evolutionary anthropology

We cannot be top country if we let science and education be run by people who think the dinosaurs drowned in Noah’s flood.
—  Katha Pollitt

[Picture: Background — a six piece pie style colour split, alternating purple and green. Foreground — a picture of a fox. Top text: “Econ professor gives a lecture on the history of property rights, said that hunter gatherers didn’t have a sense of property” Bottom text: “Someone didn’t read ‘The Old Way’ ”]


Elaine Morgan says we evolved from aquatic apes

Academia says, “No.”


Elaine Morgan OBE (born November 7, 1920) is a Welsh writer for television and also the author of several books on evolutionary anthropology, especially the aquatic ape hypothesis (AAH).

Morgan’s version of the AAH has achieved much popular appeal, but has never achieved significant acceptance or serious scrutiny within the scholarly community.  Despite this, Morgan continues to promote the theory, with invitations to speak at universities and symposia including a TED talk in 2009 [shown above].  



Right or wrong, this delightful elderly lady is at the very least deserving of an audience and an attentive one at that. She exudes enthusiasm. Her talk takes just over 17 minutes. Please give her a listen.

I've realized...

I’d like to do some studies on Bonobos. A lot of people say to me, “I thought you wanted to study Human Evolution?” and I have to explain to them that understanding Chimpanzee’s behavior and “culture” is a way to understand our own… especially seeing how we share 98% of our DNA with them. Bonobos are of huge interest to me because of their different way of living; they are mostly peaceful and matriarchal. 

Years Ago
Anatomically modern humans evolve. Seventy thousand years later, their descendents create cave paintings — early expressions of consciousness.

4 million In Africa, an early hominid, affectionately named “Lucy” by scientists, lives. The ice ages begin, and many large mammals go extinct.

65 million A massive asteroid hits the Yucatan Peninsula, and ammonites and non-avian dinosaurs go extinct. Birds and mammals are among the survivors.

130 million As the continents drift toward their present positions, the earliest flowers evolve, and dinosaurs dominate the landscape. In the sea, bony fish diversify.

225 million Dinosaurs and mammals evolve. Pangea has begun to break apart.

248 million Over 90% of marine life and 70% of terrestrial life go extinct during the Earth’s largest mass extinction. Ammonites are among the survivors.

250 million The supercontinent called Pangea forms. Conifer-like forests, reptiles, and synapsids (the ancestors of mammals) are common.

360 million Four-limbed vertebrates move onto the land as seed plants and large forests appear. The Earth’s oceans support vast reef systems.

420 million Land plants evolve, drastically changing Earth’s landscape and creating new habitats.

450 million Arthropods move onto the land. Their descendants evolve into scorpions, spiders, mites, and millipedes.

500 million Fish-like vertebrates evolve. Invertebrates, such as trilobites, crinoids, brachiopids, and cephalopods, are common in the oceans.

555 million Multi-cellular marine organisms are common. The diverse assortment of life includes bizarre-looking animals like Wiwaxia.

3.5 billion Unicellular life evolves. Photosynthetic bacteria begin to release oxygen into the atmosphere.

3.8 billion Replicating molecules (the precursors of DNA) form.

4.6 billion The Earth forms and is bombarded by meteorites and comets.

Credit: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

ID #99108

Name: Mari
Age: 19
Country: USA

hi! mari is my nickname (short for marianthi - it’s a name i prefer to go by). i’m a college student and my majors are biology and anthropology. i want to go into evolutionary biology/anthropology (i’m very enthusiastic about it!!!!). i love science and culture studies and am pretty enthusiastic about bones and fossils. i’m also learning modern greek (i’m a bit of a mutt when it comes to where my family is from but i’m more greek than anything else). i’m an aquarius! i love talking about astrology.

i enjoy a lot of classical things like art (bouguereau is my favorite artist), music (opera and choir/hymn music - but i’m not religious), and books/movies (jane eyre, pride and prejudice). i love plants and drying/pressing flowers and also have an interest in the occult.

i’d love to learn new things from someone! thank you!!

Preferences: a) 16+
b) open minded
c) i’m an egalitarian but i’d prefer not to be in contact with someone who is very fanatic about liberalism/social justice. it just complicates things, sorry!
d) i’d love to send letters irl (but i’m ok with online too)!
e)i’d LOVEEE if someone spoke both english and greek, but this isn’t a requirement.

Oldest Fossils of Homo Sapiens Found in Morocco, Altering History of Our Species
Newly discovered fossils indicate Homo sapiens were present in Africa 300,000 years ago, scientists reported. Until now, the earliest evidence dated back just 195,000 years.
By Carl Zimmer

Fossils discovered in Morocco are the oldest known remains of Homo sapiens, scientists reported on Wednesday, a finding that rewrites the story of mankind’s origins and suggests that our species evolved in multiple locations across the African continent.

“We did not evolve from a single ‘cradle of mankind’ somewhere in East Africa,” said Philipp Gunz, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and a co-author of two new studies on the fossils, published in the journal Nature. “We evolved on the African continent.”

Until now, the oldest known fossils of our species dated back just 195,000 years. The Moroccan fossils, by contrast, are roughly 300,000 years old. Remarkably, they indicate that early Homo sapiens had faces much like our own, although their brains differed in fundamental ways.

We are built to be effective animals, not happy ones … Of course, we’re designed to pursue happiness; and the attainment of Darwinian goals—sex, status, and so on—often brings happiness, at least for a while. Still, the frequent absence of happiness is what keeps us pursuing it, and thus makes us productive.
—  Robert Wright, The Moral Animal (1994)
Functions of Social Controls and Political Organization

Note: Stories, facts, and information provided here are not meant as encouragements for writers to simply insert into their works. Additional research may be needed. They should only be used as inspiration and to help with understanding how cultures are put together. Please use this knowledge to inform your own culture creations without full appropriation. Find the rest of the series here.

Every society has some kind of system of political organization. Anthropologists don’t restrict the study of these systems solely to states. The study of politics is placed in the framework of evolution as well as utilizing cross-cultural studies for comparisons. These global and comparative approaches include non-state as well as state civilizations.

Political systems allow for regulating decision-making, resource control and allocation, as well as maintaining social control and resolving conflict.

Many anthropologists have noted a correlation between sociopolitical types and adaptive strategies:

bands <–> foragers

  • Leadership in foraging bands are frequently a person who leads solely on personal merits. They can be called “headmen” or “big men.”
  • Not true leaders, but “first among equals”
  • Possess some culturally valued skill such as being a good hunter, an eloquent speaker, or a spirit medium.
  • Lead by example.
  • People feel obligated to obey.
  • Prestige via such outward shows of gift-giving and generosity to individuals or the community such as potlatches(I’ll talk about the specifics of potlatches in a future post.)
  • Comparative instability to other more complex political organization systems since they have no true claim to leadership other than their personal merits.
  • Lack of private property means theft is not common.
  • Conflicts often based on adultery or accusations of some other type of anti-social behavior.
  • Social control is maintained by informal sanctions based largely on public opinion.
  • The position of big man is not an “office” to be held, and there is no succession.

tribes <–> horticulture & pastoralism

  • As an intermediary step between foragers and chiefdoms, tribes have a much more flexible ability for political organization.
  • They frequently have a mix of the big man system and the chief, with a leader who is naturally good at something valued by the society, but the rank may or may not be passed down a lineage.

chiefdoms <–> horticulture & small-scale intensive agriculture

  • The position of a chief is an inherent societal rank.
  • Commonly accompanies a pyramidal, hierarchical structure.
  • Chiefs hold office and title, and are installed in societal positions.
  • The power they hold is not of their own self, but of the group.
  • Leverage over group inherently due.

states <–> intensive agriculture

  • Any sociopolitical organizations seen in today’s first-world states are possible options.
  • Presidents, matriarchy, patriarchy, dictatorship, held by either social opinion, lineage right, force, or any other number of manners.

Social controls are mechanisms that encourage adherence to social norms most of the time. They are another human cultural universal, but they do not require the presence of courts and codified laws and many believe. Mechanisms for social control can be formal or informal:

  • Informal: socialization, public opinion, corporate lineages, supernatural beliefs/ancestor worship, age organizations, witchcraft beliefs/accusations, etc.
  • Formal: song duels, intermediaries, elder councils, oaths and ordeals, courts and codified laws, etc.
  • (want to hear more about one of these topics? send me an ask requesting an article!)

How does this help a writer?
These are just basics and generalities to get you started with figuring out what kind of political leadership your civilization may naturally gravitate toward. What they actually use isn’t actually as important as the means of social control. What is it that keeps people from doing certain things? The most popularly-used methods of social control are laws and codes. I don’t believe those are the most interesting, though! Some tribal societies have complex sets of taboos that keep people from killing each other or poisoning animals or whatever actions are considered “inhumane” or “unacceptable.” Think hard about whether your civilization would benefit from some other methods of social control that the, frankly, overused codes and laws.

anonymous asked:

Can you post your list of books to be read? (Spotted in your tags haha) or maybe some anthro book recs? Less archaeology if you can :p thanks!

What’s wrong with archaeology books?  ;-)

I have several books that I can recommend or that are on my “want to read list”.

Books I’ve read and recommend:

Clearing the Plains by James Daschuk - This is primarily a history book about how diseases have impacted the First Nations peoples of Canada but I read it as a supplement to my Medical Anthropology course

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language by David Anthony - Yes, it’s bronze-age archaeology but there’s a linguistics focus too!

Fragments of the Afghan Frontier by Magnus Marsden and Benjamin Hopkins - an ethnography and history of the formation of Afghanistan.  As much as Afghanistan has been in the news over the past decades, I don’t think most of us really understand how the country came to be and why the borders are so problematic for their society.

Mothers and Others by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy - I read a lot of Hrdy’s work for my primatology courses and evolutionary anthropology courses. I enjoyed her writing so much that when I found this book, I bought it as soon as I saw it.

Pathologies of Power by Paul Farmer - This was required reading for my medical anthropology course. I don’t think I would have read it on my own but I’m really glad that I did.

Books I want to read: (if you’ve read any of theses - let me know how you liked them!)

Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes by Svante Pääbo

Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums by Samuel J. Redman

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins by Ian Tattersall