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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Anthropology

Seeds of economic health disparities

A Tsimane villager crossing on Maniqui river early in the morning.No billionaires live among the Tsimane people of Bolivia, although some are a bit better off than others. These subsistence communities on the edge of the Amazon also have fewer chronic health problems linked to the kind of dramatic economic disparity found in industrialized Western societies.

“The connection between inequality and health is not as straightforward as what you would see in an industrialized population,” said Aaron Blackwell,  associate professor of anthropology and lead researcher on a study » More …

Social tensions preceded disruptions in ancient Pueblo societies

Cliff Palace of the Ancestral Pueblo people.Drought is often blamed for the periodic disruptions of ancient Pueblo societies, but research with potential implications for the modern world, a WSU archaeologist has found evidence that slowly accumulating social tension likely played a substantial role in three dramatic upheavals in Pueblo development.

“Societies that are cohesive can often find ways to overcome climate challenges,” said Tim Kohler, Regents professor of » More …

Protein limits in prehistoric Pacific Coast diets

Salmon jumping upstream.Humans cannot live on protein alone—not even the ancient indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest whose diet was once thought to be almost all salmon.

In a new paper led by WSU anthropologist Shannon Tushingham, researchers document the many dietary solutions ancient Pacific Coast people in North America likely employed to avoid “salmon starvation,” a toxic and potentially fatal condition brought on by eating too much lean protein. » More …

A healthy sense of disgust can prevent sickness

Kid holding his nose.You might want to pay attention to those bad, queasy feelings. New research co-author by WSU anthropologist Aaron Blackwell  suggests that disgust could be the body’s way of helping humans avoid infection.

“We found that people with higher levels of disgust had lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers that were indicative of having bacterial or viral » More …

Breastfeeding while COVID‑19 positive

An infant.Breastfeeding women who have COVID-19 transfer milk-borne antibodies to their babies without passing along the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a new study.

“The results indicate that it is safe for moms to continue to breastfeed during a COVID-19 infection with proper precautions,” said Courtney Meehan, a WSU anthropology professor and co-author on the study published » More …

Most-read research stories of 2020

College of Arts and Sciences - Washington State University.In a year dominated by COVID-19, popular research news played on questions of how things could get worse, or how we might leave this troubled planet altogether. Overall, news stories about WSU research that did the best still had a focus on real world impact.

CAS faculty featured in five of the top 10 most popular stories, and were well-represented in the next 90-plus press releases tracked by WSU News.

» More …

Women influenced coevolution of dogs and humans

A woman with a dog.Man’s best friend might actually belong to a woman.

In a cross-cultural analysis, Washington State University researchers found several factors may have played a role in building the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and dogs, including temperature, hunting and surprisingly—gender. » More …

Archeologists identify marigold residue in ancient Maya flasks

Ancient paneled flask.WSU scientists identified the presence of a non-tobacco plant in ancient Maya drug containers for the first time.

“While it has been established that tobacco was commonly used throughout the Americas before and after contact, evidence of other plants used for medicinal or religious purposes has remained largely unexplored,” said anthropology postdoc and research lead Mario Zimmermann. “The analysis methods » More …

Ancient blanket made with 11,500 turkey feathers

Turkey feathers.“Blankets or robes made with turkey feathers as the insulating medium were widely used by Ancestral Pueblo people, but little is known about how they were made because so few such textiles have survived due to their perishable nature,” said Bill Lipe, emeritus professor of anthropology at WSU and lead author of a new paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Lipe and a team of archaeologists analyzed an approximately 800-year-old turkey feather blanket from » More …