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Prehistoric turkey DNA used to track ancient Pueblo migration

Tim Kohler
Kohler

In the mid-to-late 1200s, some 30,000 ancestral pueblo farmers left their homes in southwestern Colorado’s Mesa Verde region and never returned.

Where these people went and why they left are two of American archeology’s longest-standing mysteries.

A new study co-led by archaeologists Tim Kohler, of Washington State University, and Brian Kemp, formerly at WSU, now at the University of Oklahoma, provides the first genetic evidence suggesting that many of Mesa Verde’s ancient farmers moved to the northern Rio Grande area in New Mexico, a region currently inhabited by the Tewa people.

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WSU News

African farmers’ kids conquer the marshmallow test

Barry Hewlett
Barry Hewlett

Children of Nso farmers in Cameroon know how to master the marshmallow test, which has tempted away the self-control of Western kids for decades. In a direct comparison on this delayed gratification task, Cameroonian youngsters leave middle-class German children in the dust when challenged to resist a reachable treat while waiting for another goodie, a new study finds.

While Nso values and parenting techniques generally characterize small-scale farming populations, especially in Africa, hunter-gatherers are another story, says anthropologist Barry Hewlett of Washington State University in Vancouver. Traditional hunter-gatherer groups value individual freedom and consider everyone to be relatively equal, regardless of age. Parents usually don’t tell their kids what to do, and children show little deference to parents and elders.

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Science News

Is the Moon House an American Stonehenge?

William Lipe
Lipe

Imagine that you live in isolation on a beautiful mesa with a small band of subsistence farmers. Your territory is rugged and difficult to traverse, with steep slopes, deep canyons, and sandstone cliffs, and is strewn with boulders, hoodoos, balanced rocks, and other obstacles. Even the flat places are uneven and covered with piñon, cedar, shrub oak, yucca, cactus, and scrubby dessert plants.

Such was life for the ancestral Puebloan people, often called the Anasazi, who inhabited southeastern Utah. Their cliff-dwelling stage lasted between 1150 and 1300. During this span, they built and decorated a complex on a plateau called Cedar Mesa. In the 1960s, archeologist Bill Lipe of Washington State University dubbed it the “Moon House”. The name stuck. Throughout the structure, its walls carry decorations that may indicate that those who lived there carefully watched the sky.

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Astronomy Magazine

Huffington Post

Graduate students win NSF research fellowships

Three Washington State University College of Arts and Sciences students have been chosen for National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships. The prestigious awards have trained generations of American scientists and engineers, including Nobel laureates.

The College of Arts and Sciences’ honorees are:

Avery Anne Lane, an anthropology student from Tucson, Ariz., who is working on a master’s in Courtney Meehan’s biocultural anthropology lab.

Shawn Trojahn, a biology master’s student from Virginia Beach, Va., who is looking at the global decline in biodiversity in the vulnerable mangrove forest, a habitat affected by logging and water pollution.

Lindsey Marie Lavaysse, a psychology master’s student from San Francisco, is focusing on occupational health and safety threats to vulnerable populations like pregnant and minority workers.

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WSU News

WSU looks for practices to thwart antimicrobial resistance

Robert Quinlan

Washington State University scientists are addressing growing global concern about the spread of antimicrobial resistance in Africa, where the World Health Organization predicts that, by 2050, drug resistant tuberculosis and other bacteria could lead to the deaths of 4.15 million people each year.

Their work identifying practices that lead to bacterial transmission could help save African lives and prevent the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria to the U.S. and other parts of the globe.

Doug Call, a professor in WSU’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, Robert Quinlan, a professor in the Department of Anthropology, and Mark Caudell, a postdoctoral fellow, are the lead authors of a recent study in PLOS One investigating how human behavior, cultural context and living conditions in Tanzania affect the transmission of antimicrobial resistant bacteria from livestock to humans.

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WSU News

Science Newsline