Faculty News

Bipedalism: The Science of Upright Walking - edX

Have you ever wondered why humans walk on two legs rather than four? In this course, we will explore how science investigates this unusual form of locomotion. We will start our investigation by looking at the mechanics of upright walking in humans and comparing that to bipedal locomotion in large birds, bears, and apes.

Learn more about the course and enroll.

What are the Arts and Sciences? A Guide for the Curious

What, exactly, are the arts and sciences? That’s the question Dan Rockmore, the William H. Neukom 1964 Distinguished Professor of Computational Science, asked himself and 26 other faculty members this year. Each answer grew into a chapter for a book he edited, called, as you might expect, What Are the Arts and Sciences? A Guide for the Curious (Dartmouth College Press, 2017).

Read the full article in Dartmouth News.

Quote of the Day - June 6, 2017 Chelsey Kivland

I had assumed that the small lump in my breast was a blocked milk duct from nursing my seven-month-old son. The news that I had stage 2 breast cancer stunned.

“But it’s not in my family,” I told the radiologist. “And I have a healthy lifestyle! Why did I get breast cancer?”

In one way or another, friends and relatives here in the U.S. asked the same question. Why had this happened to me? Their explanations coalesced around a single point: bad genes.

But when I told my friends and host family in Haiti, where I’ve been studying social and political life for the past decade, their reactions were different.

Read the full article on The Conversation.

New South African Fossils Add to the Story of Human Evolution

New fossils from the species Homo naledi add to an earlier trove of fossils whose discovery was announced in 2015. Jeremy DeSilva, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology, was a member of the international team that analyzed the fossils, and he talks about what the new findings mean for scientists’ understanding of human evolution.

Read the article in Dartmouth News.

Quote of the Day - May 1, 2017 Jeremy DeSilva

Modern humans give birth in a way quite different from how their primate relatives do it, according to research described in the book "Human Birth: An Evolutionary Perspective" (1987, Aldine Transaction) by Wanda Trevathan. This is likely because of both the unusually large size of the modern human brain and the way a woman's pelvis is positioned for upright walking, Trevathan wrote. Understanding the way in which human childbirth evolved could also shed light on how unique human traits such as large brains and upright postures emerged over time.

Read the full article in LiveScience.

Quote of the Day - April 3, 2017 Sergei Kan

"The Russian era was about paternalistic control, but the Russian goal was not to transform life radically, but to harness the people for economic purposes," Sergei Kan, tells the "New York Times," in an article about the transition from Russian to American possession of Alaska. "With the Americans, it was accompanied with a much more forceful Westernization." Read the full article.

 

Hunter-gatherer residential mobility and the marginal value of rainforest patches

Check out this new paper by a team of Dartmouth anthropologists: Hunter-gatherer residential mobility and the marginal value of rainforest patches

Significance

Hunter-gatherers are notable for their high levels of mobility, but the ecological and social cues that determine the timing of camp movements (residential mobility) are poorly understood. Using models from foraging theory, we found that, for one population of hunter-gatherers, camp movements coincided with the point at which resource acquisition declined to a critical threshold level, but before local resources were completely depleted. These results suggest that hunter-gatherer residential mobility is constrained in a predictable fashion by rates of local resource depletion.

Abstract

Anthropology Day!

February 16, 2017 is Anthropology Day!

It's an opportunity for anthropologists around the globe to share their enthusiasm for the discipline with the people around them

At Dartmouth, we'll be celebrating the day by opening our labs and offices for demonstrations and discussions about archaeology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology. If you can't make one of the open houses, stop by the fourth floor of Silsby Hall for a bite to eat and chat with the faculty about the discipline, about research opportunities and your own interest in Anthropology.

Here's the schedule of events for the day:

9:00-11:00a – Open house in the Human Evolution Lab – Silsby 013

View Dartmouth’s growing collection of hominid fossils and speak with EEES graduate student Ellie McNutt

9:30-11:30a – Open house in the Archaeology Teaching Lab - Silsby 317

Discuss what’s old and what’s new around the world with Dartmouth’s own archaeologists Profs. Deborah Nichols and Jesse Casana

1:00-3:00p – Open house in the Biological Anthropology Lab – Silsby 318

Quote of the Day - 1/20/17: Nathaniel Dominy

From the February 2017 issue of National Geographic:

The story of humanity’s love affair with alcohol goes back to a time before farming—to a time before humans, in fact. Our taste for tipple may be a hardwired evolutionary trait that distinguishes us from most other animals.

The active ingredient common to all alcoholic beverages is made by yeasts: microscopic, single-celled organisms that eat sugar and excrete carbon dioxide and ethanol, the only potable alcohol. That’s a form of fermentation. Most modern makers of beer, wine, or sake use cultivated varieties of a single yeast genus called Saccharomyces (the most common is S. cerevisiae, from the Latin word for “beer,” cerevisia). But yeasts are diverse and ubiquitous, and they’ve likely been fermenting ripe wild fruit for about 120 million years, ever since the first fruits appeared on Earth.

From our modern point of view, ethanol has one very compelling property: It makes us feel good. Ethanol helps release serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins in the brain, chemicals that make us happy and less anxious.

Artist on Campus: Tibetan and Himalayan Lifeworlds

A new exhibit in the Baker-Berry Library at Dartmouth, Tibetan and Himalayan Lifeworlds, provides a window onto the unique culture and environment of the ‘Roof of the World.’ This exhibit explores the social and religious practices that shape life in Asia’s high mountain environments, explores the political history of the region, and describes some of the encounters between foreigners and Himalayan and Tibetan people over time. The exhibit has been curated by Senior Lecturer Kenneth Bauer and Associate Professor Sienna Craig, who have lived and worked in the region for decades.

Tibetan and Himalayan Lifeworlds is enriched by the presence on campus of artist Tenzin Norbu. Born in 1970 in the Himalayan region of Dolpo, Nepal, Norbu studied traditional thangka painting as well as Buddhism from his father, following a lineage of painters that dates back more than 400 years. He is now one of the leading figures in contemporary Tibetan art.  In addition to being a painter and lama (religious and community leader), Norbu is a social entrepreneur, encouraging education and sustainable development in one of Nepal’s most remote districts.

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