-diphosphoglycerate/ hemoglobin ratio) and have a higher affinity of blood for oxygen as compared with acclimatized Caucasians. Sherpas permanently living at low altitude, on the contrary, have lower affinity of blood for oxygen than do Caucasians living at comparable altitude and are mildly "anemic". Various other red cell biochemical parameters (possibly related to adaptation to altitude) have also been studied in the same population. We suggest that Sherpas are genetically better adapted to high altitude than are Amerindians living on the Peruvian highlands, possibly as a consequence of a much more prolonged exposure to such an ecological factor of selection as high altitude.

Thursday March 11 ***READ ONLY

Race and Politics (cont’d)

Canada and Race (cont’d)

The following discusses more in depth the situation of many American Indian people in Canada who are excluded from being Indians.

Many Native people believe the rules governing who has status and/or band member ship and who doesn't are aimed at reducing the number of people who qualify for Native rights and benefits.

Bill C-31 was proclaimedpro·claim  

tr.v. pro·claimed, pro·claim·ing, pro·claims
1. To announce officially and publicly; declare. See Synonyms at announce.

..... Click the link for more information. as law in 1985. It was framed to change Section 12-1) b of the 1951 Indian Act which was found to have discriminated against Native women who married non-Native men. In such mixed marriages, prior to 1985, those Native women lost their status (and their band membership) while Native men who married non Native women not only kept their status but also conferred con·fer  
v. con·ferred, con·fer·ring, con·fers
1. To bestow (an honor, for example): conferred a medal on the hero; conferred an honorary degree on her.  Indian status on their non-Indian wives. Ebert believes the law was written this way to keep non-Native men off, the reserve because the law-makers believed non-Native men would be harder to control.

"We suspect that they did it because of very stereotypical attitudes, about women. That the women would be bossed around by the men and if you got a whole bunch of white men on reserve that they'd boss around their women and then they'd boss around everyone else," Ebert said. "But I also think that, because of their racism, [they'd think] that a woman marrying a white guy was kind of moving up in the world and didn't need to be an Indian anymore. My hunch hunch  

1. An intuitive feeling or a premonition: had a hunch that he would lose.

2. A hump.

3. A lump or chunk: "She . . .  is that it was because of racist or sexist sex·ism  
1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.

2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.  opinions like that."

The lawsuit identifies three different classes of people who have allegedly been harmed in different, ways. Class 1 includes women who lost their status by marrying non-Native men prior to 1985. Class 2 is the children of these women. Class 3 is me grandchildren GRANDCHILDREN, domestic relations. The children of one's children. Sometimes these may claim bequests given in a will to children, though in general they can make no such claim. 6 Co. 16.  of C-31 women who are not eligible for status because of 6-2, also called the second generation cut-offcut-off Anesthesiology The point at which elongation of the carbon chain of the 1-alkanol family of anesthetics results in a precipitous drop in the anesthetic potential of these agents–eg, at > 12 carbons in length, there is little anesthetic activity,

..... Click the link for more information..

The lawsuit asks the court to award the members of each class a total of $100 million. A further $100 million is claimed for all members of all classes to share as compensation for "loss of cultural and social associations and injury to dignity."

Although classes 1 and 2 have status through C-31, the lawsuit claims their status is inferior to the status they would have enjoyed before Section 12-1)b came into effect.

"Class 1, Connie's class, they got status back but not under 61) a. They got it back under 1) c. And because they got it back tinder 6-1) c, it's not as strong as status that people hold under 6-1) a. And because Connie got her status back under 6-1) c, Michael [her son] has to get 'his status back under 6-2. What we want is to say just put Connie back where she'd be if they'd never taken her status away in the first place, then she would have status under 6-1) a, just the way her brother does," the lawyer explained.

That inferior status has had a ripple effect ripple effect Epidemiology See Signal event.  on the children and grandchildren of C-31 women, Ebert added.

"We've heard some terrible stories about different families. Four kids, all the children of the same woman and man, and because their mom and dad were not married before 1985, the kids have status. But after they were married, the next two kids didn't have status," she said.

All of these numbers have meaning to Native people across the country, but they are virtually unknown to non-Native people. People with 6-1 status can be assured that their children and grandchildren will have status. People with 6-2 status cannot. There are dozens of possible scenarios where 6-2 people might or might not be able to pass their status on to their children. Whether those children can pass status on to their children depends on the race of their spouse, if they're female.

The lawsuit, in claiming that Bill C-31 still discriminates aga6-inst women, points out there is a "double mother rule" in effect, but no "double father rule."'

"When a man who married a non-Native woman it could give her Indian status. But if that happened twice in succession, the kids could not have Indian status. So if grandpa marries a white woman, he gives her Indian status. If they have a kid and that kid marries a white woman, he gives her Indian status but their kids don't have status because they have two white mothers in succession."

Race and the US Census (cont’d)

There was a lot to consider in class today (Wednesday) in terms of the changing definitions regarding race in the history of the US Census. Here are the racial categories in the 2000 US Census.


  • "White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as "White" or report entries such as Irish, German, Italian, Lebanese, Near Easterner, Arab, or Polish."

  • "Black or African American. A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as 'Black, African Am., or Negro,' or provide written entries such as African American, Afro American, Kenyan, Nigerian, or Haitian."

  • "American Indian and Alaska Native. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment."

  • "Asian. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. It includes 'Asian Indian,' 'Chinese', 'Filipino', 'Korean', 'Japanese', 'Vietnamese', and 'Other Asian'."

  • "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. It includes people who indicate their race as 'Native Hawaiian', 'Guamanian or Chamorro', 'Samoan', and 'Other Pacific Islander'."

  • "Some other race. Includes all other responses not included in the 'White', 'Black or African American', 'American Indian and Alaska Native', 'Asian' and 'Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander' race categories described above. Respondents providing write-in entries such as multiracial, mixed, interracial, We-Sort, or a Hispanic/Latino group (for example, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban) in the "Some other race" category are included here."

  • "Two or more races. People may have chosen to provide two or more races either by checking two or more race response check boxes, by providing multiple write-in responses, or by some combination of check boxes and write-in responses."

Race as a Social Construct (cont’d)

Here is a video clip (5 min.) of an interview with an anthropology professor (Yolanda Moses) speaking on race. Note that she mentions the US Census.

Dr. Moses claims that people are assigned race by the census. While the categories are fixed, designation of race on the form is self-assigned.

Statement from Physical Anthropologists

Follow this link to view a video clip (10 min.) featuring the reading of a position paper on what race is.

Race and Kennewick Man

Race is still a hot issue in America. Remember back earlier this quarter when we studied the Kennewick Man? View the following video clip (6 min.) to see how claims to the race about that skeleton are being used to stake rights to the prehistory of the North American continent. Note the claims of on-going conspiracy.

Neanderthals and Modern Humans

View this BBC News clip (6 min.) about how 1%-2%-4% Neanderthal DNA has been found in some but not all modern humans.

Tuesday March 8th


Here is a tentative outline of what we are discussing this week in class and on-line:

day topic connection to text

Monday Racial Classification p. 278-


“invention” of race

arguments for no race

Tuesday race in college courses

origin of “redskin”

Wednesday Conflation of Race & Politics p. 282-


Friday Race & Evolution p. 294-

Neanderthal interbreeding

Racial Classification (cont’d)

Yesterday we reviewed the American Anthropological Association’s statement on race.

Race in UK

Michael Rustin [a sociologist] once described race as 'both an empty category and one of the most destructive and powerful forms of social categorization'. 'Race' is now usually placed within inverted commas by sociologists and educationalists. This is because, as a way of categorizing individuals and population groups, it is not based on any biologically valid distinctions between the genetic make-up of differently identified 'races'. Racial categorization is usually based on phenotypical differences - skin colour and so on. But these do not correlate with genotypical differences (differences in genetic makeup). Nor are there any sustainable, systematic differences of personality or intelligence between populations categorised on either of these bases. Race is perhaps best approached as a social construct - that is to say something made in society. (written by a specialist in informal education)

Anthropologists Seek Reentry to Debate

After the AAA statement on race, some American anthropologists have been calling for the field to reassert itself in defining and discussing race instead of leaving it to new historians.

Reestablishing “Race” in Anthropological Discourse

Carol C. Mukhopadhay and Yolanda T. Moses, 1997

American Anthropologist 99(3):517-533

Even comparative stratification research—cross-cultural comparison of ethnicity and of other legitimizing ideologies for stratification (race, caste, religion)—seems to have gone little beyond the work begun in the 1960s and 1970s. Nor have efforts to understand indigenous systems of classifications (of plants, colors, animals, or kin) been extended and applied to racial and other Euro-American human classificatory principles. In short anthropologists seem largely to have left race to others—to the media, to politicians, to talk-show hosts, and, within academia, to our colleagues in other disciplines—thus, ironically, putting us on the periphery of the very debates we helped provoke. (521)

The question of whether race is an innate human category or is something generated only by specific cultures is one which anthropologists consider to be in their purview. The discussion is currently part of the undergraduate anthropology curriculum, as exemplified by the following departmental statement:

The Scope of Anthropology

Throughout this exploration into the diversity of human experience, students probe a series of questions that are fundamental to understanding themselves and their culture as well as other cultures. Such questions include the following: are racial distinctions (black, white, etc.) recognized by all cultures? if not, how can we explain such differences, and what implications does this have for race relations in the U.S.? (Colby College n.d.)

Egyptian depiction of “races”

The illustration on the other end of this link shows what is said to be the Egyptian view of races in the 15th century.

The labels in that illustration may have been added later. Here is another view of what looks to be the same four individuals in a different order only this time with ethnic labels.

Four peoples of the world:
Syrian, Nubian, Libyan, and Egyptian.

From the tomb of Seti I.

The Label Redskin

Review this short article on a linguist’s finding on the history of the term “redskin”:

The quotes below discuss a different origin of the term redskin began. The authors below just disagree as to which group the term was first used for. The Delaware lived in what is now New England while the Beothuk lived in Newfoundland.


Clean and “purified” after their “saunas”, the Delawares would spend hours restoring sweated-off body paint. The term redskin, applied to Europeans to Algonquians in general and the Delawares in particular, was inspired not by their natural complexion but by their fondness for vermillion makeup, concocted from fat mixed with berry juice and minerals that provided the desired color. (America’s Fascinating Indian Heritage)

Beothuk (A)

Beothuk were known as Red Indians primarily because of their extensive use of red ochre. A greasy mixture of red ochre would be applied to the face, body, and hair as well as to most personal possessions. In fact, it is believed that the term "redskin" as used to apply to all Native American Indians originated at the time of contact between Europeans and the Beothuk.

Beothuk (B)

One thing that is known about the Beothuk was their love of the color red. While the use of red ocre was common among Native Americans, no other tribe used it as extensively as the Beothuk. They literally covered everything - their bodies, faces, hair, clothing, personal possessions, and tools - with a red paint made from powdered ochre mixed with either fish oil or animal grease. It was also employed in burials. The reasons are unknown, but speculation has ranged from their religion (about which we know very little) to protection from insects. The practice was so excessive, even the Micmac referred to them as the Red Indians, and it is believed the term "redskin" used for Native Americans probably originated from early contacts between European fishermen and Beothuk.

So in this view, the use of the label did not refer to their natural skin color at all. In fact, the final paragraph above says that the practice of calling the Beothuk “red” actually stemmed from their Indian neighbors. If so, perhaps that origin should not be considered racist.

Among the first Europeans to visit northern Florida was a Frenchman named Jacque le Moyne. In 1564 he made a series of paintings and drawings depicting the Timucua people. They are shown to be a tall and handsome people with no hint of dark skin.

If you are interested in learning more about these depictions of the Timucuas and what is going on, go to this website:


Racism is universal: from Japan where the indigenous Ainu and Koreans are discriminated against, to Germany where Gypsies and Turks are attacked, to "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslavia, to poor Arabs in France, to Katrina and New Orleans and the contemptible way African Americans were treated. Racism, forms of superiority, radiate from the centers of domination and power.

March 3 ***Reading and Assignment

Woven Textiles (cont’d)

Our textbook says (p. 246) that weaving is less than 10,000 years old (i.e. starting about 8,000 b.c.) and suggests that it began only after domestication of plants and/or animals. That claim conflicts with archaeological findings in the American Great Basin where weaving is said to date back to around the same time but have nothing to do with domestication.

Fort Rock Cave

At Fort Rock Cave in Oregon (southeast of Bend) was excavated in 1938 and the first human occupation was at 13,200 years ago. Of interest to us are the numerous well-preserved sandals uncovered in the excavation. The sandals were woven from sagebrush bark. They were located below a layer of Mazama Ash (deposited by the explosion forming Crater Lake about 7600 years ago).

Radiocarbon dating of these sandals, now displayed at the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene and in the town of Fort Rock, has shown some to be over 10,000 years old. Several other prehistoric artifacts have been found at Fort Rock Cave, including basketry and stone tools.

These 10,000-year-old sandals are said to be “the oldest footwear ever discovered.”

Fort Rock sandals are stylistically distinct. They are twined (pairs of weft fibers twisted around warps), and have a flat, close-twined sole, usually with five rope warps. Twining proceeded from the heel to the toe, where the warps were subdivided into finer warps and turned back toward the heel. These fine warps were then open-twined (with spaces between the weft rows) to make a toe flap. Cressman surmised that a tie rope attached to one edge of the sole wrapped around the ankle and fastened to the opposite edge.

Oregon State Parks claims the sandals date back to between 9,000 and 13,000 years ago. Here is a look at one pair of Fort Rock sandals:

Paisley Cave

Paisley Cave is also in Oregon and thought to be even older than Fort Rock Cave.

This link will take you to an article about Paisley Cave:

In this next article, we see that a 12,000 year-old sagebrush rope was found there.

Elephant Mountain Cave

A cave in Nevada also contained 10,000 year-old sandals.

Man Is Fined $2.5 Million for Looting Key Archeological Site

The Nation

More than 2,000 artifacts, including 10,000-year-old sandals, were taken from an American Indian cave.

December 15, 2002|From Associated Press

RENO, Nev. — A man [Jack Lee Harelson] who federal officials say spoiled a major archeological find when he looted ancient American Indian remains from a Nevada cave in the 1980s has been fined $2.5 million in civil penalties. …

Before Elephant Mountain Cave was looted over several years in the early 1980s, it contained a 10,000-year record of human life in northern Nevada, including artifacts from the Paiute tribe. The site is in the Black Rock Desert, 140 miles north of Reno.

Harelson and his wife discovered two large baskets, one with the body of a boy and the other with the body of a girl, court records show.

They removed the bodies, baskets and other artifacts, and buried the bodies in their backyard.

More than 2,000 artifacts were later recovered, including 10,000-year-old sandals that possibly were the oldest footwear found on Earth, said Pat Barker, a state archeologist for BLM.

Spirit Cave

Spirit Cave Man eked out a life among the oases of an unforgiving desert. He fished in Great Basin lakes, hunted small mammals and wore clothing woven from strips of pelts and marsh plants.

The hunter survived to his mid-40s. But he had broken his right hand and suffered chronic back pain from arthritis, herniated disks and a fracture in his spine. A blow to the left temple dented and cracked his skull, which had just begun to heal when he died, perhaps from that injury or the advanced abscesses in his upper and lower jaws.

He was buried lying on his right side, arm flexed so his hand rested beneath the chin, in a shallow grave dug in a desert cave. The cave's climate preserved patches of skin and reddish-brown shoulder-length hair on the skull, making him North America's oldest mummy. Dried intestines contained fish bones from a final meal.

Also preserved were his rabbit fur robe, two shrouds of woven tule reeds, and well-worn moccasins of three kinds of animal hide, sewn with hemp and sinew, and patched on the soles.

Because these four sites are in the same general area and date from around the same time, it is reasonable to assume that their occupants all had the technology to weave baskets, sandals and other types of clothing without having domesticated plants or animals.

Evolution and/of Art

Follow the links to read two pages concerning the development of art:

Page One Page Two

Follow the links to read six pages concerning “Why do we need art?”

Page One Page Two Page Three Page Four Page Five Page Six

Question 1: What do you think about the claims made in the article concerning Darwin

and art?

Question 2: What do you think about the claims made about the origin and evolution

of art?

March 1 ***Reading and Assignment

The following sections of the text will not be used in compiling the final exam:

p. 240-41 Rain Forest Fertility

p. 265 Globalscape

p. 270 Tell it to Marines

Here is a tentative outline for what will be covered this week:

Monday Domestication Evolution of Culture

Tuesday Diet and Life Style

Wednesday Art, Pottery, Woven Textiles

Thursday Woven Textiles Evolution and/of Art

Friday Review

Paleolithic vs. Modern Humans: Diet and Fitness

Read the linked article on Paleo-Fitness and Paleolithic Nutrition.

Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Part Five Part Six

(If your computer fails to make these links, go back to the folder where you found our class on-line component and look for the six Paleo-Fitness files.)

March 1 Assignment:

Imagine that you have been called in as a Biological Anthropologist to testify before a panel/judge/hearing on Paleo-Fitness and Paleolithic Nutrition. The two questions below are posed to you with the restriction that you could answer no more than five sentences on any of your points of argument.

Question 1: What benefits are there for modern humans in exercising and eating “like a caveman” as this article describes? What arguments do the proponents and/or authors make that you agree with? (Please number and briefly discuss each of your points.)

Question 2: What problems do you have with exercising and eating “like a caveman” as described in this article? This can include any faulty logic you might find that is given by the proponents and/or author. (Please number and briefly discuss each of your points.)

February 24 On-Line Class ***Read Only

The Spread of Modern Humans into the Americas

Today we will look at the migration of modern humans into the Americas. It is still not clear whether this was all from Siberia to Alaska or whether there were other points of entrance.

The initial colonization of Siberia by modern humans started about 42,000 years ago.

To get to the Americas, voyages … were not necessary. With much of the world’s water supply taken up by the great continental glaciers, there was a worldwide lowering of sea levels, causing an emergence of land joining Siberia to Alaska. With expanding populations in Asia, brought about by increasingly effective cultural adaptations, it was only a matter of time before human populations began to spread gradually eastward over this dry land.

Follow this link for a simplified view of the generally accepted land bridge migration hypothesis.

The time when movement eastward into North America started and the means of travel are still open questions.

Some evidence indicates the first inhabitants came by sea while other findings show the possibility of a land, or ice, bridge connecting the Asian continent with the Americas. Recent genetic evidence backs up the theory of a chilly northwestern arrival to North America from Siberia about 12,000 years ago, via a temporary land bridge spanning the Bering Strait - Beringia. The scientists support the idea that humans migrated south along the coasts by boat rather than toughing it out on land.

Others propose a three-stage colonization process for the peopling of the New World beginning 40,000 years ago. The first stage was a period of gradual population growth as ancestors diverged from the central Asian gene pool and moved north and east into Siberia. This was followed by an extended period of population stability in greater Beringia between 36,000 and 16,000 b.c. The final stage was a single, rapid population expansion of the New World from Beringia.

Follow this link to view a model of this hypothesis concerning the populating of and movement through this land bridge area:

Today the Bering Sea is only 57 miles wide. In the middle are the Diomede Islands. Thus, the longest water gap between Asia and North America is only 25 miles. This is the presumed route of access (hoping from one continent to the other) taken by the Eskimo and Aleut who moved in much later than did the American Indians.

Previously, this area was a land bridge. During the Pleistocene, some 11,500 to 50,000+ years ago, there were four glaciations. These ice flow advances locked up the earth’s water and lowered the oceans. If the oceans were lowered 150 feet, the land bridge between the Chukchi Peninsula (in Siberia) and the Seward Peninsula (in Alaska) would be 200 miles wide. At the maximum lowering of 450 feet, the land bridge was 1,300 miles wide. Both of the peninsulas and the intervening land mass were free of ice.

Monte Verde

Monte Verde is an archaeological site in southern Chile … which has been dated to 14,800 years BP (before present). This dating adds to the evidence showing that settlement in the Americas pre-dates the Clovis culture by roughly 1000 years. This contradicts the previously accepted "Clovis first" model which holds that settlement of the Americas began after 13,500 BP. The Monte Verde findings were initially dismissed by most of the scientific community, but in recent years the evidence has become more widely accepted in some archaeological circles, although vocal "Clovis First" advocates remain. - cite_note-3#cite_note-3

Follow these links to read more about the Monte Verde site and other early sites in South America:

One hypothesis is that the people moving to Monte Verde came by a sea route while those who moved through Clovis, New Mexico came overland. For a discussion of this hypothesis and a map showing the two routes, follow this link:

Kennewick Man Discussion (continued)

As mentioned earlier in class, one University of Washington anthropologist made the claim that he was able to determine to some extent what language Kennewick Man spoke.

[Dr. Eugene] Hunn's task was to comb the records for evidence that the native tongue spoken by the region's tribes today—Sahaptin—is kin to languages spoken there 9,000 years ago. "My conclusion was that as far as we could tell, Kennewick Man may very well have spoken a language related to the Yakama and the Umatilla," he says. "If that's true, you can say they are culturally affiliated by sharing a linguistic tradition."

[Archaeologist Jim] Chatters—who is not a plaintiff in the lawsuit—shakes his head at the notion of establishing a 9,000-year-old cultural affiliation, especially since Kennewick Man was found without any artifacts except the spearpoint in his pelvis. "It's impossible," he says. "It can't be done."

In some ways, says Hunn, maybe it is impossible. But then again, maybe that's not the point.

Day 29 (February 15), Week 7 ***Reading Only

Gesture Language and Language (follow up)

On Friday February 11 in our in-class session, we had a good discussion about gesture language and the origin of language. One question that was brought up but not answered at that time was about whether there was anything being found out the connections from “lost” or newly researched languages. The following reading and video tape clips deal with just such a language.

1. Read the following brief story about the Piraha language of Nicaragua: “Without language, large numbers don’t add up.”

Here is a link to the web story. At the top of that page, you can click to listen to the radio broadcast of the story, including hearing the language.

In case you missed something in your listening, here is a transcript of the radio broadcast.


The following are a number of newspaper articles showing the history of Neanderthal DNA research.

Here is a 2007 article on Neanderthal and language:

Scientists: Language gene not unique to humans: Evidence in bone of Neanderthals.

Part One Part Two

But back in 1997 evidence was presented that there was no interbreeding.

Neanderthal no cousin, DNA testing indicates: Lack of interbreeding with … humans.

Part One Part Two Part Three

By 2006 evidence was in that there was some interbreeding and their closeness to homo sapiens:

Sleep with Neanderthals? Apparently we (Homo sapiens) did.

Part One Part Two

Neanderthal bones yield secrets: DNA shows close relation to human.

All in One

Finally, this article from 2010 sums up the research and what problems were incurred over the years to get to the understanding we have now.

DNA reveals genetic link: Turns out there’s a little Neanderthal in almost all of us.

Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Part Five

Day 30 (February 16), Week 7 ***Reading and Assignment

Assignment 14 Agriculture and Language?

In 1985, Charles Hockett presented a hypothesis that explained language similarities to the development of agriculture and anatomy. What he was looking for was an explanation of why of some 200 languages in the world surveyed in 1955 only 19% of them had the f-sounds (namely f, v and similarly produced ones). In a 1975 survey of over 700 languages it was found that while 93% of them have p and b sounds, only 44% have the f-sounds.

It is the case that all European languages have the f-sounds. Hockett also found that the “major regions of the world that remained nonagricultural at least until the arrival of Europeans in the last few centuries” were the same ones in which the languages lacked the f-sounds. Those areas included western North America and most of Canada, western South Africa (the Kalahari Desert), northeast Asia, and Australia and Tasmania.

Hockett hypothesized that the f-sounds developed after agriculture. He also hypothesized that agriculture, particularly cereal grains, created a difference in bites and dentition, thus leading to the f-sounds.

Read through the two following student critiques of Hockett’s presentation.

Hockett, Charles F.     Distinguished Lecture: F. American Anthropologist June, 1985. Vol. 87(2):263-281.

In his "Distinguished Lecture: F," Charles F. Hockett puts forth a hypothesis that even he admits ought to be met with skepticism. He suggests a correlation between the use of f-sounds and the practice of agriculture.

While doing research on language systems, Hockett noticed the relative scarcity of the f-sound in world languages. His initial research figured that only 19% of language used f-sounds, but after he started his investigation, later information corrected the figure to 44%. Nevertheless, the author decided that the chronological and geographical distribution of f-sounds were more interesting than the frequency and continued his research.

The article travels around the globe, systematically listing the geographical distribution of the f-sound and its relationship to the onset of agriculture. The distribution does not have distinct boundaries, as use and non-use languages are mixed within regions and continents. F-sounds predominate in European and Near Eastern languages, and in Chinese dialects. Conversely, the sound is less common or nonexistent in the rest of Asia and aboriginal North and South America.

Hockett relates farming to the use of f-sounds because he finds the sound to be absent in populations that do not use agriculture. He also states that current evidence shows that f-sounds developed after the advent of agriculture. According to the author, the move from the need to cut and tear flesh from to the increase in consumption of cereal grains affected dentition and tooth wear. The diet change caused the edge bite, in which the incisors meet edge-to-edge, to be replaced by the scissors bite, where the top row of incisors slides in front of the bottom row, allowing for greater use of the molars to grind food. If a person has a scissors bite, Hockett explains, he or she can more easily produce f-sounds.

Ultimately, the author is not convinced that his hypothesis is correct. He admits the lack of data and research on dental configuration as it relates to his theory, and suggests further examination of the evidence.

REBECCA DEEB Oberlin College

Hockett’s presentation was met with a degree of skepticism. For example, it is not included in his on-line bibliography.

Question 1: Short Answer (one to two paragraphs)

Which student do you feel did a better job in critically reviewing Hockett?

Question 2: One to two pages

Do you have any thoughts on Hockett’s claim beyond that of the two students? This could discuss Hockett’s methodology, the physiology presented in his claim, any conflicting language and agriculture data, or something about his hypothesis and the suggestion that any child can learn any language.

Day 31 (February 17), Week 7 ***Reading and Assignment

Read through the linked article about evolution, Darwin and homosexuality entitled, “The Gay Animal Kingdom”.

Question Three: One to three pages

Take between one and three pages to outline your thoughts regarding the validity of Roughgarden’s claim. Does she really challenge Darwin? What are the pluses and/or negative’s of her argument.

Use any resource material you feel is appropriate. Please include in text citations of the form “(Grant 1999:79)” and provide the name of the source material in a list of references.

Day 32 (February 18), Week 7 ***Reading and Assignment

Neanderthal (continued)

Some researchers are puzzled that there are no objects found in Neanderthal sites. However there have been other findings that suggest deeper thought.

Some Neanderthals hunted cave bears that were 15 to 16 feet tall. These bears inhabited the same caves that the Neanderthals desired for homes. The bears were killed by the hundreds. The bears were eaten and apparently worshipped.

Some of these cave bear bones have been found in arrangements that suggest a ritual use. At a cave in eastern Austria, there was a rectangular pit that held seven cave bear skulls, all facing the cave’s entrance. At another cave in France, there was a rectangular pit that had been filled with the remains of over 20 cave bears. A flat stone was placed over the pit as a cover. The stone weighed almost a ton. Also, Neanderthal and cave bear bones found buried together further indicate that Neanderthals had a spiritual life.

At a site in Iraq, about 250 miles north of Bagdad, a Neanderthal male was buried in a cave about 60,000 years ago. Evidence shows that someone (probably his family) went to the hills that spring day and picked “masses” of wild flowers that the deceased was laid upon. Still other flowers were woven together with branches of a pine-like shrub to form a wreath. The flowers used were ancestors of grape hyacinths, bachelor buttons and others. This type of burial implies a concern for the individual. (This is also found in some primate species, however.) One hypothesis says that this concern arose because the bitter glacial conditions during an ice age meant that all members of a band would have been more necessary than ever for the groups survival.

Big Bang of Human Intelligence

Some researchers view Neanderthals with less passion than those who consider them to have been advanced. According to one of those who is less impressed, Neanderthal tools are “incredibly monotonous”. “They stayed the same for at least 100,000 years. This indicates there was a fundamental difference between them and us, a fundamental difference in innovation.”

Read the following discussion from a National Geographic article in January 1996, entitled “Neanderthals: The Dawn of Humans”, about how Neanderthals were unable to conceive of being able to advance their technology in big game hunting.

Part One Part Two

Read the following article, “Suddenly smarter”, by well-known Stanford professor Richard Klein about his hypothesis about the burst of modern behavior.

Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Part Five Part Six

Question Four:

In one page or less, state whether you think there are any problems with Klein’s hypothesis.

Denisova Cave

The following two articles give 2010 updates on recent DNA findings from remains found at Denisova Cave in southern Siberia.

New human ancestor found

Ancient human relative traveled east

Day 33 (February 22), Week 8 ***Reading Only

Birth of Modern Humans

Here is an article entitled, “Tracking the First of Our Kind”, that deals with the birthplace of modern humans, how they lived and how they thought.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7

Modern Humans and Hands

The appearance of modern humans was marked by a change in technology, which included the introduction of handles. Some conjecture that the change of force between using a hand and using a handle has led to a diminished strength in the human hand. There was also an appearance of smaller artifacts. This implies improved fine motor skills.

Follow the following link to read my lecture notes about early art and technology:

Modern Hands
Directory: nthompson

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