Liza Moscovice and Adrian Jaeggi publish article on the sexual interactions among female bonobos.

Dr. Moscovice and Dr. Jaeggi research the sexual behavior between female bonobos and their implications based on social behavior and hormones.

Read the Full Article on Science Direct. Hormones and Behavior.

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Sex for cooperation: New insights help to explain why same-sex sexual interactions are so important for female bonobos

Among our two closest phylogenetic relatives, chimpanzees remain by far the more thoroughly-studied and widely-recognized species, known for their high levels of cooperation especially among males, which includes sharing food, supporting each other in aggressive conflicts and defending their territories against other communities. In contrast, insights into the social dynamics of wild bonobos are available from only a small number of long-term field sites, and bonobos are probably best known for their diverse sexual behavior, which together with their proposed peacefulness between communities and co-dominance between the sexes, has led to their nickname as the ‘hippie apes.’ The stereotype of bonobos as hyper-sexual is an over-simplification, but it does capture a fascinating aspect of bonobo social behavior. Bonobos are one of the few species in which all adult members of one sex engage in habitual same-sex sexual interactions that occur at similar or even greater frequencies as opposite-sex interactions. In the wild, all adult females perform same-sex genital contacts, known as genito-genital rubbing (or GG-rubbing) on a regular basis with many other females in their community. In contrast, male bonobos rarely engage in same-sex sexual behavior. There are several theories to explain the function of same-sex sexual behavior in bonobos, including as a way to reduce social tension, prevent aggression or form social bonds. However, none of these theories can explain why such behavior occurs so frequently only among females.

To clarify why same-sex sexual behavior is so important specifically for female bonobos, we collected behavioral and hormonal data for over a year from all adult members of a habituated bonobo community at the long-term LuiKotale field site in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition to our focus on sexual interactions, we identified preferred partners for other social activities such as giving support in conflicts. We also collected urine to measure the hormone oxytocin, which is released in the body in other species after friendly social interactions, including sex and helps to promote cooperation.

We found that in competitive situations, females preferred to have sex with other females rather than with males. After sex, females often remained closer to each other than did mixed sex pairs, and females had measurable increases in urinary oxytocin following sex with females, but not following sex with males. Among same-sex and opposite-sex pairs, individuals who had more sex also supported each other more often in conflicts, but the majority of these coalitions were formed among females. “It may be that a greater motivation for cooperation among females, mediated physiologically by oxytocin, is the key to understanding how females attain high dominance ranks in bonobo society” explained co-lead author Surbeck.

For humans as well, alliances between members of the same sex provide many benefits, including mutual social support and sharing of resources. There is also historical and cross-cultural evidence that such alliances are often reinforced through sexual interactions. “While it is important to not equate human homosexuality with same-sex sexual behavior in animals, our study suggests that in both humans and a close phylogenetic relative, the evolution of same-sex sexual behavior may have provided new pathways to promote high levels of cooperation” states co-lead author Moscovice.

 

 

Jordan Martin publishes his Emory research in Biology Letters

Jordan Martin publishes the research he has done during his time at Emory. Martin and his colleagues find that ‘masculinized’ facial morphology associates with both aggressive and affiliative dominance behavior in bonobos (Pan paniscus), one of human’s closest living relatives. Their study suggests that developmental androgen exposure may cause associations between facial morphology, personality, and dominance status in both humans and non-human primates.

Read the full article.

Dr. Justin Pargeter and colleagues present a multidisciplinary study of Late Acheulean handaxe-making skill acquisition in the latest edition of the Journal of Human Evolution

Dr. Justin Pargeter and colleagues, including Dr. Dietrich Stout, present a multidisciplinary study of Late Acheulean handaxe-making skill acquisition in the latest edition of the Journal of Human Evolution. Their results identify cognitive targets of tool-making skill acquisition, learning costs, and highlight the importance of social support, motivation, persistence, and self-control in knapping skill acquisition.

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Abbe McCarter (C19) receives Bradley Currey Jr. Seminar Award

Anthropology and human biology graduate Abbe McCarter  received the Bradley Currey Jr. Seminar Award for her project “Food Insecurity on the Cattaraugus Reservation.” This was part of her honors thesis titled “Windows into the Lived Experiences and Health Consequences of Food Insecurity on the Cattaraugus Reservation: Implications for Indigenous Peoples’ Food Sovereignty”. She graduated in May with highest honors.

“I am beyond grateful for the Rose Library and their consideration for the Bradley abbe.pngCurrey Jr. Seminar Award. This award allowed me to travel to the Seneca Nation of Indians’ Cattaraugus Reservation and conduct first hand qualitative and quantitative research. The experience as a whole provided me with significant lessons in conducting anthropological research as I examined the lived experiences and health consequences of food insecurity and sovereignty for Indigenous Peoples. I am certain that this award, the mentorship of Dr. Vidali and the rest of Emory’s Anthropology department, and the completion of my honors thesis, contributed to me achieving my current position – as the 2019/20 Melvin Ember intern with HRAF at Yale University working with some of the most important minds and data in cross-cultural research. Having the opportunity to travel to the Cattaraugus Reservation was absolutely critical, and allowed me to foster relationships with interlocutors in the field and embark upon a course of study which will continue to grow for years to come thanks to the Bradley Currey Jr. Seminar Award!”

She is one of eleven Emory students who recently received undergraduate research awards for their library research. Read more in the Emory News Center.

 

 

 

Alumni Spotlight – Suma Ikeuchi (19PhD)

Suma Ikeuchi (16PhD), Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has several publications and travel plans coming up this summer. Her first book, Jesus Loves Japan: Return Migration and Global Pentecostalism in a pid_30006.jpgBrazilian Diaspora, has just been published by Stanford University Press (June 2019). With the Engaged Anthropology Grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, she is traveling to Japan and Brazil this summer to share the research results with the migrants who participated in the study and to deliver lectures at a number of universities in both countries including Nanzan University and the University of São Paulo. Her most recent article, “From Slaves to Agents: Pentecostal Ethic and Precarious Labor among Brazilian Migrants in Toyota, Japan” has also been published by The Journal of the American Academy of Religion (JAAR), the premier academic journal in religious studies. She is also expanding her scholarship to an exciting new direction by exploring the crossroads of Anthropology and Art. A panel discussion with several prominent Japanese anthropologists titled “Writing, Creating, and Teaching at the Intersection of Art and Anthropology” will take place this summer at Kyoto City University of Arts.

Katya Bobrek (19C) received NSF funding for

Anthropology major Katya Bobrek was one of six recent Emory graduates to receive NSF funding and the only one to be awarded the prestigious grand right after receiving her undergraduate degree. She graduated in May with high honors in Anthropology and Human Biology. The title of her honors thesis was “Genomic Analysis and Natural Selection Scan of Mexican Mayan and Indigenous Populations” and her advisor was Dr. John Lindo.

“I’m so thankful for the opportunity given to me by NSF. What excites me the most aboutbobrek.png my research is its interdisciplinary nature. I would never have found this niche if not for the education I received at the Emory Anthropology department. There I discovered my love of anthropology, health, and scientific research. It’s because of Emory Anthropology that I found what I am most passionate about.” Katya Bobrek

Read more in the Emory News Center.

 

Paul Dallaghan is interviewed on CNN for International Day of Yoga

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Paul Dallaghan is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology. His research project entitled “Breath, stress, and health: a biocultural study of hatha yoga” involves a controlled multicultural subject intervention, registered with clinicaltrials.gov, to assess the effects of engaged practice with breath focus on markers of stress, aging, and mental wellbeing. Paul will teach The Anthropology of Yoga this fall semester at Emory.

You can watch the Interview on Facebook and Twitter.