Anthro in the news 8/29/11

• Libya: the oily truth
FoxNews quoted William Beeman, chair of the anthropology department at the University of Minnesota: “Our interests are mostly commercial,” he said. “The U.S. has an important supply of excellent sweet crude out of Libya. There are very few places in the world that have oil of this quality.” According to Beeman, Libya produces 2 percent of the world’s oil supply. At its peak, that amounts to 500,000 barrels a day. Most of that goes to Europe, but Beeman says that with a new regime in place, more of that oil could come to the U.S. like it did before Gadhafi rose to power 42 years ago. “Whoever takes over the government after this political action will need to sell oil,” Beeman said.

• Anthro study of college student research habits
Not good news: The ERIAL (Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries) project enlisted two anthropologists to collect data using open-ended interviews and direct observation to generate accounts of what students, librarians and professors think of library research at five institutions in the midwest U.S. One finding is that students’ research habits are worse than expected.

• Thriller anthropology
USA Today and other mainstream media covered Kathy Reichs, Chicago native who has used her scientific skills to help identify victims and determine cause of death in dozens of police cases investigated by the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciares et de Médecine Légale in Canada’s Quebec province. Reichs is author of 14 thrillers starring forensic anthropologist Temperance “Tempe” Brennan — No. 14, Flash and Bones, is on sale Tuesday. She is also producer of the popular Fox TV show Bones, a series inspired by Reichs’ career and a fictional forensic anthropologist.

• Earliest horse domestication relocated
Saudi Arabia is excavating a new archeological site that will show horses were domesticated 9,000 years ago in the Arabian peninsula, the country’s antiquities expert said Wednesday. Reuters quoted Ali al-Ghabban, Vice-President of Antiquities and Museums at the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities: “This discovery will change our knowledge concerning the domestication of horses and the evolution of culture in the late Neolithic period.”

• Gruesome mummies
The oldest deliberately-created mummies ever found in Britain comprise body parts from several different people. The four prehistoric bodies were unearthed in 2001 on South Uist in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.

• Earliest naked chef
Science News and the Guardian covered a report that early humans cooked their first hot meals nearly two million years ago, according to researchers at Harvard University. They have traced the origins of cooking through studying tooth sizes and the feeding behavior of monkeys, apes and modern humans.

• Listening to the evolution of the body
The New York Times carried an interview with evolutionary anthropologist, Dan Lieberman, professor at Harvard University. Lieberman focuses on the evolution of the human foot and head.

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