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  • The Maya Kept Jaguar Zoos for Centuries

    A chemical analysis of excavated bones shows that Mesoamericans had a long history of keeping jaguars and pumas—some of the fiercest predators around—in captivity.

    Erin Thornton.“It’s absolutely solid work,” says Erin Thornton, an anthropologist at Washington State University who specializes in isotope analysis.

    “With animal remains from Mesoamerica, it’s very hard to tell if you’re dealing with a captive animal from bones alone,” she said. “Stable isotopes are really the only way to tell if an animal was removed from the wild and put under human management.”

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  • Science on Tap: WSUV professor to share Ebola experiences

    The first social scientist to be invited by the World Health Organization to help Ebola control efforts works right here in Clark County.

    Barry Hewlett, an anthropology professor at Washington State University Vancouver, visited Central Africa to help the WHO in 2000, and he has visited the continent about five times as part of response efforts.

    Hewlett will share stories on his experience, and how he worked to develop trust between local communities and the international and national response teams, at 7 p.m. Wednesday for Science on Tap at Kiggins Theatre in Vancouver.

    When Hewlett first arrived, there was some apprehension from locals when it … » More …

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  • Turtle shells served as symbolic musical instruments for indigenous cultures

    Turtles served as more than tasty treats for many Native American tribes throughout North America. In fact, turtle shells were used as rattles and other musical instruments, said FSU Associate Professor of Anthropology Tanya Peres.

    “Music is an important part of many cultures in ways we may not realize,” Peres said. “Musical instruments have a deep ancient history in human society and are encoded with meanings beyond their sound making capabilities.”

    Peres and lead author Andrew Gillreath-Brown, a doctoral candidate from Washington State University, published their research in the academic journal PLOS One.

    The researchers examined the use of turtle shells as percussion instruments in the … » More …

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  • A Macaw Breeding Center Supplied Prehistoric Americans with Prized Plumage

    New evidence shows for the first time that the North American Southwest was home to a smattering of scarlet macaw breeding centers as early as 900 AD. Prized by the prehistoric residents of New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon for their religious and cultural significance, macaws appear to have been raised in one of the first sustainable systems of non-agricultural animal husbandry in this region, a nod to the sophistication of early residents of the American Southwest.

    Brightly colored scarlet macaws are native to the tropics. So how’d they end up in New Mexico? (Flickr/Nina Hale in Smithsonian Magazine).“It’s … » More …

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  • Fatherhood is the cure for patriarchy

    Rethinking fatherhood is an essential step toward creating gender equality. Societies where men are more engaged fathers tend also to be more egalitarian.

    “For hunter-gatherers in general, fathers provide substantial amount of direct care, by comparison to fathers where you have farming,” said Barry Hewlett, an anthropologist at Washington State University who lived among the Aka tribe in central Africa. That close physical contact has biological and social consequences. Compared to other central Africans, Hewlett said, the Aka are much more egalitarian in terms of gender.

    This relative egalitarianism is partly a function of the Aka’s practice of net-hunting, in which men and women work … » More …

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