Family Reunion

Fossils of a new human ancestor identified in cave in South Africa are exciting on their own. Together, they raise questions about whether our earliest ancestors deliberately cared for the bodies of the dead.

Aztec Marriage: A Lesson for Chief Justice Roberts

No, the Supreme Court did not overthrow Aztec marriage today. When claims that marriage has been a single "social institution" that formed the basis for human society get strange...

Chez Chimp: Why Our Primate Cousins Don't Cook

Chimpanzees like their tubers cooked. What does that tell us about what it means to be human?

Observing a New Year

January 1: New Year's Day. While many societies mark the beginning of the year on other dates, the transition from one year to the next is often a time for reflection, a potential crisis, a moment of renewal. Does that qualify as a human universal?

Who Are All Those Once-Removed Cousins and Unrelated Aunts?

On the holidays, we gather with relatives: and in some circles, we debate how we are related. How did that question become expert knowledge? An anthropologist should know the answer... but it isn't that simple.

Neanderthal Rorschach Test

Cave walls reveal previously unnoticed designs. If Neanderthals were their makers, what does that tell us about them-- and us?

You're 15, You're Beautiful, and You're Mayan

The remains of a girl who died 12,000 years ago in Yucatan are genetically linked to modern Native Americans—now it's time to reconsider why anyone ever suggested early humans in the Americas weren't the ancestors of the people who occupied the Americas in the 16th century.

The Neanderthal or the Tiger

So Neanderthals probably ate significant amounts of plants. Why did anyone ever think otherwise?

Making a Monkey Out of Early Peopling of the Americas

Which is the simpler explanation: that there were human beings in South America earlier than archaeologists thought—or that South American monkeys were producing stone tools 20,000 years ago?

'Tis Better to Give Than to Receive

Do you love the gifts you got this year? Would you trade them in for money? What the gap between those questions measures is impossible to measure economically, but the heart of an anthropological analysis of gift-giving.

Pigs and Chimpanzees Living in Sin?

On Thanksgiving weekend, some of our readers may feel like a pig. But no: there is no basis to claim that it is just nature because of our chimpanzee-pig ancestry. That's just crazy.


The Dmanisi skulls are cool. Are they a revolution? Do they have to be?

Are You a Boy, or Are You a Girl? (Cave Artist Edition)

Research suggests women made hand prints on Paleolithic cave walls—what this means depends on what you think Paleolithic art means.

We Two, We Happy Two...

The origin of human monogamy is becoming clearer: or not. But why the focus on pairs in a social species, anyway?

Where a Gender Spectrum May Be Taking Us

When young people stop accepting being described as either him or her, are we heading for a world of complete individualism, or one where being human is all that matters?

Me Jane, You Tarzan: The Real Science of Sex Hierarchy

When a news program claims that it is unnatural for women to earn more than men, and claims it is anti-science not to denounce this, we ask: what does science actually tell us about "dominance"?

It's Still Chilly Out There

Sobering new study of sexual assault and harassment at biological anthropology field sites shows there is still a long way to go to retain women in this branch of science, and reduce obstacles to their full participation.

Ask An Anthropologist about Marriage

The Supreme Court hearings on Prop 8 predictably include claims about marriage as a long-term institution. Anthropologists have something to contribute here...

70% Male, 100% Human

The writer of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" has a message; 'It's my belief that we are on a continuum between male and female". Where his claim to be "70% male" fits in contemporary gender theory.

Which Came First: the Dog or the Master?

Dogs and humans: a tangled relationship

A Monkey Wrench in Human/Neanderthal Relationship Models?

Things are getting more realistic: Study of howler monkeys in Mexico complicates the question of neanderthal/early modern human interbreeding based on models of local population dynamics.

Art and Progress

Newly published study concludes Palaeolithic artists drew more life-like animals. So much for progress...

Civilization (and Its Contents)

Burial from 700 BC in Guatemala, of a ruler who "laid foundations for Maya civilization." What's that mean?

So What's Wrong with Embryology?

When Georgia Rep. Paul Broun-- a member of the House Science Committee-- denounced evolution and the Big Bang, it sort of made sense. But why embryology?

Politics of Authenticity: Elizabeth Warren Edition

What makes a family tradition about identity "authentic"?

The Politics of Authenticity: Scott Brown Edition

Can you really just "see" someone's ancestry? Ask Scott Brown.

The Gender of the Blog

Am I what I write? And, what does it mean when what I write is older and of the opposite sex?

New Things: Explaining Innovation

New early dates for pots in China raise the question: how did humans "invent" pottery?

"Are You a Boy, or Are You a Girl?"

Trying to sort men and women into two categories in the Olympics defies research and ethics.

Why Prefer Mystery to Knowledge?

Resistance to science is rooted in childhood learning; so it should be no surprise when the public prefers an exciting story of discovery to a sober story of archaeological analysis.