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Direct evidence for the use of geophytes in the archaeological record of prehistoric foragers is typically lacking, even though they were often an important resource. Cymopterus bulbosus (springparsley or biscuitroot) is a geophyte that grows in fairly dense patches in areas of high archaeological site densities in the Green River Basin of Wyoming. Analysis of the patch size and distribution, density within patches, root weight, nutritional content, total calories available from the patches, and caloric return rates provides clues to the sustainability of roots of this plant for the prehistoric foragers of the area. This study demonstrates that the large desert pavement patches adjacent to the archaeological sites had the potential to furnish sufficient calories to have been an important influence on prehistoric forager selection of camp locations. It also adds to the growing corpus of information on the economic context of root resources and their use by prehistoric foragers.
The aboriginal dog exhumed at CA-Ora-849, a Late Prehistoric camp site in southern Orange County, California, is the only known animal burial from the territory historically occupied by the Juaneno. The specimen was found in association with human burials, a typical occurrence for animal burials in the California culture area. The juvenile canine was placed in its grave in a flexed position, without grave goods. Dog burials in California are interpreted as representing ritualized disposal of deceased pets or the destruction of personal property attendant to the funeral of the animal's owner. Evidence of the dog's diet, a cluster of partly digested rabbit and gopher bones and a deer proximal phalanx, was recovered from the visceral area of the skeleton.
Why has maize, a plant with origins in the New World, become ritually important in an indigenous Southeast Asian religion? While environmental conditions and agricultural economics are key determinants of everyday resource management practices in insular Southeast Asia, it is necessary to consider ethnic identity, political economy, and social structure in order to understand the religious significance of natural resources in contemporary society. Linguistic, cosmological, and horticultural data are combined with an analysis of local perceptions of culture and environment. This information is used to explain the transformation of an introduced plant into an indigenous sacrament. Ethnographic data, including a brief case study of the role of maize in marapu ‘ancestor worship’ and the cultural history of the Kodi people who live on the Indonesian island of Sumba, are the basis for a discussion of agrarian change and social history in Kodi. The data are also used to explore the possibility of using information about contemporary Sumbanese society to gain a better understanding of historical processes in eastern Indonesia.
The paper attempts to present the classification of inter- and intraspecific minor millets by Malayali tribal farmers residing in Kolli Hills, Namakkal district, Tamil Nadu, India. The different species are Panicum sumatrense Roth ex Roem. & Schult., Panicum miliaceum L., Paspalum scrobiculatum L., and Setaria italica (L.) Beauv. Tribal farmers classify different species of millets using a set of exclusive morphological characters. The different landraces of each species are categorized into two different levels. The primary level of categorization is based on certain morphological, agronomic, and gastronomic characters of the landrace. The most useful parts are perceived and reflected in nomenclature, which subtly indicates the phylogenetic relationships among landraces. The secondary level categorization is based on practical utility of the landrace. Several subclassifications exist based on a specific cultural value of the taxa.
Published hierarchical folk classifications of animals, plants, and a wide variety of other things are surveyed in search of similarities and differences. In contrast to classifications of other things, classifications of animals and plants distinguish more categories, are more likely to be endowed with taxonomic ranks, and obey more consistently a nomenclatural rule related to ranks. Even within the set of things other than animals and plants, there is evidence for differences among classifications of different domains. These cross-cultural regularities suggest that taxonomic judgments are not entirely determined by culture. Despite their differences, most of the classifications are similar in their average number of hierarchical levels. The small number of levels in all folk classifications suggests a general limit, possibly on memory.
Insects and the substances extracted from them have been used as medicinal resources by human cultures all over the world. Besides medicine, these organisms have also played mystical and magical roles in the treatment of several illnesses in a range of cultures. Science has already proven the existence of immunological, analgesic, antibacterial, diuretic, anesthetic, and antirheumatic properties in the bodies of insects. Several authors have surveyed the therapeutic potential of insects, either recording traditional medical practices or employing insects and their products at the laboratory and/or clinical level. Thus, insects seem to constitute an almost inexhaustible source for pharmacological research. Chemical studies are needed to discover which biologically active compounds are actually present within insect bodies. The therapeutic potential of insects represents a significant contribution to the debate on biodiversity conservation, as well as opening perspectives for the economic and cultural valorization of animals traditionally regarded as useless. Their use needs to be at a sustainable level to avoid overexploitation.
The use of whirligig beetles (Gyrinidae) and predaceous diving beetles (Dytiscidae) for stimulating breast growth in East Africa is a unique traditional practice. The beetles are collected by young girls from rivers and pools and held to their nipples where the beetles “bite” in a defensive reaction. Simultaneously the beetles secrete defensive substances which are produced in special glands to discourage possible vertebrate predators. Gyrinids produce, among other substances, norsesquiterpenes. The Dytiscids also possess prothoracic defensive glands, which produce, among other substances, hormone-like steroids. Larvae of antlions (Myrmeleontidae) are similarly used in East Africa.
Medicinal plants have been overtaken in the treatment of snake bites by serum therapy and are rarely considered efficacious remedies in biomedicine. Nevertheless, rural inhabitants rely on plant medical material and the attention of highly regarded local traditional healers when threatened by snakebite poisoning. This paper examines curative and preventive snakebite treatments, beliefs and practices collected from 100 Luo respondents. The informants reported the use of a number of herbal and non-herbal remedies including mystical therapies and 24 herbaceous plants whose aerial parts are preferred. Treatments involve cut, suck, and bind methods followed by application of plant leaf and root poultices held in place with strips of cloth or bark.