Culture and Chimpanzees: One from the Archives

Culture is one of the seminal concepts in anthropology. A lot of people have tried to define it. Starting with E. B. Tyler (one of the founding fathers of anthropology) who defined culture thusly:
“culture or civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”
Others, such as Linton defined culture this way:
“…the sum total of ideas, conditioned emotional responses, and patterns of habitual behavior which the members of that society have acquired through instruction or imitation and which they share to a greater or lesser degree…”

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More Crappy Archaeology Reporting

From ABC News:

A team of Texas archaeologists believe they may have located the remains of Noah’s Ark in Iran’s Elburz mountain range.

Who are these Texas “archaeologists” who have purportedly found Noah’s Ark? The BASE Institute. Who or what is the BASE Institute? From their Methodology FAQ:

The BASE Institute is a parachurch ministry, founded with the goal of uncovering physical evidence and ancient testimony that confirms the biblical record in all of its details. The goal of BASE Institute is twofold: (1) the encouragement of believers’ confidence in the Bible and excitement about the Bible; and (2) a witness to unbelievers concerning the historicity of the Bible as well as its reliability about spiritual issues, Jesus
Christ, and personal salvation.

Yup, real archaeological shakers and movers there…But what is their approach to science?

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Interesting Science News

BBC News and Science is reporting on a snake with the ability to change colors like a chameleon (actually just from brown to white – but still amazing):

“I put the reddish-brown snake in a dark bucket,” he said. “When I retrieved it a few minutes later, it was almost entirely white.”
Unlike the chameleon, it is presumably not changing colour for camouflage.

What makes this story interesting is that the snake is venomous:

Found in the Kapuas river in the Betung Kerihun National Park in Kalimantan (the Indonesian portion of Borneo), it belongs to the Enhydris genus of rear-fanged water snakes and has been named E. gyii.

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Sounds Like Missouri Republicans are Out of Touch to Me

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Missouri voters say they’re willing to spend more tax dollars to restore Medicaid coverage to 90,000 residents, and strongly support increasing the state’s minimum wage for workers.

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Darwin Letter Up For Auction

According to New Scientist a letter written by Charles Darwin is up for auction by Sotheby’s and is expected to fetch £20,000-30,000 pounds:

The six-page letter to Reverend William Denton, dated 15 October 1860, shows Darwin seemingly buoyant: “I am very far from being surprised at anyone not accepting my conclusions on the origin of species.” He illustrates how his theory works, giving examples of natural variation and artificial selection in horses, pigs and cats, and goes on: “Those naturalists who go a little way with me, the more they reflect on the subject the further they go [emphasis mine – afarensis].”

I like that quote…
Of course they would be better off donating to £20,000-30,000 could fund quite a few projects…

Transitions Turns One: A Belated Anniversery Post

A little over a year ago I became concerned with how much information the nations school children were getting about evolution. So I decided to create a new blog called Transitions: The Evolution of Life The first post was published on June 12, 2005 (a post on elephant shrews). Over the next year posts would be written on everything from the evolution of elephants and crocodylia to phyllotaxis to misunderstanding evolution to barnacles. Along the way I have also accumulated a wide variety of resources for both teachers and students (and I’m still looking for more). More importantly, a number of bloggers have contributed posts to Transitions (in adition to the posts I have written for it). So I would like to say a big Thank You to all who have contributed to Transitions:
Thank You Darksyde
Thank You John Wilkins
Thank You Nuthatch
Thank You David Winter
Thank You RPM
and last, but by no means least (since he has contributed a large number of posts) Thank You Aydin Orstan
Hopefully, the coming year will be just as good for Transitions as last year was…In the meantime I am always on the look out for a good post about evolution for Transitions – just keep in mind the target audience.
Speaking of science education…
Before I get to the good stuff I would like to beg for donations to help science education in America. So far, readers of afarensis have been genorous. You have donated $683 to the cause and I thiank you for that. However, more remains to be done. We have been stuck on $683 for a couple of days. It would be nice if get could get to $700 within the next few hours and maybe $800 by the end of the weekend. Just a couple of donations of $10 each would get us over $700…

Spiders: One from the Archive

You naughty, naughty people! Come looking for kinky spider lovin ! Come on admit it, thats why you here! Although I have posted some nasty buggers, it’s not that kind of nasty!

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Spiderweb Trapped in Amber

Awhile back I mentioned the discovery of a 120-115 million year old orb weaver trapped in amber. National Geographic and New Scientist both have a story on a spider web trapped in amber. The find dates to about 110 mya.

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More on Isisfordia duncani

Before I get to the good stuff I would like to beg for donations to help science education in America. So far, readers of afarensis have been genorous. You have donated $683 to the cause and I thiank you for that. However, more remains to be done. So if you like the following post, please consider donating – even $10 would help…
As I mentioned in a recent post a new crocodylian fossil has been discovered. Paleoblog and Hairy Museum of Natural History both have excellent posts on the subject. While reading the paper a couple of interesting things jumped out at me. Before I get to that, here is a picture of the fossil.
View image
I’m doing it as a pop up because it is way too beautiful to reduce …

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Interesting Anthropology News: and Other Stuff as Well

Three new species of lemurs have been discovered in Madagascar according to MSNBC. They are Microcebus jollyae – after Allison Jolly, Microcebus simmonsi and Microcebus mittermeieri. Microcebus mittermeieri is pictured below – cute little spud, although someone should tell it that it is impolite to stick your tongue out while having your picture taken!
More news below

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