Anthro in the news 4/11/11

• Bernie, let’s chat
Gillian Tett is the Financial Times’ US managing editor and a cultural anthropologist with a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. This week she co-authored an article published in the FT on Bernard Madoff, based on a chat with the swindler himself.

• Friend me
The subject of animal-animal friendships prompted a network television news magazine to seek out William & Mary anthropologist Barbara King to provide context to the phenomenon. She appeared April 10 on a segment of CBS News Sunday Morning. King is the author of a number of books, including Being With Animals, an anthropological exploration of the evolution of humans’ relationship with animals.

• Gay caveman
A team of Czech archaeologists say they have found the remains of a gay man from 2900-2500 BCE, near Prague. Question: What is the evidence of gayness? Answer: Burials during the Copper Age were gender-marked in terms of placement of the body and items interred. The person in question was buried on his left side, head facing east, no weapons, and household jugs at his feet–all characteristic of women’s burials at the time. Archaeologist Katerina Semradova said that this “third gender” discovery mirrors an earlier one in which a female warrior from the Mesolithic period was buried like a man.

• A bigger boat
The Irish Times carried an article about one of Ireland’s great objects: the Lurgan canoe. This massive oak boat resides in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, where it is too large to be photographed as a whole. Dating from around 2200 BCE, the boat is made from an oak tree far bigger than what could grow in Ireland today. It is thus evidence of climate change (the climate was cooler and moister in the past). Check out this link to see a photo taken in 1902 when the boat was brought to Dublin. (Bloggers note: Read latest AW post for more about the Lurgan Canoe).

• Make it with bamboo
An experimental study shows that it is possible to make complex tools, including knives, from bamboo. This research supports the possibility that early ancestors in East Asia used bamboo and wood for tools rather than stone. Findings of the study will be published in the journal, Quarternary International.

Who looks like who?
Cranial features of contemporary men and women may be more similar than they were in the past. This finding is based on analysis of hundreds of Spanish and Portuguese skulls from the 16th century forward. Ann Ross, associate professor of anthropology at North Carolina State University, notes that the findings have implications for forensic analysis.

• Kudos
Katherine Reedy-Maschner, anthropology professor at Idaho State University, has been appointed to serve on the Scientific and Statistical Committee for the U.S. North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC). The NPFMC is one of eight U.S. regional councils that oversees management of U.S. fisheries.

Herbert Maschner has been appointed as director of the Idaho Museum of Natural History. Maschner has served as the Interim Director since June and is a member of the anthropology faculty at Idaho State University.

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