Hey there, Lil’ Red Riding Hood, You Sure are Lookin’ Good..

Figure 1 Map of the approximate locations from which tales were sourced.

Map of the approximate locations from which tales were sourced.

You’re everything a big bad wolf could want…

This is cool as shit. Thanks to Lee Dugatkin for sharing on Facebook. Jamshid Tehrani in the Department of Anthropology & Centre for the Coevolution of Biology & Culture at Durham University has conducted a phylogenetic analysis of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ & related cross-cultural folktales. I’d heard about this type of analyses just recently from Baba Brinkman when he was in town. I believe it was the group of UK biologists who prompted him to write the “Rap Guide to Evolution” who had also been involved in a collaboration with literature scholars using phylogenetics software. Maybe this is that group.

Figure 2 Majority-rules consensus of the most parsimonious trees returned by the cladistic analysis of the tales.

Majority-rules consensus of the most parsimonious trees returned by the cladistic analysis of the tales.

They found, in a nutshell, that the story-of-someone-&-something-that-eats-her did not develop in Asia & travel to Europe & elsewhere via the Silk Road, as previously deduced based on analyses of major themes. By analyzing, essentially, the overall numbers of shared traits, they determined that the story originated in Europe & traveled to Asia. A later variant evolved into the European version crystallized by the Grimm Bros.

This will be so awesome to share with “Evolution for Everyone” students in the Spring when we talk about evolutionary applications to the humanities. At least I think so.

And it makes me think of Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs.

 

Christopher Lynn

About Christopher Lynn

Christopher Dana Lynn is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama, where he directs the Evolutionary Studies program.  Chris teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in biological anthropology, human sexuality, evolution, biocultural medical anthropology, and neuroanthropology.  He received his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology in 2009 from the University at Albany, SUNY, where his doctoral focus was on the influence of speaking in tongues on stress response among Pentecostals.  Chris runs a human behavioral ecology research group where the objectives include studying fun gimmicky things like trance, religious behavior, tattooing, and sex as a way of introducing students to the rigors of evolutionary science.  In all his “free” time, he breaks up fights among his triplet sons, enjoys marriage to the other Loretta Lynn, strokes his mustache, and has learned to be passionate about Alabama football (Roll Tide!).  Follow Chris on Twitter: @Chris_Ly
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