Everybody in the World Talks the Same Way to Babies

Anthropologists Show That We Are All Suckers for Baby Talk       It happens every time we meet a baby, anyone’s baby. Suddenly our brains are taken over by some other person with a different voice, one that goes up a few octaves and comes out in a sing-song lilt to produce some of the silliest sentences on earth: “Waaadda a cuuttee liddle baby! Aren’t youuuu the sweeeetest thingy in the world? Are you the sweeetest little booy in the world? Is this the cutest little girrrl ever?” And how many…

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Monkey Fake News

When the Public is Fed the Wrong Information About Primates     A recent article about Japanese macaque monkeys went viral, even getting exposure on Stephen Colbert, because of its provocative headline: “Love Triangle Challenges Reign of Japan’s Monkey Queen.” But that idiotic headline, based on inaccurate reporting, was simply fake news. I know this because as an anthropologist, I spent many years observing and searching about macaques and the reporter doesn’t seem to have any idea how these animals operate. When someone is educated and experienced in a profession or a…

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Sex Unites Us

Our Species Has Spent Its History Mating with Anyone Close By     In graduate school for anthropology many decades ago, I learned that the phylogenic tree of human evolution was best represented by a sturdy central trunk. That trunk embodied the singular path of our species but there were also several weak branches sprouting off the truck that had withered and died. The roots of that central trunk were the first bipedal hominids, Australopithecines living about 4.5 million years ago, and the top canopy was Homo sapiens sapiens, modern humans. But…

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Footprints Show Humans in the Americas over 20,000 Years Ago

The Enduring Story of Human Wanderlust     A recently calculated time frame for a series of ancient human footprints at White Sands National Park, New Mexico, is bringing people, especially anthropologists and archeologists, to their feet.   These footprints were discovered in 2009 by park staff; turns out there are thousands of preserved human other animal footprints — mammoth and giant sloths, for example — all over White Sands. But The United States Geological Survey has just completed working out the age of human prints, and their date of 23,000 years old significantly changes…

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