Archive | October, 2013

Evolution in Disarray!

17 Oct

How’s that for an attention-getting, but completely inaccurate, headline?

Today’s Guardian features an excellent story on the Dmanisi, Georgia Homo erectus fossils. Unfortunately, the accompanying headline is “Skull of Homo erectus throws story of human evolution into disarray.” With headlines like this, is it any wonder that the average newsreader thinks hominin evolution is scientifically controversial? Thankfully, there are disagreements within paleoanthropology. These disagreements move the discipline forward; they are the axle grease of scientific inquiry…and words like “disarray” are overstating it. Certainly, the Dmanisi fossils are an important find. They suggest that early Homo researchers in Africa might have erred on the side of splitting individual hominin specimens into distinct species, as opposed to lumping them into a single species. But “lumping vs. splitting” is a constant balancing act within zoological nomenclature.

Again, I think this is a great and informative newspaper article. Maybe I just prefer the more tentative language of academic articles. But then, who’s going to read a newspaper article titled “Dmanisi fossils indicate significant intra-species variation among early Homo“? Anyway, please read and enjoy the article – just don’t expect evolution to be in disarray when you’ve finished!


The Anthropologist’s Guide to the Government Shutdown

2 Oct

Welcome to the AAA Blog

Is the government shutdown affecting anthropologists? Absolutely.

Many anthropologists work for federal agencies like the the Department of Agriculture, the National Park Service and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These agencies, as well as others, rely on members of our discipline to study, research and provide perspective on how  agency policy affects US citizens in real time. Unfortunately, with the shutdown, many of their activities may be considered “non-essential” and they will be furloughed. Alternatively, they may be considered “essential” and asked to work without pay.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has provided a list of agency contingency plans so that citizens can see how each agency plans to approach the shutdown, including a description of which employees and employee activities are considered essential to Federal government operations. We encourage members to review these lists, and contact their member of Congress to let them know that…

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