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Annual Edition: Physical Anthropology 12/13, Twenty-First Edition
1. Was Darwin Wrong?, David Quammen, Online Extra, National Geographic Magazine, November 2004
Evolutionary theory is not just an ephemeral guess, but is a well-established set of... MORE that has come to be critically important to human welfare, medical science, and understanding the world around us.
2. The Facts of Evolution, Michael Shermer, from Why Darwin Matters, Henry Holt & Co., 2006
Evolutionary theory is rooted in a rich array of data from the past. While the specifics of evolution are still being studied and unraveled, the general theory is the most tested in science, tests spanning the past century and a half.
3. Evolution in Action, Jonathan Weiner, Natural History, November 2005
More than 250 scientists around the world are documenting evolution in action. Some of the most dramatic cases are those that result from the ecological pressures that human beings are imposing on the planet.
4. The Other Darwinism, Frans de Waal, from The Age of Empathy, Harmony Books, 2009
Some have interpreted Darwin's theory of natural selection as a validation of dog-eat-dog laissez-faire capitalism. Frans de Waal cautions that while competition is a factor in how evolution works, so are cooperation and empathy.
5. The Latest Face of Creationism, Glenn Branch and Eugenie C. Scott, Scientific American, January 2009
Creationists have long battled against the teaching of evolution in the classroom. Because of a series of legal setbacks, their strategies have had to evolve from promoting their own perspective to undermining science literacy.
6. Why Should Students Learn Evolution?, Brian J. Alters and Sandra M. Alters, Defending Evolution in the Classroom, Jones & Bartlett Publishers, Inc., 2001
In explaining how organisms of today got to be the way they are, the evolutionary perspective helps us to make sense of the history of life and explains relationships among species. It is an essential framework within which scientists organize and interpret observations, and make predictions about the living world.
7. First, Kill the Babies, Carl Zimmer, Discover, September 1996
Infanticide has been found to exist among many primate species in addition to other kinds of animals. At first, it seemed to contradict one of the hallmarks of primate social life—long time intimate care of the young. Yet, another view is that it is part of an alternative reproductive strategy that enhances the fitness and survival of the next generation.
8. Married to the Mob, Sharon Gursky-Doyen, Natural History, October 2010
Once thought to be solitary, reclusive creatures, the hard-to-track, nocturnal spectral tarsiers have been found to be aggressive in the face of predators, flexible in their family arrangements, and quite social when they need to be.
9. Mission Orangutan, Bill Brubaker, Smithsonian, December 2010
Over the past three decades, palm oil plantations have been destroying one of the most ecologically diverse rainforests in the world. During this time, about 3,000 orangutans have died each year as their habitat is literally removed from underneath them. While Biruté Galdikas has been studying the orangutans for the past 40 years, she has also been doing her best to protect them. She has won some battles, but can she win the war?
10. The 2% Difference, Robert Sapolsky, Discover, April 2006
Now that scientists have decoded the chimpanzee genome, we know that we share 98% of our DNA with chimps. So how can we be so different? The answer lies in the fact that a very few mutations make for some very big differences.
11. The Mind of the Chimpanzee, Jane Goodall, from Through a Window, Houghton Mifflin, 1990
It has long been recognized that the differences in anatomy and physiology between apes and humans is only a matter of degree. Because of the work of Jane Goodall, we have come to realize that there is continuity in the mental and emotional developments as well.
12. Got Culture?, Craig Stanford, from Significant Others, Basic Books, 2001
The study of the rudimentary cultural abilities of the chimpanzee not only sharpens our understanding of our uniqueness as humans, but it also suggests an ancient ancestry of the mental abilities that we and the chimpanzees have in common.
13. Dim Forest, Bright Chimps, Christophe Boesch and Hedwige Boesch-Achermann, Natural History, September 1991
Contrary to expectations, forest-dwelling chimpanzees seem to be more committed to cooperative hunting and tool use than are savanna chimpanzees. Such findings may have implications for the understanding of the course of human evolution.
14. Peace Among Primates, Robert M. Sapolsky, Greater Good Magazine, April 5, April 12, April 20, 2008
Are we humans hard-wired for violence? Recent studies indicate that the behavior of at least some primate species, and certainly our own, is driven by the social structures and ecological settings, not simply by our genes.
15. What Are Friends For?, Barbara Smuts, Natural History, February 1987
An understanding of friendship bonds that exist among baboons is not only destroying our stereotypes about monkeys in the wild, but is also calling into question the traditional views concerning the relationships between the sexes in early hominid evolution.
16. What's Love Got to Do with It?: Sex among Our Closest Relatives Is a Rather Open Affair, Meredith F. Small, Discover, June 1992
The bonobos' use of sex to reduce tension and to form alliances is raising some interesting questions regarding human evolution. Does this behavior help to explain the origin of our sexuality? Or should we see it as just another primate aberration that occurred after the split from the human lineage?
17. The Double Life of Women, Annie Murphy Paul, Psychology Today, November/December 2010
Women actually have two sexualities, one when they are ovulating and the other during the rest of the month. Moreover, the invisible turns of the reproductive cycle shape the everyday behavior of both women and men as her cycle influences not just her preference in a partner, but her personality as well.
18. Why Women Live Longer, Thomas Kirkwood, Scientific American, November 2010
The life expectancy of women, on average, is significantly greater than that of men. Although many theories have been put forth, usually involving differences in lifestyle, the overriding factor seems to be that women are the procreators of the world and that men, once they have passed on their genes, are a little more expendable.
19. Mothers and Others, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Natural History, May 2001
In many species, including our own, mothers are assisted in rearing their offspring by others. The more we adhere to this evolutionary heritage of "cooperative breeding," the more likely we are to raise emotionally healthy children.
20. The Human Family's Earliest Ancestors, Ann Gibbons, Smithsonian, March 2010
A rare hominid skeleton from 4.4 million years ago displays some surprising features, such as a skull and pelvis that hint at upright walking combined with hands and feet that show a facility for climbing trees. Is she our direct ancestor or an early offshoot?
21. Scavenger Hunt, Pat Shipman, Natural History, April 1984
Microscopic analyses of tooth wear and cut marks on bones, combined with an increased understanding of the advantages of bipedalism, point in the direction of a "Man the Scavenger" model rather than "Man the Hunter."
22. The Scavenging of "Peking Man," Noel T. Boaz and Russell L. Ciochon, Natural History, March 2001
Dragon Bone Hill in China is the site of the cave that yielded the first, and the still largest, cache of fossils of Homo erectus pekinensis. In the process of applying new methods of analysis to the evidence, the authors try to determine whether these relatives of ours used fire, and whether they were cannibals, hunters, or the hunted.
23. Hard Times among the Neanderthals, Erik Trinkaus, Natural History, December 1978
In spite of the coarseness of their lifestyle and the apparent violence between individuals, Neanderthal skeletal remains reveal a prehistoric record of affection and respect, and they should be accorded the status of human beings.
24. Rethinking Neanderthals, Joe Alper, Smithsonian, June 2003
Contrary to the widely held view that Neanderthals were evolutionary failures, the fact is that they persisted through some of the harshest climates imaginable. Over a period of 200,000 years, they had made some rather sophisticated tools and have had a social life that involved taking care of the wounded and burying the dead.
25. Twilight of the Neandertals, Kate Wong, Scientific American, August 2009
With their large brains and enormous strength, Neanderthals were well suited to the rigors of hunting ice age mammals. But as the climate changed and a new kind of human appeared on the landscape, their numbers dwindled and they could no longer compete.
26. A New View of the Birth of Homo sapiens, Ann Gibbons, Science, January 28, 2011
Did modern humans come out of Africa, spread around the world and replace, rather than mate with, the archaic humans they met? New genomic data is shedding light on this decades-long dispute. It appears that neither the out-of-Africa replacement model nor the multi-regional hypothesis will completely win out.
27. Meet the New Human Family, Jill Neimark, Discover, May 2011
There was a time when our ancestors shared the planet with other human species. Today, we stand alone, but the remains of the others, in the form of fossils as well as in the record of our DNA, tell remarkable stories.
28. Refuting a Myth About Human Origins, John J. Shea, American Scientist, March/April 2011
For decades, archeologists have believed that modern human behavior as reflected in tools and food-getting strategies developed along with what is identified in the fossil record as "modern Homo sapiens," but archeological evidence now shows that some of these behaviors, most importantly our capacity for wide behavioral variability, actually occurred among people who had lived very long ago, particularly in Africa.
29. The Birth of Childhood, Ann Gibbons, Science Magazine, November 14, 2008
Unlike our closest relatives, the apes, humans depend on their parents for a long period after weaning. New investigative technology has allowed researchers to determine when and why our long childhood evolved.
30. A Bigger, Better Brain, Maddalena Bearzi and Craig Stanford, American Scientist, September/October 2010
The diverse food-getting strategies employed by dolphin and ape societies are an excellent gauge of their social complexity as well as an example of how brain complexity, social complexity, and ecological complexity are all linked.
31. The Naked Truth, Nina G. Jablonski, Scientific American, February 2010
Recent findings lay bare the origins of human hairlessness and hint that naked skin was a key factor in the emergence of other human traits, such as the ability to cover long distances in the pursuit of food.
32. Can White Men Jump?: Ethnicity, Genes, Culture, and Success, David Shenk from The Genius in All of Us, Doubleday, 2010
Clusters of ethnic and geographical athletic success prompt suspicions of hidden genetic advantages. The real advantages are much more cultural, more nuanced, and less hidden.
33. Skin Deep, Nina G. Jablonski and George Chaplin, Scientific American, October 2002
Although recent migrations and cultural adaptation tend to complicate the picture, human skin color has evolved to be dark enough to prevent sunlight from destroying the nutrient folate, but light enough to foster the production of vitamin D.
34. How Real Is Race?: Using Anthropology to Make Sense of Human Diversity, Carol Mukhopadhyay and Rosemary C. Henze, Phi Delta Kappan, May 2003
The authors claim that race is not a scientifically valid biological category. Instead, looking at it as a historically specific way of thinking about categorizing and treating human beings, race can be seen as a cultural invention.
35. The Tall and the Short of It, Barry Bogin, Discover, February 1998
Rather than being able to adapt to a single environment, we can, thanks to our genetically endowed plasticity, change our bodies to cope with a wide variety of environments. In this light, research suggests that we can use the average height of any group of people as a barometer of the health of that particular society.
36. Dead Men Do Tell Tales, William R. Maples, from Dead Men Do Tell Tales, Broadway Books, 1994
This classic piece by Maples maintains its relevance as a plea for the continued and expanded use of forensic anthropology. There are just too many stories yet to be told and so much justice yet to be carried out.
37. The Viral Superhighway, George J. Armelagos, The Sciences, January/February 1998
The modern world is becoming a viral superhighway. Environmental disruptions and international travel have brought on a new era of human illness, one marked by new diabolical diseases.
38. The Perfect Plague, Jared Diamond and Nathan Wolfe, Discover, November 2008
Globalization, changing climate, and the threat of drug resistance have conspired to set the stage for that perfect microbial storm; a situation in which an emerging pathogen—another HIV or smallpox perhaps—might burst on the scene and kill millions of people before we can respond.
39. The Inuit Paradox, Patricia Gadsby, Discover, October 2004
The traditional diet of the Far North, with its high-protein, high-fat content, shows that there are no essential foods—only essential nutrients.
40. Dr. Darwin, Lori Oliwenstein, Discover, October 1995
The application of Darwin's theory of evolution to the understanding of human diseases will not only help us better treat the symptoms of diseases, but also helps us understand how microbes and humans have evolved in relation to one another.
41. Curse and Blessing of the Ghetto, Jared Diamond, Discover, March 1991
Tay-Sachs disease is a choosy killer, one that targeted Eastern European Jews above all others for centuries. By decoding its lethal logic, we can learn a great deal about how genetic diseases evolve—and how they can be conquered.
42. Ironing It Out, Sharon Moalem, from Survival of the Sickest, HarperCollins, 2007
Hemochromatosis is a hereditary disease that disrupts the human body's ability to metabolize iron. To understand why such a deadly disease would be bred into our genetic code, we need to take a closer look at European history, the bubonic plague, and medical practices that were discredited.
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