Remember How I Said Blogging is Totally Rad?
Actually, I quote some other folks & said it's important & can have an immediate impact. I wrote a piece comparing smartphones to cigarettes back in May based on some brainstorming I'd been doing in the classroom while teaching & even drew an original piece of art work for it that I thought quite clever. Then, unlike the penis diversity post I later did inspired by someone else's blog post about weird turtle wangs & based on my primate sex lectures that use Allan Dixson's monkey penis drawings that rocketed to among the most viewed posts by hundreds on the EvoS site, the smartphone piece got a measly 20-something hits. Well, today I got a call from CNN.com's Doug Gross to interview me about that essay for a story he published today on the ubiquity of iPhones. They... read more ❯
E.O. Wilson and The Social Instinct
Article: Wilson, E. O. (1976). The Social Instinct. Bulletin of the Academy of the Arts and Sciences, 30(1), 11-25. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3822607 Sociobiology is the study of the biological basis of all forms of social behavior in all organisms, and is part of an effort to bring biology as a science to psychology, anthropology, and sociology. It deals with thousands of species and their social aspects in hopes that data from other species can provide a historical perspective and basis for general laws of genetic social evolution. And then, hopefully, those can be extended to study humans. Wilson begins with insects, describing their social behaviors. Even though termites don't recognize each other as individuals (in the manner vertebrates do), they still manage to accomplish great feats in social groups. The build intricate and specific underground systems that allow them their livelihood. Termites also have specific bodies of soldiers that rush to attack, while others continue... read more ❯
Primates upon primates upon primates...
Hey ladies and lads, I'm doing the second half of Part 1 of The Primate Anthology, also known as pages 44- 87. APOLOGIES IN ADVANCE FOR LENGTH, I KNOW IT IS VERY LONG. Chapter 6: Daughters or Sons In many cultures, boys are more "beneficial" than girls. They are stronger, carry the family name, and they do not require large dowries in order to wed, like some daughters. So why, after all these years of attempted selective birthing (selective abortions, infanticide, etc), haven't we as a species developed into one that can produce the desired sex at will? Other species in the world have already accomplished this feat. The Atlantic silverside from North America that are born in relatively cool water are mostly females, while those who are born later when the water has warmed up are mostly males. Fig wasps also produce an interesting case. Their fertilized eggs become daughters, and... read more ❯
Molecular Genetics is NOT Rocket Science--Just Roll Up Your Sleeves
I typically start talking to students about molecular genetics by pointing out that while we share 98% of our genome with chimps, we share around 60% with bananas. So what's the significance of either of those numbers? What I'm getting at, in part, is that all living things share DNA & that what makes us different, to a great extent, is not that 2% or that 40% but how those genes are regulated & put to work. When I teach undergrads, I lecture on this stuff & we set up lab activities to help reinforce these principles & connect the dots. But when I teach grad students, my purpose is more to help guide them in learning how to learn what they need or want to know. So by & large, they do the presentations of the material & we (the whole class) help clarify things that remain obscure & connect the dots... read more ❯
Writing Thank You Notes for Articles that Blow Your Mind
The main purpose of the UA Anthropology Blog Network is to engage in public anthropology, but it is also about networking. Of course, these are both related. Engaging in public anthropology is a great way to get yourself known as a scholar. But what's with the throwing things out into the virtual void & hoping the right quiet voyeur sees it? Yes, you could skip the modern day armchair anthropology & get yourself to a conference, or you could just be a more aggressive armchair anthropologist! How did Frazer & the other Victorians amass enough material to write volume upon volume of those hoary snoozefests (that you dutifully read, no doubt!)? They wrote letters & asked for people to send them stuff. I love this blog post from ProfHacker on the Chronicles of Higher Education blog site: "Expand Your Academic Network in 5 Minutes." How could that possibly be effective?... read more ❯
The Rise of Physical Anthropology
We start our graduate core course in Physical Anthropology with a few articles on the history of the discipline, why it's historically called "physical" anthropology, & why it's now often termed "biological" anthropology. In the coming weeks, the students themselves will be posting their summaries of articles & discussing how the material relates to their own research interests. As we are a 4-field department, many of the students' primary interests are in archaeology, cultural anthropology, & linguistics (well, not this year, but in theory), but they have been encouraged to relate what they read to their own work, thus integrating the material at what I hope will be a deeper level than merely what they need to know for comps, & not to simply reiterate what the articles say about Physical Anthropology as a subdiscipline. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-cEDubwxKE The first day, aside from listening to me monologue for 2 hours (I would make a good... read more ❯
Welcome to Anthropology Blog Network Sites. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging! read more ❯
This site is currently under construction, but in the coming days it will provide a forum for blogging by University of Alabama Anthropology students, faculty, and staff. Graduate students in Principles of Physical Anthropology will be blogging as part of the course in an effort to develop their disciplinary acumen with public anthropology as a core practice, not just a philosophy. As Patrick Dunleavy and Chris Gilson state, Blogging is, quite simply, one of the most important things that an academic should be doing right now. If you are not in this course but are affiliated with the UA Anthropology Department and would like to blog via this network, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. read more ❯
The very last class brought us full circle. The kids encountered scenes with bones and material remains and used their skills in interpreting the symbolic information in so-called "garbage" and bone evidence to determine important facts about the scene. They were able to tell us if the death scene was that of a human or animal, if the person was young or old, and provide an interpretation of how the person might have lived or--gasp!--been murdered... read more ❯
Even though we taught the kids last week that we have to be careful in assuming too much about a person just because of the way he or she looks, we can tell a lot about a person by even just looking at bones. Forensic anthropologists have to do this all the time, as we have seen on shows like CSI, Bones, or NCIS. Unfortunately, it's usually not as easy or hi-tech as those shows make it out to me. However, the kids got to the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of how to make some basic forensic diagnoses. They were provided examples of deer bones and (fake) human skulls and pelvises. They already knew how to tell an animal bone from a human bone after their experiences running like baboons and gorillas. In this activity, they also learned how to tell the difference between... read more ❯