John C. Willman, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Washington University in Saint Louis, was awarded the 2015 Biological Anthropology Section Student Prize. Willman’s work explores non-masticatory dental wear, or the use of “teeth as tools”, among Neandertals and early modern humans. John presented in the session entitled “Advances in European Bioarchaeology and Mortuary Analysis” at the Denver AAA meeting this year. His podium presentation was entitled “Labret Use Among the Pavlovian Peoples of Mid Upper Paleolithic Central Europe: A New Interpretation of the Buccal Wear Facets at Brno III, Dolní Vestonice, Pavlov, and Predmostí.”
Abstract: The unusual “buccal facets” on the cheek teeth of early modern humans from the Mid Upper Paleolithic (MUP) Central Europe are well-documented, but the phenomenon remains poorly understood. A review of buccal wear facet prevalence at all relevant MUP sites, an analysis of age-related changes in the patterning of facets, and bioarchaeological and ethnographic comparisons suggest that phenomenon is related to intentional body modification – namely, the wearing of large, facial “labrets”.
Ethnographically, labrets are known as a form of personal adornment, permanently secured through incisions in the cheeks (or lips), and gradually stretched to incorporate larger labrets. Permanently fixed labrets in the MUP sample examined here is documented by the consistent presence of facets on the maxillary dentition across all age categories. The surface area affected by buccal facets also increases along an age gradient, providing evidence for gradual stretching to incorporate larger labrets during an individual’s lifetime. Children are affected, but prevalence reaches 100% in adolescents and adults. Only one side of the dentition is affected among children and adolescents, while one or both sides are affected in adults. When both sides exhibit facets, wear is asymmetric, suggesting that a second labret is related to aspects of adulthood.
Material evidence of labrets associated with individuals exhibiting buccal facets are known from several prehistoric contexts and strengthens these conclusions. The high prevalence of buccal facets and strong age-related patterning supports a case for labret use as a marker of individual and social identity among the MUP peoples of Central Europe.
For a list of past winners, and information on how to apply next year, click here.
Adam Van Arsdale, biological anthropologist at Wellesley College and author of the Pleistocene Scene blog, wrote this fantastic blog post about the benefits of attending the AAA meetings as a BAS member. He writes, “The AAAs, despite their size, offer a unique ‘meeting within a meeting’ experience” because of the close group of biological anthropologists who congregate there. He ends the post with this call:
Now is the time to start thinking about panels you might be interested in putting together for next year’s meetings which will be in Denver, and I am the person to get in touch with for feedback on those ideas. The AAAs are valuable, but overwhelming. But the BAS portion of the AAAs?… they are free to be shaped in ways that create a degree of academic intimacy hard to achieve in larger settings. And if you are a biological anthropologist inclined towards the holistic view of anthropology, the BAS is an invaluable professional network and set of colleagues.
Read the full post here, and contact Adam at avanarsd(at)wellesley(dot)edu with ideas for next year!
Are you a student? Are you giving a presentation at the AAA meetings? Are you interested in positive exposure with colleagues in your field (and $250!)?
Then apply now for the BAS student prize!
- Send an email to Adam Van Arsdale
- Include your name, presentation title, abstract, and presentation time/session
- Make sure it is received no later than November 14, 2014.
To learn more about your eligibility and the rules, click here. See last year’s winners featured here.
The winner of the BAS Student Paper/Poster Award for 2013 is Marc Kissel (University of Wisconsin, Madison) for his paper, “Testing Genetic Models of Human Evolutionary History against the Anthropological Record.”
Comparing measurements of supraorbital skeletal features from two Neandertal populations (Vindjia and Krapina), Kissel explores whether genetic drift or natural selection best explains observed morphological variability. Having found that observed variability cannot be explained by drift alone, he suggests that closer attention be paid to human reproductive behavior as illustrated in ethnographic record of hunter-gatherer communities, and that effective population size may not be a good indicator of census size in the Pleistocene.
Honorable mention for this prize went to Jill E. Scott (University of Iowa) for her paper, “A 3-D Morphometric Analysis of Mandibular Symphyseal Variation in Homo.”
In this paper, Jill Scott tests whether various measurements of chin morphology can be used to successfully differentiate H. sapiens, H. neanderthalensis, and H. heidelbergensis. Using Principal Component Analysis, she finds that H. sapiens separate from both Neandertals and H. heidelbergensis along PC1. However along PC2, H. sapiens group with Neandertals to the exclusion of H. heidelbergensis. In this study, she explores new ways to measure and statistically test morphological differences that have been explored primarily in a qualitative manner in the literature.
BAS Student Representative Sarah Livengood initiated an informative survey to investigate the barriers to student participation in AAA. Eighty percent of 113 respondents indicated that they had never attended a AAA meeting. In large part this is because students don’t feel they have anything to present, but the cost of membership and registration is also an important factor. Students also indicated that they would be very interested in mentorship programs and sessions on professionalization. BAS is committed to engaging biological anthropology students in the broader discipline of anthropology and in AAA activities in particular and this preliminary survey sets the stage for future action.
The winner of the BAS Student Paper/Poster Award for 2012 is Michaela Howells (University of Colorado, Boulder) for her paper, “You Just Have to Wait: The Impact of Marital Status on the Pregnancy Outcomes of Samoan Women” with co-authors Richard Bender, Darna L. Dufour, John Ah Ching, and Bethal Mua’sau.
Julienne Rutherford has been selected as a AAA Leadership Fellow
We are very pleased to announce the winner of this year’s student prize for outstanding presentation:
Meredith Ellis (Syracuse University) for her paper, “A Disciplined Childhood: A Social Bioarchaeology of the Subadults of the Spring Street Presbyterian Church”. This paper is going to be published in an edited volume by Jennifer L. Thompson, Marta Alfonso-Durruty, John J. Crandall, “Tracing Childhood: Bioarchaeological Investigations of Early Lives in Antiquity”.
We are also pleased to announce a runner-up:
Valentine Volk (Cleveland State University), for her paper, “A Preliminary Assessment of Health and Disease at the Late Woodland Mayer Site, Vermillion, Ohio”.
The 2011 W.W. Howells Book Award was presented to Wenda Trevathan for her book, Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped Women’s Health. Oxford University Press.
The book was recognized as an insightful and compelling consideration of the importance of evolution to women’s biology and health.
“Written by a leading light in the field of evolutionary medicine, Wenda Trevathan’s Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives describes how many contemporary health problems, particularly those of women, are the result of a mismatch between our “Stone Age” bodies that evolved over millions of years and our current (and radically changed) life styles. Thorough, authoritative, and easy to understand, this book offers suggestions for making informed decisions that impact the health of contemporary women and that of their children and their children’s children. Run, don’t walk (or stroll bipedally), to give this important and elegantly written book to your favorite bride-to-be, mother-to-be, mother, grandmother, or great grandmother! Inquisitive men will also find this book engaging.” –Dean Falk, Ph.D., Hale G. Smith Professor of Anthropology, Florida State University.
BAS Executive Committee communication on AAA Mission Statement:
Download as PDF
The above is the official BAS response.
Some members and other biological anthropologists also composed and sent this letter to the Executive Board of the AAA.
109th Annual Meeting was held in New Orleans, November 17-21, 2010.
The Distinguished Lecture was given by Ken Weiss: “What Darwin got wrong and why it matters.”
The 2010 WW Howells Award winner is Bernard Chapais (University of Montreal) for his book, Primeval Kinship: How Pair-Bonding Gave Birth to Human Society.
List of sessions of interest to BAS members:
- Innovative Methods in Biological Anthropology
- Circulating Through Us: Violence, Trauma and Memory
- Critical Collisions in Health and Culture: Sleep
- Ancient Humans: Birth, Health and Lifestyle
- Biocultural Acts, Biocultural Survival
- Biocultural Adaptation and Evolution: Guts, Diet and Microbes
The 2009 W.W. Howells Book Award winners are Alan Walker and Pat Shipman for their book, The Ape in the Tree: An Intellectual and Natural History of Proconsul, published by Harvard University Press. From Robert Proctor’s Science book review: “The Ape in the Tree is a fine account of new ways to puzzle out the behaviors of fossilized animals from odd scraps of bones.”
The BAS Student Award Winner for 2009 was Molly Zuckerman for her paper “Making Sex Less Dangerous: Evaluating the Evolution of Virulence in Syphilis.” Honorable mentions went to Matt Nowak for his poster “Group size, social structure, and ranging in lar-gibbons: implications for the ecological constraints model,” and to Carrie Veilleux for her paper “Habitat preference and nocturnal lemur color vision: implications for primate and human evolution.”
The 2009 Distinguished Lecture was presented by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. The title of the lecture was “Darwin and the Ascent of Emotionally Modern Man: How Humans Became such Hypersocial Apes.”
Program Chair Debra Martin, organizes thee BAS sponsored and cosponsored sessions. This year we had 23 volunteered abstracts that came to us for review – almost all of them requested podium except for 3 that preferred being in a poster session. We accepted all of the abstracts, and organized them into 2 thematic session and 1 poster session. Some individuals were asked if they would shift their papers to posters or vice versa, and everyone did agree. The themes/titles for the volunteered paper sessions included “Evolutionary Perspectives on Morphology, the Brain and Tool Use” and “Biocultural Perspectives on Inequality, Health and Diet.” The posters were grouped into two themes, one having to do with forensics and field methods, and one having to do with cooperative breeding. In addition to these volunteered sessions, there was one organized session on “Bioarchaeology of Captivity and Slavery” organized by Debra Martin and Ventura Perez. We used our invited designations for one of the volunteered sessions, the captivity and slavery session and we co-sponsored a session with Medical Anthropology in immigration and health. All BAS sessions were spread out across the days and time slots, and do not seem to conflict with other biological sessions that did not go through BAS (such as the Presidential session on Darwin). In 2008we had a total of 49 papers and posters, and in 2007 a total of 34. The declining numbers of papers/posters is a concern and we will work to increase the number.
The Reception followed the distinguished lecture. I had requested a room for 100 people for the both events. The lecture was schedule for a smaller room (about 75 seats) and was overly full with people sitting on the floor. The room was too small to set up the reception in the back of the room as planned (and discussed with the hotel in at least 3 phone calls). The inadequate space negatively impacted the reception and it did not last as long as usual.