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Showing posts from October, 2012

Beautiful Bordeaux

I'm pretty busy writing on the days I'm not working to earn money (my salaried postdoc doesn't start until 2013). Although writing and research for academic publications and Dawn Chorus in Eden are priorities right now, I don't want to neglect the blog. So, this week I'm posting some of the photographs from Bordeaux during the ESHE conference last month. Bordeaux is the city where I'll be living and working for the Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship starting next year. The old centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and certainly the architecture is fascinating. I hope to get to know it better while I live there!

Review of "Prehistoric Autopsy: Neanderthal", BBC 2

So in lieu of some more research-focused posts I have lined up, here's my reaction to the tv program which aired last night in the UK, "Prehistoric Autopsy", first episode focused on the Neanderthals.

I don't watch a lot of television as it's transmitted, more often online or even more often I'm just playing the xbox. So after managing to get the digi-box to work, I sat down to watch this Neander-fest and tweet it too, using the #PrehistoricAutopsy hashtag.Overall, I enjoyed the program. I think there were some issues, but for a prime time piece focusing on a hominin ancestor that many, many people use as shorthand for nasty thick brutes, it presented a LOT of new data which I hope caused some minds to open up.

Professor Alice Roberts is pretty de rigeur as a presenter for anything vaguely human evolution-related, and as usual she was very capable indeed. Yes, she is not an archaeologist, but this was actually appropriate here because the focus of the progra…

ESHE 2012 Meeting report: general Palaeolithic edition

Here's the next installment of my favourite papers from the European Society for study of Human Evolution meeting held recently in Bordeaux (#ESHE12 on Twitter) a couple of weeks ago. It was a great conference with many very interesting papers and posters!

A stand-out paper early on was the talk by Henry Bunn et al. on the evidence that early hominins at Olduvai Gorge almost 2 million years ago were actively procuring carcasses - i.e. hunting them-, based on the age profiles of the different large animal species at the site. Not surprisingly this seems to have been the big story picked up by the media too. Bunn started by questioning "how formidable would a 1m tall hominin have been?", suggesting we should re-evaluate our conceptions of the hunting ability of these early people. The site in question, FLK-Zinj, was excavated early on by the Leakeys and dates to c. 1.84 Ma. It is now being re-investigated by a large multi-disciplinary landscape project. The talk c…

Time Is Not Made to Flow in vain: Eternity and Apocalypse in Assynt and Mars

Just in time for World Space Week, I've got a new Guest Blog up at Scientific American Blogs, featuring geological musings on our home planet and our beautiful, desolate neighbour. This post resulted from a recent holiday in the Scottish Highlands, where some of the oldest rocks on Earth can be found, with a surprising story to tell. Go check it out!

ESHE 2012 Meeting Report: Neanderthal Edition!

It's taken me a few days to recover from the European Society for study of Human Evolution (ESHE) meeting last week in Bordeaux, France, which was intense as conferences always are, and had some very early mornings. ESHE12 was excellent on the whole, with improvements on last year including joint plenary sessions each morning (held in one room and beamed to the overflow theatre) followed by parallell sessions of papers on either "stones or bones": that is, archaeologically or osteologically-focused topics.

Parallell sessions do mean there was still some dashing between rooms going on, but it wasn't as difficult at last year at Leipzig where the sessions were in separate buildings. Also, I think speakers are generally understanding about people coming in and out of rooms during talks as long as they're quiet- I know it doesn't bother me. There were an awful lot of great papers at ESHE, and obviously blogging about all of them is a bit much. But I do want to …