Author Archives: Michelle Y. Merrill, Ph.D.

Today is the first World Orangutan Day!


My friend and fellow Cabrillo anthropologist Dennis Etler did a short feature today for the “First Person Singular” series on KUSP.  He wants us all to consider if we are asking the right questions about the California prisons crisis. Listen here.

Aaron Kuehn Skeleton Typogram

A former student sent this, as a great study aid for skeletal anatomy labs:

Aaron Kuehn Skeleton Typogram

Catastrophic deforestation planned in Sumatra

Catastrophic deforestation planned in Sumatra – from Sumatran Orangutan Society

We urgently need your help to stop the planned destruction of 1.2 million hectares of forest in Sumatra for gold mining, oil palm plantations, logging and roads.

 This is a conservation emergency for orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos – the forests under threat are the only place in the world where these critically endangered species still roam together.

Indonesia’s President has the power to stop these plans. Please help us reach 1 million signatures to make sure he gets the message loud and clear.

This is a new petition, so please sign and share even if you have already signed others in the last few weeks.

The fate of Sumatra’s forests will be decided in the very near future  – please help.


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Plagiarism… from Jane Goodall. Ouch. That’s quite the “teachable moment”: it’s time to learn the rules of academic writing, kids.

The Misfortune Of Knowing

Seeds of Hope Plagiarism

This week, the Washington Post revealed that acclaimed primatologist Jane Goodall’s new book, Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants, contains borrowed content “from phrases to an entire paragraph from Web sites such as Wikipedia and others that focus on astrology, tobacco, beer, nature and organic tea.” Goodall admitted the plagiarism, saying in an e-mail to the Post, “This was a long and well-researched book … and I am distressed to discover that some of the excellent and valuable sources were not properly cited, and I want to express my sincere apologies.”

This situation is different from the examples of “forgivable” plagiarism I discussed in my previous post, When Do Plagiarizers and Fabricators Deserve Our Sympathy?, in which I sympathize with young writers who do not understand the line between honest research and plagiarism. As I wrote:

Many college students do not understand where…

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Biological Anthropology Tutorials

An excellent source for supplemental study materials, readings, videos and practice quizzes are Dennis O’Neil’s online Biological Anthropology Tutorials at http:/

Biological Anthropology Labs and Education Plans

Cabrillo College is emphasizing the importance of a good Education Plan for student success.  If you set your goals for degree or transfer, you’re more likely to get somewhere – have a look at Cabrillo’s Transfer and Articulation Resources and talk with a Counselor to learn more.

Most Education Plans include a requirement for a Natural Science class and a Lab Science course. If you have not already done so, I strongly recommend trying to get into any section of the Biological Anthropology Lab (ANTHR1L) concurrently with the Introduction to Anthropology: Biological lecture (ANTHR1) to meet this requirement.  Students who are enrolled in both classes tend to do better in both classes, because of the opportunity to investigate materials “hands-on” that we’re discussing in lectures.  While all labs are currently fully enrolled for Spring 2013, some have very short wait lists, so you have a good chance of getting into those.  Check WEBADVISOR to see if there’s a lab that could work for you.  Your best chance of getting into the class is to be there at the start of class on the first day.

If you’re a serious student with an interest in transferring to a CSU or UCHonors Transfer Program - Cabrillo College, you should learn about the Honors Transfer Program at Cabrillo.  You need a minimum 3.3 cumulative GPA to be part of this.  Honors students can participate in the Honors Research Symposium to be hosted at Stanford University May 4, 2013.

Police Arrest Orangutans in Minnesota

"orangutan" demonstrates against Cargill's habitat destruction for palm oilPolice Arrest Orangutans in Minnesota.

Human Population

Biological Anthropology is the study of humans as a species, and how we are related to other species in the Primates.  In thinking about humans as one very biologically successful primate species, it’s important to understand just how many of us there are.

“Population is rising sharply as the largest generation in history comes into its childbearing years.” LA Times

Here are some useful resources for exploring that question.


Great live chat re Neandertals

Just catching this from the middle – hopefully it will all be archived/visible later:

Anthr1 students, share your comments on this in the Part III Topical Discussion Board for some extra credit.