Faculty News

Pinching Figs Could Help Explain The Origin Of Our Fine Motor Skills

Check out this interesting article by Josh L Davis on IFLScience

photo credit: The ability of chimps to pinch and squeeze figs could help explain why humans have such impressive dexterity. Alain Houle

 

One of the key features that allowed humans as a species to develop and dominate was our ability to craft complex stone tools. This skill is in turn underpinned by our fine motor control skills and the precise movement of our fingers. How we first gained this aptitude has remained somewhat of a mystery, but a new study may shed some light.

Quoted: Professor Laura Ogden on the Everglades and the Gladesmen

"When Everglades National Park was established it was pretty dramatic for people who lived in the southern part of the Everglades," says Associate Professor of Anthropology Laura Ogden in a WGCU story about Everglades National Park and its plan to end the use of private airboats in the 109,000-acre East Everglades Expansion Area, which became part of the park almost 30 years ago.

Check out the complete story by Topher Forhecz HERE!

Nepal Summit Transforms Students Into Anthropologists

A Dartmouth Now article by Bill Platt:

Dartmouth students got a taste of professional anthropology fieldwork when international leaders of government, NGOs, academia, and the Nepali diaspora convened at the College for the Nepal Earthquake Summit last month.

As part of Kenneth Bauer’s class “Anthropology of Tibet and the Himalayas,” the students took detailed anthropological field notes from the summit proceedings, interviewed Nepali participants, and produced a collaborative ethnography of the three-day event.

Professor Casana on BBC Radio

Associate Professor of Anthropology Jesse Casana was featured on BBC Radio earlier this week. Professor Casana talked about archeology and looting in Syria, and his work with villagers who are now internally displaced, living in a camp on the border with Turkey. The interview is an episode in a BBC series called The Museum of Lost Objects.

Listen Here!

"The Museum of Lost Objects traces the histories of 10 antiquities or cultural sites that have been destroyed or looted in Iraq and Syria.

Quoted: Kenneth Bauer on the Nepal Earthquake Summit

“One objective for Dartmouth is to walk our walk in terms of being multidisciplinary, spanning boundaries, and getting a full representation of disciplines and approaches to the problem of disaster relief and redevelopment,” says Kenneth Bauer in an Associated Press story, published by The Washington Times and other publications, about the upcoming Nepal Earthquake Summit at Dartmouth.

Bauer is the program manager of human development at the Dickey Center for International Understanding and a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and at the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric.

Check out the

A Look at Rudolph’s Bright Red Nose

Prompted by a question from his 4-year-old daughter, Professor of Anthropology Nathaniel Dominy wrote a paper about the properties of reindeer eyes and how they might explain the advantage of a reindeer having a bright red nose like the famous Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, writes the Associated Press in a story published by CBS News.

There’s a downside to the brightness of the nose, which is that it may cause the reindeer to use more than the average number of calories as it goes about its activities, such as pulling Santa’s sleigh, writes the AP. “One way to heat your body is to burn fuel. You do that by burning fat and calories. Children should be aware of Rudolph's condition and leave high-calorie foods for him,” Dominy tells the AP.

Quote of the Day: Jesse Casana December 2, 2015

Videos of Islamic State militants shattering ancient statues and blowing up classical temples have shocked the world. But according to a new analysis of satellite images by U.S. archaeologists, these high-profile acts obscure the actual extent of damage to Syria’s rich cultural heritage.

The team examined images of 1,450 ancient sites across the shattered nation and found that one in four has been damaged or looted in the civil war that began in 2011.

Read the National Geographic article.

Perspective on Syria

The Islamic State's looting of important archaeological sites in Syria has been well-documented over the past year, with the damage caused to ancient cities like Palmyra causing anger and outrage around the world. Unfortunately, attempts to assess the damage caused to these sites and others like them has been limited due to the conflict and chaos that has existed in Syria over the past four years.

Jesse Casana, an associate professor of anthropology at Dartmouth, has found a way to get around that problem, using extensive archives of satellite imagery to examine nearly 1,300 archaeological sites in the country. What his research found was surprising – while it was clear that there had been significant looting in areas controlled by the Islamic State, looting may have been even more widespread in areas controlled by opposition forces or the Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG).

Read the Washington Post article.

Field Research in Nepal: Community Perceptions of Recent Earthquake

Yangjin and I were talking about causality when the topic of glaciers came up. She was describing the interviews she and her fellow community researchers from Mustang, Nepal, had completed this summer as part of an NSF RAPID award called “Narrating Disaster: Calibrating Causality and Response to the 2015 Earthquakes in Nepal.” Yangjin moved her hands and shoulders, narrating, through the words of others, how this living earth, jigten, balances on the back of a mythical animal. Sometimes it is an elephant, other times a white ox, fish, tortoise, or pig. “When the animal shakes its tail, there is a small earthquake. This time people felt the whole body shaking.”

This causal explanation of Nepal’s devastating earthquakes will likely prove to be a common response in our research, particularly among the elderly. Other recurring explanations include discussions of the four elements – fire, water, air, and earth – which at once comprise and course through our planet. When these elements are out of balance or in need of release, events such as earthquakes, floods, or volcanic eruptions occur, locals explained.

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