Anthropology

Dogs First Tamed in China – To Be Food?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 4, 2009   View Article

Wolves were domesticated no more than 16,300 years ago in southern China, a new genetic analysis suggests—and it’s possible the canines were tamed to be livestock, not pets, the study author speculates.

“In this region, even today, eating dog is a big cultural thing,” noted study co-author Peter Savolainen, a biologist at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

Where Did Dogs Become Our “Best Friends”?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 3, 2009   View Article

DNA from scrappy dogs in African villages is raising doubts about a theory that dogs first became “man’s best friend” in East Asia.

Based on DNA evidence, scientists believe that domestic dogs originated from Eurasian gray wolves sometime between 15,000 and 40,000 years ago.

Ancient Gem Studded Teeth Show Skill of Ancient Dentist

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 18, 2009   View Article

The glittering “grills” of some hip-hop stars aren’t exactly unprecedented. Sophisticated dentistry allowed Native Americans to add bling to their teeth as far back as 2,500 years ago, a new study says.

Maya and other ancient peoples of southern North America went to “dentists”—among the earliest known—to beautify their chompers with notches, grooves, and semi-precious stones, according to a recent analysis of thousands of teeth examined from collections in Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.

“Hobbits” Not Good Runners; Proof of New Human Species?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 8, 2009   View Article

Ancient “hobbit” feet contain clues that the diminutive fossil creatures, found on the Indonesian island of Flores, had a very different style of walking than that of modern humans, according to a new analysis.

“In several ways, their feet are what we call in the business ‘primitive,'” said study co-author William Harcourt-Smith, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The finding, he added, is further evidence that the 18,000-year-old fossils represent a unique species, Homo floresiensis.

Ancient Egyptians Drank Medicinal Wines

Publication: By John Roach   Date: April 15, 2009   View Article

“Doctor’s orders,” the pharaohs may have said with a wink as they took swigs of wine.

At least 5,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians had begun a long-standing tradition of infusing their libations with medicinal herbs, according to a new chemical analysis of residues on wine jugs.

The earliest written evidence for the practice comes from Egyptian papyri that date to 1850 B.C. The new find pushes archaeological evidence for medicinal wines back to 3150 B.C., the beginning of Egyptian history. The wine jar was found in the tomb of Scorpion I, one of the first pharaohs.

“It makes sense that it is part of this ongoing tradition that eventually starts to get recorded around 1850 B.C.,” Patrick McGovern, an archaeochemist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, told me.

McGovern is an expert on the origins and history of drinks that give a buzz. His new book, Uncorking the Past, is due out this fall.

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Ancient rock art from around the world

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: March 23, 2009   View Article

Even 15,000 years ago, humans were compelled to decorate the interior walls of their abodes. Back then – the Stone Age – home was often no more than a cave, but the artwork was sophisticated and sublime. Check out eight examples of rock art from around the world.

Oldest Human Footprints With Modern Anatomy Found

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 26, 2009   View Article

About 1.5 million years ago, human ancestors walked upright with a spring in their steps just as modern humans do today, suggests an analysis of ancient footprints found in northern Kenya.

The prints are the oldest known to show modern foot anatomy.

The discovery also helps round out the picture of a cooling and drying episode in Africa that compelled tree-dwelling human ancestors to venture into the open landscape for food, said John Harris, a paleoanthropologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

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