SMU Department of Anthropology

Anthropologists link human uniqueness to hunter-gatherer group structure seen in present-day foraging societies

Human hunter-gatherer group structure is unique among primates, according to new research, suggesting human ancestral social structure may be the root of cumulative culture and cooperation and, ultimately, human uniqueness.

Photo: Thomas N. Headland with an Agta man (Credit: Headland)
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Blood group anomaly could explain Tudor king’s reproductive problems and tyrannical behavior

Blood group incompatibility and a genetic condition could explain Henry VIII’s reproductive woes and his dramatic mid-life transformation into a physically and mentally-impaired tyrant, says new SMU research by bioarchaeologist Catrina Banks Whitley.

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LA Times: Ancestors may have left Africa earlier than thought

1_Out_of_Africa.sff.jpgMajor news outlets around the world covered the announcement Jan. 27 of important new research findings that significantly shift the date for migration of human ancestors out of Africa. The announcement was made by a team of archaeologists that included Anthony Marks, SMU professor emeritus in the Department of Anthropology, who analyzed the evidence for the finding, Paleolithic stone tools.

In a story by the Los Angeles Times, Marks is quoted as saying the tools are the “first material evidence” that people ventured out of Africa 60,000 years earlier than previously thought.

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New findings reveal that modern humans left Africa much earlier than previously thought

RT_sci_jan28_Armitage.jpgAn international team of scientists, including Anthony Marks, professor emeritus at Southern Methodist Univeristy, have rejected the existing view that modern humans left Africa around 70,000 years ago. Their data reveal that humans left Africa at least 50,000 years earlier than previously suggested and were, in fact, present in eastern Arabia as early as 125,000 years ago.

These “anatomically modern” humans — you and me — had evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago and subsequently populated the rest of the world.

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Archaeology: “Undiscovery of Year” to Meltzer for refuting comet theory

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Archaeology magazine, published by the Archaeological Institute of America, recognized
SMU archaeologist David Meltzer and his colleague Vance Holliday of the University of Arizona for their “undiscovery” that the important ancient Clovis culture didn’t die out from the impact of a comet.

Melter and Holliday, who published their research in the October issue of Current Anthropology, challenged the controversial theory that the impact of an ancient comet devastated the Clovis people, one of the earliest known cultures to inhabit North America.

Nothing in the archaeological record suggests an abrupt collapse of Clovis populations, say Meltzer and Holliday. (Image: NASA)
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Live Science: Archaeologist Recreates Stone Age Technology

flintknapper-eren-101112-02.jpgLive Science is featuring an interview with Metin I. Eren, a Ph.D. candidate in the SMU Department of Anthropology.

In the November 12 piece, “Science Lives: Archaeologist Recreates Stone Age Technology,” Eren answers the ScienceLives 10 Questions to elaborate on his expertise in Stone Age archaeology, human evolution and experimental archaeology.

An expert flintknapper, Eren can accurately replicate prehistoric stone-tool technology to investigate prehistoric tool efficiency, design and production.
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Scientists issue call to action for archaeological sites threatened by rising seas, urban development

Western%20Site%20Margin%20400x300.jpgShould global warming cause sea levels to rise as predicted in coming decades, thousands of archaeological sites in coastal areas around the world will be lost to erosion.

With no hope of saving all these sites, an SMU archaeologist and others call for scientists to assess the sites most at risk.

Photo: A site at Anacapa Island, southern California, is in danger of eroding into the ocean. (Credit: Reeder)
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The Washington Post: Evidence increases that Neanderthals more closely linked to humans

The Washington Post has noted the Neanderthal research of SMU archaeology graduate student Metin I. Eren in a new article “Neanderthals reimagined” that looks out the changing scientific interpretation of humans ancestors.

Reporter Marc Kaufman in the Oct. 5 article Neanderthals reimagined cites Eren’s 2007 research as some of the scientific evidence showing Neanderthals were smarter than once thought, and more like sisters and brothers to modern humans, rather than cousins, as previously perceived.

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USA Today: Researchers — Clovis people didn’t disappear because of comet

BwD%20Clovis%20type%20specimens%20II%20150x120px.jpgUSA Today has written about the research of SMU archaeologist David Meltzer that challenges the controversial theory that an ancient comet devastated the Clovis people, one of the earliest known cultures in North America.

Writing online in USA Today’s Science Fair section, journalist Elizabeth Weise notes that Meltzer demonstrates in a recent study that there is nothing in the archaeological record to suggest an abrupt collapse of Clovis populations.
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