In Memoriam: George Williams

I am sure that most of my readers have heard that George Williams has passed away. Williams, for those of you who are unfamiliar with him, was one of the giants of evolutionary biology. His book Adaptation and Natural Selection is one of the must read classics in the field – and certainly one anthropologists of all stripes should be read. His paper Pleiotropy, Natural Selection, and the Evolution of Senescence, for example, contains the the first outline of the grandmother hypothesis – something paleoanthropologists have been arguing about for years. Williams was also concerned with the evolution of sex and a pioneer in the field of evolutionary medicine.

Update 1: Carl Zimmer has a piece that explains how all these different strands come together in Williams work.

In Memoriam: Lena Horne

Rest in Peace

In Memoriam: Frank Frazetta

Rest in Peace

In Memorium: Dell Hymes

The New York Times is reporting that Dell Hymes has passed away – apparently of complications due to Alzheimer’s. Although Hymes was primarily interested in linguistics, I am most familiar with him through Reinventing Anthropology a book he edited that was quite radical and groundbreaking for it’s time. It still holds up well.

In Memorium: Claude Levi-Strauss

Via Hawks comes the news that Claude Levi-Strauss has died. MSNBC has more:

The French intellectual was regarded as having reshaped the field of anthropology, introducing structuralism — concepts about common patterns of behavior and thought, especially myths, in a wide range of human societies. Defined as the search for the underlying patterns of thought in all forms of human activity, structuralism compared the formal relationships among elements in any given system.

Although I don’t spend much time writing about cultural anthropology (mainly because I’m an old school fuddy duddy and don’t like those new fangled post-modernist theoretical orientations) Levi-Strauss was one cultural anthropologist I read quite a bit of (along with Malinowski and Boas). He will be missed…

In Memoriam: Mike Majerus

I just got home from running a lot of errands and discovered the sad news that Mike Majerus has passed away. Majerus, for those were unacquainted with his work, was an evolutionary biologist who studied insects ladybird beetles, parasitoid wasps, and peppered moths being among the species he was interested in. I knew of him primarily through his work on peppered moths where he repeated many of Kettlewell’s experiments and recently wrote about his paper in Evolution: Education and Outreach.
He will be missed…

In Memoriam: Tony Hillerman

Mystery writer Tony Hillerman passed away yesterday. Ordinarily, I’m not really a reader of mysteries (Poe, Doyle, and Cornwell being about it), but Tony Hillerman’s novel’s were different. They were smart, well written books that revolved around the Hopi and the Navajo. What set them apart, in my opinion, is the fact that the solution to the mystery revolved around some bit of cultural knowledge about the Hopi or Navajo – and Hillerman clearly knew these two groups well. I would, in point of fact, recommend them to aspiring cultural anthropologists.