BBC quotes Sam Gochman '18, Anthro major

BBC's story "Our ancestors were drinking alcohol before they were human" discusses "It is possible to trace the evolution of boozing back to the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees". Sam Gochman '18, Anthro major, is quoted. 

Samuel R. Gochman, a student at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and his team offered aye-ayes a choice of liquid foods made of sugar water and varying concentrations of alcohol (0 to 5%). The two captive aye-ayes could differentiate between the different alcoholic foods. They preferred to drink from the containers with higher alcohol doses of 3 and 5% over those with 1% and zero alcohol.

When the containers holding higher alcohol contents had run out, the aye-ayes continued to compulsively dip and lick their fingers. "This suggests that they really like those concentrations," says Gochman.

But the animals did not show any obvious signs of inebriation, which goes back to their ability to breakdown alcohol because of a super-efficient ADH4 enzyme.

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

Anthropology Students Digging Cool Things and Making Fire

Students digging up skeletons of New England mammals in Belchertown State Forest (Massachusetts) in late August of this year. These skeletons have been accessioned into the collections in Prof. DeSilva's laboratory thanks to the work of these students. They are: Ellie McNutt, Cindy Ramirez, Jessica Kittelberger, and Sarah Miller. In the foreground are skeletons of bobcats and coyotes. 


The Anthropology 70 class having an x-hour fire at the organic farm last night. In order to teach about the importance of fire in human evolution, they made a fire. Simple enough, but fun and an important bonding experience as they were preparing for their trip to South Africa over the winterim.

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.

Dartmouth students discover early human fossil in South Africa

On their second day of excavating at the 2 million year-old site of Malapa, South Africa, a team of Dartmouth students recovered a fossil of Australopithecus sediba, an early human predecessor. The fifteen Dartmouth students are participants in ANTH 70: Experiencing Human Origins and Evolution. The course entails a 3-week excursion in South Africa—an emerging model for experiential learning at Dartmouth, supported by DCAL and the President’s Office.

In this photo are (left to right): Kathy Li ‘17, Lee Berger, Keira Byno ‘19, Maropeng Mpete, Jerry DeSilva, and Julia Cohen ’18.

Dartmouth SYNERGY: Improving Community Health Through Local Research Partnerships

With their SYNEGY Community Engagement Research Pilot Award, Elizabeth Carpenter-Song, PhD (left), a research assistant professor of anthropology at Dartmouth and at The Dartmouth Institute, and Sara Kobylenski, MSW (right), executive director of the Upper Valley Haven, are working together to improve mental health care in the region. (photo by Jon Gilbert Fox)

Their pilot award winning project seeks to develop some key recommendations and strategies that can be used to improve mental health in the region.

Captive Bodies, Kingly Splendor: Warfare and Social Identity in Ancient Maya Art

Caitlin Earley
Asst. Professor, Department of Art History
University of Nevada, Reno
November 4, 2016 – 3:30p – Silsby 113

By the Late Classic (c. 600-900) period in the western Maya lowlands, warfare was a part of daily life. Dynastic polities in this region maintained centuries-long enmities, recording their feats on carved stone monuments and painted ceramic vessels. Scholars have traditionally used the imagery and writing on these objects to glean information about political history and the practice of Maya warfare—but they also provide a window into the meaning of warfare, and in particular, the power of the human captive. In this study, I suggest that warfare imagery was a key driver of elite social identity in the Classic Maya world. Considering images of the disempowered as well as the powerful, I examine how depictions of captives created an elite discourse of war that stressed the role of elites as potential captives, the restoration of world order, and the significance of the human body.

Professor Dominy's new paper: Frankenstein and the Horrors of Competitive Exclusion

The bicentennial celebration of the inception of Frankenstein invites the present view of Victor Frankenstein and his fateful decision to destroy an unfinished female creature. The act itself was impulsive (caused by a “sensation of madness”), but it was preceded by agonized reasoning that would be familiar to any student of ecology or evolutionary biology. Here, we present a formal treatment of Frankenstein's reasoning and show that his rationale for denying a mate to his male creation has empirical justification. Our results suggest that the decision was prudent because it averted our own extinction by competitive exclusion. We ­conclude by suggesting that the central ­horror of Mary Shelley's novel lies in its ­prescient command of foundational concepts in ecology and evolution.

Also read these interesting articles on this subject!

Smithsonian magazine:

Scientists Find That Frankenstein’s Monster Could Have Wiped Out Humanity

The Telegraph:

Opening Address by Kivland at Violence Against Difference Conference

A collection of evening activities on Friday, Nov. 4, including a reception and a student poster session highlighting research on human rights, will kick off the annual Physicians for Human Rights Student Conference being held at the Geisel School of Medicine on Nov. 5. The topic of this year’s conference is Violence Against Difference.

Saturday’s opening address on structural violence, by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Chelsey Kivland, opens the day of discussions and breakout sessions. Structural violence, as opposed to behavioral violence, refers to the subtle and often invisible ways in which social structures can harm or cause disadvantage to people. The concepts set forth by Kivland will be interwoven throughout the day’s presentations and discussions.