A black-and-white photo shows swirling winds and a bolt of lightning striking over open fields.

Best of SAPIENS 2021

The SAPIENS editorial team looks back at the year through an anthropological lens—and closes with a roundup of some of our favorite pieces published in the magazine in 2021.
An illustration shows two people putting together colored puzzle pieces.

How to Work With a Developmental Editor

Writing for SAPIENS and similar magazines involves close collaboration with developmental editors. Here’s how the process works—and what you can do to make the partnership as fruitful as possible.
biological anthropology love

Is Love a Biological Reality?

Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at the Kinsey Institute and an adviser to the dating site Match.com, studies human mating to explain the mysteries of romance, partnership, and lust.

Crisis and Opportunity—A Look at 2020

The SAPIENS editors review the year’s events with anthropology in mind.
how to write anthropology essay

How to Write an Essay: A Guide for Anthropologists

Writing about anthropology for a general audience is different from writing for academics. Some simple tips can help.
An aerial view shows two separate purple circles painted on a dark blue ground, with two people in each circle.

Why “We” Isn’t for Everyone

Just when authors think they’re including everyone, they might be leaving someone important out.
anthropology in 2019 - This image shows various views of the pinky bone of a Denisovan-Neanderthal hybrid found in Siberia.

Humans in 2019—From Discoveries to Disasters

SAPIENS’ editorial team presents a roundup of this year’s top news and other important insights as seen through the lens of anthropology.
Researchers tested the cutting potential of knife-shaped frozen human feces.

Case Closed: You Can’t Make a Knife Out of Frozen Poop

Testing out a tale from the Arctic, one archaeologist takes matters into his own hands.
Athletic Sudden Death

Genetic Factors May Help Explain Athletic Sudden Death

Biological anthropologists and other researchers investigate why there is a diversity of symptoms and outcomes in people with sickle cell trait.
Three researchers stand in Denisova Cave in Russia, home to the newly classified Denisovan skull fragments.

First Confirmed Denisovan Skull Piece Found

Fragments of a hominin skull add to the sparse collection from our obscure cousins.
Tooth pendants (one pictured here), along with other artifacts discovered at Denisova Cave, mark the earliest evidence of human ornamentation—between 43,000 and 49,000 years ago—in northern Eurasia.

Visitor Log Chronicled for the Denisovan Family Home

New studies write the history of a famous Siberian cave and unearth the oldest jewelry in the region.

The End of the World As We Know It

How do our societies change in the face of apocalypse, and what can we do to ensure our survival?
emotional intelligence

The Rise of Emotional Robots

Scientists explore what robot-human intimacy could mean for love, work, communication, and even war.
beer can archaeology - These are just a few dozen of the thousands of old beer cans that archaeologist David Maxwell has collected over the years.

Meet Archaeology’s Beer Can Man

One scholar has found in the humble, rusty beer can a trusty time capsule.
Bonobos congregate around a male bonobo holding an African breadfruit to get a share of the meal.

Bonobos Spied Sharing a Feast

Researchers report for the first time wild apes sharing food with near strangers.
sea level rise

Sea Level Rise Threatens Archaeological Sites

Surging tides will submerge thousands of ancient and historic places along the east coast of the U.S.
At the site of an old Moroccan mine, paleoanthropologist Jean-Jacques Hublin (pictured) points to one of the oldest Homo sapiens fossils yet found.

Oldest-Known Homo Sapiens Fossils Found

New finds at an archaeological site in Morocco open a window on the origin of our species.
Color perception - Social scientists have long been fascinated by how people perceive and describe color in different cultures.

Do You See What I See?

Cultural groups throughout the world talk about color differently—some don’t even have a word for color. So is color perception a universal human experience or not?
Two people on paddle boards paddle off into a gray ocean covered by a gray sky.

Why We Yearn for the Simple Life

Six social scientists debate why philosophies of simplicity arise and endure, and why it can be so hard to live with and without stuff.
Native American Activism - Native Americans from many different tribes have unified behind the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s protest in North Dakota against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. The controversial pipeline raises numerous cultural and environmental issues, ranging from tribal rights to climate change.

North Dakota Access Pipeline Protests Spark Historic Declaration

U.S. government departments press pause on pipeline construction and call for serious talks on reform of the consultation process with Native American tribes for extensive infrastructure projects.
In Yogyakarta, one of Indonesia’s culturally rich cities, lies Kampoeng Cyber, or “Cyber Village,”—a community that caught the attention of Mark Zuckerberg (right), the co-founder of Facebook, for how it re-invented itself by harnessing the power of the internet.

The Birth of Indonesia’s Cyber Village

A small neighborhood in the developing world built fame and fortune through their connection to the internet. Can the lessons it offers help wire the world?

Stone Age Site Saved

A company began diamond mining at an extraordinary site in South Africa with 2.3 million years of human history. Quick action by archaeologists has led to a court decision protecting the site.
In 2015, an international team of researchers and South African heritage studies students investigated Canteen Kopje. Recent illegal mining activity there threatens such programs—and the future of this important Stone Age archaeological site.

Diamond Mine Threatens Stone Age Artifacts

A South African heritage site preserving 2.3 million years of human history has been gravely damaged by new mining activity.
The 18th- and 19th-century fur trade wiped out British Columbia’s sea otter population. The sea otter’s successful recovery today has led to a decline in shellfish in areas where the otters thrive, causing a crisis in sustainable fishing.

Seafood Fight

Indigenous peoples on the coast of British Columbia share a deep history with sea otters. But can the two coexist peacefully today?