Chinchorro Mummies

The Chinchorro are a group of hunter-gatherers that existed in Southern Peru around 10000 to 4000 years ago. Interestingly, they began to mummify their dead rather suddenly, around 5050 BCE. Researchers have struggled to conclude the reasoning behind this abrupt culture change, until recently. It seems as though the Chinchorro halted their practice of burying the dead in part due to the environmental conditions. The dry climate allowed for the dead to be partially uncovered from their shallow graves due to the wind, leaving the remnants of the dead as constant reminders to the local population. This led to a certain familiarity with the dead that inspired complex burial rituals to evolve over time. This is an interesting cultural phenomena and pertains to our class quite obviously as an anthropological breakthrough.

The Future of Archaeology
While I was on the part 2 of the UNIT 1 writing assignment I thought where future of anthropology lies, especially archaeology and I found this article of a respected Harvard scholar.

The article despite the implication of the title is focused on the career of a renowned archaeologist. However, I found a glimpse of where archaeology was heading after all the digging for many decades; archeologists are utilizing computer technologies to create virtual archives that would help understanding of the findings so far. The archeologist introduced in the article, Peter der Manuelian, has spent almost four decades digging and excavating and his next goal is not another digging but archiving the findings. Computer-based tools would enable displaying the findings in 3-D layer of information.

I as a member of the class thought how archaeology would continue to develop as a discipline when there are only so much to be found of cultural value. While the past and presence of anthropology has been well introduced in the course, I thought some may wonder where this field is heading and wanted to contribute to answering the question.

While I managed to find a glimpse of future of archeology in the article somehow, for the most part I felt that the title was rather misleading. The article did not directly focus on the future of archeology while much of the writing was dedicated to celebrating the successful career of a well known archeologist!

Top 10 Hominid Discoveries 2011

After learning about all of the early hominids I decided to take a look at some of the most important hominid discoveries.  Just this past year, a new hominid species called Australopitchecus sediba, was discovered.  The species lived around 1.97 million years ago and possesses traits similar to australopithecus and genus homo.  It is possible they could be a direct ancestor of modern humans.



Stone Age Skull Smashers

This article summarizes a discovery that was recently made in Syria of a cluster of Stone Age skulls with smashed-in faces. There are a few intriguing aspects to this discovery. For one, the skeletons were dug up several years following the burial, then separated from the skulls, and finally reburied. The smashed faces are a new phenomena that further perpetuate the discussion on how these societies related to their dead. These skulls are about 10,000 years old, and they were indeed homo sapiens. This finding certainly relates to some of the material we covered in this class. From an anthropological standpoint, it would be interesting to make inferences based on this finding in regards to the culture of the time. Did they have some sort of system of capital punishment?

If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking?

Probably one of the coolest articles I’ve read in this course. Found this on Discover magazine also, enjoy!

Till now science had never noted the fact that if present day humans have superior intelligence as compared to our ancestor, why exactly are our brains shrinking? This question caught scientists off guard and left them totally baffled. It would seem to make sense that a larger brain has the capability to process things far more efficiently than a smaller brain. The article implied that for 2 million years of our evolution, our brains have been growing and now there is a reversal of growth which is causing our brains to shrink from its former size. ” Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion. “I’d call that major downsizing in an evolutionary eyeblink.”

This article relates to the class because we discussed how as humans evolved over time, it was proven that our brain size actually increased and our faces decreased. It is interesting to see how we are evolving now as modern humans. This article leaves many unanswered questions for the future. Can our brains actually be shrinking and getting smaller with every coming generation?

I really enjoyed the Discovery Magazine site because it provided me with a lot of interesting topics to choose from. It had many interesting articles on there such as this one and another article I posted before for one of my blogs.

Human Brain size

I found this article while I was browsing It is about a study that was done by a group of researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine and the National Institutes of Mental Health. They wanted to understand how the human brain increased in size and complexity so much in such a short period of time. They found that the protein domain DUF1220 may be responsible for the increase in brain size. Humans have 270 copies of this domain and the largest brain relative to body size of any species. In other species, the number of these domains directly correlates to brain size. There was also evidence of this in humans. People who had microcephaly (brains that are too small) had lower numbers of DUF1220 and people who had macrocephaly (brains that are too small) had higher numbers of DUF1220. I thought this article was really interesting and the possibilities for using this to diagnose diseases related to the brain are exciting!


Above is the link to an extremely interesting you-tube video that shows a clip of a modern gorilla walking upright! Gorillas are essentially “knuckle walkers” as well all have learned, and their arms are longer than their legs. They are specialized for terrestrial quadrupedal motion, for walking on the back of their knuckles. So what do we think everyone, is this just a very unique, possibly mutated gorilla or is this another step in evolution taking it’s toll on this special ape?

This link pertains to this class because it is involving one of our distant ancestors and something that doesn’t usually pertain to this group: bipedalism, a major milestone for hominids that developed millions of years ago. I liked this clip because it could mean a lot for gorillas and ultimately impact everyone and everything. This is exactly what evolution ultimately ends up doing. l found this clip while looking for an interesting post to share with the class. 🙂 Hope you all enjoy!