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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Nature

Inside Outside

<em>Group of children at summer camp running through a woodland area with their guide/teacher walking behind them.</em>Biophilia, our innate affinity for and connection to nature, is not only for children—parents, too, are taking time from hectic schedules to unwind with meditative forest bathing, and many doctors now prescribe visits to the park instead of pills.

Getting kids outside is nothing new to Jeff Sanders, WSU associate professor and environmental historian. He says the idea of a nature deficit goes back at least 150 years to the Industrial Revolution, when many Americans left rural areas for work in Chicago or New York along with » More …

Cacao analysis dates domesticated trees back 3,600 years

Theobroma cacao tree fruitsResearchers analyzing the genomes of cultivated cacao trees have traced their origin to a “single domestication event” some 3,600 years ago. The discovery opens a new front in a long-running argument regarding when and where humans started growing the source of chocolate.

“This evidence increases our understanding of how humans moved and established in America,” said Omar Cornejo, a Washington State University population geneticist and lead author of an article on the study in » More …

Charting wealth inequality across millennia

Researchers at Washington State University and 13 other institutions have found that the arc of prehistory bends towards economic inequality. In the largest study of its kind, the researchers saw disparities in wealth mount with the rise of agriculture, specifically the domestication of plants and large animals, and increased social organization.

Their findings, published this week in the journal Nature, have profound implications for contemporary society, as inequality repeatedly leads to social disruption, even collapse, said Tim Kohler, lead author and WSU Regents professor of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology at WSU. » More …