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Anthropology headlines in CAS News

  • Dear Dr. Universe: Why do we dance?

    If we traveled around the world, we would see all kinds of dancers. We might see classical ballerinas in Russia. We might see break dancers performing on the streets of New York. We might even see tango dancers in Argentina.

    While the exact reasons we dance remain a mystery, there are a few theories about it.

    That’s what I found out from my friend Ed Hagen, an anthropologist at Washington State University who has researched the roots of dance.

    In nature, we actually see a lot of animals dancing. It’s not just humans. Bees do a kind of waggle dance where they step … » More …

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  • Dr. Universe: How do you make mummies?

    When we think of mummies, we might imagine the kind from ancient Egypt wrapped up in linen. But there are lots of ways to make mummies—and they can even form in nature.

    That’s what I found out from my friend Shannon Tushingham, an archaeologist at Washington State University and director of the WSU Museum of Anthropology.

    In ancient Egypt, priests were usually in charge of making a mummy. They used a special hook to pull out the brain. They put the brain in a jar to help preserve it. They put the lungs, liver, intestines, and stomach in jars, too. But the heart was … » More …

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  • New data platform illuminates history of humans’ environmental impact

    The human environmental footprint is not only deep, but old.

    Ancient traces of this footprint can be found in animal bones, shells, scales and antlers at archaeological sites. Together, these specimens tell the millennia-long story of how humans have hunted, domesticated and transported animals, altered landscapes and responded to environmental changes such as shifting temperatures and sea levels.

    Now, that story is available digitally through a new open-access data platform known as ZooArchNet, which links records of animals across biological and archaeological databases.

    Making these specimen records accessible digitally helps provide a long-term perspective on current biodiversity crises, such as animal extinction and habitat loss, … » More …

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  • Makah one step closer to hunting whales: Animal rights extremists continue to oppose it

    After 25 years of legal maneuvering, the Makah are now one year away from resuming a tradition central to their culture and identity, the hunting of gray whales. The long, public battle involving hearings and lawsuits, false starts and conflicts that regularly appeared in headlines since 1994, will finally be over. But what most people won’t see is how it began decades before with a winter storm.

    In February 1970, a fierce storm pummeled the northwestern tip of Washington state. Wind and rain scoured a small coastal area about ten miles south of Neah Bay near Ozette Lake. Six Makah longhouses previously buried for hundreds … » More …

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  • Student to intern at congressional, senatorial level

    Emma R. Johnson is the first WSU student to become a Udall Native American Congressional intern and has also been selected to become an intern for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).

    Johnson, a senior majoring in cultural anthropology, is also a member of the Cowlitz Indian tribe, said she began the Udall application process in October 2018 and submitted it in January 2019.

    Johnson said the Udall Foundation awards scholarships according to three different categories: environmental, tribal policy and Native American healthcare.

    As a scholarship winner, Johnson was required to attend a four-day conference with other Udall scholars. During the conference, Johnson learned about congressional … » More …

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